Quote note (#165)

The conclusion to a typically thoughtful, reality-infused Athrelon post:

Ayn Rand’s fantasy of Galt’s Gulch imagined a small number of natural aristocrats noticing that they kept the ungrateful world alive. Feeling their strength, they said “screw the peasants,” seceded from civilization, and the country began to collapse. The reality of the Weak Galt Hypothesis is that the peasants say “screw the aristocrats,” secede from civilization, and the country does not collapse.

(The ‘Weak Galt Hypothesis’ is shaping up as a remarkably solid NRx building block. See also this.)

May 10, 2015admin 29 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

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29 Responses to this entry

  • Quote note (#165) | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Quote note (#165) […]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 4:20 am Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#165) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 7:54 am Reply | Quote
  • The Index Says:

    I don’t have anything to add but you should know that the link, as they say, is kill.

    [Reply]

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    rip in peace.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Seems like a general More Right blog collapse. It happens quite often.

    [Reply]

    Athrelon Reply:

    http://pastebin.com/uLfNLam6

    Until the site is back up, here is an earlier draft of the post.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 8:24 am Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    I don’t believe it’s appropriate to call them peasants. Peasants work for a living. What we’re dealing with is a protected parasite class — and one which is large in number. (This is something without historical precedent, as far as I can tell. It is a product of the modern “welfare” state.) Calling parasites “peasants” both insults our ancestors and debases those we would call “aristocrats.” It would be more appropriate to call those parasites “vermin” — and when vermin go on strike, they are not missed.

    [Reply]

    chris b Reply:

    @erebus – not protected: utilised. The whole left mechanism needs a pathetic group/class who are capable of violence when needed. That way they can encourage them to chimp out and then use it to gain more powers. Either to stop the chimp out, or (of far more value) to demand more government to alleviate the claimed “underlying” problems. Thus we see the extreme value of the US negros or the UK Muslims. Leftism is the waste that sloughs off as Power tries to expand against resitance. The leftist see themselves as heroic gnositic warriors when all they really are, are pawns in a mechanism.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    In what way was the urban mob of Rome more productive than today’s urban mob? Julius Caesar got in debt to curate their favor and win power. The Roman Empire was so strong it was able to sustain the mob for centuries. I’d hardly call this pattern unprecedented, only the scale of it.

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    It’s not quite the same thing. Leaving aside the fact that the lowest men of Rome were its many slaves, “social welfare” in Rome took the form of individual patron/client relationships. Very roughly, a patron was a man of high social standing who was obliged to perform favors (“beneficia”) to Roman citizens of lower social status who swore fealty to him. In addition to the loyalty (“officia”) of his clients, the patron also received regular favors. The ins and outs are complex, but money changed hands in both directions — well-off clients were obliged to financially support their patrons, and rich patrons often bestowed gifts of money on their clients, and assisted them when they were in need. (Both financial and legal.) It was a mark of status for rich patrons to have a large swarm of clients, who all spent time together in their patron’s large mansion on a regular basis — often a daily basis.

    My point is that social welfare in ancient Rome was not an ironclad obligation, but complex, highly personal, and relationship-based.

    …In other words, a free citizen of Rome might have been allowed to be a parasite, but only if this citizen had a very wealthy and easygoing patron who supported him — and, in that case, this freeloader could quite fairly be called his patron’s servant. His status in society would be an exceedingly low one.

    Client-patron relationships were often inherited — but were by no means a right.

    It’s also important to note that money was very much a means to an end in ancient Rome. Rome’s wealthiest citizens were often very profligate spenders — on public works, on religious festivals, on favors for their clients, and on charity. All of these things increased their social status tremendously. Caesar gave the poor grain — which is really just an example of the above — but a spirit of civic-mindedness kept Roman society stable.

    All that aside, whether the lowest of the Romans were more or less productive than our own urban mob can be debated. But given their technical, engineering, and artistic expertise, I’d have to assume that even Romans of the lowest plebian classes built magnificent edifices — and our own urban mob barely knows how to build anything at all.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 9:22 am Reply | Quote
  • The Word Says:

    @

    Cached:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:YE_EwIbY8x8J:www.moreright.net/the-weak-galt-hypothesis/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 9:27 am Reply | Quote
  • megaman_ Says:

    [quote]It would be more appropriate to call those parasites “vermin” — and when vermin go on strike, they are not missed.[/quote]

    It is psychologically damaging for oneself to make judgements like these and to put such constraints on oneself. As you judge others, you will judge yourself (perhaps unless you are a psychopath).

    It seems increasingly so that production will more and more be monopolized by the super intelligent.
    What happens when the only ones able to compete are either genetically engineered, or AI?
    You might increasingly find yourself to be the vermin.

    Alternatively the peasants could go Amish, with little need for high IQ vermin intellectuals.

    And If the “peasants” go Galt (become self-sufficient), for whom will the producers produce?

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    When a class of people are dependent on governmental paternalism for their very survival, what are they to be called? It’s not a judgement so much as it is an observation.

    Everything else you’ve written is utterly irrelevant. There’s no timetable on what you’ve alluded to, with respect to the genetically engineered and artificial intelligences. These things might not come about within the next several decades. They might never come about at all. Both might be introduced or implemented only in very narrow ways, as opposed to in broader, socially-disruptive ways. The possibilities are… well… infinite.

    Despite all this, you’re saying that we should not pass judgement on the vermin of the present, lest we become the vermin of the future. Are you suggesting that we ignore the problems of the present & wait with bated breath for some sort of technological singularity or utopia? What are you suggesting?

    In any case, the vermin of the present are beneath contempt. That the vermin of the future shall be beneath the contempt of posthumans or machine-gods is natural and to be expected — by all means, let them be broken down to their constituent atoms and turned into computronium! — but I’m not losing any sleep over this sort of hypothetical scenario.

    [Reply]

    Irving Reply:

    @megaman_

    Erebus:

    While all of your points are noted, it is still the case that you seem to be exaggerating. It really isn’t clear that today’s underclass is uniquely parasitical when compared to those underclass populations in different eras and civilizations. In any society there are inevitably going to be more than a few people who are not capable of producing any value and who, therefore, have to live on the charity of others. Thee are different ways in which this charity can be distributed–it can be through food stamps, “client-patron partnerships” or whatever–but it is still charity. To be sure, however, to the extent that there is anything unique about today’s underclass, it is that now, and this will certainly be increasingly the case in the future, you have a greater number of people who, in most other times and places, would have had the opportunity to be productive citizens, whether as soldiers, factory workers or whatever. All of this is changing, as you well know, with the ongoing development of sophisticated technologies that are able to do the tasks that these people were capable of doing before. Though true that AI, genetic engineering and all the rest of it may be hype, it is still the case that as time goes on, more and more people who today are not parasites, as you call them, will become parasites–possibly even yourself. There is nothing “utterly irrelevant” about pointing these facts out.

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    Nonsense. The Roman “underclass”, as you put it, consisted of slaves. The feudal systems which followed did not allow for an underclass as such — its peasants were producers of food, or they starved to death. All societies have had their charity cases, have had their wretched who were incapable of working, but nothing which approaches the scale or magnitude that we see today. Where in history have entire populations of able-bodied people depended for their survival on governmental largesse?

    I vaguely recall that a 19th century French author once defined nobility as “the ability to live without working.” (Or something to the same general effect.) As per that false definition, our parasite class would be the true aristocrats, and our middle-class the true peasants.
    …But aristocrats everywhere — from Rome, to the Barons of Europe, to the Samurai classes of feudal Japan — have had heavy administrative, legal, and wartime responsibilities. They were, at least in theory, the best men of their time and place. Our parasite class has no responsibilities whatsoever, and are the worst men of our time and place.

    Are you arguing that these people have absolutely no opportunity to become productive citizens? Or is it a question of will?

    This discussion has nothing to do with the future, so what genetic engineering and AI do to my job is irrelevant. I feel as though you’re trying to “make it personal” and appeal to emotion there. But trust me, nothing could make me happier than the emergence of a superintelligent AI (good or evil) or the rise of a post-human race. It beats global Brazilification hands down.

    Different T Reply:

    Where in history have entire populations of able-bodied people depended for their survival on governmental largesse?

    That is the point it seems. Where in history has a civilization created the largesse to sustain entire populations of able-bodied people without employing in the production process?

    But trust me, nothing could make me happier than the emergence of a superintelligent AI (good or evil) or the rise of a post-human race. It beats global Brazilification hands down.

    That may be one of the strangest mutual-exclusions yet.

    Erebus Reply:

    “That is the point it seems. Where in history has a civilization created the largesse to sustain entire populations of able-bodied people without employing in the production process?”

    So of course they’re not “peasants”, but something far inferior and categorically different from the peasant of European history. And of course when they secede from civilization nothing collapses. That much should be obvious. These people live thanks to the government’s misguided and coercive policies of wealth redistribution, solely. (Not even voluntary charity or patronage.) If this were a mathematical equation, removing them from this equation would result in a net positive.

    …But I don’t know if they’re seceding from civilization at all. They’ve ceased to participate in anything which resembles a productive manner, but I’d bet that they still take their hand-outs.

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 10:04 am Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    The reality of the Weak Galt Hypothesis is that the peasants say “screw the aristocrats,” secede from civilization, and the country does not collapse.

    Instead, we get the French Revolution.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 11:03 am Reply | Quote
  • megaman_ Says:

    http://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com/2015/05/baltimore.html

    Relevant.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 12:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Different T Says:

    link from article:

    http://youtu.be/qPFOkr1eE7I?t=6m41s

    He says google or similar could take a small group of like 10k-20k and go into a country of 1-2M and just tell them, “Ok, we are going to provide everything you need and would normally work for. Now go find something really cool to do with your time.”

    Mouse-utopia?

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 10th, 2015 at 1:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Irving Says:

    Erebus:

    I wasn’t really trying to attack you personally, I was simply pointing out that the reason why we have so many “parasites” today compared to other periods in history is because today, on the one hand, food is so abundant, health care is so advanced, etc., while jobs are being rapidly being automated, off-shored, etc., and the jobs that are left pay practically nothing.

    There are of course some jobs left that pay well but those are either in tech or else in governing (and under this latter category I include government workers, teachers, lawyers, etc…you get what I mean). For the former you need a high IQ, which most people clearly do not have. For the latter, those jobs are largely filled by people who really aren’t all that much brighter than the people rioting in Baltimore, if we’re honest. Besides your occasional high-achieving Ivy League grad, what we generally find are armies of affirmative action hires and generally mediocre intellects. For the people who can take neither of these jobs, some kind of government assistance is necessary.

    But what is extraordinary is that, in fact, government assistance could actually give a lot more if it had to. The trick is to give just enough so that recipients won’t give up work entirely and leave McDonald’s completely without a workforce. In reality, sufficient housing can be easily built, sufficient amounts of food can be easily produced, and so on, such that all of these “parasites” could actually live like kings and queens, living in spacious homes and eating high quality food for every meal beginning literally next week, maybe even tomorrow.

    I’m kind of rambling here, but I hope you understand what I mean. The reason why the situation we’re in has no precedent in history is because never in history have the necessaries for living a good life been so cheap, to the point of being almost free, while at the same work was so hard to find. If it came down to it, and the masses suddenly had to go back to conditions where everyday was a struggle for survival, than after the initial die-off of those of them who would fail to adapt, things would go back pretty quickly to the historical norm that you brought up. But since–let’s be honest–that isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon, there is only one thing to do, and that is to wait for the process to carry through to completion, when everyone except for maybe the those with 150+ IQs are left with nothing to do but eat sleep and fuck all day.

    To be clear, this is not a future that I want to see, but it seems inevitable. It isn’t clear that NRx has an answer to this problem except to say that at some point, there will be a currency crisis or whatever, the governments will go broke, the welfare programs will stop paying, and then everyone except the best and brightest will simply starve to death. That seems to be admin’s positions anyway. To think that that is going to happen is, I think, pretty absurd.

    I’ve kinda gotten off point, but anyway what I also meant to say was that the future is absolutely relevant to this discussion. I don’t know you nor do I know what you do, but it is more than likely that you, and people who do what you do, along with myself and everyone else by the way, will soon become one of the “parasites”.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2015 at 1:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Irving Says:

    @megaman_

    Erebus:

    I wasn’t really trying to attack you personally, I was simply pointing out that the reason why we have so many “parasites” today compared to other periods in history is because today, on the one hand, food is so abundant, health care is so advanced, etc., while jobs are being rapidly being automated, off-shored, etc., and the jobs that are left pay practically nothing.

    There are of course some jobs left that pay well but those are either in tech or else in governing (and under this latter category I include government workers, teachers, lawyers, etc…you get what I mean). For the former you need a high IQ, which most people clearly do not have. For the latter, those jobs are largely filled by people who really aren’t all that much brighter than the people rioting in Baltimore, if we’re honest. Besides your occasional high-achieving Ivy League grad, what we generally find are armies of affirmative action hires and generally mediocre intellects. For the people who can take neither of these jobs, some kind of government assistance is necessary.

    But what is extraordinary is that, in fact, government assistance could actually give a lot more if it had to. The trick is to give just enough so that recipients won’t give up work entirely and leave McDonald’s completely without a workforce. In reality, sufficient housing can be easily built, sufficient amounts of food can be easily produced, and so on, such that all of these “parasites” could actually live like kings and queens, living in spacious homes and eating high quality food for every meal beginning literally next week, maybe even tomorrow.

    I’m kind of rambling here, but I hope you understand what I mean. The reason why the situation we’re in has no precedent in history is because never in history have the necessaries for living a good life been so cheap, to the point of being almost free, while at the same work was so hard to find. If it came down to it, and the masses suddenly had to go back to conditions where everyday was a struggle for survival, than after the initial die-off of those of them who would fail to adapt, things would go back pretty quickly to the historical norm that you brought up. But since–let’s be honest–that isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon, there is only one thing to do, and that is to wait for the process to carry through to completion, when everyone except for maybe the those with 150+ IQs are left with nothing to do but eat sleep and fuck all day.

    To be clear, this is not a future that I want to see, but it seems inevitable. It isn’t clear that NRx has an answer to this problem except to say that at some point, there will be a currency crisis or whatever, the governments will go broke, the welfare programs will stop paying, and then everyone except the best and brightest will simply starve to death. That seems to be admin’s positions anyway. To think that that is going to happen is, I think, pretty absurd.

    I’ve kinda gotten off point, but anyway what I also meant to say was that the future is absolutely relevant to this discussion. I don’t know you nor do I know what you do, but it is more than likely that you, and people who do what you do, along with myself and everyone else by the way, will soon become one of the “parasites”.

    [Reply]

    [Reply]

    Different T Reply:

    In reality, sufficient housing can be easily built, sufficient amounts of food can be easily produced, and so on

    In reality, you mean America has the resources to do these things if the people were robots.

    To be clear, this is not a future that I want to see, but it seems inevitable. It isn’t clear that NRx has an answer to this problem except to say that at some point, there will be a currency crisis or whatever, the governments will go broke, the welfare programs will stop paying, and then everyone except the best and brightest will simply starve to death.

    VR… at first. Then combine with brain eating (great phrase admin) and it goes full matrix.

    I don’t know you nor do I know what you do, but it is more than likely that you, and people who do what you do, along with myself and everyone else by the way, will soon become one of the “parasites”.

    “To clarify, are trust fund babies whose fathers were fabulously rich a “leak” or do the digits on their bank account balance make it not so? Are stay-at-home mothers a “leak,” or are they okay because their husband pays for them? Are children a “leak,” or are they okay because they are expected to be productive later, or because their parents pay, or because the state pays? Are the disabled a “leak,” or are they okay because of what could have been?”

    If you are a business or money manager for a widow, child, or descendant of some successful businessman, explain to your client the merits of capitalism and why economics is about the maximization of production. Then politely ask them to transfer ownership of the assets you manage, and which they add exactly zero value to, to you.

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    Irving,

    Your position is clear: You have a very low opinion of the job market, a rather low opinion (probably justified) of the intellect of your fellow man, a strong faith in technological progress, and, overall, a very fatalistic view of it all. You accept the premise that our future is going to look like Brave New World as an inevitability. You make excuses on behalf of the objectively worthless.

    For one thing, I don’t think that the job market is nearly so bad as you’ve described. Those who have “seceded from society” — do you really think that they have no other option? No opportunity to become productive citizens? I suppose you could say that the cost/benefit ratio is tilted in favor of not working — e.g. that working for low wages is undesirable when compared to sitting on the couch watching daytime TV and collecting welfare. But if this is the case, then the incentives you’ve mentioned are already off-balance and should be corrected. The obvious solution is that we should give less welfare and encourage more labor. Even make-work is better and more honorable than collecting handouts.

    It is true that our society is rich. Industry is what made it rich. The likes of those who survive by sucking the government’s teat have given it nothing — less than nothing. Now note how the “war on poverty” had a tremendously detrimental effect on the urban black family. If the government “gives a lot more”, what do you suppose the result will be? The USA is already tired and decadent enough, it need not get any worse.

    With respect to technological progress, I’d like to clarify something I mentioned earlier. I believe, wholeheartedly, that Nietzsche was right about one thing: Mankind is exhausted, inherently flawed, and is only a stepping stone on the path to a more optimized form. Whether or not this form emerges as a superintelligent AI, or whether we take evolution into our own hands and create a race of post-humans, matters less than you’d think. Sooner or later, it is an inevitability. Where you see Brave New World, I see the era of homo sapiens coming to an abrupt end.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2015 at 1:50 am Reply | Quote
  • Irving Says:

    @Irving

    Different T:

    I don’t know that a robot population would be necessary. It simply seems to be the case that we’ve reached a point in the West that no matter what happens, a famine due to natural causes–like a drought or overpopulation–will never happen. I mean, we’re even getting to the point now that we’re soon going to be consuming things such as in vitro meat, etc.. And housing, well, maybe everyone doesn’t need to live in a mansion, but surely it would not be difficult at all to given everyone sanitary and comfortable housing who needed it.

    You’ll need to elaborate on what you mean when you say : “VR… at first. Then combine with brain eating (great phrase admin) and it goes full matrix”. I don’t understand it.

    For the last part, if we accept the definition of capitalism that seems to be prevalent around here, then yeah, those would all be leaks. Of course, I think it is much more complicated than that though. I’ve read some of your other posts and if I understand you correctly, than I’m willing to say that I’ve got basically the same view of these things that you do.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2015 at 2:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Different T Says:

    @Irving

    I don’t know that a robot population would be necessary. It simply seems to be the case that we’ve reached a point in the West that no matter what happens, a famine due to natural causes–like a drought or overpopulation–will never happen. I mean, we’re even getting to the point now that we’re soon going to be consuming things such as in vitro meat, etc.. And housing, well, maybe everyone doesn’t need to live in a mansion, but surely it would not be difficult at all to given everyone sanitary and comfortable housing who needed it.

    The government already gives brand new homes to people, it just has to be timed right for the person to get it. They also buy HUD houses brand new appliances and replace them. But if you look at many of them 6 months later, there is little to no salvage value. Why?

    If they are not robots, why are the people who build the houses or appliances going to continue doing so (the preceding was meant to show that these durable goods and homes would face a highly accelerated depreciation schedule), when they only receive in exchange exactly what someone who does nothing receives. One could argue that they would do it for the social rewards; but if you look around, do you think Western society really values the normal blue and white collar workers more if money is not a reward?

    That is what I mean by “if the people are robots.” If the people are driven by the things that actually drive people, it seems your scenario would not be realized. If they automatically take reasonable care of their possessions and do not feel jealousy, etc; well, then we are not taking about humans.

    You’ll need to elaborate

    You asked for outcomes when “everyone except for maybe the those with 150+ IQs are left with nothing to do but eat sleep and fuck all day.” The something to do may be immersive tech. If economics is about power and control, a fully functional economy can take place in VR. At first, the users will want transferability of their VR value to the outside world through money or whatever (think of the rise of social media). But once future demand in VR is accepted as certain, the value can stay fully “inside.”

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2015 at 11:40 am Reply | Quote
  • Daws Says:

    u had ur car fixed or paid for elder care or dentistry or clinical med attention or childcare lately? there’s tons of work to b done. trouble is dummies and sticky benefits and community multipliers

    I don’t c y u guys r so incensed about this, tho. we’re pacifying them via jail and policing. my town feels safer than when I was a kid. heck, the dummies don’t live so near. the transfers rn’t so costly, relative to medicare, soc sec, gov labor. at some point we’ll have to reckon with cops’ pensions, but breaking promises isn’t so hard

    ya’ll reproduce the left tendency to complaint. what i dig about previous political steady-states is what i imagine to b a lesser habit of estimating and demanding new optima

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    I agree with your first paragraph. Lots of work to be done — but far too many issues which disincentivize people from contributing. If people find that they absolutely will not or can not contribute, a far firmer hand should be taken with respect to “pacification”. Ideally, we’d put prisoners to work on infrastructure projects. (They might learn useful skills, and there’s something ennobling about building grand structures… besides, it’ll be years, probably decades, before construction tasks are left to robots.)

    [Reply]

    Daws Reply:

    the inability to initiate physical infrastructure projects in the US – or public web/legal infrastructure, as in Obamacare – is a far greater problem than violent crime in advanced economies, imo, with or without training and tech. it’s also a far better demonstration of the republic’s dysfunction than the misbehavior of the dummies. denial of Gnon features to the end of technocratic virtue has paralyzed the public sector’s worthwhile functions

    we already set prisoners to simple assembly tasks, which seems prudent. I have no ideas as to what might ennoble them; prison is pretty horrific, so even the most respectable “work with your hands” material swims upstream

    I think the Clinton and Hartz reforms included some good stuff re: work requirements. Cameron austerity seems to have done same. Gotta lower the minimum wage, tho, so that hiring dummies is profitable. lowering nominal wage seems too tough under democracy, maybe under any governing structure. that’s y I’m a way bigger fan of contemporary monetary policy than ya’ll seem to b. make $10 dollars worth less and the $10 min wage is less meddlesome

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 12th, 2015 at 7:53 am Reply | Quote

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