21 May 2018

Lamentable simplicity

So over here, Charlie talks about the degree to which it looks like the oligarchy has decided genocide is the answer.

There's a bunch of ways Charlie is being wildly optimistic.

The entire point to an oligarchy is to stay on top of the local maximum; to be in control of, and disproportionately benefitting from, the production of surplus.  Whatever toolkit society has got, the oligarchy is deriving disproportionate benefit from it.  This is the thing at which they are skilled; finding some surplus and getting control of it.[1]

There is no way to keep your current oligarchical position in the way that family prominence has been handed down for centuries in various stable polities.  We are, sure as fate, sure as death, headed into an historical discontinuity.  We are in a major extinction event and it might well include us.  We cannot stay on this local maximum because it's going away.[2]

All of the material fixes involve the oligarchy giving up control of surplus to apply that surplus to building the alternative infrastructure necessary to keep having an industrial culture.  (No industrial culture runs us smack into circumstances where pre-industrial agriculture could support at most a billion people as the planetary population, and we've done a great deal of soil damage since.)

An oligarch can't do that.  If you're trying to come up with a scenario where that might happen, you're trying to imagine an outcome comparable to a strong majority -- a political landslide -- of men reading the health outcome statistics (which are incontrovertible) and getting themselves castrated.  Does that seem even a little plausible?  No?  So you (a non-oligarch) should be planning on the expectation that, in the end, the point to being an oligarch is having your bones on the very top of the pile.

So it's not so much a plan for genocide[3] as an inability to plan at all in a time when no plan looks a lot like extinction.

[1] This is why management is statistically incompetent at doing the thing and why productivity correlates with labour's ability to negotiate (aka walk away); the management skill set is about concentrating benefit from generated surplus, which is distinct from doing the thing.  Labour wants to do the thing better; management doesn't.  Doing the thing better dissipates surplus, which is (to an oligarch) wrong.

[2] it depends on stable agriculture.  The time of angry weather means we're not going to have that.

[3] there's no evidence that genocide is considered bad, or that domestic-animal level slavery would be considered bad, either.  Or that we're not actively getting both of those things.  It's more that these are emergent properties of the system, rather than the outcome of a conscious plan.

No comments: