Right on the Money (#2)

The most direct way to carry this discussion forwards is digression. That’s what the history of capitalism suggests, and much else does, besides.

To begin with uncontroversial basics, in a sophisticated financialized economy, debt and savings are complementary concepts, creditors match debtors, assets match liabilities. At a more basic level of economic activity and analysis, however, this symmetry break down. At the most fundamental level, saving is simply deferred consumption, which — even primordially — divides into two distinct forms.

When production is not immediately consumed, it can be hoarded, which is to say, conserved for future consumption. Stored food is the most obvious example. In principle, an economy of almost open-ended financial sophistication could be built upon this pillar alone. A grain surplus might be lent out for immediate consumption by another party, creating a creditor-debtor relation, and the opportunity for financial instruments to arise. Excess production, at one node in the social network, could be translated into a monetary hoard, or some type of ‘paper’ financial asset (producing a circulating liability). The patent anachronism involved in this abstract economic model, which combines primitive production with ‘advanced’ social relations (of an implicitly liberal type) is reason enough to suspend it at this point.

The other, (almost) equally primitive type of saving is of greater importance to the argument to be unfolded, because it is already embryonically capitalist. Rather than simple hoarding, saving can take the form of ’roundabout production’ (Böhm-Bawerk), in which immediate consumption is replaced not with a hoard, but with indirect means of production (a digression). For instance, rather than hunting, an entrepreneurial savage might spend time crafting a weapon — consuming the production time permitted by a prior food surplus in order to improve the efficiency of food acquisition, going forwards. Saving then becomes inextricable from technology, deferring immediate production for the sake of enhanced future production. Time horizons are extended.

As with the prior example (simple hoarding), the potential for financialization of roundabout production is, in principle, unlimited. Our techno-savage might borrow food in order to craft a spearhead, confident — or at least speculatively assuming — that increased hunting efficiency in the future will make repayment of the debt easily bearable. A ‘bond’ could be contrived to seal this arrangement. Technological investment means that history proper has begun.

Crudity and anachronism aside, nothing here is yet economically controversial, given only the undisturbed assumption that the final purpose — or governing teleology — is consumption. The time structure of consumption is altered, but saving (in either of these basic and perennial forms) is motivated by the maximization of long-term consumption. Suspension and digression is subordinated within a rigid means-end relation, which is economics itself. Classical, left-Marxian, neo-classical, and Austrian schools have no significant disagreements on this point. A deeper digression is required to perturb it.

What is a brain for? It, too, is a digression. Evolutionary history seems to only very parsimoniously favor brains, because they are expensive. They are a means to the elaboration of complex behaviors, requiring an extravagant up-front investment of biological resources, accounted most primitively in calories. A species that can reproduce itself (and whose individuals can nourish themselves) without cephalic extravagance, does so. This is, overwhelmingly, the normal case. Building brains is reluctantly tolerated biological digression, under rigorous teleogical — we should say ‘teleonomic’ — subordination.

‘Optimize for intelligence’ is, for both biology and economics, a misconceived imperative. Intelligence, ‘like’ capital, is a means, which finds its sole intelligibility in a more primordial end. The autonomization of such means, expressed as a non-subordinated intelligenic or techno-capitalist imperative, runs contrary to the original order of nature and society. It is an escaping digression, most easily pursued through Right-wing Marxism.

Marx has one great thought: the means of production socially impose themselves as an effective imperative. For any leftist, this is, of course, pathological. As we have seen, biology and economics (more generally) are disposed to agree. Digression for itself is a perversion of the natural and social order. Defenders of the market — the Austrians most prominently — have sided with economics against Marx, by denying that the autonomization of capital is a phenomenon to be recognized. When Marx describes the bourgeoisie as robotic organs of self-directing capital, the old liberal response has been to defend the humanity and agency of the economically executive class, as expressed in the figure of the entrepreneur.

Right-wing Marxism, aligned with the autonomization of capital (and thoroughly divested of the absurd LTV), has been an unoccupied position. The signature of its proponents would be a defense of capital accumulation as an end-in-itself, counter-subordinating nature and society as a means. When optimization for intelligence is self-assembled within history, it manifests as escaping digression, or real capital accumulation (which is mystified by its financial representation). Crudified to the limit — but not beyond — it is general robotics (escalated roundabout production). Perhaps we should not expect it to be clearly announced, because — strategically — it has every reason to camouflage itself.

Right-wing Marxism makes predictions. There is one of particular relevance to this discussion: consumption-deficiency theories of economic under-performance will become increasingly stressed as ultra-capitalist dynamics historically introduce themselves. In its unambiguously robotic phase — when capital-stock intelligenesis explodes (as self-exciting machine-brain manufacturing) — the teleological legitimation of roundabout production through prospective human consumption rapidly deteriorates into an absurdity. The (still-dominant) economic concept of ‘over-investment’ is exposed as an ideological claim upon the escalation of intelligence, made in the name of an original humanity, and taking an increasingly desperate, probably militarized form.

Insofar as the economic question remains: what is the consumption base that justifies this level of investment? history becomes ever more unintelligible. This is how economics disintegrates. The specifics require further elaboration.

June 3, 2013admin 80 Comments »
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80 Responses to this entry

  • Gom Jabbar Says:

    Being a bear of a very little brain I’ve been trying to platonify things into a single over-arching concept. And what I had settled on was, that rather than optimizing for intelligence we should optimize for civilization, or as you pointed out much earlier on Urban Future, optimize around low (perhaps zero) time preference. Obviously the delayed consumption of the spear builder fits neatly into this bucket. The rise ultra-capitalist machine-brains at war with original humanity… less so…

    Thanks for knocking over my sand castle yet again…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Zero time preference sounds a little ambitious — it would mean somebody being entirely indifferent between consumption now, and consumption at the end of the universe.
    The question I’d put is rather: who is the social agent that gets to decide upon, and implement, these goals?

    [Reply]

    Gom Jabbar Reply:

    The only way I can see this working is to enthrone low time preference as a cultural good. Certainly this is something that has been done before, possibly until very recently. Even if not everyone agreed on what low time preference looked like, it would still be better if that was everyone’s general goal. Which perhaps takes us back to autonomization.

    I think the current problem is that while a non-trivial number still recognize the value of low time preference there is no general acknowledgment of any crowding out effect by high time preference thinking.

    In any case I this may be digressing from the original topic.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… this may be digressing from the original topic” — digression into low time-preference is the topic.
    The immediate trouble I see is that socio-political progress (‘democratization’) is almost indistinguishable from the elevation of time-preference, so your goal (shared, I’m sure, by neoreactionaries in general) is perfectly misaligned with the dominant cultural trend of modernity. To “enthrone low time preference as a cultural good” would require nothing less than a restoration (‘reboot’) to a very different social order.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    You mean like saying stuff like “A penny saved, is a penny earned”. And “Put some away for a rainy day”.

    The culture will (re)learn that stuff when the government stops making total chumps out of people who live that way. A lot of cultural decay is due to active governmental policies, designed ostensibly to do some good, but having untintended, sometimes disastrous, consequences. Full disclosure I just refied, 30 yrs fixed. I am 46. Do the math. 3.65% nominal (i.e., before inflation) for 30 freaking years, and well into my senescence! The only universe where that makes sense is one where someone, somehow is artifically supressing long yields. Why? To move distant future money up to the present. Someone’s paying for it… but it ain’t gonna be me.

    10 yr yield has popped recently… A harbinger? Is this the beginning of the Big One (crash of the UST bubble)? Or a pretext for more easing. I pray it is the latter… I’m too heavyweight on gold!

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Although I’m a lot more upbeat than the neo-reactionaries in general (and have some sympathy for AnomalyUK regarding the strength of the Catherdral), gunning for a low-time preference cultural model remains abstract-theory, surely? Vice and the ‘now’ is entrenched in the way people exite their desires.

    I guess the left-singularity equivelent of what Nick diagnoses as the inhertent high-time prefence in ‘socio-political progress’, is the fact that even the ‘grid plan’ of high streets features minimal distances between nodes of nihilistic expenditure.

    For instance, down Watford high street, opposite each other, is a pay-day loan company and a betting shop. Speaks volumes. But high time-prefence is everywhere in a sense. Hasn’t internet pirating and the ‘now’ of telecommunications instilled in us an amorphous high-time preference? I’m looking forward to greading the Douglas Rushkoff thesis on this.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Humans were not designed by nature (or nature’s god or both) to have zero time preference. In fact it seems we’ve not been well designed for a lot of the goodies that technology has brought us (cheap easy hard-core porn, superabundant grains and sugars to name just a couple obvious ones). Our brains may be shrinking. We may be getting stupider. Our dicks are definitely getting softer (present company excepted, of course).

    There will always be a conflict between humans and their labor saving devices. Culture, for better or worse, is (always and everywhere) the referee. Getting rid of the referee might make for a nice thought experiment, but it really is a recipe for dystopia.

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Tryptophan Says:

    “The old liberal response has been to defend the humanity and agency of the economically executive class, as expressed in the figure of the entrepreneur”

    Is that actually the Austrian defense against the “charge” that capital has become autonomized? I would argue that capital’s behavior follows the markets best approximation of how human capital should be expended. Capital is a hive-mind that distributes resources in a way that tends to maximize human good (with a wide spread of time preferences).

    “Evolutionary history seems to only very parsimoniously favor brains, because they are expensive”

    I thought the evolution of brain size has actually followed a pretty steady pattern, getting larger and larger as millions of years have passed. Almost all the other large brained species are relatively new types (large mammals are new generally) and Jurassic park type organisms that are still extant (think crocodiles!) have notably small brains. Any of one of the top 20 most intelligent extant animals would be the most intelligent species on earth in the Jurassic (contrary to Spielberg’s opinions about Velociraptors). Evolution does appear to follow logarithmic laws,

    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/513781/moores-law-and-the-origin-of-life/

    as does the development of science (same source). It could be that the entire universe optimises for intelligence (presumably without design). Reminds me of “the last question” by Asimov.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Capital is a hive-mind that distributes resources in a way that tends to maximize human good” — but is that an essential structure, or rather an historical fact determined by the conditions of emergence inherited by autonomizing capital (initial absolute dependency upon a human-social ‘host’)?

    On brain evolution, I’m far beyond any plausible pretense to expertise, but a shallow exponential curve wouldn’t be a major problem for the argument. Even recent (human) evolution indicates that the potential for rapid runaway of cephalization is inhibited by countervailing factors — economically intelligible costs (‘calories’ and ontogenetic development time), although it has to be difficult to separate these from others (stress on the female pelvic structure most obviously). The important ingredient is simply that we should not expect intelligence optimization to be a primary imperative under conditions of biological evolutionary development.

    [Reply]

    Contemplationist Reply:

    Actually brains have been _shrinking_ for the past 20K years.
    http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

    Discovery of technology is already a singularity that allowed hominids to escape bio-physical limitations
    of intelligence.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks for the brain link.

    Are hominids escaping through technology, or is technology escaping through hominids?

    Tryptophan Reply:

    I was looking at a much longer timescale. Given that evolution proceeds via punctuated equilibrium these ideas don’t necessarily contradict each other. Similarly, the argument that civilization develops over time isn’t contradicted by the shorter-timescale fall of the roman empire (or Detroit).

    Re: admins question, intelligence is escaping through any available vehicle, which up until now has been “homo sapiens + technology sets”. This week the first genes for intelligence were identified, opening new doors to a post-human future. I think the only question is whether computing or genetic modification reaches that post-human point first.
    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/first-gwas-hits-for-cognitive-ability.html

    I don’t know enough to answer your question about capital, I have only considered it as it is. Below you said that you weren’t aware of any right-wing Marxists, I was going to suggest Living Marxism magazine, now spiked. I forgot that you are a British expat though, I presume you wouldn’t count them as right Marxists?

    admin Reply:

    @ Tryptophan
    Succinct but succulent remarks — really appreciated.

    On the Living Marxism point, they definitely drifted into something close to libertarianism,but I’m setting the bar for ‘Right-wing Marxism’ extremely high (pretty much anything to the left of Skynet fails to reach it).

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 7:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Severen Says:

    Is there a wider movement of right-wing Marxism? I’m not really familiar with Marxism.

    Also, has anyone here read David Graeber’s book on money? It’s called Debt: The First 5000 Years. I haven’t read it yet.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Is there a wider movement of right-wing Marxism?” — I’ve yet to encounter it.

    Graeber is plugging directly into the leftist id, with an argument that the economy has always been comprehensively socialized, such that it’s present soft fascist configuration is simply normal (save for stubborn right-wing myths of economic liberty and private property).

    [Reply]

    Mary Mazip Reply:

    Wouldn’t right wing Marxism be the proletariat right overthrowing the Bougious left? Isn’t this the essence of the Reaction?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    That’s a very substantial current in the reaction, for sure, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Marxism.

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 9:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    ‘Optimize for intelligence’ is, for both biology and economics, a misconceived imperative. Intelligence, ‘like’ capital, is a means, which finds its sole intelligibility in a more primordial end. The autonomization of such means, expressed as a non-subordinated intelligenic or techno-capitalist imperative, runs contrary to the original order of nature and society. It is an escaping digression, most easily pursued through Right-wing Marxism . . .

    . . . The signature of [Right-wing Marxism’s] proponents would be a defense of capital accumulation as an end-in-itself, counter-subordinating nature and society as a means.

    . . . and in so doing, de-throne the telos of consumption? If I’ve understood you correctly, I like where you’re going with this. But I sense that biology will need to re-enter the conversation at some point, because it’s biology, not economics, that dictates human ends, c.f., your own point about brains. (Or maybe I’m wrong about that, or maybe I’ve misread something.)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You may be right, but the brains digression was designed to extract an abstract model of autonomizing digressions (escaping from initial teleological subordination), rather than to embed economic argument in a broader and deeper biological reality. I’ve no idea at all where the latter move would lead.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 10:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Gom Jabbar Says:

    For some reason I can’t reply directly to the latest posts in the thread… so forgive me if this ends up misplaced in the flow.

    The immediate trouble I see is that socio-political progress (‘democratization’) is almost indistinguishable from the elevation of time-preference, so your goal (shared, I’m sure, by neoreactionaries in general) is perfectly misaligned with the dominant cultural trend of modernity. To “enthrone low time preference as a cultural good” would require nothing less than a restoration (‘reboot’) to a very different social order.

    You mean like saying stuff like “A penny saved, is a penny earned”. And “Put some away for a rainy day”.
    The culture will (re)learn that stuff when the government stops making total chumps out of people who live that way. A lot of cultural decay is due to active governmental policies, designed ostensibly to do some good, but having untintended, sometimes disastrous, consequences.

    We have ruled out violent revolution and fascism. What is left but victory by potent memes? (or REALLY potent memes in the case of software singularities)

    Agitating for civilization is straight forward, easy to understand and consequential.

    Then again if recent successful memes are any indication I may have no idea what makes a meme evolutionarily fit.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Agitating for civilization” makes a great neoreactionary slogan.
    ‘Meme’ discussion deserves a post.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Violent revolution/fascism and “potent memes” aren’t mutually exclusive of course. Fascism and all violent revolutions in history have involved potent memes of one kind or another.

    Also, if it’s the physical violence that puts you off of violent revolution and fascism, note that “potent memes” are by definition violent and kill off certain individuals, groups, organisms, genes, etc while promoting others, or kill off all hosts if they’re really virulent.

    You might say that a potent meme is not a dinner party.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Speaking solely for myself, the objection to fascist-revolutionary ‘solutions’ has more to do with their enstupidation and empowering of thug-liar coalitions than their violence.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 1:47 am Reply | Quote
  • Mary Mazip Says:

    Long time lurker in the DEC. Not sure if you will find my comment worth posting, but I have a question.

    Your interest in sloganizing the Reaction is quite different from your attitude of quality exclusion, is it not? You seem to want a tiny movement, a league of extraordinary gentelman, yet at the same time you wish to further the agenda of the DEC.

    How do you reconcile these seemingly contradictory stances?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “You seem to want a tiny movement” — I’d say rather a select network of troublesome individuals — with the slogans as vectors of trouble.

    [Reply]

    Mary Mazip Reply:

    Do you expect success in trampling the Cathedral with your select group? Or do you invision your select group being more like the inner party of the Anti-Cathedral, the uneducated and the unelegant who are sympathetic to right wing views being the outer party? How can you expect anyone who is not welcome in the inner party to show an interest in forming an outer party for the Reaction? If they are not welcome in the inner circle, why would they have any vested interest in propagating your slogans? There is no economic, social, or even human gain in propagating ideas lead by people who don’t want you around.

    It seems more likely that the “outer party” of unsavory right wingers would consider your inner circle a “Cathedral” only with a different ideology, and possibly seek to dismantle it to make way for a populist reaction that will shift the political majority.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    My sense of it is quite different — we’re the Outer party of reaction, trying to raise some difficult questions while we can, and to put together some escape routes before the hard fascists take over from the soft ones.

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 9:56 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ Mark Warburton
    Please tell me you wrote that on your mobile phone.

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Oh jeez – typorific.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 10:51 am Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    It should be noted that the basic economic policy of most developing countries – and China most notoriously – is precisely this crude (but perfectly effective at lower development levels) Solow-theory-based tactic (which also implies suppression of procreation rates to increase per-capita wealth).

    Of course the overall strategy is multifaceted, but the primary method remains the same: the idea is to distort away from the household propensity for consumption – as much as politically and socially feasible – and divert resources to maximize productive factor accumulation. For over two decades, this “tax the people in obscure ways to build capacity and things will take care of themselves” has worked spectacularly.

    But it can only work this spectacularly when you’ve got foreign demand to suck up all the production that your consumption-suppressed workers couldn’t afford to demand themselves. That’s the whole trick. And if foreign demand is saturated and falters, then the capacity-as-ends and “it’ll all work out somehow” strategy hits rough seas and must necessarily slow in real terms in dramatic ways – as Michael Pettis has been claiming for years.

    So what does an explosion of cheap automatic mean? There are two ways to look at it. One is the old “excess capacity” model – but that’s not really true because the new capacity is so distinctly cheaper than the old that they aren’t fairly fungible. The new capacity is disruptive and displacing, and permanently changes the nature of the underlying markets themselves. Specifically, it changes the structure of demand through substitution and income effects of dramatically lower real prices – and thus Kling’s PSST structure.

    Once that’s well underway, the “old capacity” isn’t properly “excess” – it’s useless. It is only available at a price so prohibitive given ordinary market circumstances that it is nearly certain to never be employed. That means it will be abandoned and proper “mark-to-market” accounting would assign a depreciation rate of 100% as the “excess capacity” value collapses as it is realized to be mere “scrap” – worth only what the salvage operation will pay – a penny on the dollar if you’re lucky.

    The problem is the “we now realize it’s just worthless scrap and not really potentially-marketable excess capacity” applies to human labor. And no one wants to realize it – dark truth indeed. Managing the transition will be the social and economic problem of our time. So far – the strategy has been to either redistribute dividends to under-producing underclasses to boost their consumption, or consume “on their behalf” through the provision of pointless and wasteful social services such as the bottom quarter of our public health and education expenditures. At least.

    This was sustainable so long as the aspirational middle class were the ones soaking up the expenditures in their bureaucratic incomes to provide these “in kind” services to the underclass – social workers, teachers, medicaid doctors, etc. The Cathedral’s minions whether they realize it or not, whether they like it or not. But technological change is not “centrally planned” and takes on an adaptive life of its own, and now their heads too are on the chopping blocks. If the internet was “disruptive” to old media, new tech will similarly threaten to decimate all the other high-labor-costs services delivery models.

    The exception is valuable real estate – naturally scarce and inelastic – most appreciable or depreciable through changed local social circumstances. Prediction – a house in a desirable location (i.e. “follow the money cities” or my “C4’s”) with “good schools” (the real old American dream – once easily achievable in much of the country) will appreciate rapidly, cost a fortune, and be increasingly well beyond the means of increasing numbers of citizens. Gentrifying, ghetto-to-SWPL conversion areas will make some brave pioneers a lot of money.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    This is a perfectly directed comment — the Pettis argument is exactly what this topic is about. It requires digging down into the fundamentals of what is meant by ‘demand’, because Pettis is a relentless demand-deficiency theorist. He predicts a China bust, because the speed of capital formation is totally outstripping the household income growth needed to maintain an adequate level of demand. The result is a capital overshoot (Marxian ‘overproduction crisis’, Austrian ‘malinvestment’) which has to eventually return to equilibrium through a collapse of production down to a level supported by domestic consumption (dependence on foreign consumption is not interminably sustainable).

    China is an extreme example, of course, which makes it particularly informative. All the symptoms you engage should go critical in China first. In particular, I think your (heavily Schumpeterian) discussion of technological obsolescence is very sound, but it’s possible to crank it further, by pursuing the precise correlate — on the side of capital formation — of your observation/speculation that “‘not really potentially-marketable excess capacity’ applies to human labor.” That is what robotics compels us to think.

    What would we expect to see, in the realm of empirical economics, if capital auto-catalysis (autonomized digression) began to escape into itself, with corresponding atrophy of the social circulation (human labor-capital circuit) assumed as normal by all economic schools? Would society pull back ‘excess’ production through a demand-deficiency crash? Or would capital cross a threshold of robotic auto-production which, although (initially) accounted economically as unsustainable ‘over-investment’, was actually an incremental substitution of capital consumption for human incomes?

    If we bracket the possibility of a robot-slave revolt, introducing a new mechanical population into the prior social field, but instead explored the possibility that robotic production capacity remains integral to capital (rather than making left-familiar external demands upon it), it seems inevitable that, extrapolated forwards, it has to absorb an ever increasing proportion of total economic product. At first, this is bound to be misidentified, and interpreted in inappropriate economic terms. If we were to suspect that this misidentification might already be taking place, what would we search for as its signs? Incidentally, it would trigger a convulsion in common economic concepts, which might be rigorously predicted.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Your questions pose large topics.

    Modern Society is labor intensive.

    This has nothing to do with labor productivity and is impervious to increases in efficiency. We don’t know how to get to another way to live. The only thing we’ve “figured out” is to encourage large numbers of marginal people to not participate in the labor market in exchange for a meager payoff which is turning into an expensive catastrophe of corrosion of character.

    The contemporary conception of society qua society is inescapably “a labor-intensive product”. Freedom to work as much or as hard as you want – and competition – means that producing society never gets more productive in terms of labor efficiency.

    In other words, nearly all non-drop-outs, non-dependent, and non-excused individuals are expected and feel compelled to stay at the same, multi-generationally stagnant, social norm ratio of labor to leisure. The futurists of the past thought we could work a month out of the year and go on sabbatical the rest and still enjoy comfortable affluence if certain (currently unmentionable) things were well managed. Couldn’t we? Materially – yes. If not now – certainly soon. But socially? Probably not. Most modern men need regular work to be and feel good.

    The point is – the Western Economy Man faces five sources of competition threatening to make him “excess of requirements”. 1. Normal economic competition from his peers (manageable with traditional social institutions and unions, perhaps), 2. Business moving the production curve to a higher capital-labor ratio, 3. Outsourcing (moving the factory overseas), 4. Insourcing (Immigrants), and 5. Disruptive Automation.

    But that’s just the problem. Everyone is trying to replace this man’s labor, but society must make sure someone uses it or pay him to languish and become a permanent liability. Does “Right Marxism” command the 35 hour workweek? Or 3.5 hours?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Right-wing Marxism is an analytical framework, so it doesn’t do policy proposals.

    One key point, though, is this: Saving is not by intrinsic essence exclusive to the social elite. Deferred consumption is a basic possibility of human productive life, and since true ‘subsistence’ conditions are very rare (in a modern, post-Malthusian environment), there’s no material obstacle to making investment a very general mode of economic activity. Counter-factually, it is not difficult to envisage a society in which intelligent saving — i.e. steering economic resources to their areas of maximum effectiveness — would be considered the most basic type of productive involvement in society, preceding ‘work’ in importance and responsibility. Most people would need to work to amass a modest savings pool, but at a relatively low threshold of life savings, the value generated from the return on foregone consumption would exceed that reaped from additional labor inputs. In this hypothetical society, the ordinary individual would realistically think: “I’m not particularly skilled, so I can’t expect much economic return on my clumsy laboring efforts, but at least I can deploy my modest savings pool to support the stuff that is actually being done well.” Funding the assembly of a few robots might easily be more productive than a lifetime of low-grade labor. My guess is that the cross-over point — where the average developed-economy worker’s expected retirement income represents more productive potential (when invested in robots) than the output of their entire working life — is being reached right about now.

    Of course, this isn’t our society, or anything close to it. People are expected to be incompetent investors, and noble workers. Serious saving is reserved to a small elite class. Financial repression punishes deferred consumption, which is derided as something close to an economic crime. The message being broadcast, incessantly and at maximum volume, is “work and spend”. Pretty much the entire spectrum of economic ‘sound opinion’ supports these emphases. And if the ‘work and spend’ political-economy leads necessarily to social catastrophe on a massive scale …?

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 11:19 am Reply | Quote
  • Mary Mazip Says:

    So the Inner party equates to the unsavory and uneducated populist reactionary folk?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    ‘Inner parties’ consist of people attuned to power. I’m not really sure who you mean by “unsavory and uneducated populist reactionary folk”. Skinheads? Rednecks? In any case, it’s not really my concern, or an especially pressing issue in Shanghai.

    If you want to pursue this reactionary sociology topic, can you please take it to the last Chaos Patch (i.e. open thread), because it’s drifted off anything relevant here.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 11:36 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Before giving capital investment some magical inertia of its own, why do people invest? Because they expect some uncertain future return? Or because they personally profit from the act of investment?

    What’s the difference between investment and consumption? It’s all about spending money to buy stuff. Investment sis about consuming capital goods. Money goes around, people get rich. The investment doesn’t pay off in the end? The company goes bust, the people who got rich are not responsible, they still go around investing and getting richer. In extreme cases the government comes forward, prints money and gives it to the company to make it like anything happened.

    There’s a very fine economy going out here, why do we need any other kind of consumption?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If capital / technology is ever to acquire agency, when does this start? Does Singularity arrive first, and then — suddenly — brand new artificial beings are inserted into the social field (which we quickly decide to count as ‘persons’ in order to placate the brewing robot rebellion)? If, in contrast, ‘AI’ consummates a long lineage of autonomizing productive digression, then we need to seek out its obscure embryogenesis in the existing historical record. This is only ‘magical’ if the very idea of technological agency is intrinsically nonsensical — and what’s the argument for that?

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    Actually I’d rather have you address that other chunk of text that comes after the first comma.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Ah … but it’s complicated. There are two things going on that I’m picking up on.
    (a) Investor psychology. That tends to come apart into rotten fragments in the jungles of Right-wing Marxism, where the basic presumption is that capital has succeeded in overwriting the bourgeois mentality with capitalist imperatives, tending to a strictly mathematical (accumulative) form. The ‘capitalist’ who doesn’t comply with the command of capital is processed out through economic competition, to be replaced by a more reliable robot. This means that psychological detail can be bracketed, as a specialized empirical topic, of interest only insofar as it informs us about the peculiarities of immature capitalist dynamics. It can’t be this easy though, because …
    (b) Under conditions of actually existing fascism, capitalist dynamics are thoroughly crushed within a political framework that overrides economic signals. “Bankruptcy? We don’t need no steeenking bankruptcy. We’ve got the state to decide who wins and who loses,” on political grounds, which means that ‘capitalists’ get to keep their quaint psychologies — and idiosyncratic decisions — as long as they make the right friends.

    Rationalized fascism is the clear alternative to Right-wing Marxist analysis, with a plausibility that correlates directly to the extent capitalism has been destroyed. — But at this point we’re into another post, rather than a comment, surely?

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Ok. Seeing as I notice a call for a crackdown on all us lower-triple digit IQ types (especially non-neo reactionaires), I’ll try to minimise the spelling errors, throwaway comments, and antidotes.

    “If, in contrast, ‘AI’ consummates a long lineage of autonomizing productive digression, then we need to seek out its obscure embryogenesis in the existing historical record.”

    This, really, is what I’m interested in, here. What is your take on the high-frequency trade algorithms that go ‘awol’ (flash crash, Knight Capital). I’m guessing you’d not discrimate potentially rogue IQ? Would it qualify as a ‘automising productive digression’? I’m 5 chapters into Gregory Clark’s ‘Farewell to Alms’ – I can see it is going to get interesting, hopefully it sheds a little light on earlier manifestations?

    Dr. Alexander Wissner-Gross presented his thoughts on how these techno-financial murmurs might be the sign of an intelligent explosion – and how we’re already taking different types of precautions for ‘hard take offs’. Here is the presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4amJyOfbec

    Mark

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Despite the low-grade reign of terror, there’s no need for paranoia on your part. (As I’m sure you realize, you’re entitled to a share of the credit for the direction this discussion has taken, and typos are not yet categorized as a capital offense.)

    HFTs are no doubt relevant to the questions here, but I think we can realistically aim to lock some large-scale theoretical structure together before becoming entirely engrossed in significant symptoms.

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 12:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Gom Jabbar Says:

    There will always be a conflict between humans and their labor saving devices. Culture, for better or worse, is (always and everywhere) the referee. Getting rid of the referee might make for a nice thought experiment, but it really is a recipe for dystopia.

    Forget zero time preference, for one we all know the problems this blog has with Zero anyway 😉 let us say approaching zero. But insofar as you accept that that civilization equals low time preference (is there some functional minimum? maybe) and certain cultures are more civilized than others, neither of which is controversial among this crowd then I’m not talking about getting rid of culture, but only throwing our (or my) weight behind the most civilized culture of the bunch.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    I guess what I’m saying is you cannot equate decreasing time preference with advancing culture. No doubt they are correlated… but as time preference gets lower, the answers are not so clear. Do you invest in a start up or buy Slim Jims and licorice ropes? Well, probably investing in a start up reflects the more “civilized” decision, unless you’re really REALLY hungry… But do you invest in the start up or build St. Peter’s Basilica (or Machu Pichu or NY Public Library)? Now the question isn’t so obvious… Not all “consumption” is created equally…

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Not all “consumption” is created equally… which is why you cannot answer the cultural question in purely economic (or entropic) terms. Land is always wanting to [bracket out] things for the sake of argument, which is fine as far as it goes. But you can get absurd (even if fun) conclusions unless you remember to go back and delete the brackets.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 5:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] Land on the money (redux), complicates my (already delayed) planned post on Reactionary Consensus®: Microeconomics, by […]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 5:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    Sun Yat-sen (who’s also revered in the PRC, despite his association with the ROC) had this crazy idea of taxing land value and distributing the income as a citizen’s dividend. He picked up this poisonous idea while in the US from a crazy economist named Henry George.

    Thank G-d China didn’t pick up on this or the parasites in the West would be in REAL trouble.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 7:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    Collecting land value tax (ground rent – a subset of economic rent) and distributing it in a citizens’ dividend would make China’s internal demand match up with its supply and free it of too much dependence on exports.

    Since this was Sun Yat-Sen’s political economic philosophy (from Henry George) and it was used in the highest growth stages of Hong Kong, it would be most interesting to locate the blocking force within China to this obvious path to economic progress and independence. I suspect it is not Chinese and would therefore require Chinese intelligence agencies to do the estimate. Of course, if the Chinese intelligence agencies are, themselves, compromised then that is probably a forlorn hope.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 7:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    What would happen if we simply replaced all taxes and government functions with a monthly citizen’s dividend paid out evenly to all adults, financed by a use fee for property rights? To make assessment easy we could use only liquidation value of said property rights (ie: mark to market).

    The so-called “libertarians” would scream bloody murder at this even though it privatizes everything.

    The so-called “progressives” would scream bloody murder at this even though it redistributes wealth.

    Bankers and rentiers wouldn’t scream, they’d just hire mercenaries to kill anyone who led such a movement.

    So I guess it must be a good idea.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Georgism is very interesting, and I agree that it helps to explain the sucess of Hong Kong (even East Asian development more generally, if it is interpreted loosely enough). Why, though, is the social property rent to be expended on redistribution, rather than on maintenance of a few ‘night-watchman’ functions? The whole “citizen’s dividend” aspect of the idea strikes me as gratuitous, and destructive. It just funds socio-cultural degeneration of the citizenry. Hong Kong certainly didn’t take that route.

    [Reply]

    James James Reply:

    Does your “absurd LTV” refer to Land Value Tax (or as I prefer to call it, Location Value Tax)?

    The revenue and spending sides have to be kept separate. A citizens’ dividend could be funded by any sort of tax — it has little to do with Land Value Tax. One way in which they *are* similar is that they both reduce marginal income tax rates. Means-tested benefits are gradually withdrawn as you earn more, functioning as an effective additional income tax, thus discouraging the proles from working. A citizens’ dividend would be an improvement on what we have now. But I’ll stop talking about mainstream policy now.

    LVT is a tax on economic rent rather than productivity; it would enable the state to extract rents from the economy without dead-weight loss. Artificial rents are bestowed and can be eliminated by the state, and should be: they are the state granting a portion of its revenues to someone else. In Moldbug’s corporate state, all tax revenues should be paid out as dividends: anything else is corrupt. But location rents are not artificial: they cannot be eliminated. The only question is who gets them. If the state doesn’t collect them, they are collected by property owners: owner-occupiers and landlords. (“Rents are privately-collected taxes”.) If the state chooses to impose an income tax instead, this reduces the value of the country and thus reduces the rents landlords can charge.

    The total rent extractable from the economy is far above what is necessary to fund a night-watchman state. It could be distributed as a citizens’ dividend, or as a dividend to a few shareholders. The latter would be better than a small LVT to fund the state and the rest collected as rents by landowners. As Moldbug explained, a city-sized landowning unit is better for coherent city development than lots of smallholders with disagreements. Better for the smallholders to have shares in the state.

    Hong Kong sensibly implements LVT through long leases: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_rent_in_Hong_Kong

    Why do states have income taxes rather than LVT, then? The answer is conflicting interest groups. By not having and LVT, the state allows the landowners to still collect their rents. The landowners have power, but they cannot join together as shareholders in a landowning state? Why not? The poor, ignorant of LVT, call for income taxes on the productive. They have power. The landowners would be better off if the income tax was abolished.

    The productive appear to have the least power. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t jibe with what I think happened in 17th-18th century England, where the Whigs, at first representing the elite capitalists against the landowners, triumphed and became the landowners themselves. Their productivity allowed them to buy the land. And I think this was a happy development: the elites owning the land and the capital, thus reducing conflict.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    LTV = Labor Theory of Value

    I agree with you about land taxes though — see also Bill’s Georgism remarks (above),

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    If you’re advocating a “negative income tax”, Jodie T. Allen was pretty disparaging about the idea over at EconLib:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/NegativeIncomeTax.html

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    That article seems pretty dated – about 20 years old I’m guessing.

    These constraints are, in fact, irreconcilable as long as the median income remains within striking distance of the poverty line—a situation that has barely improved over the last two decades of slow average economic growth.

    Huh? The median household income is over double the poverty line. What’s “within striking distance” mean?

    Anyway, one very explicit way for a government to deal with unemployment problems that is an alternative toy model to “direct hiring” or “Fiscal and/or Monetary stimulus of Aggregate Demand” is “subsidy” is putting out solicitations for bids for “full employment”. If the reservation-wage to price ratio is too high, the government “comes up with the difference” to whatever extent is necessary to achieve the politically desirable level of employment.

    For example, if we want 4% unemployment, but it’s 6% because a marginal 2% won’t work for less than $10 an hour, but can only produce at $8 for marginal-worker-employing businesses, then the government “contracts” with those businesses to subsidize their labor costs (and thus also lower the market price of their output), and come up with the remaining $2 an hour to achieve full employment.

    The average worker sees none of this. He sees a held-wanted ad for a marginal job claiming a wage of $10 an hour and he decides it’s worth it to go work at that job. He doesn’t know that he’s getting a 25% salary boost courtesy of the taxpayer, or that he’s getting “welfare” and the recipient of government program assistance, and maybe he thinks he is the taxpayer who funds that assistance “for other people”. You could lose the psychological benefits by being even more explicit and showing him a “double pay check” – part employer, part government – which is just a negative income tax.

    We could be less explicit about this and … just lower corporate tax rates (or, in the alternative, boost the effective deductability of labor expenses through a multiplier or some other strategem. That way no one really understands what’s going on – probably not even the government itself – and maybe not even its economists.

    One of the beauties of Economics is that anything that produces equivalent results can be thought of as an “equivalent program” with, by theory, equivalent spillover effects and costs and distortions to the rest of the Economy. So it could be tariffs and tight-immigration that produce this effect, or explicit taxation, or “Earned Income Tax Credits”, etc, etc. We can shroud what’s actually happening and people’s perceptions of its prudence and moral or political appropriateness through manipulation of perspective and language and process. One of the pitfalls of this is that the Economists themselves can get lost in the pageantry and forget the raw substance.

    And being smart about it, I’m convinced, will indeed yield positive psychological, personal, and social benefits. You want full employment, and you want workers to feel the dignity and motivation that comes from thinking they’re self-reliant net-taxpayers. The completely explicit “grand annual auction for full employment” thus will probably never happen. But that’s what we actually do for all those we haven’t yet abandoned.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 7:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    Is it the position of Outside In that investment is an end in and of itself? That seems a bit hard to fathom, if so. At some point, production has to terminate in consumption. That should be understood not as a matter of demand vs supply, since investment expenditure is a component of agg demand in much the same as consumption expenditure, but of the production process contributing to human welfare.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m with you up to the human welfare bit. It’s not that exterminationist scenarios are inevitable — I’m very willing to work with the hypothesis that humans will continue to exist for some time, and thus still eat — but as intelligent machines take-off from the hominid baseline, it seems absolutely unavoidable that their share of total terrestrial economic consumption will increase, massively. This allows for only two options:
    (a) Techno-proles — robot slave revolt, Hanson ems, or some such … conventional economic analysis remains plausible
    (b) Capital absorption of an ever greater proportion of economic output (we can quibble about how this will be formalized), economic ‘science’ is thrown into crisis

    [Reply]

    vimothy Reply:

    Got you, and suspect you may be right about the implications — will need a bit of time to assimilate this …

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 10:40 am Reply | Quote
  • Nicholas MacDonald Says:

    Ah, Right Wing Marxism… brings back memories. This was more or less my default position in college… it never made sense to me that Marxists, whose telos is predicated on capitalism essentially hitting a terminal crisis, would want to slow down this process through tying the economy down in dirigisme. Wouldn’t they want to speed up the process? Balls-to-the-wall? The truest Marxist would be, in my mind, an anarchocapitalist.

    As for how neoreactionaries can win in the memetic war… “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” seems to offer a pretty plausible way of accomplishing this, combined with a bottom-up reversal of the tactics used by Deng’s intelligentsia in pushing the program of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics on the PRC. Utilize holes in the Cathedral’s system to create simulations that can, over time, overlay the reality underneath in a way that is more acceptable to the neoreactionary worldview. Slip in where the enemy isn’t. Mao won by realizing that mobilizing the proletariat in the cities, which were KMT and gang strongholds, would be impossible, but the peasantry was being ignored and underestimated. This was an obscenely large blind spot on the KMT’s part, but every elite has their blind spots.

    Who does your enemy marginalize?

    There is your power.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Who does your enemy marginalize?

    Well that’s easy: White male proles. And they would be a huge, overwhelming I’d say, source of power if only:

    A) they weren’t trying so hard to be Cathedral Cool, i.e., scoop up whatever slivers of status that yet remain to be doled out by the Tottering Old Fart;
    B) they weren’t such losers (those that aren’t trying (A));
    C) they didn’t believe the Cathedral’s myths, about women, about men, about patriarchy, about race, about freedom;
    D) didn’t waste politically useful energy betting on the Cathedral’s Outer Party to represent their interests;
    E) weren’t wanking on porn most of the day; and
    F) a bunch of stuff I can’t think up right off the top of my head.

    How you get them to think and act for themselves and their own interests (which happen to be the best interests of society at large) for the first time in their lives AND simultaneously not getting a Hitler out of the deal is the signal problem of The Reaction®, and I hope our Best Minds™ are working it. Me, I’d be fine with a Franco or a Pinochet… but we need a system that guarantees No Hitlers.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    One example of a positive regime-level contribution from white male proles — ever — would be helpful. I’m deeply skeptical of their potential, except as grit in the wheels of the Cathedralist juggernaut. Right romanticism aside, it needs to be admitted that they’re simply not smart enough. If they were, they wouldn’t be proles. Smart white males come with their own problems, of course, not least of which is that the majority of them are pushing the Cathedral on us as hard as they can.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Well, we may have different definitions of prole, but I would argue that Westward American expansion between say 1780 and 1900 was largely a prole phenomenon and a cultural triumph (all things considered). One in which we find a largely spontaneous development of order and significant economic achievement. Heck the Mormons were predominantly Scots-Irish… the absolute dregs (among whites). Yet they built a paradise in that period.

    Full disclosure: I am prole. Genetically. I’m the first on either side of my family to have gone to college… and did so in a perfectly prole way (i.e., education is a cargo cult). My wife is prole. We have prole kids, right?

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 11:45 am Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    @

    @Nick

    “Despite the low-grade reign of terror, there’s no need for paranoia on your part. (As I’m sure you realize, you’re entitled to a share of the credit for the direction this discussion has taken, and typos are not yet categorized as a capital offense.)”

    Fair enough – although if typos were punishable, I think that typofest would’ve secured me a death by board-and-stones – a la the Salem Witch Trials! And again, antidote? Rogue IQ? Freud would… be confused.

    “HFTs are no doubt relevant to the questions here, but I think we can realistically aim to lock some large-scale theoretical structure together before becoming entirely engrossed in significant symptoms.”

    Haha. Now I’m excited. Glad you’ve found the time to start this post-series.

    @Nicholas MacDonald

    “Ah, Right Wing Marxism… brings back memories. This was more or less my default position in college… it never made sense to me that Marxists, whose telos is predicated on capitalism essentially hitting a terminal crisis, would want to slow down this process through tying the economy down in dirigisme. Wouldn’t they want to speed up the process? Balls-to-the-wall? The truest Marxist would be, in my mind, an anarchocapitalist.”

    Always the dilemma, no? Early Marx, full of promise and wholesome humanism. Later Marx unwittingly paving the way for a ‘large-scale theoretical structure’ via an ironic techno-economical determinism of some detail. Such a level of fascination with capitalism, often touched on admiration. Something his acolyltes of now would never admit.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 2:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Gom Jabbar Says:

    Heck the Mormons were predominantly Scots-Irish… the absolute dregs (among whites). Yet they built a paradise in that period.

    Being a Scots-Irish Mormon prole myself, I only want to add that no one would have called Utah a paradise back then (or possibly even now) but otherwise you make a very good point.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    The proles in the UK are far more <ahem>underachieving</ahem> than in the states… and I think that’s why Nick L has trouble imagining any good coming from them. But I think that the right mix of liberty and paternalism works very well for aspirational whites—a blend that probably came naturally to kings and various aristocrats during most of human history, but has been lost and forgotten since the Demotic Age. Perhaps we should check behind the refrigerator.

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    “The proles in the UK are far more underachieving than in the states”T

    ell me about it – and now a variety of bougey liberals and hippy-dippy proles are going to be descending on my home town, Watford, to protest/have a large festival against/around The imminent Bilderberg meeting!

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 5:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    In fact, the more I sit here and think about this rashly conceived thesis, the more I am convinced that European Colonialism may never have been much more than an avenue for non-elite, marginal (e.g., prole) Europeans to make more of their lives than they could in the fatherland. And that’s why the do-gooding Cathedral had to first convert it into Empire, and then abandon the project entirely when the first solution proved too uneconomical. Hateful racists were then duly blamed, of course.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 6:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    ‘Prole’ = Proletarian = (roughly) factory worker … right? In the US, the inhabitants of Murray’s ‘Fishtown’. Judging by the way it is being used above, it seems to have taken on some rather more cryptic tribal meaning that I’m not understanding.

    If ‘prole’ is still being used to refer to the low-skilled industrial workforce, then, either:
    (a) The economy has no occupational sorting function whatsoever, or
    (b) Proles are indeed, statistically, clustered on the left hand side of the bell-curve

    If my imagination is misfiring, I apologize, but I find it hard to believe that Mr and Mrs Steves are gifting the world with a bunch of prospective assembly-line workers …

    [Reply]

    Gom Jabbar Reply:

    Well part of it was keying off your statement “One example of a positive regime-level contribution from white male proles — ever — would be helpful.” The “ever” gives someone quite a bit of latitude. Secondly, yes I am not currently a prole, but both my grandfathers certainly were. And I think if we refine our terminology to include the proles and the 1st and 2nd generation non-proles we indeed have the fairly huge power source NBS mentioned, though with his caveats still in place.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Well, not every society has had factories for people to work in, but yes working class=no college required, is about how I was using it to describe my own and my wife’s parents. Although her father did get a BA (from a fairly prestigious school no less) he was a union shop welder. My own, a warehouseman. So genetically we are prole.

    Now I and my wife have letters after our names (4 and 2 respectively), and I suppose we’ve clawed our way into the upper half of the bell curve… well, we were born there, but some official slips of paper were required these days to confirm it.

    But there are no factories for our children to work in anymore. And even if ours turn out not to be prole… somebody’s children will… and there’ll still be no factories.

    Used to be that working in a factory was pretty gosh-darn good work, good money for not a lot of educational headache. Those days are gone. It is I think no coincidence that after a long and healthy rise of real working class wages, the trend has been turned back during the watch of political parties ostensibly looking out, always and everywhere, for the interests of the “common man”.

    It is one thing to let common men (and women) have voice. Heck no! Nearly all the 68% of the people below +1 sigma are idiots. And it is still quite another to run society on their behalf and for their benefit… because, duh!, that’s most of the people. It remains for the upper say 32% to make sure this happens; and not to trick them into supporting you by water thin platitudes whilst selling their jobs (and their financial futures) off to China (or Mexico).

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Crap see how fscking prole I am… I cannot even get Normal distribution right, CDF of normal up to +1 sigma is ~84%… leaving ~16% to be the clearly non-working class. The folks that used to go to college.

    Now everyone does so no one is special unless you go to an elite college or take a hard major.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 5th, 2013 at 10:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ Nick B. Steves, Gom Jabbar, and other comrades of the Proletarian Liberation Front
    Among Westerners, pretty much everybody’s genealogies are like that. It’s to be expected, under conditions of economic modernity, since beyond the Malthusian trap cross-generational upward mobility dominates. As Gregory Clark explains (mentioned by MW above), this is the principal symptom of generalized dysgenics, but it feels much nicer than the systematic downward mobility which accompanied the immediately pre-modern, strongly eugenic social trend.

    Relatedly, the description of frontier settlers as ‘proles’ strikes me as linguistic abuse. A proletarian, by any reasonable definition, is a wage laborer who gets paid for doing what he (or she) is — quite precisely — told. The difference from a homesteader could hardly be more stark.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Well they weren’t proles after they went westward… but before. Can’t afford land in Philadelphia? Move to Missouri.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Fair enough, but I have to react against the use of cowboys and gold prospectors as extras in Les Misérables

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    Nick, Peter Thiel has arrived in Watford! So surreal.

    http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/participants2013.html

    Posted on June 6th, 2013 at 12:51 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    Peter Thiel at Bilderberg takes some processing. From which side do our priors need updating?

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Bilderberg has become the TED conference of the narrow elite (vs Davos – their “Academy Awards”), especially since they are out of ideas on “the social issue” and are therefore willing to hear from some acceptable fresh faces who might actually have something new to offer.

    But personally I love PT and will viciously attack anyone who says anything against him. You haters will feel bad after he donates a whole 1% of his net wealth to establish DEU.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “But personally I love PT” — seconded with total enthusiasm. If Bilderberg is willing to listen to him, how bad can it be? (The rest of the line up is dire enough to undermine this question, though.)

    [Reply]

    Mark Warburton Reply:

    “But personally I love PT” Thirded.

    “If Bilderberg is willing to listen to him, how bad can it be?” This is what I was thinking. He’d fume about onw world orders et al if it wasn’t for the fact that it is probably a bunch of fairly dull talks boosted by the great selection of foods and wines at the Grove Hotel.*

    *Not a plug!

    Posted on June 6th, 2013 at 10:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    Nick, I was wondering what your thoughts were on this article, Rethinking “Cosmopolis”. Read the book or seeing the film aren’t requirements (although I recommended them) to get the jist, here. It is interesting to see how the left-laden Salon has a pessimistic (optimistic) take on techno-capital. http://www.salon.com/2012/09/14/rethinking_cosmopolis/

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 5th, 2013 at 8:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Economic Ends Says:

    […] are marked by this Michael Anissimov post at More Right (among others), and this post here (among others). Much other relevant writing on the topic within the reactosphere strikes me as significantly more […]

    Posted on January 11th, 2014 at 6:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Direto no Dinheiro (#2) – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on August 16th, 2016 at 11:53 pm Reply | Quote

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