16 February 2020

It's still all bad insecurity management

Actual security arises from your community of other people.  They can watch when you sleep; they have skills you don't.  Some things just aren't possible to a single person.  (Try running the hoist and managing the dragline by yourself....)

Money messes with this.  Once you've got money, you have an alternative to status; having lots of money makes it relatively easier for you to compel people to do what you want.  Sure as death, sure as fate, the existence of money and some iterated selection gets you social structures that exist to use money as a social coercive; I am rich, so you must do as I say.   Keep iterating those and you wind up with an overclass and slaves.  (And watch out for your definition of "slave"; functional definitions are much more instructive than looking at ritual or overt social markers.)

The overclass reacts really really badly to being told they can't do something or have something; they're in the overclass because there's something a bit off in their heads and they perceive the best route to personal security as maximizing their ability to compel everyone around them.

This is why there's this massive pretense that the climate is a question of if; if there's climate change.  If we have to change in response.

And, well, no.  It's not if.  We're going to stop extracting fossil carbon.  The question is how we stop.

There is no way to stop -- the options are "on purpose" and "because civilization has collapsed and nigh-all of us are dead" -- that leaves the overclass where it is.  Nothing lets them keep as much of their current ability to compel people to do what they want; a post-capitalist (is has to be post-capitalist; "I get to keep all the loot" is inconsistent with "no looting the environment" and "no ignoring real costs, even the distributed ones", so there's no way you can get a capitalist system to stop extracting fossil carbon) economy won't support an overclass at all (if we're smart) or this one (if we're lucky, and there's still civilization).  The current overclass can't deal with that; a comfortable life won't do, because they won't feel safe.

So what we've got is a situation where humanity will plausibly go extinct and billions certainly will die early because the overclass finds that much, much less alarming than not being as relatively able to compel people to do what they want as they are now.

(Yeah, there's a strong analogy with transit, white supremacy, housing, and several other messed up things; the point is not being rich.  The point is to be able to compel everybody you come in contact with, on the one hand, and to be immune from compulsion yourself, on the other.  Because they're frightened.)

So the point is that this isn't a facts problem; there's no question about the facts.  This is a brain-lock-from-terror problem.  Among a group of people who are systemically, structurally, nigh-impossible to compel.  (Because they built the system that way!) Definitionally an aristocracy, and definitionally indifferent to the fate of anyone who isn't specifically and personally and individually them.

Everybody else, we need to inform our politics with facts, including the "terrified aristocrats" one.


Moz said...

The "not be compelled" thing is why the likes of Trump have such striking cognitive dissonance around everything from impeachement to Putin's influence... "you can't tell me what to do" becomes twisted into "you didn't tell me what to do, I decided to do it". Or "I won" becomes the mantra even when the evidence doesn't support the claim.

You could perhaps argue that firing people who disagree is part of it - both the "I get what I want" aspect of making people pretend to believe nonsense, and the neccessary pleasure of destroying anyone who dares to contradict.

But that goes all the way down... my boss is currently really pissy because he stupidly told me there would be PV on the roof of the new building and I keep asking when it's going to be installed. He's not so far gone that he's willing to just say "there was never going to be solar, what are you talking about?" but he seems to want to... turns out the cheap solar installers don't do industrial (and are not stupid enough to try because the legal system would eat them alive), and the industrial ones won't put up with his shit.

Sergey Rybasov said...

I agree more with your previous formula about money - that was not about money as such, but about limitation; any resource that can be used to increase itself gets socium to instability with random causes (those accidentally rich are tended to be more and more rich; those accidentally authoritative are tended to be more and more authoritative, etc.), and so, sane socium have to have some combination of law and custom to restrain authority and richness, to compensate this inherent instability, and so to keep those social weights as much personal-merit-reward instruments as it possible.

As for terror and compelling, I disagree with you completely. There is no way to kill significant percent of fellow citisens (Anglosphere countries), and so to get substantially more richness to overclass. That was so 2 centuries ago, but no way now, even here (post-Soviet wild capitalism). It works completely different way now: no terror, no compelling, but indifference and irresponcibility in the medium of complete social atomization (urbanized population) leads to irresponcibility of masses, they have very low temptation threshold, easy to seduce with smth thoughtless and careless.