The return of the servant problem

I think we all better hope we get germ-line genetic engineering and really effective nootropics real soon now. Because I think I have seen what the future looks like without these technologies, and it sucks.

A hundred years ago, 1918, marked the approximate end of the period when even middle-class families in the U.S. and Great Britain routinely had servants. During the inter-war years availability of domestic servants became an acute problem further and further up the SES scale, nearly highlighted by the National Council on Household Employment’s 1928 report on the problem. The institution of the servant class was in collapse; would-be masters were priced out of the market by rising wages for factory jobs and wider working opportunities for women (notably as typists).

But there was a supply-side factor as well; potential hires were unwilling to be servants and have masters – increasingly reluctant to be in service even when such jobs were still the best return they could get on their labor. The economic collapse of personal service coincided with an increasing rejection of the social stratification that had gone with it. Society as a whole became flatter and much more meritocratic.

There are unwelcome but powerful reasons to expect that this trend has already begun to reverse.

An early bellwether was Murray and Hernstein’s The Bell Curve in 1994; one of their central concerns was that meritocratic elevation of the brightest out of various social strata and ethnicities of poorer folks might exert a dyscultural effect, depriving their birth peers of talent and leadership. They also worried that a society increasingly run by its cognitive elites would complexify in ways that would make life progressively more difficult for those on the wrong end of the IQ bell curve, eventually driving many out of normal economic life and into crime.

What they barely touched was the implication that these trends might combine to produce increased social stratification – the bright getting richer and the dull getting poorer, driving the ends of the SES scale further apart in a self-reinforcing way.

Only a few years later social scientists began noticing that assortative mating among the new meritocratic elite was a thing. What this hints at is that meritocracy may be driving us towards a society that is not just economically but genetically stratified.

Now comes Genetic analysis of social-class mobility in five longitudinal studies, a powerful meta-analysis summarized here. The takeaway from this paper is that upward social mobility is predicted by genetics. And, as the summary notes: “[H]igher SES families tend to have higher polygenic scores on average [and thus more upward mobility] — which is what one might expect from a society that is at least somewhat meritocratic.”

Indeed, the obvious historical interpretation of this result is that this is where meritocracy got us. At the beginning of the Flat Century meritocrats had a lot of genetic outliers to uplift out of what they called the “deserving poor”; which is another way of saying that back then, the genetic potential for upward mobility was more widely distributed in lower SESes because it had not yet been selected out by the uplifters. This model is consistent with what primary sources tell us people believed about themselves and their peers.

But now it’s 2018. Poverty cultures are reaching down to unprecedented levels of self-degradation; indicators of this are out-of-wedlock births, rates of drug abuse, and levels of interpersonal violence and suicide. Even as American society as a whole is getting steadily richer, more peaceful and less crime-ridden, its lowest SES tiers are going to hell in a handbasket. And not just the usual urban minority suspects, either, but poor whites as well; this is the burden of books like Charles Murray’s Coming Apart. J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and the opioid-abuse statistics.

It’s hard not to look at this and not see the prophecies of The Bell Curve, a quarter century ago, coming hideously true. We have assorted ourselves into increasing cognitive inequality by class. and the poor are paying an ever heavier price for this. Furthermore, the natural outcome of the process is average IQ and other class differentiating abilities abilities are on their way to becoming genetically locked in.

The last jaw of the trap is the implosion of jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Retail, a traditional entry ramp into the workforce, has been badly hit by e-commerce, and that’s going to get worse. Fast-food chains are automating as fast as political morons pass “living wage” laws; that’s going to have an especially hard impact on minorities.

But we ain’t seen nothing yet; there’s a huge disruption coming when driverless cars and trucks wipe out an entire tier of the economy related to commercial transport. That’s 1 in 15 workers in the U.S., overwhelmingly from lower SES tiers. What are they going to do in the brave new world? What are their increasingly genetically disadvantaged children going to do?

Here’s where we jump into science fiction, because the only answer I can see is: become servants. And that is how the Flat Century dies. Upstairs, downstairs isn’t just our past, it’s our future. Because in a world where production of goods and routinized service is increasingly dominated by robots and AI, the social role of servant as a person who takes orders will increasingly be the only thing that an unskilled person has left to offer above the economic level of digging ditches or picking fruit.

I fear that with the reappearance of a servant class the wonderful egalitarianism of the America we have known will fade, to be replaced by a much more hierarchical and status-bound order. Victorian homilies about knowing your place will once again describe a sound adaptive strategy. The rich will live in mansions again, because the live-in help has to sleep somewhere…

This prospect disgusts me; I’m a child of the Flat Century, a libertarian. But I’ve been increasingly seeing it as inevitable, and the genetic analysis I previously cited has tipped me over into writing about it.

Some people who seem dimly to apprehend what’s coming are talking up universal basic income as a solution. This is the long-term idiocy corresponding exactly to the short-term idiocy of the $15-an-hour-or-fight campaigners. UBI would be a trap, not a solution, and in any case has the usual problem of schemes that rely on other peoples’ money – as the demands of the clients increase you run out of it, and what then?

There is only one way out of this, and that’s science-fictional too. We’ll need to figure out how to fight the economic and genetic drift towards an ability-stratified society by intervening at the root causes. Drugs to make people smarter; germ-line manipulation to make their kids brighter. If we can narrow the cognitive-ability spread enough, the economic forces driving increasing divergence between upper and lower SES will abate.

There’s a good novel in this scenario, I think. Thirty years from now in a neo-Victorian U.S. full of manors, a breakthrough discovery in intelligence amplification gets made. Human nature being what it is, evil people who like their place at the top of a pecking order – and good people who fear destabilization of society – will want o suppress and control it. What comes next?

In the real world, I don’t want to be living in that novel at age 90; it would be a miserable place for too many, heavy with resentment and curdled dreams. So let’s get on that technical problem; intelligence increase now, dammit!

422 thoughts on “The return of the servant problem

  1. You foresee an emerging servant class, and this is indeed possible, but isn’t it more likely that a self-organizing mercenary class might emerge instead, given the general familiarity of the social and other conditions history reveals about personal service to those in economic straits now? Criminal gangs (particularly the more commercially structured ones – drugs, prostitution, that sort of thing) already have the basic framework of organisational hierarchy in place, police forces in financially failing cities seem another likely source; making the transition to a deliberately military gang with commercial priorities doesn’t seem at all a stretch to me, or particularly intellectually demanding to accomplish.

    Being longish term successful now, that’s much more a thinking man’s game (or woman’s for all of that, though history seems bereft of ready examples), but once the successful example is made, it seems certain more capable opportunists will seek to profit.

    Upstairs, Downstairs seems to be the hopeful view from my perspective.

    • > Upstairs, Downstairs seems to be the hopeful view from my perspective.

      I have to agree.

      The servant “class” never went away. Only the super wealthy still employ servants. And that’s not going to change. The job market for additional servants is tiny or nearly nonexistent.

      Also, the meritocracy is long over. Government is now plutocracy. The social support programs still in existence only serve to keep ordinary voters in line until the plutocrats find an excuse to suspend democracy while making it look like they are acting for our common good. After that, they continue to scale down the support programs while claiming waning available funds, Which will reduce tax revenue, so further drive down funding for the support programs.

      Even if technology can be applied to boost the intelligence of the disadvantaged, it won’t be used that way. Even if it is used to boost (some of) them, it will also be used to boost the highly advantaged.

      Meanwhile, the super wealthy have an escape plan. Also out of science fiction.

      Maybe Elon Musk really believes his “Big Falcon Rocket” is for the benefit of all humanity. But the reality is that the vast majority of the colonists going to Mars will be the super wealthy, escaping while the rest of us are left behind to “whither and die”.

      • Pernicious Marxist nonsense.

        “Only the rich benefit from (blah).” was a lie when Marx first trotted it out a hundred and fifty years ago, and it’s a lie now.

        Yes, yes, the evil capitalists love to drive around in their gold-plated Rolls-Royces, only stopping to kick starving peasants out of the road with their iron-soled boots. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

        It’s simply “bad luck” that virtually all of the large-scale famines of the last century have occurred in Marxist countries, while in EVIL KKKAPITALIST AMERIKKKA poor people are more likely to fat than otherwise, and tend to own smart phones, big screen TVs, and cars, and have plenty of leisure time.

        The only people who fit your “starving peasant” stereotype nowadays are the mentally ill homeless.

        • No. I actually see this. Besides my job as a software developer, I am also a minister and I volunteer at a “food bank” where indigent people come to get additional food items to supplement what little they can buy under SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) and similar programs. One of my ministerial duties is to visit recipients of food from our food bank. Many of our guests are families (about half have both parents) living in 1 bedroom, bottom-end apartments. Other families live in small, old “trailer homes” in “trailer parks”. In all cases, they are paying over half their incomes just in rent. Then add in the cost of electricity, water and gas. Also, the cost of co-pays and deductibles for medical care. This leaves very little for food. Often the adults are foregoing their own medications to feed their children.

          As for attitudes of the wealthy, es Eric pointed out, businesses facing increased minimum wage laws are replacing workers with machines. And then there are politicians like John Johnston who said “No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22.”

          • A portion of the indigent problem is a worldwide (not just in America) failure of how to humanely and effectively deal with mental illness and other issues like addiction. Surely not all, but a too large proportion of the homeless are not capable of caring for themselves.

            • >Surely not all, but a too large proportion of the homeless are not capable of caring for themselves.

              Yes, and that is a hard problem. There’s a conflict between our desire not to trespass on the autonomy of individuals and our desire to treat people who are non compos mentis.

              • And we are severely limited in the number of congressional seats we can hand out to the absolute retards.

      • > Only the super wealthy still employ servants.

        IDK. Many (most?) upper middle class families have some level of maid service, lawn mowing service, laundry service, meal service, and/or snowplow service. The big difference is that UMC families tend to hire a company which manages / time-shares their servants, as opposed to the 19th century live-in model.

        • In America this can be extended even to the lower class who rarely are preparing their own meals or hand washing their clothes. Even those on welfare in 21st century America are outsourcing their domestic drudgery that would have been commonplace in the 19th.

          • In Pompeii before the volcano (79AD) you were considered rich if you could eat at home (with the help of servants of course). Normal, everyday folks didn’t have indoor kitchens and instead ate at “takeaway” establishments which were located all over the city. A very interesting thing found recently was that the poorer, servant class apparently ate just as well as the rich folks (nutritionally speaking).

        • There’s also a “personal assistant” which probably more people than you or I realize employ – including plenty of professionals in the UMC.

        • We’re UMC, and for a while, we had a young woman living with us and taking care of the kids while we were at work, and occasional evenings. We didn’t have her doing other chores, but she might have been amenable to that arrangement.

  2. Just to clarify Eric; we don’t disagree on the necessary prescription, only on the likely reception it will receive. There is a monumental difference between being perceived as a savior bequeathing salvation from durance vile and that of the opponent set on destroying all of one’s energetic work and (admittedly violent) success.

  3. This intelligence-financial feedback loop (being brighter than your peers helps you get richer, which helps you educate your children better than their peers, which helps them get richer…) basically underlies a large fraction of political debate. The bright-rich object to policies that interfere with them exchanging wealth for education, or leveraging their education to earn wealth; the dull-poor point out that they have no way to enter into that cycle unless rules are put in place to negate one of the ways you convert between advantages. When those rules disrupt the education-leads-to-money leg, you see things like identity-politics-based anti-meritocratic affirmative action policies; when they disrupt the money-leads-to-education leg you see things like publicly funded redistributionist single-payer policies.

      • So in theory a genetically-good person who was prevented by some external circumstance from being educated should become approximately as wealthy as his well-educated kin? That seems unlikely given that educational credentials are prerequisites for so many high-paying jobs.

        I’m closely involved with an immigrant community that is artificially barred from higher education in its homeland by hostile government policy. My observation is that there is a marked difference in economic status between those who arrive as uneducated adults on the one hand, and their relatives who had arrived as children and had the opportunity to pursue education on the other.

        • > So in theory a genetically-good person who was prevented by
          > some external circumstance from being educated
          > should become approximately as wealthy as his
          > well-educated kin?

          No.

          Under this theory those with *specific* genetic advantages (intelligence, low time preference, hard work) will do markedly better than those without.

          No kid born in “Cabrini Green”[1] will ever be as rich as the dumbest of Sam Walton’s grandchildren[2], but with focus, really hard work, and a bit of luck they can move up two or three quintiles.

          [1] Yeah, it’s gone. But it still remains.
          [2] Not literally true. One of his grandkids could go MASSIVELY in debt and owe MILLIONS of dollars, while that is unlike to happen to our anti-heroine. Or he could start shooting smack and wind up sleeping in doorways in “Cabrini Green”. But I think you know what I mean.

        • Not having any educational credentials (I didn’t even finish elementary school) didn’t hinder me in making good money as a software developer. Sure I had to actually learn how to code, but all that is needed for that was lots of free time with a computer in my teenage years. I believe that in first world countries virtually any child who isn’t actually homeless has that much.

          Is it fair that I’m economical advantaged mostly just because I got lucky with my genes? no, but pretending that it ain’t so will not make it go away and will prevent us from thinking about what actually cold be done to help others who are not as lucky.

  4. I’m not convinced that minorities are less intelligent, nor that work as a servant is such a bad thing. But I would argue against your prediction from an altogether different angle: these days, many of the minority people, especially those from poor countries, have two serious drawbacks that make it a very bad idea (as in not safely possible) to employ them in the home. (1) They self-identify as oppressed, and thus not only have feelings of entitlement but huge chips on their shoulders. And (2) they come from cultures or subcultures that consider stealing to be not only OK but common sense.

    If America as it needs to be is going to survive at all, we’re going to need to forget our ancestors’ history of segregation and legalize at least class-discrimination, so that the remaining well-off can isolate themselves and their wealth from the irredeemable masses before they are all destroyed, and our jobs and upward mobility with them.

    • The phrase “that minorities are less intelligent” is not clearly defined, making it likely to be a Strawman/Motte-and-Bailey exercise in talking past each other.

      What is clear is that IQ is not evenly distributed across ethnic groups. We can debate how much of that is cultural, epigenetic, genetic, etc. Or rather, we should debate that, but we aren’t even allowed to do that, because to do so is to admit there is any cause for economic woes of any members of Holy Victim Groups™ other than Oppressively Oppressive Oppression by Oppressor Ofays™

      Personally, I think that ASS|U|MEing that any of those component is either 0 or 100% is absurd, but we literally aren’t even allowed to talk about this.

      (Just look at how John Schnatter had to resign his job for having said in a meeting that the N-word is a bad word, but in doing so said the word itself. If this is reminiscent of the Monty Python’s Life of Brian scene in which someone was to be stoned for having said “Jehovah”, I’m not at all surprised.)

  5. This sort of issue has been on my mind as well. Although, you seem to actually paint a rosier picture than I imagine. Rather than a servant class, where in the Victorian era the servant would be attached to a household, and thus be entitled to some measure of privilege, in that they were fed and housed, I see the so-called “gig economy” as the way things are going to go. Who needs permanent servants when you can get everything you want delivered to your door? Cleaning services are going to be Uber-ized as well. As are odd jobs that drones can’t take care of. But servants in this economy will compete their way to the bottom via cold, hard matching algorithms.

    I could see something like a UBI working if our society had better cultural cohesion, and cultural norms like noblesse oblige, “know your place”, etc. But those don’t exist any longer, nor do I think they’re likely to ever again.

    Myself, I don’t think I have what it takes to be in the upper eschelon. I’m smarter than average, but not smarter enough. I’ll probably be fine, as I’m in my 40’s now, and have a reasonable income. I worry about my children, one of which seems to be of similar ability to me, and the other is too young to tell yet.

    • > I could see something like a UBI working if our society had better cultural cohesion,

      Things like UBI, welfare, trust funds, the dole etc. create a large pool of people who drink, do drugs and fornicate all day long. Since in this condition their conflict resolution skills are inhibited, as is the rest of their judgement, they tend to do…dumb things and then try to fight their way out of it.

      See “Eric Garner”, debated vociferously on these very pages. See also the indian tribes, the Australian aboriginals, and the dole recipients in England, Ireland, Wales and Scottland (for some white versions).

      Idle hands really are the devils workshop.

      Now, there IS a solution to this–instead of “guaranteed basic income” you adopt the principle that “you don’t work, you don’t eat”, then you build a list of things that would be really nice to have done, but there is financial incentive to do. Clean the streets, go back to using push mowers (the OLD fashioned kind) to cut the grass in parks, *deliberately* pick the most manpower intensive ways of doing many of the civic tasks, then make those “jobs of last resort”.

      Except you have to be willing to fire people from them and *LET THEM STARVE*, otherwise you just have the same old problem.

      • My point was it could work in a radically different society that had different cultural structures and social fabric, not in our own. To proscribe solutions at all times, places, and cultures is foolish. It’s what made the attempt at spreading democracy in the middle east so fraught.

          • Did you even read that link? It says poverty has continued to rise in the Seneca community despite its version of UBI.

            If you want to see success in a Native American tribe, look at the Lumbee. They’ve thrived quite well by promoting capitalism.

          • Regardless of how it worked in that specific case in one locality, I don’t think it will work well universally. There’s too much animosity between different groups here. Do you think NYC progressives are going to be OK with funding Apalachian white methed-out hillbillies who committed the cardinal sin of voting for Trump? Do you think Utah Mormons and the Texan Calvinists will be OK with subsidizing the drug-addled inner city urbanites of Chicago? And even if it did happen nationally, it would add to the growing tensions between different cultural regions of the US.

            That all being said, I believe that the union will fail within my lifetime. I can’t even guess as to what will replace it, but I don’t see it staying together.

      • A guy named Morgan Warstler has put forth an idea for subsidising low-paid labor for small businesses (and individuals) as a way of making it possible for all somewhat able-bodied adults have a basic income and the psychological benefits of work.

        https://medium.com/@morganwarstler/guaranteed-income-choose-your-boss-1d068ac5a205

        First criticism is that it’s politically impossible, and changing almost anything about the plan will break it (in ways which he mostly anticipates). But it’s an interesting thought experiment.

  6. I can’t see servants as being a solution– you’re talking about well-off people having servants who aren’t especially bright or reliable or even safe to be around in their houses. This is not going to happen.

    Another possibility is clients. Rich people show off by how many poor people they support.

    • >Another possibility is clients. Rich people show off by how many poor people they support.

      I did think of that possibility, but didn’t mention t because I think it nets out at essentially the same situation.

    • This is already happening, but almost nobody has noticed.

      A while back, I took an Uber ride, and the driver spent a fair amount of time talking about how he has, effectively, a good-paying job driving a rich guy around town, running errands for him, and generally being a professional flunky. He drives for Uber when the guy’s traveling.

      I thought that was odd, but I’ve been asking around, and there’s a surprising number of people who do similar things for people with money. It’s a “trust relationship” issue, for the most part. Getting someone reliable, who will do what you ask, when you ask for it, is getting to be less of a status symbol and more of a necessity.

      It definitely is a spinoff of the gig economy. Everyone I’ve met with this sort of arrangement got it by being good at a “gig” job, from bartending to cab driving to computer consulting. The bartender becomes a party host/social interface for one family, the cab driver becomes a personal driver and shopper for a rich guy with too many DUIs, and the computer guy becomes the tech support for a rich family’s hardware and software.

      These people will have “gig” jobs to fill in the spaces, but the “servant” role is what pays the base bills.

    • Even if they were bright and reliable enough, there’s the classic problem that live-in servants are “all up in your business”.

      It was a problem even under the classic British model where the servant family might have been associated with the employing family for generations. Gossiping servants are a constant factor in novels of the era.

      “Get a load of this one, mates…” — unpublished conversation between Jeeves and a group of fellow valets

  7. Employment collapse has been forecast as reliably as true AI: it’s horizon keeps receding. We’ve had automation for generations. What’s the unemployment rate in the USA now?
    As to the brightest running the world, it sure doesn’t look that way, either in politics or economics.
    The intellectuals are already servants of the bureaucrats. Meritocracy hasn’t panned out. For every Jobs, there’s a Wozniak andva multitude of less fortunate engineers whose IQ would make Jobs’s seem imbecilic.
    Social mobility doesn’t correlate nearly as strongly with IQ as claimed.
    There are “other intelligences” (as it were) that get people promoted. Primary among these seem to be social manipulative intelligences such as strategic boot-licking. With that, comes groupthink and all its follies.
    This hypothesis explains not only the breathtaking failures of those you most admire, but also the recurrent emergence of the bands of idiots you despise.

    • > Primary among these seem to be social manipulative intelligences such as strategic boot-licking.

      Common in middle management types, certainly. Far less common with people at the Steve Jobs level.

  8. is the long-term idiocy corresponding exactly to the short-term idiocy of the $15-an-hour-or-fight campaigners.

    Not quite. It’s originally a libertarian proposal from the 1940s, back when computers didn’t quite exist yet but technological advance was running at such a fast pace that some, Hayek foremost among them, saw the writing on the wall. It took about 70 years to move from the ethereal realm of hypothetical solutions to a threat no one but the most visionary saw coming, down into everyday political debate.

    Look at it this way: suppose the sci-fi solution simply isn’t feasible. Or that, if it is feasible, it’s still going to go at a slower exponential rate compared to how AIs intelligence will grow. Either way, we’re going to see a situation in which jobs will disappear by AIs and AI-powered robots gobbling up every single profession doable by absolutely anyone with, let’s say, a IQ of 70. Then 71. Then 72. Then 73. … Then 125. Then 126. … Then 199. Then 200. Then 201. … Then 356. Then 357. Then…

    Nootropics won’t solve that. Even hard core, fully unethical genetic engineering won’t solve that. Mind upload might solve that, maybe, but in such a way people wouldn’t think differed much from machines wiping humanity and replacing it entirely except for the fact the machines would be nominally us.

    UBI looks at that scenario. To the world in which all professions were replaced and, for some reason, we (or the machines) decided keeping humans around is cute. We all get a slice of the pie they’ll be cooking mostly for themselves. A small slice, enough for us to have reasonably nice lives with enough entertainment and even some semblance of meaning and purpose in life, and that’s about it.

    PS: Life got in the way and I ended up neglecting to thank you and your regulars for the many recommendations on martial arts a few months ago. It was quite helpful. Thank you very much!

    • It seems like your talking about the AI from out of a modern SciFi and progressive media inspired mythology, not machine learning as it is being researched, developed, and implemented today.

      The top end ranges of the IQ range are probably safer than the tech news will tell you because AI evolves based on a scoring engine, and revolutionary thinking tends to disrupt the scoreboard of the status quo (the best Netowinian Physics AI would still bend the knee to Einstein because he changed the rules by which that AI engine would have been ranked) .

      Also, jobs which are done small batch, locally or on-site and require some dexterity (the trades) are probably best handled by people which are objectively cheaper to maintain and operate in the absence of general purpose robots; the real group in danger of being replaced by AI is the massive group of middle of the road information workers with entire occupations going the way of accountants/dinosaurs. I think the true promise of UBI is that of a rhetorical tool, a vaporware carrot with the ability to convince swaths of progressive tech workers to continue to automate entire industries into the hands of a few giant corporations without guilt.

      What the tech news neglects in all this truck reporting is that those AI trucks may drive themselves but robots aren’t going to clean a massive pile of broken pickle jars from an improperly packed pallet, there is still going to be a person loading or unloading that truck.

      • Megan McArdle wrote a piece about truck drivers (paywalled now) when the big “truck driving will disappear as a profession” panic swept through three years ago. The point is that driving is only a small piece of what truck drivers do, and automating all the rest is going to be *much* harder. Remember, your UPS deliveryman is a “truck driver” in BoL statistics. There’s the minor truck maintenance (most fleet drivers have someone else do the major maintenance), there’s the unloading, there’s the paperwork around the unloading, there’s the cleaning up the broken pickle jars, there’s the paperwork, etc.

  9. If you’re rich and robotics and AI are available, why would you hire a human being to do anything that a robot could do?

    • Uniqueness. The very poorest and the very richest people tend to have a lot of hand made artifacts.

      Also, it’s fantastic as a status marker and ego trip. At least for some people. (I loathe such people, but I can’t dispute the evidence of my senses.)

  10. Or just reduce the ability of the self-serving ‘elites’ to make life ever more complicated.

    Reduce regulation. Simplify the tax code. Make it easier to hire and fire.

    Something like this discussion has come up elsewhere – it started as ‘what to do about the rural poor, the so-called left behinds’.

    Someone pointed out, the rural poor ‘left behinds’ do just bloody fine in areas where their urban elite masters don’t create regulatory regimes that make it impossible for rural people to make a living.

    You are solving the wrong problem, which is only natural because you are a member of the urban cognitive elite.

    • Yes. I see “They also worried that a society increasingly run by its cognitive elites would complexify in ways that would make life progressively more difficult for those on the wrong end of the IQ bell curve, eventually driving many out of normal economic life and into crime” as actually being the bigger problem.

      It’s not the stupidity of those born on the wrong side of the bell curve that will doom them, but rather rapacious regulation driving them into neo-serfdom as they’re pressed into giving up their freedom in exchange for protection.

      • Regulation that isn’t seen as that big a deal by the cognitive elites can be downright crippling to people on the left side, or even the middle, of the bell curve.

        Asking the average black woman who wants to make a few bucks doing African Hair Braiding out of her home to take a formal course in the techniques of “Cosmetology” and know, and comply with, all of the regulations that cover the entire subject, when she is never going to do most of the things that education would entail (such as the various chemicals used in coloring and treating hair), is downright cruel. It’s about as bad as telling a teenager he can’t get paid to mow lawns without dual BS degrees in Botany and Automotive Engineering (to cover how the mower’s engine works).

        The old system of a young worker apprenticing to a master craftsman, gradually learning the rules of the trade, becoming a journeyman, and perhaps eventually a master in his own right, has been replaced with “go to school and rack up crippling debt while you study a bunch of things that have no particular bearing upon the job you’ll actually be doing, because then you’ll have a piece of paper we can use to justify hiring you instead of some random dumbass.”

      • I think Deep Lurker wins the thread. We already see this in the third world, and now increasingly in the first world. The economist Hernando De Soto refers to it as the paper wall.

      • “but rather rapacious regulation driving them into neo-serfdom as they’re pressed into giving up their freedom in exchange for protection.”

        Giving them a good vocational education mightily helps. There are many very useful jobs that can be learned without the need for high level abstract reasoning. And we are far from a world were gardening or hair dresser robots will kick humans out of a job. However, that only works if the poor earn enough money to require the services of other poor (see, eg., “Gini coefficient” and “UBI”).

  11. > I think we all better hope we get germ-line genetic engineering and really effective nootropics real soon now. Because I think I have seen what the future looks like without these technologies, and it sucks.

    That’s only because you haven’t thought through the consequence of those technologies. If the end of the “Flat Century” scares you, the society genetic engineering will produce should terrify you.

    For example: we already have politicians attempting to “elect a new people” by manipulating immigration and education policy. Imagine what they could do with the ability to literally alter the genes of the next generation.

    • Exactly. Intelligence is one thing- what about agreeableness? Shall we become a species of toadies and yes-men?

  12. I don’t think the real bogeyman in this closet is what is asserted above.

    Yes, the comments made above are likely provably correct. The problem for the less gifted is increasing inability to make a living. But that affects more than just the less gifted, though they get hit harder.

    Years back, in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, the late Buckminster Fuller talked about the need to abolish the notion of “making a living”. As usual, Bucky was prescient. The historical pattern had been that as human beings lived together in groups, specialization occurred, because it simply wasn’t possible for an individual to do everything needed to survive. So different individuals performed different functions. The deal was that you did something that benefited your society, and in return, you got what you needed to live. Fuller foresaw a time when many if not most people wouldn’t be able to make a living, because they couldn’t do anything their society needed done badly enough to get paid to do it.

    As a rule, work flows to where it can be done cheapest, and arguably always has. The Industrial Revolution in Britain is the inflection point normally pointed at, but the trends that led to it go much farther back. I’ve been saying for a while that in the world we are moving into, you can’t be ignorant, and you can’t be stupid. You must have a high level of knowledge and skills, and you must be able to continually learn new skills because the ones you have will become obsolete. If it can be done by machine, it will be, and if it can be done elsewhere cheaper than it can be done here, that will happen too

    Peter F. Drucker talked about part of what you mention in a collection from over 20 years ago. (Managing in a Time of Great Change – Chapter 21 A Century of Social Transformation) He was referring to the demise of factory jobs. From a long time you didn’t have to go to college, and might not even have to finish high school. You could get a job on the assembly line in a unionized factory at union wage scales. You would get steady raises based on seniority, and get the opportunity to work overtime. You could earn a five figure income (and even six figures if you were in the auto industry) without a degree, and attain a middle class life style and own a house and car. You would have to work long hours doing mind numbing labor, but you could do it. Those days are mostly long gone, and this hits places like black communities especially hard. (And does so in part because there was pressure there to not go on to college and acquire a degree and learn a profession, because you would be seen as thinking you were better than others in your community.) What Drucker was worried about has been coming to pass, and moving steadily up the chain.

    But whether we have a new servant problem revolves around our embedded notion of making a living. You must have a job, and the only job you can get is being a servant. What if you don’t have to have a job to survive? I’m seeing increasing suggestions that we are on the verge of a post scarcity economy, where everything the members of society needs can be produced by a fraction of the society’s population, and there is enough to go around that everyone can get what they need for basic survival without having a job. Essentially, we can provide a guaranteed annual income whether you work or not. Jobs will still exist, and if you have the ability to do them you might get one, but you won’t starve if you don’t.

    A lot of what having a job is all about is structuring your time as well as making a living. If you don’t have to have a jobn, what do you do all day? (If you are gifted, you can probably find things to occupy yourself. If you are less gifted it will be a challenge.)

    The notion of earning a living, and being looked down upon if you can’t is deeply embedded in our society. The notion that people might be required to become servants if that was all they could do, simply to have a job is likely to arise, but I don’t see it ending well if it’s tried.

    I think what to do for the folks who simply can’t get jobs because they lack the skills and may not be able to acquire them may be the single most pressing problem we have.

    >Dennis

  13. One of my parents and both of my siblings are accountants. Both siblings happen to specialize in tax and there is never a shortage of work, or of new sub-specialties to stake out.

    Their entire livings fall under the heading of ‘compliance costs’, and there are lots more where they came from. Same goes for every corporate HR department, lawyers, etc etc.

    The regulatory systems that make their jobs necessary are just, collectively,
    cognitive elite rent seeking. It creates no value. But it makes a bunch of moderately smart people a good living.

  14. @esr:

    >Some people who seem dimly to apprehend what’s coming are talking up universal basic income as a solution. This is the long-term idiocy corresponding exactly to the short-term idiocy of the $15-an-hour-or-fight campaigners. UBI would be a trap, not a solution, and in any case has the usual problem of schemes that rely on other peoples’ money – as the demands of the clients increase you run out of it, and what then?

    One idea I’ve had: something of a combination of a balanced budget amendment and a UBI, is a citizenship dividend: take some fraction of the federal surplus and the treasury balance, divide it up, and cut every citizen a check. If you’re poor, you get your UBI, but only if the federal government is turning a profit, or at least has a healthy treasury balance, which would then incentivize the lower classes to vote for politicians that advocate federal fiscal responsibility.

    • Or confiscatory taxation.

      You don’t want to give the people who effectively are taxed at a negative rate, even *more* incentive to clean out your wallet.

      • It’s better than confiscatory taxation that doesn’t even cover a budget bloated beyond belief, along with high inflation (*sneaky* confiscatory taxation) to make ends meet on the debt.

        • Only because it makes the stealing – taxed from the productive and into the pocket of the unproductive – somewhat more direct, and hence theoretically more efficient.

  15. If I understand correctly what Jon suggests, just above, it sounds very similar to the program Robert Heinlein expanded on in great detail in his posthumously published first novel, _For us, the Living_ – then titled Social Credit, and an actual program that Heinlein was involved with in his days as a socialist.

    I think I’m characterizing that correctly.

    He works out the math in quite some detail (in a two-page footnote that had no business being in the middle of a chapter of a novel) and invites the reader to play along. It was somewhat akin, I gather from later commentary, to the dividend that residents of Alaska receive from the State’s income from oil.

  16. No worries, we can just import a bunch of illiterate sub 90 IQ average folks from around the globe and use them… How could that possibly go wrong?

  17. By coincidence, I was talking about this very scenario just a few days ago with some friends. A couple of thoughts:

    I think the the best possible future is nootropics + genetic engineering for higher intelligence. A quibble: I don’t think it’s necessary to “narrow the cognitive-ability spread”, in and of itself. What matters is raising the average person’s intelligence high enough to where they can do things more valuable than acting as a servant/meat-robot.

    ribbonfarm had an entertaining essay describing how the new divide would be “the API” – you’re upper (working) class if you make a living telling the API what to do and you’re lower class if the API tells you what to do. So, it’s like the servant scenario, except in the gig economy, you don’t even get perks like room and board.

    It’s not clear to me that UBI is as bad as an idea as you make it out to be; it’s at least better than the welfare trap / literal incentives to not work that the US has right now or the “basic job guarantee” idea I’ve seen floated. Long-term, there does seem to be a problem where, in a democracy, people will keep voting themselves more money, but I still think it’s less of a trap then the one we’re in right now.

    > There’s a good novel in this scenario

    I remember a bioengineering (bioinformatics? Can’t remember the guy’s name) professor telling me that whenever he gave a talk about the possibility of genetic engineering higher intelligence, ‘traditional’ religious / conservative audiences were generally very receptive to the idea and interested in how they could make it happen for their kids. The ‘progressive’ audiences (I can’t remember what northeastern city he mentioned) were either highly skeptical or actively hostile to the idea. So, the idea that the people at the topic of the pecking order would want to suppress intelligence enhancement feels uncomfortably real.

    • The ‘progressive’ audiences (I can’t remember what northeastern city he mentioned) were either highly skeptical or actively hostile to the idea.

      Progressives are better educated, and have some idea of what can go wrong. Ask yourself if you want your child or grandchild to be the first person given a genetic high-intelligence treatment.

      As an educated science-fiction reader, and a progressive, I love the idea of intelligence enhancement, and would happily try some myself. But not until a couple million people have gone first!

      So who will those people be? I’d guess they’ll be third-world folks signed up for an unethical experiment (and possibly killed or enslaved afterwards) so the ultimate buyers of the genetic upgrade (for rich children) don’t have to worry about competition. We’re taking about human-testing on a gigantic scale here, so asking skeptical questions is a very good idea.

      Did you think this omelette is going to get made without breaking a hundred-thousand eggs first?

      • > Ask yourself if you want your child or grandchild to be the first person

        Super risky. I’d advise them against it.

        There’s some context that I left out by mistake: the debate was over whether or not genetic intelligence modification should be legal at all, or not. As far as I can tell, the current consensus among ‘bioethicists’ (who appear to be very bad at their jobs) is that germline genetic engineering should be illegal, period.

        I’m very sympathetic towards ‘skepticism’ – I can be pretty skeptical myself. But there’s real hostility to the idea out there.

      • And, yet, the so-called cognitive elite are all for abortion rights. Is it too much too imagine (especially with numerous relatively cheap surrogate mothers) that for those with the bucks, post-birth culling of the defective won’t be A Thing? Or if the defects show up later, hiding the defectives away like the Kennedy’s did, if they’re squeamish?

  18. You see the not just the symptoms, but also the root cause. Nevertheless, I don’t think your solution will solve the problem. It will make it worse.

    Enhancing our DNA could be amazing. But who’s going to take advantage of that? Not the out-of-wedlock moms for sure. Nope, it would be cognitive elite. (I mean seriously, just try to explain in vitro selection to a low SES person and see the reaction you get.) The result: even higher cognitive inequality.

    (Also, we’re nowhere near technologically. Direct editing of the DNA could have huge unintended consequences. Embryo selection could work — it’s basically just selective breeding — but it would take some generations to see a big effect.)

    • Yeah, lots of people seem to forget just who has benefited from recent technological improvements. It’s as if the subject under discussion weren’t increasing economic inequality…

      Anyway the rich and risk-seeking probably will volunteer their children for a big messy CRISPR experiment that will eventually answer the questions we have about the genetic factors that govern intelligence. The (largely overseas) CRISPR labs won’t offer guarantees, but they won’t have to.

      • > It’s as if the subject under discussion weren’t increasing economic inequality…

        The subject under discussion isn’t “increasing economic inequity”.

        That’s bullshit. There is a TON of evidence out there that “the poor” are getting materially better off ALL THE TIME, and the the rich are basically just adding a zero or two to their bank accounts.

        Yeah, the rich have yachts and the poor don’t. But today’s poor don’t have a yacht while they sit on a sofa watching a 30 or 40 inch flat panel TV screen in a building with heating and (often) air conditioning, have access to medical care that is about 80-90% of what all but the very richest can get access to etc. etc., and are more often than not *overweight*, not starving.

        The whole “wealth inequity” thing is a socialist claptrap deliberately promulgated to avoid having to talk about the fact that there are fewer and fewer people living in poverty every year, and more and more those who are poor either (a) those who made deliberate decisions to do things that keep them poor (e.g. be a social worker, librarian, artist) (b) do not have the requisite *something* (genes, culture, attitude, depends on who you ask) to hold down a steady job of the sort that gets you into the middle class.

        We don’t have “haves” and “have nots” any more. We have “Have some” and “Have Lots”. And as long as we have a system where it is possible for anyone with the requisite abilities to hold down a job *can*, it’s going to get EASIER for that to happen.

        A cheap pair of shoes at Payless has been 20 bucks since sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. Ditto at Walmart. The difference is that in 1980 that was ~6 hours of work at minimum wage. Today it’s 4. (by inflation they would be 61 dollars today)

        And in 1980 those shoes were crap, and would fall apart in a few months. Today that same price point will last 2-3 years.

        The poor–at least in the western world–are better off today than ever before and instead of accepting that, figuring out why and doing MOAR OF IT folks are beating their chests and trying to kill it.

        That’s DUMB.

        • Please read the essay at the top of the page entitled “The return of the servant problem”. If you have objections to the idea that inequality (not “inequity”, what is that?) might ever increase, you might take those up with our host. He isn’t predicting a resurgence in servants due to an increasing interest in serving.

          • I did read it.

            And I thought about it.

            Apparently you did only one of those things before you pulled out a well worn drum and began to pound it.

            • Indeed.

              And as a member of the urban cognitive elite, who has conveniently derived benefit from the vast changes in our society made possible by the urban cognitive elite’s near total control of that society…

              I question the premise and the author’s own bias. Fish don’t know that water is wet.

              And those changes are far from inevitable. What happens to economies that reduce taxes and regulation would even suggest this ‘complexification’ is bad for everyone.

              But some people would rather reign in Hell.

        • >A cheap pair of shoes at Payless has been 20 bucks since sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. Ditto at Walmart. The difference is that in 1980 that was ~6 hours of work at minimum wage. Today it’s 4. (by inflation they would be 61 dollars today)

          >And in 1980 those shoes were crap, and would fall apart in a few months. Today that same price point will last 2-3 years.

          While I don’t disagree about the nominal price point of cheap shoes, or them costing less today when adjusting for inflation, I do disagree about their durability. In my experience, cheap Wal-Mart shoes still only last about 6 months before the soles are worn through or the upper is separating from the sole, or both. You’re still buying shoes regularly, instead of something that lasts a while.

          I suppose buying cheap shoes for the kids will make sense, as they’re going to outgrow them anyway, but if one were having multiple children, it seems to me it would make just as much sense to buy more durable shoes and pass them down to younger siblings, as we did with clothes in my family.

  19. A few other variables:
    Rise of virtual reality as absorbing entertainment.
    Post scarcity (as mentioned above).
    Religion: it really does already give many low IQ people moral guidance and meaning.
    Increasing levels of democracy: a move towards the Swiss model.
    Education/knowledge available from the internet for everyone.
    Hand making things: for the pleasure of the process, and to enjoy the result.
    Non-dangerous mind stimulating drugs for recreation and learning.
    Exploration of self: meditation and other contemplative, transformative activities.
    Sport
    As noted above, the problem of low employment has been a topic for many decades. One of the first sci fi(?) books I read was Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Player Piano’. During the early 80s a book titled ‘Farewell to the Working Class’ was published. There must be a thousand other examples.
    Having observed people of all classes and levels of ability with this concern in mind since reading Player Piano (I was 10yo) I have come to the conclusion that a high proportion of people will be good and co-operative if given half a chance, and will gravitate towards the things that allow them to be so where reasonably possible. They have to have that chance available to them. Where there is no chance they will generally deviate only so far as a tolerable survival is gained. I am not trying to paint a picture of rosiness – of course many people will act badly sometimes, and of course there are those who just want to cause others harm, or wish to dominate and organise others with nefarious ends in mind – but autochthonous(?) goodness is perhaps underestimated. If you don’t crush it with impossible circumstances it will dominate.
    I have a rule of thumb. People are motivated by three eternities – biological reproduction, spiritual eternity, and cultural eternity (fame, and the best fame is everlasting). If access to the first two of these is available without too much friction, and there can be a hope (however faint) for the third, the society will probably be ok.

    • > I have come to the conclusion that a high proportion of people will
      > be good and co-operative if given half a chance, and will gravitate
      > towards the things that allow them to be so where reasonably possible.

      You need to spend more time around inner cities, and close in suburban communities–places where it’s not regional circumstances that keep people poor.

  20. Of course when I say access to spiritual eternity is available, I mean where people have access to a structure of ideas and feelings that allows them to believe that.
    I don’t have a fixed view on the truth of such an idea because we don’t even know anything about how we can have free will in defiance of the physical laws as we understand them. How, then, can we simply declare ourselves material beings, operating entirely within the laws of physics as we understand them (even taking into account quantum things) and ceasing to exist at death? I have great fondness for Epicurus, and huge respect for science, but we are very far from a complete understanding of life.

    • Everything you see around you is material in some sense (even electricity and fire and what not) – but the watcher who has the feeling of being something is not material – ie having qualia is prima facie that the universe is not only material, in my view.

      By “watcher” I don’t mean the mind – because if you meditate you start to see your mind as stuff happening in the field of awareness also. Ie there is something higher than the mind observing its workings.

      This is the root of all mystical religion – the eternal watcher or “I Am” (even in Abrahamic texts we have “I Am That I Am”, “Before Abraham, I Am”, “Split a log, I am there, lift a blade of grass, I am there” and such clues).

      The deep mysteriousness of the “I Am” is a prime reason why I am not an atheist. I started having these realizations at an early age whereas most people still seem to be in the “ego-tunnel” (= identified with the mind). At least it seems like that to me.

      • >Ie there is something higher than the mind observing its workings.

        Assumes a neat hierarchy that doesn’t exist. The reality seems to be that the mind is a prediction engine full of strange loops. If you were actually able to pop out of the “top” level of consciousness, you’d find yourself back at the bottom – probably pure somatic awareness.

        This doesn’t mean that the mystical practice of attending to the self-monitoring parts of the machine isn’t useful – it is, in many ways. But overinterpreting it gets you into deep, crazy shit (I say this as a mystic myself).

        • “Assumes a neat hierarchy that doesn’t exist.”

          If I read you correctly, you interpreted me as making a claim about how the psyche works – ie that there is a top-level mind mechanic which gives the “I Am” feeling.

          I’m a bit more radical than that – I believe the “I Am” is in a much more basic category than that. It’s not psychological or neurological – it’s more a basic fact of existence itself. The mind itself is not really *aware* of itself (other than symbolically and in the same sense as a recursive function which points to itself, which is where strange loops might fit as a model). But, there is some basic property of the universe – the “I Am” – which is aware of everything that exists, including individual minds. Now, there is obviously some mechanism at play also which makes this basic awareness glue onto the mind – which is what we call the ego – a mechanism that is active in all humans except a very small number who have attained Enlightenment (or Self-realization or Samadhi Nirvikalpi, whatever you want to call it, basically the extinction of the mechanism whereby awareness identifies itself with the mind).

          I can’t really prove this in any scientific sense, which should end the debate right there, since I am not really putting out anything falsifiable here. Science is about the patterns and regularities in the physical universe, but I am positing that there is an immaterial category which supersedes what we mean by the physical universe, in that it is the That in which everything happens. Also, science could be codified as an information-processing loop and is not really dependent on the “I Am” – philosophical zombies can be great scientists (including being “aware” of their own minds on the symbolic level) as long as they can process information and have sensors that can feed them data. They could even be programmed to talk about their “qualia”, and find physical correlates for them, but the basic nature of qualia – the basic “thatness” – they would not experience.

          Just my 2c, of course.

  21. @esr:

    > There is only one way out of this, and that’s science-fictional too. We’ll need to figure out how to fight the economic and genetic drift towards an ability-stratified society by intervening at the root causes. Drugs to make people smarter; germ-line manipulation to make their kids brighter. If we can narrow the cognitive-ability spread enough, the economic forces driving increasing divergence between upper and lower SES will abate.

    I’m not sure this will work. Who pays for the germ-lime manipulation and the smart drugs? If the patient pays, the lower classes may well be priced out. And I don’t think you’re the type to go for “government pays” or “government pays, and it’s mandatory”. Your solution may very well make the problem worse.

    • >Who pays for the germ-lime manipulation and the smart drugs?

      I don’t think this is a long-term problem. One reason is that these are going to be largely information goods that thus tend towards a low marginal production cost when markets are allowed to operate – unlike, say, housing and food.

      The modafinil I occasionally take – an early nootropic – is a case in point. Dirt-cheap if you buy it from India, expensive in the U.S. because U.S. prices have the staggering cost of regulatory conformance baked in.

      Also I think making loans against the increase in a person’s earning capacity will be economicallt viable. Certainly a better bet than college loans, and there are plenty of lenders offering those.

      • The problem is that information goods are already subject to government-enforced monopolies in the West (which is where non-stratified society primarily exists, and where we happen to live, whatever the situation is in the rest of the world), and those monopolies are a stratifying influence and are likely to drive their own stratification feedback loop, so I don’t expect them to go away as society becomes more stratified. I also don’t see much progress towards eliminating those monopolies in the short term, before society becomes significantly more stratified: It’s difficult to convince even an anarcho-libertarian like you that copyright is a perversion of capitalism, so how is the federal government to be convinced, let alone members of the MAFIAA that have a vested interest in continuing to gouge society.

        • >And India regulates their drug prices while the U.S. does not.

          No doubt. Their domestic customers probably pay more per pill than I do to internalize that cost.

      • > expensive in the U.S. because U.S. prices have the staggering
        > cost of regulatory conformance baked in.

        That’s a funny way of saying “is prescription only, so the sellers assume your insurance is paying and you DGAF about the cost”.

        • It’s also saying “You have to do eleventy frillion studies to get your drug approved, and even then FDA might decide to take it off the market if some people have bad outcomes (no matter how bad their health was before they took the drug).”

          • It’s also the case that the cost of a life is much higher in the US, so the risk to the manufacturer in the event of a defect is much higher and needs to be priced in as well.

          • (this is to both Monster and Garett)

            What you are missing is the *many* of the drugs you buy here in the US are made in the same pharmaceutical plants in India. There is zero difference between them. But if you order them from a middleman in India they’re SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper.

            Now, they could be tacking on some cost stateside as a hedge against lawsuits, but other than that most of the “regulatory” costs are baked in.

  22. Instead of reading the “summary”, you could also read the original:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/07/03/1801238115

    And then read the summary of the authors:

    We found that people with more education-linked genetics were more successful compared with parents and siblings. We also found mothers’ education-linked genetics predicted their children’s attainment over and above the children’s own genetics, indicating an environmentally mediated genetic effect.

    Which points out clearly that social mobility is regulated through the educational system in two ways:
    1) Genes that increase school success increase social mobility
    2) Mothers that increase school success increase social mobility even more (environment)

    Not that this is really new. Studies in the developing world have shown time and again that educating girls is by far the most (cost) effective way to improve the success of the next generation.

    Instead of exploring eugenic fantasies, the faster and easier way to improve social mobility is to fit the education and environment to the student. Because, as you all never bothered to learn, it is the environment that make genes fit or not. If the genes do not fit the environment, make the environment fit the genes. You can get very far that way.

    For those who do not believe this, glasses handled the genetic lack of fitness of myopic eyes, and (soy) beans handled the genetic disadvantage of lactose intolerance. In the same way, a lot can be done to improve educational attainment for those who do not fit well in the current educational system.

    But the real world, you say? Now, Germany, for example, has a very good vocational educational system that allow those who would fail in, say, the US system to finish a good vocational education. As a result, these potential US drop outs are able to drive the industrial powerhouse of the world. Germany is a big exporter of industrial goods, it even exports lots of them to China. All thanks to a well designed vocational and apprentice system. But I know, modern Americans and well designed public governance are like water and oil.

    Your first, and only, reaction seems to be to blame the victim (and punish him). And if you see a lack of social mobility, you do not think this might be caused by an ossified social system that denies most people a chance to flee their parents social status (think “student loans”). No, this must be because the victims are genetically unfit. Everything is better than to contemplate social change.

    It is four generations since 1918. There simply has not been enough time to sort out all the “good” and “bad” gene collections in this time. Population genetics is not difficult mathematics. If only you would want to know, you could know. But if you knew, you could not blame the victim anymore. That must be a huge disincentive to learning about population genetics.

    • You’re dealing with the man whose solution to the problem of ISPs giving preferential treatment to paid content providers was–er, magic mesh networks that would disrupt the ISPs into oblivion, were it not for the fact that the laws of physics forbid such mesh networks from reaching consumer-internet scales without interference rendering the whole mess unusable. When in doubt, reach for the science fiction techwankery instead of dealing with the messy reality of politics to solve an inherently political problem. Literally, anything but social change.

      • >Literally, anything but social change.

        I’m completely OK with social change – as long as it’s not in the direction of “more gangs of goons come to threaten you, take away your stuff, and kill you if you refuse to conform”.

        • Gangs of goons? You mean like U.S. cops or ICE agents?

          On the gangs-of-goons front, the USA looks a lot worse than most social-democratic nations.

          • >On the gangs-of-goons front, the USA looks a lot worse than most social-democratic nations.

            Says the insular idiot who, unlike me, has never lived in a ‘social democracy’.

            Dear Goddess, you are a viciously ignorant buffoon.

            • Please enlighten those ignorants who have lived all of their life in such countries. I have never seen the type of violence you claim is rife over here.

              Our “goons” tend to be much more friendly and nice than those in the USA. At least, that is what Americans told me when they returned from trips. And to dispel another American myth, our goons are also definitely not allowed to kill people who object to paying taxes or disobey other regulations. The use of deadly force is only allowed when there is a danger to life and limb.

              • >And to dispel another American myth, our goons are also definitely not allowed to kill people who object to paying taxes or disobey other regulations.

                Yeah, pull the other one. They don’t carry guns so the law can be enforced with bouquets of posies.

                “Shot while resisting arrest” is a fine old tradition of police everywhere. And the prison guards, I’m sure they’re not preventing escapes with big soft pillows and candyfloss.

                • ““Shot while resisting arrest” is a fine old tradition of police everywhere. ”

                  Except, the German police kill only ~10 people a year on a population of 80 million. And this is not for “resisting” arrest, but almost always for posing a direct (armed) threat or attack. So, this is just another of those self-serving myths.

                  “And the prison guards, I’m sure they’re not preventing escapes with big soft pillows and candyfloss.”

                  I know of no data on violence against prisoners by guards in Germany. So, if you have them, please share them. All reports of violence are between prisoners. But even here, that is a fraction of that in the USA.

                  Fun fact:
                  The Dutch prison crisis: A shortage of prisoners
                  https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37904263

                • “Shot while resisting arrest” is a fine old tradition of police everywhere.

                  Once again, you’re confusing accidental characteristics of the USA with inherent characteristics of all governments. In 2011, German police fired 85 rounds of ammunition. Total. For all of Germany. If you fly to an EU airport you will see gendarmes standing around in full camo with automatic weapons. No one bats an eyelash. Seeing that would cause a panic in the USA, since we assume anyone who has such a weapon intends to use it.

                  I guess Europeans are simply better at exercising restraint.

                  • Here in the US we see people in police uniforms carrying handguns.

                    Maybe if we eliminated the Posse Comitatus Act and had soldiers wandering around crime ridden neighborhoods with automatic weapons we might have some impact on crime?

                    Oh, wait. The Europeans soldier-police don’t go in the *bad* neighborhoods. They let the “youths” “protest” there as much as they want. It only gets bad when they come out of those neighborhoods.

                    You’re making *really* shallow comparisons without dealing with much of the underlying culture and dynamics.

                    What’s the line about Socalism and Axe body spray?

      • As opposed to you, whose solution to every problem is MOAR MARXISM?

        The “messy reality of politics” is that your ideas have resulted in the murder of more than 100 million people.

        • You obviously have no clue about Marxism if you even consider the option that Jeff is a Marxist. But you are in good company. I have yet to meet an American who does.

          • Think of it this way, to someone who is into $SUBGENRE Metal there is a MASSIVE difference between Black Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal etc.

            To someone who is into Opera, there is no difference at all in there.

            Or to put it another way, to a Goth there are lots of blacks–red blacks, blue blacks, green blacks and you DO NOT want to mix these. To normal people it’s f*king black.

            From *our* perspective people like you and Read *are* Marxists because (a) internationalists to one degree or another, (b) redistributionist to one degree or another, (c) see the world, again to one degree or another, through the paradigm of class and class struggle.

            As someone else said, the only difference between Euro-socialism and communism is property taxes–you *pretend* that private property still exists, but your masters in the EU are wrapping layer after layer of regulation over everything–much like the Jeff Reads of America are trying to do–until the state may not *own* it, but you, the titular owner, have almost no say in what you can do.

            Lots of people like to live like this. Heck, HOAs are REALLY popular in the US for that reason. But the thing about a HOA is you can sell your house and move a mile away and get out from under the crazy.

            So yeah, you’re Marxist from where we sit.

            • The fact that, from your fringe perspective, everyone to the left of, say, Ronald Reagan looks like a Marxist does not actually make me a Marxist.

            • “To someone who is into Opera, there is no difference at all in there. ”

              The fact that a heavy metal fan cannot hear the difference between a musical and an opera does not make a musical an opera. Or, vice versa, the fact that a Vivaldi fan cannot hear the difference between heavy metal and grunge does not make heavy metal grunge music.

              This is especially devious as the aim of calling Jeff and me Marxists is to conclude that we are Stalinist who want to exterminate 100M people. Which is as ridiculous as me claiming Republicans are all racists wanting to reinstate chattel slavery and the slave trade.
              http://time.com/4535292/donald-trump-black-slaves/#

              • >This is especially devious as the aim of calling Jeff and me Marxists is to conclude that we are Stalinist who want to exterminate 100M people.

                I don’t think either of you wants this outcome, just that it is the inevitable result of your premises in a way you refuse to see.

                • ” don’t think either of you wants this outcome, just that it is the inevitable result of your premises in a way you refuse to see.”

                  That I can say to all those people voting for Trump and reinstating slavery.
                  “You personally do not want slavery back, but it is the inevitable result of the revolt of the white man against the unfit non whites”

                  Crap in, crap out.

                  • >“You personally do not want slavery back, but it is the inevitable result of the revolt of the white man against the unfit non whites”

                    But that isn’t what elected Trump. Your premise is wrong.

                    I did my bit to try to stop him – changed parties to register Republican for the first time in my life so I could vote against him in the PA primaries. The way the electoral college math works out, winning PA was arguably the key to his victory – and. having lived in PA since the 1970s, I know why he won here.

                    It wasn’t a racial revolt against “unfit non-whites”. It was a class revolt against smug, incompetent elites. The notion that Trump was elected by racism is a fairy tale those elites have been telling themselves ever since to avoid facing why and just how thoroughly they were repudiated.

                    Trump didn’t run against blacks. He didn’t run against welfare. He ran against the D.C swamp, the establishment media, and “globalism” – a somewhat inchoate concept which expresses Trump voters’ sense that our elites are more loyal to an international New Class of like-minded sorts than to the people of their own country. Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” crack about Middle America is. more than any other single blunder, what did her in.

                    The Democrats show every sign of not getting this at all. Which is why I think they’re going to get clobbered in the upcoming midterms and in 2020.

                    • Trump was not voted in by a majority of racists, that is right. But these voters did vote in a white supremacists administration.

                      They did not want racists in power, but they got them anyway.

                      And I do understand that there is an enormous anger for beying betrayed. But as always, the votes then go to the biggest traitors.

                    • >But these voters did vote in a white supremacists administration.

                      Oh, bullshit. Nothing about Trump’s policies or personnel says “white supremacist”. Thar’s another fantasy concocted by people desperate to avoid facing why they lost and why he keeps outmaneuvering them.

                    • > But these voters did vote in a
                      > white supremacists administration.

                      You’re out of your mind.

                      In the last 18 months African-American unemployment has fallen to it’s lowest point in 20 something YEARS.

                      Ditto “hispanic” unemployment.

                      Women are doing better under Trump (economically) than every before.

                      Welfare rolls are at their lowest in a generation–and not because people were kicked off.

                      The recent upswing in unemployment numbers is because people are going *back* into the labor force looking for work.

                      If Trump hates blacks and latinos, and this is the result, what can I do to make him hate *me*?

                      The answer is he doesn’t. For *decades* Trump was seen and photographed with black and latino entertainers and politicians. Both at his instigation and theirs. He didn’t become a “racist” until he started running for president against Her Majestic Highness HRC.

                    • > He didn’t become a “racist” until he started running for president against Her Majestic Highness HRC.

                      American “racism” is mostly – not entirely, but mostly – a scary fantasy the elites tell themselves to themselves to justify their control. Anyone becomes a “racist” the moment it is useful to shut them down.

                    • “American “racism” is mostly – not entirely, but mostly – a scary fantasy the elites tell themselves to themselves to justify their control.”

                      I wonder. ~20% of Trump’s supporters did not agree with the abolition of slavery.
                      http://time.com/4236640/donald-trump-racist-supporters/#

                      I have seen Americans advocating and defending race slavery, even on this very blog. Also, I saw Alt-Right protesters in the Charlottesville protest yell at non-whites that they would all be deported to Africa. Also, I heard Richard Spencer explain how human races are like dog breeds and there should be ethnic cleansing.

                      This could all just be outliers. But then I hear about black people being arrested for sitting in a Starbucks, or in their own dormitory, or getting the police called for having a cookout in the park. Then I look at the above statistics and think you are terribly wrong.

                    • >I have seen Americans advocating and defending race slavery, even on this very blog.

                      I did a keyword search on past comments. Nobody has actually defended chattel slavery here; there is a small minority that has made racialist and ethnonationalist claims about black inferiority, but no slavery apologists. I am especially sure of this because I know I would have roasted anyone taking that position to a crisp and that I have never had to do so.

                      >20% of Trump’s supporters did not agree with the abolition of slavery.

                      I plain do not believe this. 2% I could believe. but not 20%. I would need to see the detailed crosstabs and the way the question was worded to be convinced otherwise. Given that Trump’s supporters were nearly half the population, if it were really 20% public support for chattel slavery would actually be publicly visible, at least in undercultures like 4chan. It isn’t. This remains one of the great taboos of American politics, even more so than self-identifying as a Nazi.

                      >Also, I saw Alt-Right protesters in the Charlottesville protest yell at non-whites that they would all be deported to Africa.

                      Yes, you did. This is not equivalent to advocating chattel slavery. Ethnonationalism and white separatism, unlike chattel slavery, do have (a tiny fringe) of advocates in the U.S. Their influence on public opinion and politics is tremendously exaggerated by the media because our power elites need them to function as serviceable villains.

                    • “I did a keyword search on past comments. ”

                      I wrote squarely that James A Donald supported reintroducing slavery for blacks. He responded that he considered it a good solution for blacks.

                      How much more should I ask for?

                      “I plain do not believe this. 2% I could believe. but not 20%.”

                      It was an exit poll. For one thing, it is 20% for Trump supporters versus 5% for Rubio supporters.
                      https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-supporters-for-intolerance.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

                      “Ethnonationalism and white separatism, unlike chattel slavery, do have (a tiny fringe) of advocates in the U.S.”

                      Indeed, but I was responding to your assertion that racisms was insignificant in the US. Both Ethnonationalism and white separatism are ideologies based on racism.

                      “Their influence on public opinion and politics is tremendously exaggerated ”

                      Sorry, but the segregation of Americans on skin color (what you enter on the dotted lines) is much too successful to believe you. The socio-economic numbers are more convincing than your, apparently, wishful thinking.

                    • >He responded that he considered it a good solution for blacks.

                      But even that odious person has not advocated reintroducing it. If he had, I might actually have banned him. He has put the most severe strain on my “no bans for opinions” policy of anyone ever.

                      >Both Ethnonationalism and white separatism are ideologies based on racism.

                      Neither of them matter a damn yet. If that weren’t true, we would see changes in major-party platforms that aren’t happening. I note that I do have some worry this might change in the foreseeable future – I intend to blog about that shortly.

                      >Sorry, but the segregation of Americans on skin color (what you enter on the dotted lines) is much too successful to believe you.

                      I understand why you might think so. But it turns out that segregation – even racial segregation – is not in itself evidence of racism as you and I understand the term.

                      In simulations of residential patterns, if you give agents even a slight preference for being near people like themselves and even limited, expensive mobility, they self-segregate. This is not “racist” behavior, unless you think that (for example) the existence of discernible Italian and Polish neighborhood in South Philadelphia are racist with respect to each other. or the existence of middle-class neighborhoods means middl-class people are racist against the wealthy.

                      Therefore, if you want to argue that black/white segregation of evidence is evidence of racism, and not be dishonest about it, you need an estimate of how much of that “clumping” tendency is actually driven by race. In the U.S. I think there is plenty of evidence that SES is far more important. If this weren’t so there would be noticeable ethnic/racial segregation in wealthy neighborhoods, and there simply isn’t.

                    • >But I was more thinking about segregation in schools.

                      If I had kids in black-majority schools I’d probably want to get them the hell out, too. It’s not race prejudice to notice that they tend to be violently dysfunctional.

                      In 1965 it was easy to justify the inference that white flight from black schools and neighborhoods was a racist reaction. Fifty years later, with urban black culture sunk to depths that could barely have been imagined then (gee, thanks, government “help”!) getting clear of it is merely…sane.

                    • In 1965, to people with direct experience of conditions on the ground, it was also sane.

                      Its just so much more obvious now, and harder to gaslight.

                • “just that it is the inevitable result of your premises”

                  Except, it never happened during the 4 centuries my country existed. Nor did it happen in the UK or France, or any of the Scandinavian countries, or Italy, or Canada etc. Nor did it happen during Roosevelt’s New Deal socialism. It did not happen since WWII in any Western country. And after the death of Stalin, it did not happen in Communist Russia. After 1970, it did not happen in Communist China.

                  All your evidence are the same connected cases following (civil) wars. That is it.

                  Americans have been predicting the socialist hemoclysm in Europe since WWII. There still is no sign of it anywhere.

                  • >Nor did it happen during Roosevelt’s New Deal socialism. It did not happen since WWII in any Western country.

                    Venezuela. Atrocious government violence is going on there now.

                    If they don’t make it all the way to organized genocide, it will only be due to incompetence, not any redeeming feature in socialist doctrine.

                    • Venezuela is descending into a civil war. Might go all the way, but currently, this is still a civil war after a populist government lost everything but their power.

                      So, this is not a good example of Stalinism reborn.

                      Also, Venezuela has hardly any commonalities with Germany, or Europe in general. Much more like its neighbors.

                • The result of our premises in Germany has been seventy years of peace, prosperity, multiculturalism, and most notably a complete lack of renazification.

                  In other words, avoiding the result you say is inevitable.

                  I’m sure you’ll try to tell me that that’ll all change once enough brown people invade seek asylum in Germany. But that argument is as silly and racist as your arguments that the real problems with America stem from the fact that it has too many black people. Canada is arguably the most multicultural country on Earth, with large proportions of the population coming from nonwhite racial and ethnic backgrounds — and yet it still more closely resembles the Germany of today than the USA of today. How did they make it work and we didn’t?

                  I don’t have any easy answers, but I do have my suspicions. My belief is that the defining trait of American culture is selfishness. Americans believe that they can do what they want, say what they want, and acquire as much as they want, and they live in fear of others who seek to acquire what they perceive as rightfully theirs for the taking. This shapes everything political in the USA, from the uniquely American boner for guns, to the toxic intimacy between American business and government, to recent attitudes towards immigrants and refugees (as well as historical attitudes towards e.g., newly freed blacks).

                  Under this line of thinking, Americans had better learn to play well with others. Otherwise they will find themselves despised and disdained by a world that has surpassed them.

                  • Instead of selfishness, I think a better explanation is that there are hardly any governments in the developed world that would be as hostile to the basic interests of middle-class citizens as the USG.

                    Consider the Obamacare horror stories, people finding their previous insurance outlawed and unable to find a new one that would cover broken bones and cancer that their local hospital would accept. This is a very different result from how European healthcare systems work and makes it very reasonable that Obamacare had to go and until the USG shows some basic competence at actually providing healthcare instead of making a law that is supposed to do and yet ends up taking away health insurance from people who used to have it, should not be allowed to touch healthcare. Even on the statist side there are far better solutions than that, like doctors working part-time for the state and part-time private, with the first putting competitive pressure on the price of the second (this is roughly the system in Austria).

                    Another example is that Europe can live without guns because up to the recent immigration wave since 2015, there was basically no large-scale armed crime, except for some exceptions where it started earlier (Sweden, rape). The well-armed ghetto criminal hotspots in the US used to be big outliers (although London is catching up nicely in crime), and it is insane to think about disarming citizens before those are somehow cleaned up. It is very reasonable to stick to guns until – if ever – armed home invasions stop being a thing. I was seriously surprised when I learned they are a thing. Of course I would want a gun in such circumstances. While I grew up in places where such a thing was never on our minds, so we didn’t need guns. Now that immigration is making crime a bigger issue in Europe, Czechs already went towards the reasonable direction and legalized guns and I think others will follow.

                    A third example, and perhaps I am not being entirely accurate here, is education debt problem. The cheap, European-style statist solution would be extending the community college system. It is relatively cheap to run state universities and would put competitive pressure on the private ones. If I have read it right, Bernie was like private universities charging $200K for a degree are all fine, just the taxpayer should pay for it. Wat?

                    At any rate the big question is not even statism vs. libertarianism but that the USG has a track record of picking exactly that kind of statism that hurts the middle-class the most. “Solves” healthcare by taking it away from them, tries to disarm citizens without solving armed home invasions, and so on.

                    Libertarian solutions > relatively sensible European statist solutions > the insane hostile statist solutions the USG tends to come up with. This is the reason.

                    • >It is very reasonable to stick to guns until – if ever – armed home invasions stop being a thing. I was seriously surprised when I learned they are a thing.

                      OK, listen carefully now, because as an anarchist – a person with strong reasons of principle to view governments as necessarily hostile and criminal – I’m going to explain to you why this is not evidence for your thesis.

                      If we had a uniquely bad crime problem because the govt is hostile to middle-class interests, one would expect the demographics of victimization by violent crime to look like most of the victims are middle-class. That’s not what we see. The victims of crime, and its perpetrators, are overwhelmingly the urban poor, especially the black urban poor. Recall an observation I’ve made before about how and where violent crime is concentrated in the U.S.: it’s Switzerland vs. Swaziland. Murders – and home invasions – are concentrated in Swaziland.

                      You almost found the sufficient hypothesis in correctly noting that European crime rates were low but have skyrocketed since the mass immigration of 2015. Europe never had a large enough criminal underclass to create Swaziland-like hot zones before. Not until Angela Merkel and auxiliary idiots imported one, that is.

                      Was this out of hostility to middle-class interests? If so, you’d have to abandon your thesis that the U.S government is uniquely hostile to middle-class interests. No, the actual explanation is simpler; Merkel & Co were ideologically blind to the inevitable consequences of importing millions of people with dramatically lower average IQ and higher time preference than Europeans.

                      Average IQ of Syrians: 83. Average IQ of American blacks: 85. Average European IQ about 100. That standard deviation makes a hell of a lot of difference. You don’t actually need skin color or Islam to explain the Switzerland/Swaziland pattern entrenched in the U.S. and now developing in Europe; all you need to know is what any psychometrician would instantly predict from that average-IQ gap.

                      Note that I am not claiming there is no hostility to middle-class interests going on; there certainly is, and it takes the usual socialist-vs.-bourgeoisie and New-Class-axe-grinding forms. But it’s not required to explain crime rates.

    • >No, this must be because the victims are genetically unfit.

      In the past, “ossified social system” could explain much. In the present this is becoming increasingly difficult to credit. Noticing that genetics is increasingly important is not blaming the victim, it’s just paying attention to reality.

      And not a reality that makes me happy – genetic inequality cuts strongly against the kind of society I want to live in. If I could believe something else – notably that the problem is easier to fix – I’d be all about that.

      • Quite a lot of the wealthy Americans inherited a large sum. This includes the current president. This does not include the number of people who were able to attend better schools, colleges, and universities because of their parent’s income.

        Those who came out of the 95% lowest incomes make up a small part of the wealthiest Americans.

        “more gangs of goons come to threaten you, take away your stuff, and kill you if you refuse to conform”

        All in all, the German government kills way less Germans (population adjusted) than US officials kill Americans. These are orders of magnitude less. So this is a straw man if there ever was.

        And about Government abuse, it is your government that locks up babies in cages and then loses them.

        • >All in all, the German government kills way less Germans (population adjusted) than US officials kill Americans.

          And that will remain true, most likely, until either (a) they start taking socialism seriously again and there are kulaks to be liquidated, or (b) they have to deal with a criminal underclass as large and as politically protected as ours is. Merkel seems to be trying to arrange the second scenario.

          • In a hypothetical future where the admirers of Trump and Putin get into power in Germany, they might start murdering like Americans. But for the last 70 years of so, it is the Americans who are the murderous bunch on their home soil.

            As I wrote above, it is your country that locks up babies in cages and “looses” them. It is your country that locks up a large fraction of the underclass. Pointing fingers at countries that do not do such things because they, somehow, might do so in the indeterminate future does not make the wrongs in your country go away.

            • But for the last 70 years of so, it is the Americans who are the murderous bunch on their home soil.

              So, we’re just ignoring China, North Korea, Cuba, Cambodia, etc?

              • You are welcome to set the bar at that height. If that is all you aspire as a country, then you must be very happy.

                Note that the US have done their best killing people in both North Korea and Cambodia.

  23. 1) Domestic work is also automated, however, having a retinue, a cortege is a useful social status symbol, but only good looking and polite people will be selected for that.

    2) A monogamy norm in a highly stratified society could only be maintained by the rigorous application or Christianity or some equalivalent which is not going to happen. So expect lot of young women rather choosing to be the 100th concubine of a rich man than be poor. This can even become an expectation, like in todays China were even not very potent high status men pretend to have young mistresses because they are a status symbol.

    3) 2) will absolutely infuriate the lower class men as it is already done in China and to a certain extent in Arab societies: we get these “refugee” waves because their post-Arab-Spring economy is shit, they cannot get a job and buy a house, and no father will allow an Arab girl to marry such a guy, nor can they get sex any other way. (Karin Kneissl, Austria’s foreign minister has this opinion, who grew up in Jordan, and is generally both very knowledgeable about these cultures and redpilled enough to talk straight.)

    Basically what happens is that if young men have no money and no sex they basically have nothing to risk. Crime, revolution, mercenary work, or joining an nationalist revanchist movement to make war on a historic enemy country, basically anything goes because risking death for an elevation in status is preferable to living like that.

    Elites may also choose to burn off excess lower class male population by wars. Well, that would be at least eugenic. But still don’t expect it to be a good thing. Modern war is too easy to escalate into all kinds of real bad stuff.

    4) Welfare in return for a forced one child policy for welfare clients, with sterilization after the first kid, thus halving the welfare client population in every generation would work well, but not palatable even for conservatives.

    5) Even if genetic engineering works, it is not certain that a sudden large supply of high IQ people is able to create its own demand. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism said that Jews in Vienna produce a large number of good but not great intellects, who cannot find a position for them that fits their ability thus turn into subversives like Communists. The problem is, it was not simply a matter of an overly rigid, non-meritocratic society. While the government was ran by aristocrats, the industry was growing fast, offering social mobilty for the visual-spatial IQ people, and poets, writers, artists were viewed in a very very high regard, offering at least status (thus sex) if not money for the typically high verbal IQ Jewish population. There was plenty of meritocracy to go around. The issue was, I think, that the society could not deal with a fairly sudden explosion of a large number of smart Jewish people. Supply of IQ could not create its own demand.

    So it is entirely possible that genetic engineering results in engineering ourselves Communist type subversives. Try to focus on visual-spatial IQ and keep verbal IQ modest :)

    5) Previous thread: ” Before the Enlightenment, our civilization operated on a genetics-as-destiny premise that saw class stratification as a causally-linked correlate of genetic stratification. That premise was largely false then”

    I can see two pathways how it could have been not false back then:

    5A) While a brave but stupid brute could attain the lower ranks of nobility by showing valor in battle, the upper ranks were generally based on admin or officer skill. I.e. government employment. Which today sucks, but in a monarchy that had a lot of war? That sounds like the kind of competitive pressure a large modern corporation faces.

    5B) The brave and stupid brute, having got the lowest rank of nobility, goes on to marry a pretty commoner woman. And pretty implies smart, these traits correlate. So he gets smarter sons.

    Indeed perhaps the most important contribution of women to civilization largely goes unrecognized. Have even the worst kind of system, where ruthless gangsters or even more ruthless invaders get the top positions. Marry them to pretty hence smart women for 3-4 generations and you get a pretty decent elite.

    • >So expect lot of young women rather choosing to be the 100th concubine of a rich man than be poor.

      Yes, I expect a lot of that. I did mention that I think this future sucks, I believe.

      >There was plenty of meritocracy to go around.

      In the Austro-Hungarian Empire? Please, you must be joking. I’ve read history. OK, it will never make a list of the ten worst, most repressive and static empires, and even looked pretty good compared to (say) contemporary Imperial Russia. But you do not get economic stagnation and every intellectual in sight forming his own romantic nationalist movement when there is “plenty of meritocracy to go around” – these are symptoms of a system that is not capable of making room at the top.

      • In the economy and cultural life (which bestowed a lot of social status, poets were celebrated etc.) yes, only in politics not. Those movements were largely about political power. And what would even meritocracy mean in something as dirty as politics? That everybody who can make an emotionally moving speech can get a share of power? Doesn’t lead to good results.

        I mean, I suppose you are right in a roundabout way – that those guys went after political power because that was the highest status, culture and literature second and economy third. That is, it is better if in a state business and similar non-statist stuff has the highest status. This was truly lacking. Culture and literature as status are nice but dangerous because those are precisely the skills used for politics, making moving speeches and writing moving leaflets.

        So I would agree in that sort of a way that a lot of intellectuals felt inventing a better mousetrap and getting rich would not get them as much status as political power can get, tried that, found out politics is largely the realm of aristocratic families, so they figured they will try to make their own small country where they can have a shot at power.

        The whole point of monarchy is controlling the currency of status: the king is the font of all honor. I think ol’ Franz Joe was too old fashioned, he liked his aristocrats more than the business magnates and did not convey much status on the later.

        That was indeed a big mistake.

  24. IMO, the dysgenia of the lower class/working class is large part due to the general high standards of living and health, the abolition of sexual restraint, and the unreliability of contraception.

    First – by historical standards, even poor people in First World countries are well off. They are at essentially no risk of starvation or epidemic disease; their infant mortality is negligible.

    Second – there is very little enforcement of traditional prohibitions against casual fornication or bastardy. Conduct which once was socially ruinous is now unremarkable. There is little to motivate underclass people to refrain from an amusement which is free (up front).

    Third – while contraception exists, it is not consistently used (especially by the stupid, ignorant, or careless), and frequently fails when mishandled. Thus, stupid, ignorant, and careless people are more likely to conceive.

    Thus, stupidity, ignorance, carelessness, and immediate indulgence become an evolutionary advantage – a niche to be filled.

    The answer is to make contraception trivial.

    • The answer is to make contraception trivial.

      And possibly even socially mandatory. If people have to explicitly choose to have more kids, they’ll have fewer kids than if it can just happen by accident.

      • That one would require major social change. The compulsory sterilization case (Buck v. Bell) is widely considered one of the worst SCOTUS cases ever, on par with Plessy and Korematsu.

  25. > The answer is to make contraception trivial.

    What if one gains social status (at no personal cost) by being the “baby daddy” for multiple women, as seems to be the case among certain subcultures today?

    Perhaps one could replace “trivial” with “mandatory” and “permanent”. If DNA testing shows you are the father of a child on welfare, society ensures that you don’t father any more. Ever.

  26. Why is UBI a trap? The version of it I imagine gives those without other income the freedom to leave dead-end jobs and invest in themselves or take risks in business they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

    The alternatives to UBI, like conditional welfare, those are the traps.

    • >Why is UBI a trap? The version of it I imagine gives those without other income the freedom to leave dead-end jobs and invest in themselves or take risks in business they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

      Except this is not actually what happens. The tiny minority of people equipped to be entrepreneurs will take that risk; for most people, long-term unemployment is like a wasting disease. Capabilities atrophy – character atrophies. This is how you end up with an opioid epidemic.

      There’s a sense in which I’m speaking against my own interest here. I’m self-directed enough to live on a UBI and not rot, but I know damned well from observing the long-term trajectory of populations on the dole that the normal result is degradation and misery. It’s measurable in the incidence of domestic violence, births out of wedlock, drug and alcohol addiction, and many other negative-deviance indicators.

      • Yes, this is also my big fear about UBI. In fact at this point I’d say it’s the most likely outcome.

        That said, I think it’s worth study, which, thankfully, seems to be under way. In most long-term unemployment experiences I’m familiar with, the income is conditional on unemployment, which leads to all manner of bad outcomes. E.g. disability benefits, which are for sure a one way door to idleness and suffering.

        Meanwhile, UBI does not restrict the freedom of the beneficiaries, and they can go pursue meaningful employment without penalty.

        UBI proponents assert that as a material difference, and claim that few people will choose to be idle and self destructive. My own experience says that’s unlikely, but I’m not completely confident in that judgement.

        • > Yes, this is also my big fear about UBI. In fact at this point
          > I’d say it’s the most likely outcome.

          It’s not the most likely outcome, it’s the EXISTING OUTCOME in population groups–including whites–that have something sort of like UBI.

      • I don’t think the opioid epidemic is about character atrophy so much as it is about Big Pharma pushing opioids by incentivizing doctors to prescribe them and letting chemical dependence take care of the rest.

        Once again you’re blaming the victims.

        • As much as I’d gladly drop a nuke on Big Pharma, I don’t think they’re that guilty here. Almost no-one gets hooked on opioids by taking them as prescribed by their doctors. (Every doctor I know is pretty stingy with pain meds in all but the most extreme cases.) People get hooked by taking way more than prescribed and then going shopping for more – from any source legitimate or not.

        • > I don’t think the opioid epidemic is about character atrophy so

          I don’t think it’s as much “character atrophy” as it is utter hopelessness and narcan taking the risk out of it.

          > much as it is about Big Pharma pushing opioids by incentivizing
          > doctors to prescribe them and letting chemical dependence
          > take care of the rest.

          There’s your Marxism showing again. Big bad beaugousie just FORCING pills down peoples throats.

          Reality is vastly different.

          Most doctors[1] prefer NOT to prescribe opioids for long term pain management (unless there is a CLEAR physical reason, and even then it’s rare), preferring NSAIDs, other sorts of pain killers and physical therapy.

          Big pharma reformulated Oxycontin to take out most of the “high” you get from taking it (allegedly. Nembutal, numbs it all, but I prefer alcohol). This pushed a bunch of users off Oxy and onto Horse, so they could keep getting high.

          This is not something that someone seeking *pain relief* does. It’s someone who has…other issues does.

          Narcan is also implicated in the current epidemic. With EMTs and paramedics carrying narcan junkies feel safer pushing the limits. Sometimes this is fatal.

          Big Pharma has made our lives so much better that it comes really close to “immeasurably”–however we’re pretty good at measuring things and could probably sort it out if we wanted to.

          I know *many* people who are only here because Big Pharma wanted to make lots of money. Good on ’em.

      • > for most people, long-term unemployment is like a wasting disease. Capabilities atrophy – character atrophies. This is how you end up with an opioid epidemic.

        I wonder how much of that is a function of the US’s particularly screwed up welfare system, though. It’s hard to leave unemployment if you lose all of your unemployment benefits as soon as you get a job. A properly implemented UBI would keep seeking employment an attractive option – enough to scrape by, but still encouraging recipients to supplement their income with actual work.

        I think it’s clear there’s a number of potential problems with UBI; I might go so far as to say the weight of evidence suggests it’s a bad idea. But I don’t think it’s obviously a bad idea.

      • The whole point of UBI is it doesn’t discourage working and the experiments that have been done so far have not shown evidence of character atrophy.

      • Moldbug’s idea was very carefully and very selectively banning automation and imports in certain segments where handwork makes sense and is not very g-loaded, shoemaking being the typical example. It means that most people would have more expensive shoes than their preference, and better ones too, wile it is not a tradeoff they would freely choose, but it is something they can live with and perhaps a not very high price for a solution and it does not have those big and obvious failure modes than other interventions.

        The big problem is it has to be so carefully and precisely done that no democratic government can be trusted with it.

        The other problem is, if 90% of the population is unemployable and the demand for shoemakers is 0.5%, you need to do this is a lot of other segments as well and then you get a really weird society, part high-tech, part low-tech.

        • Moldbug’s idea was very carefully and very selectively banning automation and imports in certain segments where handwork makes sense and is not very g-loaded, shoemaking being the typical example.

          You know, I could *almost* go for this.

          I’d structure it differently though (off the top of my head). Using the same example, simply put a 200 percent “poverty reduction” tariff on any shoe that (to hand wave some stuff) you wouldn’t find in Payless, Target or Walmart. The *cheap* shoes get in for the poor folk, and the rest of us that want nice shoes pay the premium for hand made stuff.

          Of course, it’s government social engineering BS, so it’s likely to fail in all sorts of non-obvious ways. But it also means that the price of *properly fitting* shoes would come down.

          Quie? Sí. If you’re having your shoes made by Jose the Shoe Dude he can make them to fit YOUR foot, not some platonic ideal foot that the product designers at ECCO thought of.

          The other problem is that folks seem to really like wearing athletic shoes as day wear (bloody heathens), and the best glues for that are banned by either OSHA or the EPA, or both.

    • Do you really, seriously think any significant number of the lower classes will “invest in themselves or take risks in business”?

      Do you really think that???

      Not been out much have you.

      I live in and around the rural poor. They are, IMHO, about 3 steps above the urban poor. And there would be precious little of that going on here.

      But by all means send *me* a check for $30,000 each year. Yeehaw!

      • > But by all means send *me* a check for $30,000 each year. Yeehaw!

        You realize that for anyone not registered Democrat that will result in a 40k increase in taxes.

  27. “There’s a good novel in this scenario, I think. Thirty years from now in a neo-Victorian U.S. full of manors, a breakthrough discovery in intelligence amplification gets made. Human nature being what it is, evil people who like their place at the top of a pecking order – and good people who fear destabilization of society – will want o [sic]suppress and control it. What comes next?”

    Nancy Kress wrote three novels on this theme, starting with her 1993 Beggars in Spain.

  28. This scenario assumes that the stratification will only go so far, and the upstairs and downstairs people will still need each other on such a close day-to-day level. But that’s far more cross-class interaction than America has now, and current trends are in the direction of less, not more of it.

    ESR, why do you think your scenario is more plausible than, say, the US bifurcating into effectively two nations with little more than foreign and trade relations between them?

    • >ESR, why do you think your scenario is more plausible than, say, the US bifurcating into effectively two nations with little more than foreign and trade relations between them?

      What, is your nation of poor going to live on rocks and air? They’ll have to trade something to the Uppers if they want to eat. Nobody in the system will want the increase in transaction costs implied by a border.

      >far more cross-class interaction than America has now

      Couldn’t prove it by the martial-arts schools I’ve attended. They’re a pretty good vertical section of American society, excluding only the deep underclass. Am I supposed to believe this is exceptional.

      Or, harking back to an earlier thread…anybody who thinks there isn’t a healthy ampint of class-mixing in American society should go to a diner,

      • > What, is your nation of poor going to live on rocks and air? They’ll have to trade something to the Uppers if they want to eat. Nobody in the system will want the increase in transaction costs implied by a border.

        Your scenario doesn’t support that people will become so unintelligent that they’d be unable to survive. But in any case you’re taking me too literally. I’m extrapolating from the US’s ongoing self-segregation into “urban, affluent, educated” and “rural, poor, uneducated”. It’s not a literal break-up of the polity, but a trend toward two nations that have little social interaction except through commercial transactions.

        Your scenario suggests a total reversal of this trend, to where both classes are forced by necessity into intimate relationships with each other.

        > Am I supposed to believe this is exceptional.

        No, but how is this applicable to the discussion in the first place? Everybody at your school can a) afford to attend, b) is there voluntarily, and c) is filtered for the minimum cognitive and physical requirements.

        In the future I’m suggesting, this sort of thing would be exactly the kind of formal, temporary, relationship the Uppers and Lowers may have, but that’s about as far as it’ll go. Same with the diners.

        • You’re delusional if you think the rural poor are all uneducated. Odds are, it’s the the urban fucking poor that are uneducated. The urban, affluent, educated “elite” are quite outnumbered by the urban, poor, poorly-educated in damned any US city you care to name. What world do you live in?

  29. This is the kind of concern I’ve pondered due to increased automation. I admit I never considered the genetic selective breeding that could effectively ‘hoist the ladder’ beyond the reach of lower IQ people.

    Culturally, I don’t believe we’re ready to have servants again. It was once the norm, much like slavery, but to consider it reemerging as a more generalized class of employment doesn’t taste good.

    My concern is that we end up looking more like South Africa – where the “haves” essentially incarcerate themselves in their fortified prison-homes.

    Playing devil’s advocate – perhaps this is just evolution playing out its hand? Why fight it? Wouldn’t we be better off if our population is relieved of inferior specimens?

    • >Playing devil’s advocate – perhaps this is just evolution playing out its hand? Why fight it? Wouldn’t we be better off if our population is relieved of inferior specimens?

      B/c it’s not clear whether nature will actually select for higher intelligence. I can hypothesize a number of scenarios where high IQ might not help c.f., the Cultural Revolution

      • Evolution seems to have always trended upwards in intelligence, no?

        I’m not arguing against the possibility that humankind, in its endless capacity for destruction, might violently wipe out the smartest and ‘reset’ the baseline for IQ. If that is successful enough, it might even be an event horizon for human extinction.

        • Definitely no. Evolution has trended to produce and fill more niches, and thus have more diversity, which results in the high-intelligence end of the spectrum (mammals, birds, and cephalopods) being quite smart. But that’s not a general trend. Lots of creatures survive perfectly well without getting smarter, and some in fact evolve toward being dumber; see for example the tunicates, whose adult form averages about as smart as a clam, though they seem to have evolve from free moving lifeforms.

      • Yeah. The bimodal distribution, especially with the higher end being the more “productive” one, implies a speciation event possibly. But if the “haves” species is too much smaller than the “have nots” species, it seems far more likely that the have nots would just eat the haves and take their stuff.

    • Except follow through on the combined implications of assortative mating, and the educated cognitive ‘elite’ not actually breeding.

  30. Another scifi solution:

    Declare regions of wilderness as “open zones” where people can live an essentially pioneer life free from government taxes, subsidies and regulations. They could still trade with the rest of us in our “tech zone” – crafts, produce etc – to purchase sundry essentials if needed.

    Heck prostitution might be selective about which johns they breed with, perhaps elevating future generations out of the open zone back into the tech zone.

    • The people in the tech zone normally don’t want to compete against the lower cost open zones c.f., national minimum wage laws

        • hmm, let me try again… I predict the big problem will be that people in the tech zone won’t want to compete against lower wage people living in the open zone. There are many real-world examples to base that predication upon, national minimum wage laws being one because they make illegal the big advantage of basing your business in a low cost-of-living area. Farm quotas/subsidies in 1st world countries are another obvious example.

    • I think Heinlein wrote a story about this. Named Coventry IIRC.

      It and similar stories raised an interesting notion in me at the time – the idea that if people couldn’t cut it in modern life at whatever point in history we consider, they tended to do all right anyway, because there was always a frontier for them to work in instead.

      This implies that if we figured out inexpensive space travel and habitation instead of nootropics, we might solve this problem that way.

      • This implies that if we figured out inexpensive space travel and habitation instead of nootropics, we might solve this problem that way.

        Can’t we do both?

  31. As a parent I’m trying to imagine what kind of evidence I’d need to see in a genetic treatment before I’d risk administering it to my child. For a dramatic intervention like that it’s a pretty fucking high bar, even in the face of possible relegation to a servant class.

    Nootropics are somewhat more palatable; modafinil and other stimulants have a short biological half life, and at therapeutic doses aren’t particularly habit forming. However, the prospect of introducing stimulants to a developing brain is very scary.

    So yeah, even though we’re already 10 steps down this road, the sci fi scenario isn’t particularly pleasant.

    • > Nootropics are somewhat more palatable; modafinil and other stimulants have a short biological half life, and at therapeutic doses aren’t particularly habit forming. However, the prospect of introducing stimulants to a developing brain is very scary.

      Not all of them are stimulants. Some preliminary research implies psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, DMT, etc) have nootropic usages. The researchers running the Spring Grove experiments from 1963 to 1976 claimed LSD was capable was capable of raising IQ. I’m willing to believe the results with recent neuroimaging showing LSD increases dendritization. Of course, if you’re hallucinating it’s no good, but those drugs are so profoundly potent taking enough to stay below the threshold will almost definitely cause beneficial brain changes, unless you’re predisposed to schizophrenia.

      We would have already figured out how to pharmacologically manipulate IQ if it wasn’t for the government stepping in and making psychedelic research cost prohibitive.

      Bacopa monnieri seems to have similar effects on cognitive ability, though lesser, and probably has a synergistic effect with psychedelics; but, there hasn’t been any research on whether the combination increases the likelihood of serotonin syndrome. Seems to be a fairly safe supplement, and popular in India for a couple thousand years.

  32. “Drugs to make people smarter; germ-line manipulation to make their kids brighter.”

    On thinking about it, this sounds rather like a proposal to solve the pre-firearm social stratification problem by using drugs & breeding programs to make everyone into noble-class warriors capable of effectively using swords and other muscle-powered weapons. Whereas the actual solution was the development of repeating firearms.

    What would the cognitive version of a “Colonel Colt made men equal” handgun look like?

      • So basically you want every kid bracketed into their profession by the results of testing and parental choices when they’re 10 or 12?

        And you call people like ME fascist?

    • @Whereas the actual solution was the development of repeating firearms-

      Edward I’s actual solution was pushing archery to provide armies that could beat his barons, stand off the Scots, and loot France. Repeating firearms were hundreds of years later.

    • You probably have one in your pocket right now. Colt vs Smith, Android vs iOSs, whatever.

      The biggest problem so far, is they seem to equalize by making everyone more and more *stupid*.

  33. I believe there is a large probability that it may be quite difficult to make the already genetically gifted significantly more talented, while fixing the genetically disadvantaged might be relatively easy. This is because the fixing procedure can be thought of as simply substituting known bad genetic alleles with known good alleles. The improvement procedure, on the other hand, involves finding new or very rare talent-giving alleles, and the unknown effects of concentrating more and more good alleles in a person.

    I agree individual liberty should be maximized, that success is highly correlated with ability and work, and that people should be entitled to the fruits of their labors. I add to this picture the effect of birth and life luck as well as oligarchy-enhancing legislation, plus a large component of ill-gained wealth and classism/racism over history to come to the conclusion that the well off have a moral responsibility to pay back to others for all of this. To level the heavily stacked playing field that is misleveled by much more than just ability and work ethic. A lot of our wealth, frankly speaking, was stolen from others or the Earth (perhaps legally).

    The planet already has enough productive capacity to give all a pretty good life. Sharing it all a little more equally will never be a problem and will always become easier given technological progress, barring catastrophe. Taking small proportions of wealth (ie, factories, etc. not income) from the upper tail and giving it to the lower tail will lead to greater efficiencies, since the talented wealthy will continue to thrive and grow their wealth (although more slowly), the inefficient wealthy will eventually cease to inefficiently allocate their wealth as it disappears, and some talented poor will have the means to become the talented efficient wealthy. At the same time, the untalented poor will be more educated, productive and happy, and less likely to assemble with their torches and pitchforks.

    Most libertarians, I find, assemble their principles only after first seeing their tax bill, and come to the conclusion that property is more important than all else, including real liberty. Taxing by trimming off the top of the wealth distribution only would lead to removing this incentive for most, and allow the concept of “Libertarian” to evolve to a set of great principles that are unsoiled by selfishness.

    • “Taking small proportions of wealth (ie, factories, etc. not income) from the upper tail and giving it to the lower tail will lead to greater efficiencies,”

      Never mind that this has never, in human history, actually worked.

    • Oh no, not another one…

      If I ‘take’ (aka ‘steal’) a factory from the upper tail and ‘give’ it to the lower tail, how exactly do you imagine this will result in ‘greater efficiencies’ ?

      Are you suggesting that the ability to successfully manage such a piece of economic infrastructure lies in everyone? That, given the chance, the lower tail would be just as good at it? Better?

      Prediction : give factory to lower tail, factory crumbles, lower tail now even lower.

      Well done! Celebrate your socialist awesomeness with a kale bellini!

      • Clearly you don’t just give a factory to anyone – you take shares from the extremely wealthy, sell them, and give the proceeds to the poor. Some of those factories are held by the “undeserving rich” (heirs, rapists of the environment, former slaveholding families, crony-capitalists, etc). Some small part of that money will be used productively to help the “deserving poor” to help themselves. This redistribution part of the process is mostly inefficient but all of it helps the poor to survive. You end up after a time with capital being held by mostly the capable, efficient rich people, not the dotard grandchildren of dead industrialists.
        The point is, do slaveholders “deserve” their wealth? The way the laws and tax code are written and the economy is managed is practically designed to reduce the majority to effective slaves of capital by grabbing a larger and larger fraction of the pie. So while you may consider your property to be yours, lots (some small fraction) of it was effectively stolen even if you broke no laws.
        By taxing only extreme wealth, the only disincentive introduced is against hoarding.

          • >The point is, do slaveholders “deserve” their wealth?

            My Swedish and Norwegian ancestors raped and pillaged France and England. I agree that this kind of behavior is now rightly considered deplorable. Do I “deserve” my wages?

            Who decides who “deserves” to keep what they worked for?

  34. Where are the numbers? I’m highly suspicious of the suicide numbers I’ve seen, as they seem to be part of a gun-grabbing agenda. A much more plausible explanation to me is that the stigma of suicide has dwindled, and a more honest and accurate accounting detects many more than previously.

    Also, re: drug addiction, don’t we have a wave of these “most dangerous drug ever” every 30 years? In the 19th century, opium was the opium of the masses: in the 21st we have opioids. Plus ça change …

    Unemployment levels are low. Personal services are surely needed. I have noticed an increase in nail / hair service, massage services, or at the high end coaching services (which seems to me to be a modern American egalitarian spin on personal secretary), etc., but are we sure all these jobs truly represent an enlarging gulf, or simply the best options for low-skill labor that are not easily displaced by automation? Where are the hard numbers supporting your basic facts?

  35. “ I’m self-directed enough to live on a UBI and not rot “

    Everyone please remember to donate to Eric’s Patreon!!

    *eyeroll*

  36. @ESR . I enjoy your blog but this subject matter requires more care than just extrapolations on data points found population-based statistical studies.

    I think this form of genetic determinism is a bit sketchy and dangerously compelling story for a high IQ or high wealth individuals to tell themselves (Am I rich because I’m smart? or smart because I’m rich? Who cares I’m a winner; fsck the rest of that lot ). I’m not sure it has any moral superiority over classic racist claims of racial superiority because of your still making value judgments on a person based on where they come from (genetic purity), not who they are and what they’ve done (merit)… There is probably more interplay of cause and effect than you’ve considered. I’ve read that IQ (like autism) is considered to be both genetic and environmental, scarcity stress, poor diet and malnutrition lowers IQ just as poor culture leads to underachievement – Or do we just define obsessive compulsive overachievement as “good” through the cultural remnants of our Protestant work ethic?

    Ascending from the poor white trash underbelly I’ve benefited immensely from our meritocratic society by mere modest winning’s in the IQ lottery, but as a father; it’s not clear to me that some/any of my offspring will sustain the class assent (Mild autism is a blessing, more severe autism is not). So on a statistical level, I’m sure there is a causation/correlation between wealth and IQ but this was true for enough of our natural selection that if IQ alone destined one to be elite we’de have already established this hierarchy ; If the children of the high IQ aren’t guaranteed to have equal or greater than qualifications for the new social order, perhaps we’de do well to re-exam antiquated notions of the more fortunate displaying charity and empathy for the less fortunate.

    The Ashkenazi Jews and the historical racism directed their way is a good example of why it’s not a good idea to promote notions of genetic classism even if there is some truth. The meritocracy is deeply rooted in some of the lessons the world learned after 1942; lessons our contemporaries seem eager to forget but I think we’de do well to remember. Free market eugenics is certainly coming to the world; In less than capitalist/ libertarian Asian societies, there are strong cultural incentives to stomp out the societal shame mental disorders bring to their families. Human genetic engineering is a technology that will be part of our future; but what makes you so sure that we’ll enhance IQ and innovation before the Marxists ensure conformity and neurotypicality and parents in the free world just adopt the technology to reduce the odds of life-crippling handicaps in their offspring? What if the two are interlinked?

    • >Am I rich because I’m smart? or smart because I’m rich? Who cares I’m a winner; fsck the rest of that lot

      But in reality rich people go out of their way to help the poor or at least look like. The reason is that on the current status ladder, being an Official Good Guy is higher status than being rich. OGGhood is largely determined on a social-justice scale, helping the poor is good but helping various minorities is better.

      So heal-brown-people Bill Gates is FAR higher status than fuck-over-Microsoft’s-business-partners Bill Gates was.

      We can take it as an axiom that people pursue status, not wealth. Wealth only so far as it helps in achieving status. Plenty of Ivy League grads could pursue lucrative jobs and they work at NGOs earning peanuts because “changing the world” (for social-justicey goals) is higher status. In fact today going from the Ivy League to something that sounds vaguely selfish but pays well, like investment banking, is almost like wearing a t-shirt with “insensitive asshole” on it.

      So this is not happening. Rich people may be anti-tax, but only because spending the same money on a spectacular charity is obiously higher status, gets more media exposure, than just paying whatever you must to not anger the IRS.

        • Thinkin on this some more, that comment was cheap and ill placed; excuse the off the cuff remark. I agree with your observation but I was pointing out the ways that Eric’s ideas are deviating from the principle you’re observing at play.

          The stability of the alpha’s status in any hierarchy (and the stability of the hierarchy itself) depends on its ability to rally the support of its “lessers”. If we promote determinist ideas then it’s perfectly logical for a group of mediocre specimens to toss their genetically successful superiors in a Gulag or gas chamber, because what other choice do they have with competing with those heroic genetics that will inevitably win the fair game? In nature, you can see this at play the way a murder of crow’s will reliably chase a majestic hawk out of their territory. The reason why natural selection hasn’t historically favored IQ alone could very well be the proclivity for intellectuals to overvalue intellect and undervalue community, or maybe its just because high IQ teenagers are a bit more discriminating in the choice of their reproductive partners and lose out to the Idiocracy effect of teenage pregnancy. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle but people are all too eager to be convinced of their enate specialness and the enate unfairness of existence.

        • It depends on what “real red” means :) But ascending from poor white thrash really fits the picture in the sense that among poor people basically all over the world, money is status. I was middle-class but in a poorer country than the US and I saw how poor people competed for status with designer t-shirts, gold chains and the like. There are hardly any poor cultures where wealth e.g. an expensive car does not get you immense amounts of status. This is why your natural, biological status-seeking drive focused on wealth and the inequal distribution of wealth. Because that is obvious in a poor subculture.

          If you would be born low-status in a culture that gives status by reserve military rank (Prussia used be kinda like that) your primary worry would be about the damn noble officers and you would want rank to be more equal and so on.

          But please understand that amongst the rich money is not status anymore because it reached dimnished marginal return. So they are focusing on other stuff to get status. Really after a billion the second billion brings no status. Why would they then want it?

          I see it perhaps more clearly because in my background multiple status ladders intersected. For example intellectual people looked down on people who wanted to get status by expensive cars. However there was a third group of people, the “sophisticates” who had both money and intellectualism and they tended to go for very refined things and tended to bullshit that they are not showing off wealth but just good taste but in reality they were showing off both. One recognizes this better if one has multiple ladders around.

          • When you show off good taste, oftentimes you’re not just showing off wealth, but old wealth. There’s a reason why the tastes of the nouveau riche are looked down on.

            • Yes, but that does not really make sense as old wealth cannot be interpreted as merit. Taste yes, at least in the sense that it can look something like learned expertise in a field of consumption. The tastes of the nouveau riche are showing their working-class origin, and old wealth tastes are similar to what intellectuals like (but cannot afford) so I think that shows basically intellectualhood or something similar – experthood in a field of consumption like wine – alongside wealth.

              I don’t know, I know little about that because I always kept away from those people. I like hanging out with people of working class tastes, poor or rich, because they are quite honest. I also like real intellectuals. But for me the sophisticated wine aficionado always seemed fake. Or at least decadent – I think expertise and learning should be applied to production, not consumption… I am surrounded my managers who started golfing not because they find it such an interesting sport but because managers are supposed to golf. Fuck that…

              • I will be charitable and assume that by “cannot be judged as merit” you meant “should not be judged as merit”. Because for centuries the reverse applied – old wealth sure as hell was taken as superior, in every way, to new wealth. You don’t even have to go back very far. Agatha Christie, the top selling author of the twentieth century, depicts non-rich but refined aristocrats as superior to vulgar nouveau riche upstarts in numerous books. The media still wastes vast quantities of ink and electrons on the doings of royals and aristocrats, despite their irrelevance to the everyday lives of most people – why do you suppose that is?

  37. “There’s a good novel in this scenario, I think. Thirty years from now in a neo-Victorian U.S. full of manors, a breakthrough discovery in intelligence amplification gets made. Human nature being what it is, evil people who like their place at the top of a pecking order – and good people who fear destabilization of society – will want o suppress and control it. What comes next?“

    IMHO, Neal Stephenson kind of wrote that novel when he wrote The Diamond Age

  38. Thinking about this more, I don’t think that there will be a low-intelligence/poverty feedback loop, because the standard nerd profile lacks both the skills and the inclination to lead, and so will end up plowed into the underclass.

  39. I think the takeaway from this thread is that mankind will only be saved when I rule the planet.

    Happy to oblige.

  40. ESR: I agree completely that the prophecies of The Bell Curve are coming true. I want to take this opportunity to call attention to another prophecy that is coming true, the one you made here about European countries becoming apartheid states, thirteen years ago:

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=219

    Denmark is establishing the first aspects of their ghetto control program right now. I think the ridiculous pretext that they are going to teach Muslim children “Danish values” will soon be dropped.

      • Actually, I am Dutch. And I would advice to have a closer look at the Danish program before attributing it to an attempt at ethnic cleansing.

        • I’m not calling it ethnic cleansing, I’m calling it the precursor to legal segregation. Which I believe will exist in every European nation in some form, as ESR predicted many years ago.

          I realize the current program doesn’t yet rise to that level.

          • “Which I believe believe will exist in every European nation in some form, as ESR predicted many years ago.”

            How many years must pass before it is considered a fail?

  41. We’ve been evolving as a species for about 200,000 years now and most of our heritage is rooted in that time span. However, the last few millennia of our evolution has been dominated by civilization-based selection forces which have been characteristically different from the prior natural environment of adaptation. One major change relates to the selective pressure favoring intelligence, e.g. in olden times, acute stupidity would likely get you dead at an early age. Modern day affluence has made existential hardship/threat nearly extinct, and the end result is that we are now inadvertently altering our evolutionary paradigm at hyperspeed. Procreation via designer DNA is already here, but the tools to predict long term consequences are still crude and unverified. This is a much bigger problem than just the socio-economics of a re-emerging servant class.

  42. I paid roughly $60k in Federal income tax alone last year. (I also made charitable donations valuing roughly $11k, but due to tax law that didn’t noticeably reduce my tax burden). That’s paying for at least 1 additional full household of people. At the same time, I’m unable to find a spouse for myself.

    So I wonder – what is the game-theoretic correct course of action for someone who gets leached for society, but doesn’t seem to get the benefits thereof?

    • In all seriousness, visit a foreign nation. There are nations in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, with many suitable spouses for a taxpayer like yourself. You don’t owe American women a damn thing.

    • ‘unable’ my

      Lower your standards. That’s the advice you men love to give to unmarried women isn’t it?

  43. “ they have to deal with a criminal underclass as large and as politically protected as ours is. ”

    Honest question: what in the world are you talking about?

    • Our large, violent and politically protected underclass. It serves as a reliable client class to the corresponding patron class in the form of one particular major political party. Said party is perpetually seeking to grow that underclass, by any means possible.

      Many other political parties in other nations have observed the success of that model, and are seeking to replicate it locally.

  44. I’m not gravely concerned about the development of a stratified society. It may not be ideal, but we’ve dealt with that for much of human history, and we’ve developed pretty sophisticated moral frameworks for dealing with tragedies that such inequality fosters. Of these frameworks, I would argue Christianity is perhaps the best, with its combination of charity and forgiveness with personal responsibility. Now, you may not like it if your goal is to create a perfectly equal society (which is a moot point since that’s an impossible standard) but it’s a great system if your goal is to reduce the amount of unnecessary suffering caused by the inescapable fact of inequality.

    I’m much more concerned about the potential outcomes that come from genetic engineering for higher intelligence, for many reasons:

    1) Even granting that we figure out how to do it, there’s no guarantee that it will actually be used to narrow the IQ spread. It could merely increase the average (in which case it’s likely that the complexity of society would grow to match the abilities of high-IQ elites and we would be back at square one) or it might even increase the spread.

    2) There’s also all of the hard engineering problems that would stem from trying to control so many variables in a high causal density system – not the least of which being that IQ explains only about a quarter of the variation in material success between people (which, I will add, is not a trivial amount, and more than any other single factor). The time horizon for developing safe, effective genetic engineering is probably longer than the political will to fund it, meaning that we could very easily end up cutting some corners resulting in some rather tragic unforced errors.

    3) Let us also not forget Dijkstra’s warning that science is only successful when it is driven by curiosity rather than political or commercial goals. Science is not a particular goal directed process – it is more akin to a hill-climbing algorithm in a high-dimensional space. The fact that the space is high-dimensional means that we will almost always have a way “up”, but we don’t necessarily know where that is or how far that particular path will take us.

    4) Finally, I’m having a hard time seeing much difference between visions of remaking humanity through genetic engineering and the remaking of humanity through social engineering that was the dream of Marxists. Perhaps the only scarier thing than trying to make the New Soviet Man and failing is to actually succeed.

    This is not to say that I don’t try and give my children every advantage when it comes to their base IQ, and there are some limited factors to help that (having a high-IQ spouse, avoiding environmental factors known to inhibit IQ, etc.) but those are all techniques that largely rely on and encourage the autonomy of individual families. Genetic engineering offers opportunities for centralization that gravely concern me.

    I’m normally pretty skeptical of Jeff and Winter, but I found their recommendations in this thread to be fairly reasonable.

    For one, Winter mentioned that we should change the environment to fit the people rather than fit the people to the environment. I would like to mention that this is not at all like the radical social-constructionist position, which is to change the environment *in order to* change the people. As a conservative, I would actually say that it is a very conservative sentiment (I mean it as a compliment, I really do). That is more or less the essence of G.K. Chesterton’s political philosophy.

    Where I might disagree with Jeff and Winter is the degree to which we are able to engineer human-adapted systems from whole cloth, and on what scale. But even then, given the concrete example of the German school system, from what I’ve seen previously, there is a lot to like. Specifically, I think that not wasting students time, getting them into the workforce earlier than 22+, and renewing our respect for vocational disciplines would all be perfectly reasonable goals for our country.

    Also worth considering is protectionism. That at least strikes me as a better option than UBI.

    • It is refreshing to see a voice of reason. It is fair and good to disagree. But, disagreement should be on substance like here, not on labels, like the rest of the comments tend to be.

    • >>Specifically, I think that not wasting students time, getting them into the workforce earlier than 22+, and renewing our respect for vocational disciplines would all be perfectly reasonable goals for our country.

      ^^^^ THIS ^^^^
      When did it become so bad in this country to be a plumber, or an HVAC person? We need more people who can *do* things. For many people, a trade is a reasonable, respectable, and smart thing to do. Especially those who have no real interest in scholarship.

      If you haven’t seen what Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs guy) is doing lately, you should.
      IMHO, I find it very promising.

      http://profoundlydisconnected.com/

      • I wonder if the “really high skilled” trades (i.e., any that require specific certifications) might be the wealth-optimizing approach nowadays. Economically, there are big advantages: less student debt, income flow begins earlier in life, protection from global trade, protection from illegal immigration, easier route to entrepreneurship, etc.

    • It’s also worth considering Aldous Huxley’s position that a society solely comprised of high IQ people will be hopelessly unstable and fall apart. He apparently didn’t consider the option of automation taking over all the boring jobs the high IQ people didn’t want to do (at least not in Brave New World) but Isaac Asimov did, and he still ended up with hopelessly unstable societies (the Elijah Baley and later Foundation novels).

  45. Unfortunately, I expect a worse future.

    The lower-SES classes have already discovered that pressuring the state for handouts is a rewarding activity. Why abase yourself and become a servant when you can riot? “No money, no peace” is a tempting slogan and paying off the troublemakers isn’t going to be too burdensome for the upper classes.

    Now, the middle class is going to be screwed because they won’t be getting any of that money and because they wouldn’t be able to afford to move to the affluent enclaves.

    All in all, given the current socio-politico-cultural climate I just can’t see a large number of low-SES people deciding to become personal servants.

  46. Small comment on an important part of this that math/stats readers will already know, but others won’t. Namely, it is a mathematical tautology that the more you equalize variance in non-innate factors (opportunity), the more you increase the correlation between innate factors and success.

    Why? Well, imagine success is a combination of factors: innate ability, opportunity (ie family wealth, influence, country of birth), and pure luck. If you decrease variance in any of these (say, equalize education or eliminate luck), then *by definition* the correlation of ability and success increases. This is because the more you remove one source of variance in an input, the more of the resulting variance must stem from the remaining sources of variance. It’s a tautology.

    In other words, if progressives were actually able to equalize opportunity through their dream programs – universal high-quality education; prenatal nutrition, etc – this would create a society where success was primarily due to innate factors. Since heritable genetics is a huge innate factor (say roughly 50%), this would be a society of incredible stratification based on genetic gifts and the resulting accumulation of wealth and power by the most-gifted families.

    Whether or not this is a good thing, I feel like progressives don’t understand that while equalizing opportunity factors may decrease variance of outcome, it will increase correlation of outcome with innate factors. To the degree the world consists of tournaments, this will concentrate power in the hands of those with highest innate ability.

    • >In other words, if progressives were actually able to equalize opportunity through their dream programs – universal high-quality education; prenatal nutrition, etc – this would create a society where success was primarily due to innate factors. Since heritable genetics is a huge innate factor (say roughly 50%), this would be a society of incredible stratification based on genetic gifts and the resulting accumulation of wealth and power by the most-gifted families.

      Exactly true, and this was actually intended to be one of the points of the OP, but I see I didn’t express it clearly enough. The more we succeed at social-engineering for equality, the more we will lock in genetic inequality as a principal driver of SES differences.

      In fact this may already have occurred. Two days ago there was an NYT column by David Brooks this morning, The Quiet Death of Racial Progress. Brooks wonders “How can we stop backsliding toward inequality?”

      As usual, the elephant in the room is the standard deviation difference in IQ between white and black Americans, and associated differences in time preference, propensity to criminality, etc. Some part of this – probably most of it if we can judge by separated-twin studies – is genetic. We should expect successful social engineering to slide us forward to a place where racial inequality of outcomes is exactly predicted by that genetic spread.

      We may already be there. I don’t know that we are, but if I were asked to make an argument that we aren’t, I don’t think I’d know how to construct a strong one.

      Of course for libertarians like you and me this is pretty uncomfortable territory. It is tremendously unhelpful to our goals for there to be an irreducible genetic component of inequality. But it’s even more unhelpful to ignore and deny reality.

      • >Of course for libertarians like you and me this is pretty uncomfortable territory. It is tremendously unhelpful to our goals for there to be an irreducible genetic component of inequality. 

        What? Your version of libertarianism expected egalitarian outcomes? This must be just unfortunate wording. You are way smarter than that.

        Let’s not even get into chance vs outcome equality. That is bullshit: there is no one big mandarin exam with everything before the chance and everything after the outcome. Life is a long chain of chances and outcomes.

        • >Your version of libertarianism expected egalitarian outcomes?

          No, that’s not the issue.

          What we do expect is for free markets to break up concentrations of power and support high social mobility. That’s a more difficult argument to sustain if some groups of people have stable genetic advatages.

          • Ah, perhaps we can say that the root concern is the ossification of social structures?

            The problem of social ossification can have many causes. As Patri Friedman said upthread: “To the degree the world consists of tournaments, this will concentrate power in the hands of those with highest innate ability.” We could address the variations in innate ability, but why not reduce the degree to which the world consists of tournaments? Find opportunities where people may succeed in a way that doesn’t require overcoming their fellow man?

            To answer my own question, I think perhaps the problem we are facing is a world without a proper Frontier. In a frontier, you don’t (necessarily) have to beat out your fellow man, you simply have to overcome nature. Admittedly, the bar that nature sets is often brutally high, but even then there is creative opportunity (and profit) in finding ways to help lesser-abled people to survive in inhospitable lands.

            Our biggest hope for that frontier was space travel, and yet here we are a year away from the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and if anything that dream seems farther away. Do you think you would be as concerned about such ossification if privatized space settlements were in the forseeable future?

            • >ind opportunities where people may succeed in a way that doesn’t require overcoming their fellow man?

              We wouldn’t need to go that far — the problem with tournaments is winner-take-all rewards. Competition and/or competitive drive have caused a lot of good.

        • > What? Your version of libertarianism expected egalitarian outcomes? This must be just unfortunate wording. You are way smarter than that.

          Eric is experiencing what’s commonly known as “cognitive dissonance” since he’s unwilling to accept the implications of taking human differences seriously. Hence why he’s grasping at ridiculous straws like, “genetic engineering will magically fix the problem”. Hint: genetic engineering will make the “large human differences” issue worse.

          • >he’s unwilling to accept the implications of taking human differences seriously.

            What are you smoking? Taking human genetic variation (especially IQ variation) seriously has been one of the more persistent themes of this blog since I launched it.

  47. You’re on the right track, but I think you’re missing the main show.

    First, I expect we’ll have automated servants before human servants become widespread. We already have virtual assistants such as Siri. Pair that with a robot such as the ones Boston Dynamics are showing off, plus 10 years of additional progress on the tech, and why would anyone want a human servant? Yes, a nice classy human butler might be a status symbol, but that wouldn’t be a position suitable for a modern minimum-wage worker. Who would higher that guy over a robot? Probably the robot will work harder, follow instructions better, take fewer sick days, and it won’t steal anything.

    But the bigger issue is what happens when we start automating all the other jobs too. And then eventually we hit post-human AI and the intelligence explosion (smarter AI makes still smarter AI, until…boom).

    But what’s nice is that your solution does double duty: we don’t just juice the brains of the lower tail; we raise everyone’s IQ, especially the cognitive scientists and geneticists, so they can work out the next generation of IQ-boosting innovations. Then we have our own intelligence explosion.

    So yes, the 21st century will be a race between silicon brains and old-fashioned neurons, but for higher stakes than social stratification.

  48. Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Michael Anton, and Stephen Miller all claim not to be white supremacists. However, I am utterly unable to see the difference in any practical sense. And those that do claim to be White Supremacists, e.g., Spencer and Duke are among their biggest fans.

    And we should not forget that Trump found it extremely difficult to even say anything negative about David Duke. But he never had such qualms saying derogative things about non-whites.

    How close can you be to White Supremacists without becoming one?

    • This above was a reply to:
      @esr
      “Oh, bullshit. Nothing about Trump’s policies or personnel says “white supremacist”. Thar’s another fantasy concocted by people desperate to avoid facing why they lost and why he keeps outmaneuvering them.”

    • >How close can you be to White Supremacists without becoming one?

      I’m pretty sure “coming closer” wouldn’t involve appointing a black Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or an Indian-American ambassador to the U.N.

      Bill Ayers is one of Obama’s biggest fans – in fact Obama launched his political career in Ayers’s living room. Are you willing to to follow your own logic and say that makes Obama an advocate of Communist revolutionary violence?

      The first of those associates I happened to look up – Sabastian Gorka – has described “alt-right” as “a new label for nationalists or irredentist bigots”. Oh, yeah, that totally sounds like the language of a white supremacist, not.

      You would be wise to assume that the term “white supremacist”, as applied by the American press, is usually a baseless smear.

      • I had a discussion where one of the participants baldly claimed that white nationalists were making policy at the federal level. A second participant asked for proof. She dismissed him, then returned, claimed he was blitheringly ignorant, and referred him to the Wikipedia article on alt-right as proof.

        I replied with a very lengthy report of my attempts to find mention in that article of a “white nationalist making policy at the federal level”. I reported the search terms I used, and the names of people I found, and my attempts to establish what they do for a living. I also reported on my search of all the source material behind that article. Ultimately, I found not even a single person.

        The first participant, by then, had left. Later I found her reposting the second participant’s request for proof in another venue, and replies claiming that second participant was “sealioning”. I considered mentioning my efforts on that second venue and calling attention to the fact that the term “sealioning” ought to completely reverse its weight if the side claiming sealioning turns out to be unable to even provide said evidence for their initial claim. But I quickly decided that no one there was interested in the truth at that point.

        This sort of practice has been going on for years. It’s why I’ve been very loathe to look into claims from the left recently, especially when they don’t appear to be made in good faith. (The participant asking for evidence asked nicely, never once calling the former ignorant, despite several instances of the former hurling verbal abuse in the other direction.)

        • >Some more comments on Gorka et al.

          You mean like this one from the Politifact article? “When we asked this question of several independent experts, they all agreed that none of the four were white nationalists themselves.”

          I see a lot of slurs and innuendo here, and no substance. Pretty much what I expected.

          • Yeah, a man proudly wearing the insigna of a nazi militia fighting those who fight WS must be absolved.

            As I wrote, if your biggest fans are Duke and Spencer, how much closer can you be to the WS without being one.

          • “I see a lot of slurs and innuendo here, and no substance. Pretty much what I expected.”

            And now I would like to return to the begin of this subthread.

            Jeff Read and I were accused of being communists clearing the way for another Stalinist Gulach with several 100M murders. Why? Because we support social security and universal health care.

            You yourself claimed that

            I don’t think either of you wants this outcome, just that it is the inevitable result of your premises in a way you refuse to see.

            So I claim that your words are just as ridiculous as me claiming Trump voters will bring on a new era of slavery.. Just as even the alt-right lunatics mentioned that play to the tastes of the Dukes and Spencers of the US will not bring on slavery back, the Sanders and Warrens of the US will not bring back the Gulach.

            If you claim the latter, I claim the former is just as realistic.

  49. “You would be wise to assume that the term “white supremacist”, as applied by the American press, is usually a baseless smear.”

    This from the guy who sez Voxday is just “accurately pointing at evidence for recent and rapid human evolution.”

    You must forgive me if I don’t think too highly of your Nazi radar…

    • >This from the guy who sez Voxday is just “accurately pointing at evidence for recent and rapid human evolution.”

      I searched back comments and didn’t find this. Cite?

      Vox is weird and crazy, but Nazi? No. I have caught him making something like a white-nationalist noise once, I think, but “Nazi” means something quite a bit more specific. It is wise to be careful about sucgh accusations, lest “Nazi” turn into the kind of near-meaningless verbal cudgel that “racist” has become.

      • “White nationalism and white-identity politics are the future for whites. The inescapable future.” —Vox Day

        lest “Nazi” turn into the kind of near-meaningless verbal cudgel that “racist” has become.

        …or “Marxist”?

        The fact that you so easily tar myself and Winter with the “Marxist” brush, yet suddenly get very particular about who is and is not called a Nazi — well, it says much, much more about you than it does about myself or Winter.

        • “White nationalism and white-identity politics are the future for whites. The inescapable future.” —Vox Day

          Hadn’t seen that quote. OK, “white nationalism” case made. Vox has gotten weirder and more evil than I knew.

          Still not Naziism, though. That’s a very specific thing. Studying the Nazi revolution is how my politics formed – my central concern is how we keep that shit from happening again. I’m a libertarian because I stopped believing that any less complete break with statism would prevent a recurrence.

          Naziism is underdetermined by “white nationalism”; you also need totalitarianism and anti-capitalism – it’s Sorelian irrationalism grafted onto a Leninist root stock. When you use the term “Nazi” for any tendency that doesn’t have organic links to Leninism via Italian fascism you impede your own understanding.

          • > Hadn’t seen that quote. OK, “white nationalism” case made. Vox has gotten weirder and more evil than I knew.

            Not necessarily defending him, but….

            [1] You have already remarked upon how the Democrat’s insistence upon racial identity politics could well backfire on them if whites start consciously self-identifying and voting as a bloc.

            [2] As Joel C. Salomon remarked on a comment about your relationship with Vox Day, Beale tends to underspecify presumptions or preconditions to his rhetorical positions. So, I could posit that his actual position (in the quote above) is more like “If the SJW-Left is going to damn every Old White Guy for spurious racial reasons, the OWGs can only succeed by responding with White Identity Politics.”

            • >So, I could posit that his actual position (in the quote above) is more like “If the SJW-Left is going to damn every Old White Guy for spurious racial reasons, the OWGs can only succeed by responding with White Identity Politics.”

              Well, that is arguably true. In fact I have been thinking about writing a blog post around this very logic.

              Not what the VD quote reads like to me, though. He seems to be insisting on inevitability, not contingency on the actions of the Left.

              • > He seems to be insisting on inevitability, not contingency on the actions of the Left.

                The two are the same thing assuming the Left is actually going to preform those actions. Which is what it’s doing and is showing no sign of stopping. So at what point are you going to admit the contingency has become a reality?

                > Well, that is arguably true. In fact I have been thinking about writing a blog post around this very logic.

                You already wrote one 12 years ago.

              • > He seems to be insisting on inevitability, not contingency on the actions of the Left.

                The actions of the Left are not contingent, but inevitably follow their path of utter Evil.

                And the reaction to these actions is therefore itself largely inevitable.

                Expect more identity politics to follow, and the inevitable wars and conflict to cause society to break down along such lines. The only political question is which identities will serve as catalysts for strong political forces that ally with which on which side of the lines.

                I’m just as much of an anarchist as you (esr), but the one thing that I learned from Mencius Moldbug is the irreducibility of politics. With or without a legal monopoly, people will group based on identity and the relative strength of these groups will decide the balance of force that shapes society.

          • “Still not Naziism, though. That’s a very specific thing. ”

            So is Marxism, and Socialism, and so are social democratic and labour parties.

            If you want to be specific with the goose, you have to be specific with the gander.

            • >So is Marxism, and Socialism, and so are social democratic and labour parties.

              Yes. And I don”t call people Marxists unless their language and thought is saturated with Marxist tropes.

              • “And I don”t call people Marxists unless their language and thought is saturated with Marxist tropes.”

                But if someone says he is not a white supremacist, that is the final word and you decide he is not. Not so with, say, Jeff Read and me. And I am still mystified what Marxist tropes we use. The only thing I see is standard social democratic discourse like you can find in any European newspaper.

                • >But if someone says he is not a white supremacist, that is the final word and you decide he is not.

                  No, that’s not it at all. What I do is listen to his language and notice the assumptions embedded in it – what a postmodernist would call “discourse analysis”. The categories of white-supremacist thinking, like the categories of Marxist thinking, are very distinctive. A person could deny being white supremacist and still have a discourse saturated with white supremacist tropes.

                  Gorka isn’t like that. No actual white supremacist would use the terms “bigot” and “nationalist” as insults the way he has done.

                  >The only thing I see is standard social democratic discourse like you can find in any European newspaper.

                  Yes, like I said. Your entire political environment is saturated with Marxist tropes and the toxic residue of Soviet propaganda memes. The American left is like this, too. The difference is, we have some space in our politics that has resisted the infection.

                  • Just claiming all Europeans are Marxists is rather different than doing a detailed discourse analysis (which is a linguistic technique, not just post-modern hype) on suspected White Supremacists.

                    • No, he isn’t claiming that at all, but that the memes and tropes you use are borrowed from marxism.

                    • “No, he isn’t claiming that at all, but that the memes and tropes you use are borrowed from marxism.”

                      That is so much of non-sense.

                      And he still claims that alone proves we will inevitably drive straight into Stalinism, the Gulach, and 100M+ deaths.

                      So, according to this same logic, the USA is on a direct road to a return of racial chattel slavery.

                  • Again, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Ever look into your political environment? Evolutionary psychology, in particular, has a thin evidentiary basis, and often amounts to little more than just-so stories explaining — and justifying — a racist or sexist social order. The fact that you confuse racist tropes from the Jim Crow era bolstered with post-hoc sciency sounding explanations with “Damned Facts” should worry anyone with any sense.

                    So if it’s fair to call Winter and myself Marxists because of the political environment we’ve been marinated in, it’s equally fair to call you a racist for similar reasons.

          • “White nationalism is a complete non-starter. White nationalism does not exist; the only place that any form of it exists is in the United States and that’s why you see a lot of very stupid things being said by Americans trying to talk about Europe and trying to talk about European nations. What people tend to forget is that the only reason that the United States has been held together is by military force.” – http://voxday.blogspot.com/2018/07/darkstream-white-nationalism-and-other.html

            After years of reading the term tossed about hither and yon, I actually have no idea what “white nationalism” is supposed to mean. I’ve got a vague map of what it means when specific political orientations use it, but it’s still vague even then. It seems to have a lot of “apparently wants slavery to come back” to it, even though there’s no particular reason that connotation should attach to the denotation of “white nationalism”. It also sometimes seems to pick up Nazi-ism, even though Nazi-ism was German nationalism (they killed other “whites” pretty freely) if indeed not even more specific than that. But pinning it down to an actual definition?

            • >But pinning it down to an actual definition?

              Every self-identified white nationalist I’ve read things by advocates the formation of a whites-only ethnostate by one of two means:

              1. Ethnic cleansing of an existing nation by forcible expulsion or extinction of nonwhites.

              2. Formation of a separatist ethnostate to which white nationalists can migrate.

              I would add as a theoretical possibility that seems to satisfy their agenda, but which I have not seen advocated:

              3. Reorganization of a national polity among racially stratified lines, with all nonwhites controlled by whites. Control could take the form of racialist chattel slavery or a hyper-apartheid system.

              I think one of these premises is required to satisfy the “nationalist” part of the tag.

              • Would you also use the same definitions for “black nationalism” and possibly “hispanic nationalism”? This is not an attempt at a rhetorical trap and I don’t have prepared snappytrite comebacks for any particular answer. (Isn’t it great that we have to label that in 2018?)

                I can see why people are afraid of “nationalism”, by this definition. It seems to me there’s also a looser definition, which would center more around acknowledging the existence of differences of a certain people living in a certain area and granting to them the right to exercise certain amounts of self-determination about their customs, laws, ability to choose who enters their area, etc., without necessarily encompassing the right to “cleansing” violence, that exists (probably has always existed), and is at least for the moment what we are starting to see the rise of. Between that and the violent-nationalist you describe could also be various positions that don’t necessarily commit violence on the current residents, but conduct active programs to outpopulate in the future. (The nastiest end of that would look like/be the early 20th century eugenics.)

                It’s gonna be “fun” to watch this term play out over the next couple of decades. (The “ugh” sort of “fun”.)

                It seems like the rational answer is that you have to pick a point/range on a continuum between “everybody should be mixed together all the time” (call it 100% globalism, 0% nationalism) and “arbitrarily nasty violence should be employed to ‘cleanse’ an area and claim those rights at almost all costs” (0% globalism, 100% nationalism). That we may currently have swung further to the “globalist” position in the real world than human psychology can withstand of course does not imply that the optimum is as far in the other direction as possible.

                Not that humans have ever really been great at debating the merit of points on such continua, but the current environment seems particularly hostile to anything resembling rational discussion of these matters….

                • >Would you also use the same definitions for “black nationalism” and possibly “hispanic nationalism”?

                  Yes, I would. Black and Hispanic nationalism in the U.S. has exhibited equivalents of either premise 1 or 2. The situation is slightly confused by some Hispanic “nationalists” actually being Aztlan irredentists wo want to fuse a Western ethnostate formed from parts of historic Alta California with Mexico.

                  >acknowledging the existence of differences of a certain people living in a certain area and granting to them the right to exercise certain amounts of self-determination about their customs, laws, ability to choose who enters their area, etc., without necessarily encompassing the right to “cleansing” violence,

                  That sounds like the Ottoman “millet” system, or some features of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is not historically reasonable to call this “nationalism”, as polities organized this way invariably feel gravely threatened by self-described nationalists, experiencing them as profoundly disruptive.

                  • We may want to come up with a word for that fast, then. Or some other more desirable alternative for some other point on that scale, as you like.

                    I’m getting the sense the 2020s may not be a great decade for people to decide they’ve got a choice between “globalism” or “nationalism”.

                    • >We may want to come up with a word for that fast, then. Or some other more desirable alternative for some other point on that scale, as you like.

                      A millet-like system is not very desirable at all. Historically such systems have required an autarchy at the center to hold them together, and have had low levels of inter-group trust. In this way they managed to combine the worst features of despotism with ineffective central government. Eventually the contradictions in the system blew up and we got the genocide of the Armenians.

                    • I did say “or a more desirable alternative for some other point on that scale as you may like”.

                      We clearly aren’t going to continue on the current globalist track. There’s even some evidence and rumors that the people who could legitimately be described as The Globalists without sarcasm are themselves walking the ideas back, because they are afraid of what is happening in Europe and the US.

                      So, if we can’t keep going the direction we’re going, and we don’t want to go “nationalist”, what is it that we should be aiming for in the next couple of decades?

                      Because nationalism in one form or another is likely to be the default in lieu of some other option.

        • > “White nationalism and white-identity politics are the future for whites. The inescapable future.”

          So are you also willing to denounce all the leftists who support identity politics. Or do you believe identity politics are good for everyone except whites?

  50. This is already beginning to some degree. My wife and I are working professionals with young kids. We’re not what you think of as “rich”, but we are doing quite well. However, with our jobs and kids, we’re pretty short on time for household tasks.

    Here are some things that are common among our similarly situated peers:
    (1) Grocery delivery service (having someone buy groceries for you)
    (2) Services that deliver pre-made or at least partially prepared meals.
    (3) Maid that cleans the house every now and then.
    (4) A (semi-)regular nanny for the kids
    (5) A live-in Au Pair

    And obviously there’s stuff like having someone cut your grass, a financial planner, etc. We don’t regard these as “servant” roles because they’re more established and less “personal domestic” than attending to your person, and therefore seen as less demeaning. But they probably count.

  51. Btw its already happening, as Jonathan has pointed out… only its happening in a distributed fashion… from uber drivers to delivery men.

    • Indeed, but if you have many masters, you have none. There is a large difference between being someone’s personal driver, living in his mansion, and an Uber/taxi driver living in your own home.

      • >here is a large difference between being someone’s personal driver, living in his mansion, and an Uber/taxi driver living in your own home.

        Interesting point, though perhaps a bit disturbing. If it’s not the nature of the task that makes you a “servant,” then what is it? I personally work for a single master… a large multinational. Am I already part of the servant class? I suppose I could quit, but then so could the butler…

        Corporate vs private?? What if I worked for a similarly-scoped private company e.g., say the Trump company… or Cargill, Koch, Hobby Lobby, etc? I’d now be working for a single family, not a distributed group of shareholders.

        • > If it’s not the nature of the task that makes you a “servant,” then what is it?

          Being a full-time retainer who lives in the master’s digs.

          • I don’t see that happening, so much… because of the distributed nature of things. You will have lots of servants, and none of them will live with you or consider themselves your servants. Thats what capitalism is, men getting paid for serving other men, in a distributed, voluntary-ish fashion.

              • I really have to agree with Winter here. Violently and emphatically.

                But he’s leaving out one thing.

                “If you have many masters you have none”…. you have customers.

  52. @Winter (replying to http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8085&cpage=1#comment-1994196)

    > “I did a keyword search on past comments. ”

    > I wrote squarely that James A Donald supported reintroducing slavery for blacks. He responded that he considered it a good solution for blacks.

    I searched through past entries on the blog also, using a rather specific set of keywords, and examining several candidate comments for this statement. (I think my search-engine-foo is pretty good.)

    I didn’t find any ‘smoking gun’.

    Care to give us a specific link?

    • This was years ago and, no, I did not find the comment either. I am sorry.
      So this is just my memory of past events.

  53. Popping because the thread got too deeply nested:

    >20% of Trump’s supporters did not agree with the abolition of slavery.

    I can easily imagine 20% telling pollsters that without believing it, for the lutz and/or to flip off the pollsters by being as transgressive as possible. It’s also how you get polls about some shocking percentage of Americans believing that the American Civil War was fought in the 1930s, as a result of the election of President Ben Franklin.

    Occasional A&D commenter Mark Atwood wrote a post somewhere about how hard it is to prevent this, and how you end up with ~5% of such responses with even the best controls.

    Ah, here it is: http://machinesplusminds.blogspot.com/2017/10/on-base-knowledge-surveys.html

    • >I can easily imagine 20% telling pollsters that without believing it, for the lutz and/or to flip off the pollsters by being as transgressive as possible.

      Now that you mention it, so can I. Working-class conservatives tend to think pollsters belong in a circle of Hell not much less severe than the one reserved for journalists. Given the propagandistic atrocities regularly committed with polls it’s hard to blame them.

        • There’s a famous blooper reel of Orson Welles doing advertisement narration and squabbling with the director called “Frozen Peas“. (As Jay Maynard will doubtless know, this reel also served as the basis for an Animaniacs short.) What I didn’t know until recently was that, prior to sitting in the booth, Welles gave his would-be directors the runaround similar to what’s described in that Pax Dickinson article, although he told the truth about his location and was eventually kind enough to let them catch up with him. He thought it a just punishment for making him audition for a commercial voice-over part when samples of his voice were so readily available.

      • So the Rubio conservatives were saying “the truth” and Trump conservatives were saying obnoxious things?

        The rest of the answers in these polls were pretty expected. So why should only this one be unreliable, and only so for Trump supporters?

        You are just making up excuses. Trump supporters were yelling racist slurs during rallies, on television. So, why should I believe they would not do so in polls.

        Get a grip on reality.

        • >The rest of the answers in these polls were pretty expected. So why should only this one be unreliable, and only so for Trump supporters?

          Because the real world does not look the way it should if 10% of the U.S. population were telling the truth about supporting slavery. That is twice our percentage of homosexuals and well above the number required to sustain an aboveground movement as gays have done, which implies that there would certainly be an public movement to legitimize that position.

          It is much more plausible that this is an artifact of a weaselly polling question followed by journalistic distortion and hype.

          >Trump supporters were yelling racist slurs during rallies, on television.

          Did you hear these yells yourself, or are you relying on reports from a press establishment that viciously hates Trump and routinely invents similar fake news?

          I’ll bet I know the answer. And that those racist yells are every bit as real as the supposed defense of slavery on this blog. Cites or it didn’t happen.

          >Get a grip on reality.

          Mine is quite firm, thank you. I think it’s you who are being (quite willingly) flimflammed.

          • “Because the real world does not look the way it should if 10% of the U.S. population were telling the truth about supporting slavery.”

            Do the math. At that time, at the primaries, Trump supporters within the Republicans were never more than 40% (more like 30%). So this is more like 20% of 40% of 50% or ~4%. The fact that almost 50% of voters chose Trump had less to do with his popularity as with the fact that (especially, Republican) US voters would even vote for a corpse if it had been nominated by their party.

            “Did you hear these yells yourself, or are you relying on reports from a press establishment that viciously hates Trump and routinely invents similar fake news?”

            This was widely televised. You will find some of it here:
            (the more juicy recordings require logging into youtube, which I refuse)
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9YPYRaeTW0

            Also there was widespread violence, e.g., against anti Trump protesters.

            • >So this is more like 20% of 40% of 50% or ~4%

              OK, 4% is actually in the believable range – high end, but believable. (I did note that I would credit 2%). At 4% you don’t have an aboveground mass movement as an invitabe consequence

              >This was widely televised.

              I accept that as evidence that this did happen. Now the interesting question is how many hours of video they had to filter for that handful of instances.

              You have yet to produce an actual cite for anyone advocating chattel slavery on this blog.

              • I accept that as evidence that this did happen. Now the interesting question is how many hours of video they had to filter for that handful of instances.

                “The problem with news isn’t so much with the stuff it reports which is false, as with the stuff it leaves out which is also true.” — me, a lot

          • “Mine is quite firm, thank you. I think it’s you who are being (quite willingly) flimflammed.”

            Then why am I the one coming up with the supporting evidence and you with the unsupported opinions?

  54. Winter, a thing that may be helpful to realize is that the news media largely prints FUD. Regardless of how factual the articles are or are not, articles are worded to state or imply that some horrible outcome has happened or is nigh. It has been this way for at least 25 years (as long as I’ve been cognizant of news commentary on political events), and probably for much longer than that.

    None of the major news organizations are innocent of this, whether it’s the BBC, CNN, Fox News, or others. Every time I’ve gone looking closely, I’ve found prevarication elevated to an art form. Genuinely horrible events are presented in detail with the implication that they’re the norm. General public relative ignorance on a topic is used to conflate topics, making it all to easy to come to wrong conclusions. And so on.

    Trump announces his candidacy for president. News flash: Idiot Orange Buffoon challenges Hillary for president! Trump mentions the problem of drugs and criminals coming over the Mexican border in a speech. Breaking news: Trump is racist against Mexicans and wants to deport them all! Actual racists and white supremacists read the above, decide Trump is their man, and become avowed supporters of Trump. This just in: Trump’s base is racist! Trump wins the election. Front Page: Russia has installed Trump and his Nazis in the US government.

    I wish I was exaggerating in that paragraph.

    I think you need to view the news with more of a degree of skepticism, Winter, even those articles that would seem to support your worldview — especially those that would seem to support your worldview. Many are calculated to upset you one way or another. Why? Fear, worry, outrage and others sell, and sell well.

    So, the next time you see something in the news going on about how the US is becoming more racist and fascist, take a step back and examine it critically. Is the conclusion implied in the article supported by the facts it presents? Do the facts presented, or anything in the article at all even make any damn sense?

    You *are* allowed to disbelieve that the news is telling the whole and complete truth.

    • Winter does a better job than most of us of providing factual analysis for every claim he makes. That includes his claim that top White House officials are close enough to white supremacists as to make no practical difference. The sources he cited leave little room for doubt that while Gorka, Miller, Bannon, et al. are not card-carrying Klansmen, their stated views and the circles they run in make them the next closest thing. “B-but… liberal bias!” won’t hold water this time.

      You are right about media putting spin on articles to make them sound more disastrous. However, this is much more true for American sources, which are largely profit-driven, and so need to be sensational in order to sell issues and drive ratings/clicks. There are few news organizations as committed to impartial journalism as the nonprofit BBC. I can think of one: Al-Jazeera, which is also nonprofit.

    • “Winter, a thing that may be helpful to realize is that the news media largely prints FUD.”

      Newsmedia print what is “new”. But that is true for every human talking to every other human. Doing otherwise is very inefficient and a waste of time.

      Now, as Jeff Read already wrote, if I have to chose between the BBC, Economist, Guardian, Al Jazeera, or Independent on one side and the unsupported opinion of some random Internet commenter, I chose these news agents. I generally like the New York Times and The Washington Post. They at least do some decent fact checking.

      Rejecting all the news media is like rejecting all doctors because you were fooled by some quacks. You will never be fooled by a quack in your life again. But you life will be much shorter for it.

      Checking the quality of news media is not that difficult:
      Evaluating News Sources
      https://guides.lib.utexas.edu/news/evaluate

      Six questions that will tell you what media to trust
      https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/six-critical-questions-can-use-evaluate-media-content/

    • “So, the next time you see something in the news going on about how the US is becoming more racist and fascist, take a step back and examine it critically. Is the conclusion implied in the article supported by the facts it presents?”

      1) Why do I not see any counter evidence

      2) The USA (South) was segregated and deeply racist up to the 1960s. The situation is a lot better now. But every now and then, especially, now, evidence surfaced that not everyone likes desegregation. Why ignore this evidence?

      • <The situation is a lot better now.

        So much so, you'd say the exact opposite nowadays. It's the big NE cities that are the most segregated and racist today.

      • As an actual American…..

        Most of the push for racial segregation these days comes from minorities. In particular, it comes loudly and forcefully from a particular subset of the minority populations that derive personal benefit from failure of assimilation and perpetration of racial grievances.

        The general tendency in the larger population is sympathetic still, to give the aggrieved what they want so they’ll shut up. Or out of lingering guilt. And some subset of the minority populations see maintaining grievances as a path to power and profit without actual labor. Definitely a perverse incentive situation (when you subsidize racism, you do get more of it).

        But the general sympathy, and especially the guilt are running out. So things that can’t go on forever, won’t.

        • >Most of the push for racial segregation these days comes from minorities.

          Yep. It’s not white people demanding black-only residence houses on campuses.

          To those of us old enough to remember (and detest) the rear-guard of segregationism in the South, this seems bitterly ironic.

    • “especially those that would seem to support your worldview. ”

      I come here, arguing with you. I do read stuff.

      I only respect news sources that criticize and praise every party and every government. I only read newspapers and magazines that also criticize my own believes. Confirmation becomes a waste of my time fast.

      How about you?

  55. From that article that Winter linked above:

    The Times found that nearly 20% of Trump supporters did not approve of freeing the slaves, according to a January YouGov/Economist poll that asked respondents if they supported or disapproved of “the executive order that freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government” – Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

    There are other explanations in addition to Eric’s for why polling would produce this number.

    One is what SSC readers refer to as the “lizardman constant” – people who dislike or are amused / numbed enough by polls to actively thwart them. (It’s why at least one poll revealed that about 5% of atheists believe in God.)

    Another is poll fatigue. If it’s long enough, people stop responding. If they think their input will then be discarded, they might just answer later questions randomly. It’s unclear how pollsters handle this, but it exacerbates the lizardman factor.

    Another is that Time misrepresented NYT. Another is that NYT misrepresented the polling data. (cf: the telephone game)

    Another is that the polling data was framed or timed in a way that elicits answers that it wouldn’t if the questions were rephrased or even rearranged.

    Yet another is that the population truly disagrees with Lincoln’s order, but for other reasons having nothing to do with their views on slavery. The very first possibility that springs to mind is the way in which Lincoln did it: an executive order. Bear in mind that a noticeable portion of opposition to Obama, according to the opponents themselves, is his reliance on executive orders rather than legislation from Congress.

    There may be other reasons to disagree with Lincoln’s Proclamation. Some of those reasons might even be racist. But one can assume that motivated reasoning can make this hard to measure. It’s harder to dismiss opposition to EOs, given how much that is reported, including by the opposition itself.

    None of this subtlety is brought forth in the Time article. Fortunately, it did at least provide a link to its source for readers to follow, if they were sufficiently curious, and if they understood that that link supported the claim about slavery (it only says “high levels of support among the nation’s intolerant population”). It goes to the NYT. You have to read through to the middle of the article to find the cite about slavery:

    Nationally, further analyses of the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states during the Civil War.

    If you want the actual data, you have to skim upward and find the link to the YouGov poll. Note: many articles don’t link to the original poll, so by this point I was expecting a dead end. But luckily, here’s the poll pdf, at least until the link dies:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ctucuikdsj/econToplines.pdf

    And the snip in question. Note that this was lined up properly in PDF, so imagine columns for what I’ll present below as pseudo-CSV:

    49. Do you approve or disapprove of the executive order which…
    Item,Approve strongly, Approve somewhat, Disapprove somewhat, Disapprove strongly, Not sure
    Freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government, 53%, 17%, 8%, 5%, 17%

    Note:

    * This is question 49. Forty-nine. How many people do you think are still patient and attentive with a poll by question 49? (Further note: methodology notes are at the end; this was a web-based interview, which means no one’s necessarily watching the respondent to see if they’re drifting off or something.)
    * Question 49 is itself five parts, about five different EOs; I only put the top one.
    * The introduction to question 49 asks about “executive orders”. Recall the aversion to EOs. It’s natural to hypothesize that some of them oppose all EOs on principle, and perhaps more do so on a contingent basis – that is, they might have the presence of mind to approve EOs they believe to be merely implementations of Congressional legislation. And then there’s all the complication with what it means to issue an EO during wartime.
    * The poll wasn’t of Trump supporters; it was of Republican supporters (AFAICT, given responses to earlier questions about candidate support). There is zero information provided for how one gets information about Trump supporters from Republican supporters.
    * The sample size was 2000. According to question 10, within those 2000 respondents, about 480 were “very favorable” of Trump. About 920 of them were “very unfavorable”. 2000 is enough to apparently have a 2.9% margin of error. What’s the MoE on 240? (Well, okay, 400, if you count “somewhat favorable” as well. But then Trump’s unfavorables jump to 1080.)
    * 8% disapprove somewhat. 5% disapprove strongly. This adds up to 13%. It does not add up to 20%. If you add the cited 2.9% MoE, it still does not add up to 20%.
    * NYT reported this as “[n]early 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation”. This is about like claiming pi is nearly 4, and basing that on a calculation by someone who was over twice as much against your computing it as for it.
    * Time Magazine reported NYT’s claim as “nearly 20% of Trump supporters did not approve of freeing the slaves”. See above. This isn’t even close to being the same thing, given the sentiment toward EOs. Admittedly, it looks close, if you leave that important part out.
    * Winter reports this as “~20% of Trump’s supporters did not agree with the abolition of slavery”. This is as textbook an example of the telephone game as I can imagine, and I’m inclined to save this for later as a result.

    (This, by the way, is roughly the level of detail I went through to research the claim mentioned earlier that white nationalists were making policy at the federal level.)

    This is not the first time this has happened. In general, every single time I follow a link from Winter purporting to support a claim he makes here, it fails to check out once I dig deeper. Given the rate at which that happens, whenever I see a link from him, I assume it doesn’t support what he claims. If I were wagering US$20 per claim on whether it is backed by the links provided, I could eat out every week (assuming I could get someone to take those wagers).

    Compounding this problem is the fact that I had to dig as much as I did in order to find the problems with the claim. Granted, in this case, it wasn’t much – a couple of hours – but it was a relatively minor claim and the data (as such) was relatively easy to find. What’s troublesome is that it takes much less time to make such claims than it does to debunk them. I’d barely gotten my boots on, and Winter was already halfway around the world. (Literally!)

    Winter and Jeff Read and other readers need to understand that this is a major obstacle to claiming you ought to be persuasive with links here. You don’t have actual evidence in those links; all you have is the appearance of it, combined with catchy phrases like “do the math”, decorating explanations that likewise don’t support your arguments.

    This sort of cargo cult rationality doesn’t play well with a crowd that has to write actual programs. We can’t get the funny metal box to handle security just by importing the hottest modules and typing “cryptographic” and “SHA-1” in the comments enough times.

    I have an alternate hypothesis: people read such links until they find something that agrees with their priors, and then they look no further. If they happen upon evidence that doesn’t agree with their priors, they dismiss it as unsupported and forget about it. This holds up, since they’d forgotten anything that previously disagreed. All they remember is that some source made a claim they dismissed, and over time, they conclude that that source routinely makes unsupportable claims, forgetting that that was based on an error cascade of earlier judgement calls they made.

    • I need to highlight the following as its own comment:

      8% disapprove somewhat [of Lincoln’s executive order]. 5% disapprove strongly. This adds up to 13%. It does not add up to 20%. If you add the cited 2.9% MoE, it still does not add up to 20%.

      • You do not see the responses split per candidate, only the pooled responses. So, Rubio supporters have 5%, Trump supporters almost 20%. I remember that suporters of the other candidates were in between.

        • True. We do not see responses split by candidate. Neither does the NYT, or Time, or you. This does not excuse your conclusion.

          • The NYT had access to the raw results. No one contested these resilts when they were published. This really is old news.

            • The NYT had access to the raw results.

              How do you know?

              No one contested these resilts (sic) when they were published.

              How do you know this wasn’t refuted in some source that you would merely dismiss as unreliable? It’s not like you’d read them. Moreover, how do you know it was uncontested merely because it was one of many claims made, and the other side lacked the time to spend on debunking it? See my account earlier of how much trouble I had to go through on one offhand claim of yours. You, and Time, and NYT, managed to make dozens of claims in that time.

              • Then show me. You claim my “witnesses” are lying, but you have nothing to show that they did.

                You can use Bing or Google or whatever too.

                • I’m going to pull this quote out to reduce the chance that you fail to notice it again:

                  * NYT reported this as “[n]early 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation”. This is about like claiming pi is nearly 4, and basing that on a calculation by someone who was over twice as much against your computing it as for it.
                  * Time Magazine reported NYT’s claim as “nearly 20% of Trump supporters did not approve of freeing the slaves”. See above. This isn’t even close to being the same thing, given the sentiment toward EOs. Admittedly, it looks close, if you leave that important part out.

                  • Relevant questions were:
                    “Do you approve or disapprove of the executive order which… Freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government”
                    “Do you approve or disapprove of the executive order which… Desegregated the U.S. military”
                    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ctucuikdsj/econToplines.pdf

                    The “20%” referred to the first of these questions. The 18% of total respondents that disapproved of desegregation of the army is a good check on the answers to the first.

                    Now I see a clear historical parallel.

                    Over 150 years ago, Americans fought a bloody war to liberate millions of Americans from an unimaginably cruel and oppressive regime. Some people regret Americans fought this war.

                    70 years ago, Americans fought bloody wars to liberate millions of Europeans and Asians from unimaginably cruel and oppressive regimes. Some people regret Americans fought these wars.

                    I despise those regretting Americans fought to liberate millions of people all in equal measures.

                    • Relevant questions were:
                      “Do you approve or disapprove of the executive order which… Freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government”
                      “Do you approve or disapprove of the executive order which… Desegregated the U.S. military”

                      The first, I already addressed. The numbers haven’t changed. They still don’t add up to anywhere near 20%, and they’re not even of Trump supporters.

                      The second question you introduced just now (you’re welcome, by the way, for doing your homework for you) has other easy explanations, such as concerns about overall fighting strength. It also has all of the data problems of your original claim.

                      Now I see a clear historical parallel.

                      No, you don’t. What you clearly see, based on your previous writings, is a confirmation of your previous biases.

      • >This adds up to 13%. It does not add up to 20%.

        I note that using Winter’s own math for extrapolating from Trump supporters to the general population this nets out to 2.6%, within statistical noise of the figure of 2% I said I could believe.

        So while he was making a bogus argument, I anticipated rather accurately what the poll actually says about disapproval of the Emancipation Proclamation.

        • But you seem to have missed my argument. My argument was that, by voting in Trump, the voters got a president whose real supporters are made up for 20% of those who regret the freeing of slaves. My arguments were only about those who supported Trump from the start, the people that he caters to.

          This is to use your own reasoning about:
          “I don’t think either of you wants this outcome, just that it is the inevitable result of your premises in a way you refuse to see.”
          http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8085&cpage=1#comment-1992624

          To this I say:
          You do not want a segregated society on the road to re-institute slavery, it is just the inevitable result of voting in a man who caters to those who do want this.

          I know this is nonsense (although I have attacks of doubt), thank you, but this is not greater nonsense than what you say to me.

          • >My arguments were only about those who supported Trump from the start, the people that he caters to.

            You know nothing about those people, Winter. Actually, you know less than nothing; what you think you know is mostly a compound of media lies and your own preconceptions.

            I know them. I’m not of them, but I know them. My father grew up in an Appalachian coal-mining town during the Great Depression, another catastrophe inflicted on the U.S.’s working class by elite arrogance and incompetence. He grew up so poor he occasionally had to wear hand-me-down clothes from his sisters to school, surrounded by people who had been prosperous and respectable before their way of life was smashed by idiots who though they could “fix” the normal deflation of a stock-market bubble by tariff barriers and fucking with the money supply, and turned what should have been an 18-month recovery into a lost decade capped by a world war.

            I grew up in gentler circumstances because my father happened to be a genius who fought his way out of that trap on a basketball scholarship, became one of the first programmers, worked his ass off, and married up. But all I have to do to understand Trump voters is think about my father, and the men of his generation I’ve talked with who still live in Clearfield, PA, and the Pennslvania working-class men fifty years younger that I know today. Like my father and me, many of the Clearfield men had ancestors who died fighting on the Union side in the Civil War and absolutely abhorred slavery. So do their descendants.

            Trump didn’t win the presidency in the ex-Confederate South. The swing states were the old industrial North; Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin…and Pennsylvania. He won over men like my father, and their sons, and their grandsons, and (not to be forgotten) their wives. He won over men like the contractors who fix my gutters, and hung the new doors I bought last month, and are going to repair the crumbling stonework on the southeast corner of my house next week. Men like the police at my small-town cop shop, or the mechanics at the car-repair place my wife uses. Good men. Upright men. Not a slavery apologist among them. I hear the language they use, I can read their bumper stickers; these are not haters. Not yet.

            A lot of slow-burning anger, though. With a brief exception during the Reagan years, the US’s political class has been crapping on their SES since their fathers were young men during the Vietnam war, compounding bad policy with increasing contempt for their values and their way of life. They don’t hate or despise black people in general; they do despise affirmative action and political correctness and racial grievance-paddlers. A significant percentage of them (13%) voted for Obama in 2008, believing his promise to heal the racial divide, then swung to Trump in 2016 and put him in the White House because Obama had betrayed every hope.

            Unlike most members of my SES, I listen to these people and I respect them. I learned how to talk with them from my father, who had mixed feelings about where he came from but never forgot it. They do hard work, pay taxes, commit to stable family lives, raise children – and our overclass sneers at them. Half of the overclass wants to confiscate their guns, the symbols of their autonomy. All of it smothers them in increasing amounts of red tape, and (in their view) coddles minorities and illegal immigrants while they themselves are denied the equal protection of the law.

            Of course they’re angry. Who wouldn’t be angry? It is a small miracle, indicative of the basic decency of this class, that almost none of them have actually sunk into the defensive bigotry their “betters” constantly accuse them of. There’s a lot of class resentment, though. They loathe the establishment news media and increasingly Hollywood as well (these men may not be feminists but they’re be appalled by #metoo; they think of their wives and daughters…). They believe in the flag, in the Judeo-Christian God, in traditional American values, and they are increasingly convinced that the elites of the U.S have no investment in any of these things – that is, are not just incompetent but morally corrupt, too.

            They’re not ready for insurrection yet, but I think their patience has a limit. Trump is not my tribune, but he is theirs. The Left is at serious risk of creating the monster that it thinks it now sees if the soft coup attempt against Trump actually succeeds.

            Right now the ethonationalist/white-supremacist fringe has no traction with these people (I did mention I read their bumper stickers, and those nutcases advertise almost compulsively). In part this immunity is a regional thing; there are historical reasons I could cite that would double the length of this comment. Things might be less salubrious in the South and Mountain West, though even there the fringe is very weak and marginal.

            I wouldn’t count on that immunity remaining intact if we get another decade of diversity-uber-alles and “white privilege” rhetoric from the elites, though; increasingly the SES that has gone Trumpist views “diversity” as a class-warfare move intended to keep it subjugated. Even black Trump supporters are moving in that direction; its just that in their case they think they’re being screwed over in favor of (mainly Hispanic) illegal immigrants.

            • “You know nothing about those people, Winter. Actually, you know less than nothing; what you think you know is mostly a compound of media lies and your own preconceptions.”

              Not really. You prejudices about my opinions are clear, but they are still prejudices.

              What you write is what I have long suspected, or rather, known. It is exactly the same everywhere. They are the same type of people as those that support our local versions of Trump (and Brexit voters). The 2008 crisis has broken the trust of many people,all over the world, at the bottom of the SES. It was not the particular way the FED handled the problems. We saw the same reaction everywhere, all the way to the Philippines and India.

              But the people you talk about here, that were deserted by the “elites” or the “system”, politicians from both sides that should represent them, are in my opinion not the people Trump is really catering to, albeit that he uses them. They might admire him, and vote for him, but if they are silent, he does not care for them.

              Trump is a narcissist. He is a politician that wants to be cheered. He is catering to those who attend his rallies, and those who retweet his tweets, and only these people. He will say and do what makes them cheer, whatever that is, even if it would kill them. The other people, that do not like these rough and tumble rallies, he does not care about.

              Trump’s weakness was this week perfectly demonstrated by Putin who has expertly exploited Trump’s narcissism to make him act as his hand puppet. People seem to have even asked themselves which man was the president of which country. This is exactly the same effect as these rallies have on Trump: He will do whatever makes them chant and cheer.

              Btw, it has been my conviction for a long time that the increased influx of immigrant workers in the US has been part of a short term policy to reduce wages. Undocumented immigrants do not get protection by (labor) laws nor unions and are welcomed by businesses and voters who do not want to pay minimum or union wages. The fact that these migrant workers tend to stay and not leave was just an unwelcome long term side effect to short term policy advantages.

              PS: I have very grave doubts about whether having Pence as PotUS would be an improvement over Trump.

              • >But the people you talk about here, that were deserted by the “elites” or the “system”, politicians from both sides that should represent them, are in my opinion not the people Trump is really catering to, albeit that he uses them.

                Ah, we’re changing the subject, are we? First your claim was that Trump voters are infected with pro-chattel slavery racism. Now it’s “people who Trump caters to”, as if this were some tiny mutant fraction of his voters. Which they aren’t – I can tell that by the age range and the percentage of identifiable family groups in the videos.

                And then suddenly it’s all about Trump’s character flaws, which – though numerous and regrettable – have fuck-all to do with why so many Americans voted for him. They wanted someone who would fight their corner, and judging by his rising approval levels among Republicans and independents, they got that.

                (You do realize that Trump is getting better approval ratings than Obama was 18 months in, right?)

                • Ah, we’re changing the subject, are we?

                  The argument started out well enough. I sympathize with the claim that the people Eric knows correlate well with similarly betrayed people all over the world, including The Netherlands.

                  But somewhere in there it leapt from claims about people Eric knows voted for Trump to unsupported claims about the people Winter thinks Trump was really catering to, stopped for a quick potty break, then it was off to PutinSummitLand.

                  I’m well aware anti-Trump news arrives by the day, but it’s still important to focus.

                • No, the subject was that those voting for Trump will get his white supremacists with him in the package. And I illustrated it with examples from the White house and polls among his supporters.
                  http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8085&cpage=1#comment-1992639

                  Also, I equated “Trump voters will drive the US to chattel slavery racism” as equaly morose as “All social security inevitably leads to the Gulach and 100M+ deaths”. That you still cannot make the difference is odd.

                  Trump’s character flaws/mental health issues are relevant as they make the infestation of the White House with extremists almost a given. That is true whether or not his voters agree.

                  • >No, the subject was that those voting for Trump will get his white supremacists with him in the package.

                    So, by the same logic, anyone voting Democrat gets Louis Farrakhan’s black supremacists as part of the package, and thus nobody should ever vote Democrat. Got it.

                    • It is you who claim that (left-wing) actions have unintended dire consequences. I just translate that assertion to your side of the spectrum. And “Trump” is not the party (yet), so comparing “Trump” to “a Democrat” is a false comparison.

                      Also, there is empirical evidence. Trump has brought people into the White House who are indistinguishable from the White Nationalist movement. Obama nor Clinton brought in their Left Wing counterparts.

                    • >I just translate that assertion to your side of the spectrum.

                      “My” side of the spectrum? Sure, wake me up when the political murder rate from libertarianism gets to even a millionth of the Nazi and Communist genocides.

                      >Trump has brought people into the White House who are indistinguishable from the White Nationalist movement.

                      Except for the part about none of them actually having white-nationalist beliefs, sure. Prove me wrong: give me one quote from any of them that espouses either (a) ethnic cleansing of the U.S. or (b) foundation of a white separatist splinter state.

                      These supposed “white nationalists” have not even called for the end of legal discrimination (affirmative action, minority set-asides, race-norming in university admissions, diversity hiring quotas) against whites in the U.S.

                    • ““My” side of the spectrum? Sure, wake me up when the political murder rate from libetarianism gets to even a millionth of the Nazi and Communist genocides.”

                      Except that all Neo Nazi’s and Neo Fascists worship Hitler et al. while sitting squarely together shoulder to shoulder with White Nationalists (see Charlottesville). Neo Nazi’s are also inspired supporters of Trump. So, every US right winger claims that Hitler was a Communist, while every Nazi feels at home at a KKK gathering and will vote for Trump.

                      But when did Americans know anything about Communism? That is like asking the 16th century Vatican about witchcraft.

                      Besides this nonsense, Americas staunch friend Suharto killed a million “Communist” Indonesians, using US weapons. Not there yet, but he came a long way.

            • I wouldn’t count on that immunity remaining intact if we get another decade of diversity-uber-alles and “white privilege” rhetoric from the elites, though; increasingly the SES that has gone Trumpist views “diversity” as a class-warfare move intended to keep it subjugated.

              Anyone who actually views diversity that way is crazy, mendacious, or both. Canada manages to make diversity work well with Western democracy and relative prosperity for all, regardless of background. Toronto is the most diverse city on Earth. Why is it such a bad thing that people agitate for the same here? White people don’t actually lose any rights in a diverse environment, just their place at the top of the totem pole. Anyone who argues that white people are getting screwed as a result of the push for diversity is dogwhistling some extremely nasty thoughts.

              • >White people don’t actually lose any rights in a diverse environment,

                Funny thing about that. Trump voters think embracing “diversity” as a political project means giving up being judged by ability and character as an individual, in favor of being judged by your grade of membership in whatever officially designated victim groups are in fashion this week.

                And in this respect, I agree with them 100%.

                Diversity only works, pragmatically and philosophically, when it’s voluntary – an emergent result of people making the effort to notice when they have prejudices and overcome them. Imposed diversity, the kind that has programs and diversity officers and race-norming, is toxic and destructive

                And that’s even when it’s not a class-warfare tool…

                • In my necks of the woods, diversity just sorta happens by itself. People come in, demonstrate talent, and are accepted to the extent they do. It’s a meritocracy. Which I know sounds bad in some circles, but it’s important remember that your standard milspec human has at least thousands of things they can be good at and still get status for it. If you’re not good at programming, you might be good at design. If that’s not up your alley, maybe system administration. If none of computing works, there’s med school. Or research. Or law. Or trading. Not the college type? Try home building. Or homemaking. Or gardening. Or farming. Or a restaurant. Or brewing. Or entertainment. Or writing.

                  One principle I can see leading to diversity in the constructive sense is to look in places one wouldn’t normally look. Your state’s attorney doesn’t have to come from Harvard / Yale. If there’s an institution whose membership just happens to be dominated by an ethnic minority, then there’s a high enough probability in today’s climate that fewer employers are looking there, meaning less of your effort spent in finding good talent.

                  Finding the next good SF story is admittedly going to work differently, but OTOH, you don’t have to come from one of the great publishing houses there, either.

              • Nobody ever agitates for diversity in Africa, India or Asia. Just the Anglophone countries and Europe. Which is unfair and annoying. Nobody gives a fuck about the racism in African or Indian countries, but people collectively lose their shit when its Europeans that do it.
                Honestly, diversity is an empty and divisive goal. Without some overarching unifier, diversity just leads to balkanized communities and stress.
                Also, I like European culture, and I don’t see why it should make way for African/Indian/Asian/Middle-Eastern culture. There are already massive countries composed solely of those cultural groups, why should Europe and America become just another offshoot?

                • “Nobody ever agitates for diversity in Africa, India or Asia. Just the Anglophone countries and Europe. Which is unfair and annoying.”

                  Indeed, in Africa and Asia they simply discriminate (Japan), ostracize (India), and murder (Myanmar) minorities. The local versions of Segregation, Jim Crow, lynching mobs, and Apartheid are still alive and kicking in many places.

                    • You mean, become primitive to prevent the primitives from coming to you? So what do you win?

                      I think that the people objecting to primitive people (actually, all people) immigrating have exactly the tribal prejudices these people are fleeing.

                    • Exactly! These cultures are not worth saving, and therefore every immigrant must be Europianized.

              • >Toronto is the most diverse city on Earth.

                I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘diverse,’ and the normal U.S. definition is both quirky and narrow.

                To wit, Wikipedia says Los Angles is 71.3% diverse, whereas Toronto is only 52.3% diverse.

            • Please stop calling them “elites”. They are nothing of the sort.

              They are soi disant ‘eloi’ at best.

              What are they ‘elite’ at? Elite snobbishness? Elite effete ?

              • When Eric and other libertarians speak of the “elites”, they often mean the “political elite”, a class we’re supposed to somehow think of as separate from the bourgeoisie, and who ruin things with their constant cries for racial and gender equality, fair wages, health care and education for all, etc.

                • Actually educational elites. The whole thing is a war between money-elites and educational elites, each recruiting allies lower down. Libertarian and conservative white middle classes largely supporting the former, lower classes and minorities the later. Look into the online archives of Harvard Crimson, your ideas – and much more radical than those – were popular there all the way since at least the forties.

                  Educational elites are sometimes called the nobility of the robe, or the New Class, people whose status is largely determined by a prestigious degree.

                  This is not necessarily the same as being smart or knowing things, it is more of a conformity test to accepted (leftist) opinion. Credentialism is a feature (political reliability), not a bug.

                  One reason ESR types instinctively oppose educational elites is that there is an obvious difference between writing code that works vs. writing code that pleases the prof of the CS department.

                  Granted there are professions where you cannot tell the difference much (theoretical sciences etc.) but such a credentialist system is ripe for exploitation by turning into a system of ideological indoctrination and enforced conformity, which, if you remember, was a more or less open promise in the Port Huron Statement.

                  The whole left-right culture war boils down to whether basically one can make a good living without an approval from academia or not.

                  Academic elitism is necessarily leftist, because non-redistributed money is largely in the hands of the money elites while academic elites decide how redistributed money will be spent. Everybody who opposes academic elites has to put up with money-elites, they at least tend to reward competence better.

    • “Another is that the polling data was framed or timed in a way that elicits answers that it wouldn’t if the questions were rephrased or even rearranged.”

      FUD.

        • Then come up with evidence of manipulation.

          These answers were given by real people. Just telling us they lied is not good enough.

          You simply do not want to face reality.

          • Then come up with evidence of manipulation.

            (blink)

            (blink again)

            …I just spent hours producing exactly that.

            You simply do not want to face reality.

            …Okay, I have to ask, out of genuine regard for your health: are you feeling all right? You seem to have lost your ability to read.

    • “I have an alternate hypothesis: people read such links until they find something that agrees with their priors, and then they look no further.”

      So, come up with links that show me wrong. Just fantasizing about an alternative reality with alternative facts is not enough.

      • See above. Multiple times. Not only are you espousing a reality that doesn’t comport with the text I pulled from the source articles themselves, you are then insinuating that I am “fantasizing about an alternative reality with alternative facts”. This is what I’m talking about when I refer to cargo cult rationality. You’re making up claims, you’re not backing them up, and you’re using phrases that make it appear superficially as if you are. You seem unhinged. You should probably take a break.

    • To summarize: the lot of you have fact-free opinions and ditto innuendo, the NYT have facts.

      The choice is not a difficult one.

  56. Hmmh, two thoughts… in the US the way the economy has been going has been toward gig-servitude. We don’t have chauffeurs, we have Uber, we don’t have maids, we have Molly Maid, we don’t have gardeners, we have Bill’s Lawn Service. That, all in all, seems like a good thing.

    However, I think there is a longer picture aspect you haven’t addressed. The cognitive elite may well rule for a short while, but what happens when our computers surpass us? What happens when, relatively speaking, the cognitive elite are barely noticeably smarter than the not so elite? What happens when the super smart IQ of 150 looks like a drooling chimp in comparison to the AI’s IQ of 15,000, and a cognitive processing center that operates approximately one billion times faster. The difference between a “genius” of 150, and a “dollard” at 85 is simple insignificant.

    It is a strange new world, and very hard to judge what effect it will have on human society, in a sense it is unknowable, since we, humans, don’t get to decide. And I don’t think that world is much more than fifty years away.

    One possible outcome is the opposite of what you propose. The computers handle the intellectual work entirely, and mostly ignore us, whereas those knuckle draggers are the ones working in meat space, the only thing computers aren’t so great at, and something that the elite would never deign to sully their soft, manicured hands with. So perhaps it is the dullards rather than the geniuses that will inherit the earth.

    • What to do when AI reaches genius level is a topic all its own.

      My take on it has long been that it won’t happen within many of our lifetimes. As far as it automating humans out of work, that will take decades at the very least, and we’ll know it’s coming. Large companies already have designs to automate lots of jobs, but they don’t implement them until they’re profitable, which happens only marginally – it’ll work in some locations long before others. It’s not the case that you’ll suddenly see drink dispensers in every restaurant all at once, alongside with a 50% rise in unemployment among servers putting the labor market into a bloodbath. There will be some time to retrain.

      According to at least one analysis I read, it might be excellent news for labor – due to forces I don’t completely understand, but that seem plausible, labor prices could see as much as a 200% rise, due to a great many more jobs that open up due to the automation industry. I don’t just mean robot repairmen; I mean entire new industries that become possible because everyone now has access to cheap robotic labor, and people think of new ways to use them and the goods they can produce.

      There are AI researchers who worry about genius AI suddenly building an even smarter version of itself at nanosecond speeds, then mass producing that, and now humanity gets snuffed out to make way for such AI (phenomenon is sometimes darkly referred to as the “paper clip problem”). I don’t think that will happen. No one’s going to succeed in building such a thing without people having years to see it coming. I suspect we won’t even need safeguards; such a program is more likely to crash than turn into Skynet, without years of handholding from programmers keenly aware of what they’re risking.

    • I guess I’m cautiously optimistic. In a lot of ways, the Christian tendency toward compassion and humility is a direct result of infinite distance between God and his creations.

    • Regarding genius AI fears. Why doesn’t Terence Tao become a dangerous mastermind secretly running everything in America?

      Intelligence can be understood as the ability to find the best possible course of action for a goal. Part of the story is that even the best possible course of action for him would still have a very low chance of achieving the goal, as he lacks other things like wealth, contacts, charisma etc. Part of the story is that grabbing power would not be a good course of action for his personal happiness, it would be all boring for him, doing math (or for other genius level people, chess) is one of the few ways he can actually find a challenge that is exciting.

      Intelligence is nothing more than an advisor: if you want X, the best possible way to reach that goal is Y. But that still may be nearly impossible. It is still nearly impossible for a machine to want power, and it is still nearly impossible to achieve it. Even more impossible than it is for a nerdy math professor. While if you are a charming guy with good interpersonal skills and make the right kinds of contacts at university you don’t even have to play it very smart, just play to your strenghts for a long time, build your power coalition in one of the major parties piece by piece, and basically you are Bill Clinton.

      • Terence Tao doesn’t become a dangerous mastermind because Terence Tao doesn’t feel the need to become one, probably for various reasons (as you said).

        Also, Tao’s biggest bottleneck after that is that he runs at human speed. Another is that even if he wanted to run everything in America, there’s probably too much to do. (I don’t have Tao’s IQ, so maybe he’d know something here that I don’t, but I probably have good enough heuristics to know this much.) If Tao figures out how to train others to do everything, there’s probably still too many people to train.

        A machine AI might have advantages that Tao wouldn’t, if it had Tao’s IQ, since it can probably easily clone itself, and probably operate 24-7, and probably make fewer mistakes, if any.

  57. IMO, a lot of this “robot economy”, “automation has made all you useless eaters obsolete”, excuse for the economic ruin we find ourselves in is one part elitist wanking, one part total lack of experience with real-world industrial robots, and one part avoidance to salve the conscience of people who at some level must know where their money really comes from.

    Outside of a few sanitized laboratory environments or giant assembly lines that can afford some PhDs to sock-puppet the machinery, machine tools are as automated as they have been for decades. The cabinets have gotten smaller, and the displays have gotten fancier, but they’re still basically executing user instructions. NC code is still a thing. What is going on in the microscopic little brains of our microcontrollers does not in any way resemble the conscious awareness of the world required to navigate any number of “unskilled” or “semi-skilled” tasks. That’s not why these people can’t find work in a country misruled by people that hate them.

    It turns out that deindustrialization is a destructive idea: A nation composed entirely of foreign investment bankers is to a sane-nation’s economy what a vast monocultural corn-plantation out to the horizon is to an ecology. A deindustrialized economy doesn’t need scientists, engineers, programmers, or white collar professionals either. Not really, not as anything other than an ornament.

    In the real world your “robots” have names. Sometimes they jump off the roof of FoxConn to protest their strip-mined existence.

    • On reflection, I suppose the key issue here isn’t the industrialization of the economy (though an industrial economy provides far more niches for everyone and means to make your life/fortune if you aren’t already an aristocrat), but the degree to which ownership is distributed. If there is one thing that Karl Marx got a little right, it’s the importance of ownership in society. (I’m not advocating his solution to the problem of a narrow group of people owning everything: That’s insane and almost diametrically opposed to what must happen to free people from serfdom.)

      In a society where there is a broad distribution of ownership, people can find work and people have need of each other. In a society where a few people (nominally in government or not) own everything (all the land, all the resources, all the large centralized companies and institutions) – they rapidly run out of uses for everyone else.

      That *includes* the “smart-set” intellectuals. Intellectual display is just the treadmill that the non-aristocrats arecurrently running on because it was a path to a decent life in the past when a competitive industrial country had a *genuine* need for technical skill. In our current courtier’s society, this zero-sum status deathmatch in our schools doesn’t provide anything more useful than an extensive knowledge of Confucian poetry provided the Chinese empire.

      In your own world: Was Silicon Valley and the internet healthier and more vibrant before or after Google/Facebook/Apple owned everything?

  58. “Imposed diversity, the kind that has programs and diversity officers and race-norming, is toxic and destructive”

    How do you differentiate “imposed diversity” from say, desegregation, or abolishment of apartheid?

    • >How do you differentiate “imposed diversity” from say, desegregation, or abolishment of apartheid?

      That’s easy. You look at which decreases the use of force, and which increases it.

      • Which is which? Are you implying that sending the National Guard to Arkansas and Alabama is less of an use of force than Affirmative Action?

        • It’s an artifact of the libertarian just-so story that segregation is an aberration that must be backed up by law and force of arms from the government, else it will automatically collapse under the sheer weight of the free market.

          White flight from the city centers to create the suburbs, and the later gentrification of those same city centers, tells a different tale.

          • Gentrification strongly supports the libertarian just-so story. White flight remains ambiguous; was it because of race or because of crime, schools, amenities, etc.

            • > White flight remains ambiguous; was it because of race or because of crime, schools, amenities, etc.

              I’ve thought of this as carrot-and-stick. On the one hand you have people leaving old and ugly and going to new and pretty, such as from little old apartments to large new houses.

          • I was wondering how this “force” thing would work in the historical cases of not hiring women or black people?

            There was no “force” involved, but married women could not get a job, and black people never got the good jobs, whatever their qualifications. Same with education, universities etc. How long did it take before women were able to enter the same schools and universities as men? Black people also could not buy homes where they wanted because no white person would sell. And that was if they could get financing.

            For the victims, the absence of “force” did not make a difference. Large sections of the markets, labor, housing, and even entertainment, were closed to them as if there were armed guards blcoking their entrance.

            • >There was no “force” involved,

              Wrong. Ever heard of Jim Crow laws? They were exactly an exertion of force – mandate of law, enforced by people with truncheons and guns – to prevent the desegregation of private businesses. In the first few years after the end of the Civil War profit-seeking businessmen were eroding the old system of customary discrimination at a rapid pace, something ex-Confederates found intolerable. So they passed laws to criminalize not being a bigot.

              There was non-forcible discrimination against women and blacks, but that’s not a battle you can fight by sending the National Guard to Alabama and so is irrelevant to ww’s question. You send in the Guard when you need a local or state governments to stop sending police to use aggressive force to maintain bigotry in place.

              And if you are one of those local or state governments, you don’t send police to enforce behaving like racist shitheels unless you have a pretty strong suspicion that individuals left to themselves wouldn’t do it.

              • “There was non-forcible discrimination against women and blacks, but that’s not a battle you can fight by sending the National Guard to Alabama and so is irrelevant to ww’s question.”

                I doubt it. The KKK et al. were doing a lot to keep blacks “in their place”. The laws were just the icing on the cake. What the local officials were NOT doing was to send the police to stop the lynching parties and nightly raids.

                Also, the system worked largely because any business catering to blacks was instantly targeted by a white boycott. It is these boycotts that are the backbone of discrimination.

                With women, there was (and in many places of the world is) the same type of violence. Women who were in the “wrong place” were subjected to a lot of (sexual) violence where the official law enforcers, and everybody else, looked the other way (blaming the victim).

                There is only one thing worse than LEOs with guns storming in, that is LEOs with guns looking the other way.

                • >The KKK et al. were doing a lot to keep blacks “in their place”.

                  You don’t send in the National Guard to solve that problem, either.

                  >Also, the system worked largely because any business catering to blacks was instantly targeted by a white boycott.

                  The Jim Crow laws were passed precisely because boycotts and ground-up pressure didn’t actually work. The profit motive is a very effective motivator that way.

                  >There is only one thing worse than LEOs with guns storming in, that is LEOs with guns looking the other way.

                  No, that’s not worse. Blacks could defend themselves against decentralized night-rider violence with guns; in fact the NRA was founded by ex-Union military officers in part to ensure that black freedmen would be properly armed and trained for this. The force equation changes if the police are after you; they always escalate.

                  • “You don’t send in the National Guard to solve that problem, either.”

                    If the local LEOs and their bosses are part of the KKK, that is exactly what you do. The KKK had many features of an organized uprising against the state. In a civil war, you send in the National Guard.

                    “Blacks could defend themselves against decentralized night-rider violence with guns;”

                    But the violence was ORGANIZED. It was not random J Racist attacking an individual home. It was an organized Posse connected to local powers.

                    “The profit motive is a very effective motivator that way.”

                    Except that this did not work for black trying to get a mortgage for a home. The infamous redlining only “stopped” when the banks were forced to stop with it.
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining

                    And all this does not even comes close to starting to address the systematic violence against women who were “out of place”.

                    • In which Winter cites FDR’s federal policy to make a point about decentralized local social issues.

                    • >If the local LEOs and their bosses are part of the KKK, that is exactly what you do. The KKK had many features of an organized uprising against the state. In a civil war, you send in the National Guard.

                      Great. You just sent in the National Guard to fight the KKK. How do you find them?

                      You can use line military to prevent racist cops from enforcing (say) school segregation because you know where they have to be do it. You don’t know who the nightriders will target next or where they will strike. You can’t cover all the potential targets; if you try, the KKK will simply lie low until the economic and political costs of occupation become unacceptable – or worse, strike where your troops are not, making you look ineffectual and gaining prestige at your expense.

                      This highlights an essential difference between civil war and a terrorism problem that you obviously fail to understand. No competent planner sends line military to attack terrorists unless they can be geographically pinned to an area they must defend or control. If you don’t have opponents who will mass for battle, you don’t have a civil war.

                      >But the violence was ORGANIZED. It was not random J Racist attacking an individual home. It was an organized Posse connected to local powers.

                      Decentralized does not mean the same thing as disorganized. It means not having a unitary command or fixed infrastructure that can be attacked. Yes, KKK members were often local LEOs, but you couldn’t beat the KKK by blowing up police stations! On the other hand, ISIS doomed itself when it declared a caliphate and coupled its prestige to control of territory. From that moment ISIS was at the mercy of any American president willing to commit the U.S. military to rooting them out.

                      >Except that this did not work for black trying to get a mortgage for a home.

                      Actually, it often did. Google for the phrase “block-busting”.

                    • “This highlights an essential difference between civil war and a terrorism problem that you obviously fail to understand.”

                      The first thing done in case of systematic terrorist activity is sending in the military. If local LEOs are part of the problem, trusted police, MPs et al. will take over under cover of the military. If local government is the problem, military command takes over.

                      This has been SOP of the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not very effective, but better than throwing your hands in the air.

                    • >This has been SOP of the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq.

                      It only works there, to the extent it works at all, because the terrorists are not just terrorists but an insurgency that asserts control of territory that it must then defend.

                      You are confused about this because most terrorist movements intend to become insurgencies, and the well-known ones succeed – at which point sending line military to attack their fixed positions (training camps, etc.) becomes a viable strategy. The KKK is an exceptional though not unique case in not having territorial ambitions; think also of the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Red Army Faction.

                    • …think also of the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Red Army Faction.

                      Quibble: Weren’t those the same thing?

                    • >Quibble: Weren’t those the same thing?

                      I was thinking of the Japanese Red Army Faction.

                    • Indeed, the RAF was identical to BM, but as the gang continued after BM were captured, RAF is the better label.

                      The RAF is a bad example as they commited few, dispersed attacks. They also had no foothold in the police forces. For that kind of dispersed organization, the intelligence services are more useful.

                      The KKK had a much broader base and committed many more attacks. It was much more like the Taliban and IS in Sunite underground.

                    • >The KKK had a much broader base and committed many more attacks. It was much more like the Taliban and IS in Sunite underground.

                      You’re ignoring the crucial difference – that the KKK never aimed to control territory, wasn’t an insurgency, and could therefore not be effectively targeted by line military.

                      And, in fact, the U.S. never attempted this. The National Guard didn’t go to Alabama to suppress the KKK, it went to enforce compliance with Federal law by the local government.

                • “Also, the system worked largely because…”

                  I’d also argue that the system worked because local government had (and has) dozens of discretionary control points. For example, let’s say you want to start up a non-segregated lunch counter wanted to start up to compete against the current segregated one. You’ll need a dozen permits, plus water/electricity/gas hookups. If the local officials simply slow-walk that process, your small business’s financing will often fall apart before you can even open.

                  De-facto control without ever needing to find a weapon.

                  • >You’ll need a dozen permits, plus water/electricity/gas hookups. If the local officials simply slow-walk that process,

                    Ties into the general libertarian complain that government is mostly a way for politically-privileged groups to gain or keep power that a free market would not allow them.

                    True of blacks pushing for affirmative action. True of white segregationists freezing out integrated businesses. Racist and coercive, either way.

        • >Which is which? Are you implying that sending the National Guard to Arkansas and Alabama is less of an use of force than Affirmative Action?

          If you are really as confused about the difference between aggressive force and force applied to end aggression as this question implies, you should be quiet when adults are talking until you figure it out.

  59. > …indicators of this are out-of-wedlock births, rates of drug abuse, and levels of interpersonal violence and suicide…

    Fatherlessness is a near universal.

    A concept talked about so little my spell checker got triggered.

  60. From that moment ISIS was at the mercy of any American president willing to commit the U.S. military to rooting them out.

    It was the Russians who rooted out ISIS…

    • >It was the Russians who rooted out ISIS…

      Wrong. The Russians have never operated in Iraq, where ISIS’s alleged capital was located.

      • You are tight in that it was Iraqis that ran IS. Their leader is/was called al-Baghdadi for a reason.

        But IS’s functioning capital was Raqqa in Syria. Syria was where they got the oil money to run their army. They were defeated in Syria by a “coalition” of everybody else, from Kurds and Turks to Russians. But I think, that they existed as the Turks let them. In Iraq, they were defeated by Kurds, Shiites and Americans (and a lot of American weapons and logistics).

        Just defeating IS in either Iraq or Syria would not have stopped them.

        • >But I think, that they existed as the Turks let them.

          Dubious. The Turkish Army fights pretty well for a Third World military, but its expeditionary capability (that is, its ability to operate at any serious distance from railheads connected straight back to its own country) is very limited.

          >In Iraq, they were defeated by Kurds, Shiites and Americans (and a lot of American weapons and logistics).

          That’s correct, but the U.S didn’t actually need those allies for more than political cover. The Kurds raise better troops than the Arabs, but that’s not saying much at all. Nobody in the region can come anywhere close to keeping up with U.S. doctrine, with its night fighting and heavy use of integrated combined arms.

  61. “The Turkish Army fights pretty well for a Third World military, but its expeditionary capability (that is, its ability to operate at any serious distance from railheads connected straight back to its own country) is very limited.”

    But IS needed the to trade oil for money and goods across the Turkish border and also to smuggle fighters into Syria. When the Turks started to make an effort to stop them, IS was in trouble.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/12/turkeys-double-isis-standard/

    • So they only surveyed three robots — of varying technical capability and lifelikeness — scraped YouTube comments of all things, and concluded that the reaction of the commenters was based on the perceived race of the robot? Note that the Bina48 robot consisted of only a head and upper torso, and displayed “Cleverbot” levels of interactivity, seemingly unable to follow the subject of a conversation from one sentence to the next, whereas the Nadine robot had at least a head, entire torso, and arms, could remember humans previously interacted with and subjects previously discussed, and could do reasonably realistic gesticulations with its arms. And we’re supposed to believe that the perceived humanness of these robots is based on race? The “Unix beard = patriarchy” study from the beginning of Cryptonomicon has more rigor.

      Sorry Winter, I’m not going to give this one to you. We’ll have to wait for more research, with a wider variety of robots (and hopefully more advanced robots than these three) before we can make any sort of strong statement about unconscious robot racial bias.

      • Fair response. I had only skimmed the text. What interested me more than the racial thing was the hostility against women. However, looking at the audience they studied, that result seems to be less interesting.

        Anthropomorphic robots are a funny way to study prejudices in a controlled setting, but I agree that this is not the way to do it. The clips and robots are too dissimilar to compare. Also, I would have had selected study subjects myself and have them respond in a more controlled way.

    • >Robots Racialized in the Likeness of Marginalized Social Identities are Subject to Greater Dehumanization than those racialized as White

      Safely assessed as tendentious horseshit just from the title. You can’t dehumanize what is not even remotely human to begin with.

      • “You can’t dehumanize what is not even remotely human to begin with.”

        Actually, you are dead wrong here. People anthropomorphize anything and everything. Dehumanizing a robot is simply just another meta-anthropomorphism.

        You can research socially relevant behavior by observing how people treat non-human objects or animals if you let them signal certain socially relevant traits. You just should do it in a more rigorous setting that in this paper.

        If they had set up interactions between study subjects and identically behaving but suitably formed robots in a sensible way, they could have made a blast either way. But they just analyzed the comment sections of a few Youtube movies. These movies were very different and the unknown subjects responding to them were a biased, unrepresentative, and self-selected group with unknown motivations.

        • >People anthropomorphize anything and everything.

          Of course they do. But in the case of the robots we know how to build that doesn’t imply anything ethically significant. It’s garbage in, garbage out. You might as well worry about the inner life of invisible pink unicorns.

          There is an ethically significant case here near cruelty to pets and near-sophonts like elephants or seals. They have emotional responses that engage our mirror neurons because mammalian kinesics is strongly conserved (I’ve written about this with respect to cats) and they have at least minimal self-awareness – that is, they know that the world-representation in their heads is different from the world. Anthropomorphizing them makes a kind of sense – it’s overinterpreting the data, projecting complexity that’s not there, but there really is another (primitive) mind at the other end of the communication. Franz deWaals has written elegantly about this.

          Someday robots will probably be like this. For now though, they have no emotions and can only crudely and unintentionally fake having an inner life due to the Eliza effect. There isn’t any there there, theory-of-mind-wise, and it is thus nonsense to speak of “dehumanizing” them.

          • 1) The research is about human behavior and attitudes. The robots are just props.

            2) This fellow Dutchman is called Frans de Waal.

          • > it is thus nonsense to speak of “dehumanizing” them.

            And thus the humor in the “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?” memes with images of AR-15 rifles.

      • Here are some examples of more rigorous studies. Not that the results were earth shattering (i.e., newsworthy):
        Looking at human–computer interface design: Effects of ethnicity in computer agents
        https://128.192.206.60/share/files/papers/pratt_race.pdf

        When stereotypes meet robots: The double-edge sword of robot gender
        and personality in human–robot interaction
        http://www.looooker.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/When-stereotypes-meet-robots.pdf

  62. Cochran (one of the best human biology writers out there) on the same topic: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/natural-aristocracy/

    Funny he is mentioning Alcibiades. For this particular problem is generally where the roots of Western moral philosophy lie: Socrates, but even back to Homer and the Ilyiad. For them, goodness, virtue meant being good at a social job. Which has to be rewarded. But how do you measure it? By competition. But the problem is, competition is the only measure of merit, but an imperfect measure. People learn to rig and game the system. Athletes use doping. Business software that looks good at sales demos outcompetes business software that is productive to use. And so on. People focus on winning and winning will only roughly approxiate merit and excellence. Or sometimes not at all.

    This is the root problem of Western moral philosophy. With Socrates and others arguing that it is basically better for you to optimize for excellence than to optimize for winning. Sophists argued optimizing for winning.

  63. “Only a few years later social scientists began noticing that assortative mating among the new meritocratic elite was a thing. What this hints at is that meritocracy may be driving us towards a society that is not just economically but genetically stratified.”

    The flaw in all your reasoning about this issue is this: Assortative mating of the “intellectual meritocratic elite” appears to have a somewhat self-limiting factor, in that the rate of autism seems to be going up right along with it.

    Implications of that? There is probably an upper limit to how much and how far you can go, overclocking the naked ape. Artificial aids like genetic engineering and nootropics? Almost certainly won’t be as simple to work out as everyone appears to think they will be.

    You (and, by “you”, I mean everyone posting here, not just Eric) see assortative mating as being a fine thing, validating your self-worth in the meritocratic world you think you live in. What I see? I see the reinforcement of dangerous recessive traits that result in the massive increase in autism-disorder issues in that supposed “elite”. There’s a price to be paid, when you start breeding incestuously, which is what this whole “meritocratic” thing actually implies. It won’t be a “meritocracy” for long, because most of the resulting kids from the already panda-like “intellectual elite” are going to be far from fit to participate in any such thing as a meritocracy.

    Doubt me? Look at the reproduction rate for college-educated white women, and then examine the rate for ethnic German or Japanese women in their societies. The West is committing suicide as we watch, and the deadly combination of socialism and “meritocracy” is what’s doing the killing. While you’re examining the already dangerously low fertility rates, consider how many of the paltry few kids these “intellectuals” bother to produce are actually functional. We just had a perfect illustration of this, down in Florida: The son of a mated pair of “meritocracy members”, demonstrating why the traits that made his parents members of that group probably shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce together.

    David Katz? Folks, that’s the future of your so-called “meritocracy”. Genetic dead end, and we’ll probably figure out exactly why, about the time we turn of the lights for Western Civ. Won’t be no genetically-engineered fixing, in that future–‘Cos, there won’t be any engineers to do it.

    The effects of this assortative “meritocracy” that you all fantasize about will almost certainly mirror what the AKC has done to every breed it’s gotten its hands on, over the years: Look at the German Shepherd of the Rin Tin Tin era, and then compare it to the modern AKC version, with its lousy hips, and short lifespan coupled with massive health issues. They’re also dumb as f**k compared to the old school GSDs, and there are reasons that the US military and police departments prefer either Eastern European bloodlines or Belgian Malinois for their working dogs. Also examine what happened to the collie, since the AKC took charge and started papering that breed: You breed for conformation, and what you get is a refined, over-bred dunce of a dog that’s unhealthy, short-lived, and entirely unsuited to being a working dog. There’s a reason nobody in the Border Collie working dog community wants the AKC involved in their breed standards, and that’s it, right there: Short-sighted breeding standards, and an utter blindness to the overall effect of reinforcing bad recessive traits.

    In short, assortative mating means your supposed “meritocracy” is going to dead-end in the same sort of vapid moronism that characterized the Hapsburg bloodline about the time of Charles II. Assuming, that is, that we can get any of y’all to bother having kids in worthwhile numbers.

    My own life experience is that the self-declared “intellectual elite” is usually dumb as f**k when it comes to anything requiring even a slight modicum of common sense.

    They’ll believe anything, and are some of the most credulous fools out there–Otherwise, they’d never fall for the whole “Yeah, kid… Take out a hundred thousand-dollar loan to pay for school… For a career in social work that pays $26,000.00 a year…”.

    And, they walk away from that bargain, self-assuredly thinking that they’re high-order geniuses. The “normies” look at the figures involved and go “Uhm… Yeah… I’ll pass… Y’know… The Army has that GI Bill thing, doesn’t it?”.

    I don’t think any of y’all have a f**king clue what real intelligence is, or what you’re trying to say about “meritocracy” being the future. The future is going to be a place where all you fine people discover that, gee, there are still pipes that need fitting, in order to have working indoor plumbing, and that convincing every kid in high school that a trade or manual labor is ignoble is almost certainly going to blow up in your oh-so-refined and civilized faces when the last of the skilled tradesmen die out. Have fun reciting Baudelaire to your children dying of cholera, as you try to figure out why there’s so much raw sewage running on the streets. The apparent connection between having competent plumbers, good public sanitation, and public health is apparently lost on the oh-so-wise “intellectuals” we have running things.

    We’re going to be lucky if we only return to the 19th Century, in terms of public sanitation. Hell, San Francisco is already back in the 18th, with people shitting on the streets. Welcome to the future, proggies: You built this.

    We very badly need to develop a way to test for the qualities summed up as “wisdom and common sense”, because the qualities that we’ve been testing for and terming “IQ” and “intelligence” lack both of those. Every problem we’ve got in our modern society stems from some self-declared genius deciding they were smarter than everyone else, and then “fixing” things for the rest of us. Prohibition? Yep; the “intellectual elite” of the time. Narcotics acts? Same-same. Welfare state? Socialism? Creations of “society’s elites”, and all imposed on the rest of us without a care or concern that it might not work out quite the way it was intended to. And, then when it proves not to work? Do we go back to the status quo, before the change? Oh, hell, no… Let’s double down on the stupidity. Venezuela just wasn’t done right, that’s all–We’ll do better, ‘cos we smarter!

    Hell, you can’t even safely walk in the damn parks our tax dollars pay for, in most major US cities. Why? Because some “geniuses” decided that the old-school manner of dealing with the mentally ill, in institutional settings, was inhumane. So, now they freeze to death in the streets, while crapping over everything. Oh, and let’s not forget that the old-school mental hospitals, and the institutionalization of the mentally ill was an artifact of an earlier generation of social do-gooders.

    A pox on all your houses, you wonderful “intellectual elites”. The reality is that most of the people who say they are “intellectuals” and “intelligent” are actually just over-clocked monkeys without the wit or wisdom to come in out of the rain. I weep for what was once a vibrant, forward-moving civilization, but the fact is…? You people killed it. The whole enterprise went off the rails about 1900, and the crash of it all is still happening around us.

    My grandmother left high school circa 1916 (fucking high school, people…) more or less fluent in Latin and Greek, able to do fairly high-order calculus, and was considered fit to teach school in a one-room schoolhouse in Eastern Oregon. All her students learned how to read and write, plus do math up to algebra. Now? Thanks to the “intellectuals” we have running the world, the average kid here in the US leaves school unable to read or write at grade level, their math skills are nearly non-existent, and a huge proportion of our “universities” teach basic skills that a few generations ago would have been considered basic requirements to move from 8th grade into high school.

    Meritocracy? Y’all are gonna be lucky if you manage to attain Idiocracy.

    • >Assortative mating of the “intellectual meritocratic elite” appears to have a somewhat self-limiting factor, in that the rate of autism seems to be going up right along with it.

      Maybe. I’m not going to say I’m certain you’re wrong. But I think this is mostly an illusion, an artifact of more diagnostic hours being put into finding “autism”, rather than an actual change in the rate.

      Expansion of the diagnostic category is also an issue. How nuch of what we now medicalize as mild autism would have been considered a normal personality variation even fifty years ago?

      • Eric, look at the way culture has shifted, and how we’re now marrying like to like. It’s not at all accidental that the rise in autism and autism-like disorders has gone up hand-in-hand with the phenomenon our discussion is calling assortative mating.

        Just how many kids like David Katz did our grandparents produce? This rise in social dysfunction is coming from somewhere, and it’s my opinion that the genetics of it all are a likely candidate. The genetic markers associated with “intelligence”, which more properly ought to be termed “cultural adaptation to written test-taking”, are all over the place in the genes. There’s not one complex with a dial that says “Turn here for smart”, it’s a whole host of interacting things that are poorly, if at all, understood. They may not even be understandable, at the level of genetic knowledge we have, and since experimenting on humans isn’t exactly socially acceptable, the rate at which we learn this stuff is likely to be very, very slow.

        My guess is that there’s a host of factors, both environmental and genetic, that go into “smart”. Observationally, I think we’re currently running a free-form eugenics experiment with what we’re doing with the mating choices made by the so-called “elites”, and that this is causing a bunch of recessive issues with these “intelligence factors”. It doesn’t help that we’ve created a bucket-load of socio-cultural issues to go along with it all, either–Martin van Creveld has a fascinating book out, mostly focused on military effectiveness, but also a wholesale critique of modern culture and it’s child-rearing practices:Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West—and What Can Be Done about It, CreateSpace, 2016. It’s worth a read, because everything he points at militates against this fantasy “meritocracy” everyone is talking about.

        The more I look at it, the more I suspect that modern civilization as we have it set up is a trap, on a grand scale, one which we’re going to be lucky to escape. Bob Shaw wrote about a Dyson Sphere as being a trap laid for civilizations which found it, as there was no way they could resist the temptation to colonize it, and because once that process started, there was no way back out, and the scale of the thing ensured that your civilization would die trying. The book was Orbitsville, and I think you can see the outlines of our current problem set inside the idea he laid out.

        My other objection to this “meritocracy” BS is this: If what we’ve got going is such a thing, and we’re moving more and more in that direction…? I want my goddamn money back, because these “men and women of merit” are anything but meritable, and the majority of their efforts just create more damn problems. From my point of view, what the hell has the “meritocracy” accomplished and contributed, to date? Jack. And, a whole lot of shit, particularly in the former jewels of Western Civ, our major cities. All that crap on the streets of San Francisco? That’s your meritocracy in action, enabling it, and then allowing it to continue.

        Put the reviled “common man” in charge of that place, and the homeless would probably be hating life, but the streets would be clean and safe. Not to mention, all those now off-limits after dark parks you pay for in your taxes?

        I don’t mind being the kid pointing out that the Emperor is naked, but it is irritating as hell for me to hear all the “smart people” boasting about their place in the “meritocracy”, while I look outside and see the homeless crapping in the street with impunity, shooting up drugs, and generally making life for normal people unlivable in the cities. To address all those self-proclaimed “members of the meritocracy”? Let me tell you what, based on the results I’m seeing, the majority of you folks need to go find something else to do with your lives, besides running the world, because you’re doing a terrible job at it.

        Either Bertrand Russel or George Orwell said something to the effect of “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” It is unclear which of them made the quip, or something very similar to it, but they sure as hell put their finger on the nexus of the problem we are currently experiencing in our civilization. The election of Trump is, I believe, a symptom of the fact that a whole bunch of the “normies” have recognized the same lack of clothing on the Emperor’s ass that I have, and they’re doing something about it. It may not be well-judged, but after the way the far more civilized Tea Party effort got knifed in the back by both the Republicans and the Democrats, whatever the hell Trump really represents came to the forefront. My suspicion is that we’re witnessing the death of both parties, and probably the mainstream media complex. The credibility of the “elite” is going to go down the same rabbit-hole with them, if they don’t watch it. The issue is world-wide, too–Europe is only a little behind us, in terms of the elite team running things discrediting itself.

        In short? Meritocracy? LOL… Show me some merit, first–Until then, it’s just a jumped-up club for the ass-kissing “smart kids” from high school, writ large. These sorry f**ks haven’t fixed shit, yet, and have instead created more and bigger problems than we had. Sure, shut down the mental hospitals instead of fixing them–We’ll all love living in an open-air insane asylum, won’t we just?

        • >In short? Meritocracy? LOL… Show me some merit, first–Until then, it’s just a jumped-up club for the ass-kissing “smart kids” from high school, writ large. These sorry f**ks haven’t fixed shit, yet, and have instead created more and bigger problems than we had. Sure, shut down the mental hospitals instead of fixing them–We’ll all love living in an open-air insane asylum, won’t we just?

          I actually agree with much of your rant. The political “elites” of our civilization have served it very poorly, and angry populism is the pushback they deserve for their arrogance and incompetence. I have made the point that the demonization of the Thea Party movement led directly to Trump – and that if the establishment takes down Trump, what comes after him might be really bad.

          But I don’t think all your conclusions follow from your argument. There isn’t only one meritocracy, and not all of them are as corrupted and lazy as politics. I can claim to be part of a meritocracy without blushing because we ship code, we ship damn good code, and we do it with a process that flows directly from our meritocratic aspirations. Thus, we demonstrate the the conceot isn’t bankrupt.

          The same could be said of any meritocracy where there’s an objective measuree of excellence that keeps it from degenerating into a mutual ass-kissing game. The hard sciences (though no longer many of the soft ones) are an example. So is athletics.

          I also don’t think your claim of rapid and irreversible dysgenics follows. Humans are competitive animals; if one population dumbs itself down suicidally, another will step up. What are the Chinese doing in your doomsday scenario?

          • Eric, I have a lot of respect for you, but… You’re blind to what is going on. For a meritocracy to exist, it needs to exhibit one key thing: Merit. No merit, no meritocracy in anything but name.

            You may indeed be a member of a software meritocracy, but the question is, what comes after you? Your post of 29 August points to exactly what is going to happen to your meritocracy–The SJW types are going to colonize it, and turn it into another of the long line of institutions they’ve destroyed. They can’t help it, and you can’t stop them forever. It’s what they do, and once you’re eventually gone, excellence is likely going to go with you.

            Here’s the fundamental problem we have in our civilization, right now: It’s not software, it’s not hardware, it’s culture. Period. We do not possess a workable paradigm for how to organize human effort, going forward. The old hierarchical bureaucracies, which are the default solution for any problem we run into, simply do not work in the current environment. There’s too much flux, too much change, and the old ways are not flexible or adaptable enough to cope. Not to mention, the damn wreckers of these things have weaponized themselves to destroy what does work, and are steadily engaged in undermining the foundations. I don’t give it but a generation or two before the STEM part of the academy is just as corrupt as the humanities and liberal arts are. You can watch the rot set in, in real time.

            And, before long, they’ll be doing to you what they did to the SFWA and WorldCon. It is inevitable. They’ve got control of the schools, and thus, the minds of the young. Gramsci’s march continues, ever triumphant. And, it ain’t going to stop until the entire shaky edifice crumbles into ruin.

            You ask what I see the Chinese doing during all this. My guess is that they’re foolish enough, in the ruling cadre, to try to pull off germ line genetic engineering for a superior intelligence. Arrogance and a lack of humility in these matters means that they’re probably going to sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. Human consciousness and intellect is shaky enough, already–Start banging on the machinery without fully understanding what the hell is going on with it, and you’re going to be lucky if all you get is a bunch of autists.

            This is the thing that worries me about a lot of these ideas–People fundamentally do not appreciate what a kludge human minds consist of, or how fragile they are. We don’t even have a good idea of the how/why/where of consciousness, and you blithely talk of upgrading intelligence? It is to laugh. Based on what I’ve seen and read of the state of the art in biological science, I don’t think we even have half a clue what any of those supposed markers for intelligence actually do. And, from observation of my fellow humans over the years, I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot more “nature” going on with us than we suppose, as opposed to “nurture”.

            God only knows what tampering with some of those supposed intelligence markers is going to result in. The Chinese are my best bet for being the ones who find out the hard way. It’ll be the “first adopter” syndrome all over again, and I wouldn’t offer to take part in that incipient disaster for love nor money.

            The whole fallacy of meritocracy as a way of managing things is that there has to be some actual, y’know, merit to the whole thing, in order for it to work. Real merit, demonstrated merit, and it can’t just be some guys and girls declaring themselves as such.

            In England, the aristocracy had to justify its existence to the commoners by actually demonstrating that they were better than the rest. When that tradition lapsed, well… So did the aristocracy. So long as Leftenant Chartwell demonstrated and maintained moral ascendancy over the lower classes by being the first over the trench walls, things worked out for the aristocratic class. As soon as that ceased to be a thing, well… The aristos soon ceased, as well.

            What we have right now in this country is an utter lack of accountability or shame, on the part of the elite. Were they at least to demonstrate embarrassment, when caught out? Well, they might manage to eke out a bit more primacy over the hoi polloi. Unfortunately, they can’t even manage embarrassment, demonstrating outrage that the common filth has the temerity to call them out on their bullshit. This is not going to end well–When an elite separates itself the way ours has, there’s only one outcome likely, and that’s something like the French Revolution turned into. They manage to turn out Trump, and leave the obvious criminals like Hillary alone? LOL… My guess is that we’re going to see a re-enactment of the way the Roman Republic fell, this time as farce. Trump will probably play a similar role to the Gracchi, being a guy who tried heading off disaster by reform. If he doesn’t manage to tame the entrenched and entirely unelected powers in the deep state, well… Don’t be real surprised if you see a paroxysm of violence like nothing in living memory. Hell, with the crap that the Washington State Supreme Court just pulled, I’m about halfway to finding a nice roll of hemp, myself…

      • You need to go read some of Larry Correia’s work in the genre, then. I’m not even close to his level of mastery in it.

        The one he has on HK? That’s a piece of fine art, that is.

    • > We just had a perfect illustration of this, down in Florida: The son of a mated pair of “meritocracy members”, demonstrating why the traits that made his parents members of that group probably shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce together.

      I don’t know the story. What’s that about?

      • David Katz. The scion of a couple who would no doubt place themselves inside the “meritocracy”, and who would be placed therein by most outside observers. News reports indicate that both their sons seem to possess issues which would place them somewhere on the line of “reinforced recessive trait dysfunction” that you can observe in a lot of the products of this assortative mating process we’re holding up as such a wonderful thing here.

        Which goes to support my argument that a heridetary meritocracy won’t likely happen. You probably can’t overclock people as easily as many here would like.

  64. Unless there is routine genetic modification of humans your concern about a genetic linked underclass is absurd.

    1) Biological lab evidence demonstrates that it takes 25 generations for a single gene mutation to propagate into an entire small population and much longer for a larger population, with extreme population selection during that entire period & population.
    2) 25 human generations equals approximately 450 years (25×18 where 18 equals average age of first reproduction)
    3) intelligence has been linked to multiple genes rather than a single one
    4) typically human societies/cultures barely last those kinds of timespans and clearly selective pressure changes radically in much shorter spans by your own narrative. Therefore consistent selective pressure is a fantasy.

    We need not go into the fact that actual reproductive rates are much higher for supposed “inferior”intelligence right now while reproductive rates for the elite is much lower and their total numbers are much lower.

    The future belongs to those who show up, not necessarily the elite.

    Therefore, so as far as genetic selection by social stratification goes, it really is a fantasy unless humans DO routinely edit the genome.

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