15 March 2019

White supremacy

White supremacy is the idea that, because you are easily sunburnt, you are innately blessed to such a degree that it is right and proper for your to loot, rape, murder, and enslave.

Put it accurately like that and it's obvious nonsense.

Why is it such wretchedly persistent nonsense?

Bunch of reasons; if you want to enforce inequity of social organization, you need really committed people, because the social costs to the enforcers are high.  (This is a good test for inequity; do the people responsible for keeping the system functioning have worse outcomes than you'd expect from purely economic and background factors?)  It's pretty easy to get commitment by telling the incompetent that they deserve more status than their capability can earn them, and then letting them exact that status through threats of violence.

If you're an oligarch, an explanation for why you should under no circumstances blame the oligarch for anything, and should blame the powerless instead; that's useful, too, and explains where a lot of the money comes from to keep these ideas going.  The long habit of looting has a lot to do with the oligarchical position on this, too.

How do you get rid of it?

If you're trying to get rid of bad insecurity management, you have to do better insecurity management.  That means a respect for facts, quantitative analysis, and calling things by if not their right names then consistent accurate ones.  (This is difficult habit to get into when the culture around you is a big machine for asserting a moral norm.  It's a highly dynamic moral norm, and it claims to be completely immutable.)  It also means being very careful what society rewards.

In the white supremacy case, well.  It's at least eleven kinds of false, but pointing that out doesn't help; the problem is not whether or not it's factual, the problem is that it's an excuse to hurt people until they grant status.  That's a basic basic primate thing; the form of the excuse is irrelevant.  The fix is to not grant status, and to make any attempt to do so materially expensive.

Facebook delenda est.  Youtube, too.  Feedback with no constraints is going to catch fire and explode soon enough; we're not obliged to wait for the boom.  Anti-vaxxers (functionally another weird-ass flavour of white supremacy) are engaged in something that meets the material criteria for a conspiracy to commit bioterrorism -- the B in the NBC abbreviation for "weapons of mass destruction" -- and they've already killed specific, identifiable people. Might-maybe be time to treat it like what it is.  (This would be an excellent test for whether or not a law enforcement organization was itself hopelessly corrupted by white supremacy; can they look at anti-vaxxers and do the material analysis around what happens, rather than how people feel about what they are doing?)

Medium term, do what is necessary to secure the general prosperity in the time of angry weather, which means food security for all, above all.

02 March 2019

Systemic stability

There's this result from operations research and system theory that says that if you want to control something, you need to provide matching variety (as many states as the system you're trying to control has in the controls), limit the system variety (letting the dog run, but inside a fence...), or build some kind of variety amplifier so you can match the number of states in the system with fewer inputs.  (Traffic lights, and the enforcement mechanism that makes them consequential.)  ("Law of Requisite Variety", for the curious.)
What does that have to do with anything?

An overclass is a control system.  A relatively small proportion of the population organizes society so they get what they want.

The portion of society making up the overclass is too small to do this directly; there has to be a variety amplifier.  That's a lot of things, mostly belief but also various limitation mechanisms.  The ideal of democracy is that there's general agreement on the necessary system, and that everybody gets a say in how it's constructed.  (This hasn't ever happened, though it's been closer than it now is.)  The practice is that things are arranged to guarantee outcomes for the overclass.

There's a bunch of problems with this.  The most important difficulty is that people in the overclass believe that they can and should have control, and are taking a counter-factual position when they do it.  A sufficiently stable -- that is, nigh-static -- can give the illusion of the possibility of control, and the conservative takes on the importance of obedience, the inherent nature of ability, and so are all derived from the position that control is possible, necessary, and right.  And to be as fair as possible, the results indicating that, no, really, you can't have that; it isn't an achievable thing only date to the 1940s or so.  That's not a very long time compared to the last five thousand years of "obey the king".  It is still a disaster when the people running things demand counter-factual outcomes.

The nearly-as-important difficulty is that system is real; personal moral choice has almost nothing to do with it, and pretty much any progressive political movement gets tripped down the metaphorical stairs of trying to be good.  (Where it will neither be good nor achieve any specific material objectives.)

If you want a different world, you need to be building a different system.  That's really tough; it's, in effect, the need to build something large enough to be capable of being responsible for fixing everything.  (You can only be responsible for what you have the power to alter.  So individual responsibility isn't sufficient, and the idea that it is or could be isn't helpful.)  It may well mean taking over the incumbent system and using it to build something else.

And of course we're headed into a period of history where the incumbents have utterly failed, are losing legitimacy, will lose all legitimacy, and where the status quo cannot possibly hold.  This is not a problem human societies have a good record of dealing with.

The status quo is gone; the question is how to respond, and the question of how to respond effectively is how to respond without trying for control.  This is a legitimately difficult problem.

It's also something of a timed exam.