Class war in reverse

Just about any issue you encounter in the modern world can be separated according to the salesperson model. There is a surface layer, in which broad positive assertions are made, and after that an underlying experience layer, in which you figure out the more complex truth.

When you go to a store and see the new dishwasher on sale, promises are made: it cleans more efficiently, it is whisper-quiet, you can fit more stuff into it. When you get it home and use it over the next year, you find out the limitations: it still uses a ton of water, whisper-quiet is relative to a jet plane, and some of the stuff you can fit into it doesn’t get cleaned. Sales pitches do not equate to reality although they purport to do so.

In the same way, all political discourse splits into two threads. The first is how it will work out in the complex interaction between finance, politics and social factors; the second is how you spin it to the voters in a 30-second sound bite on the local news. The two are often completely divergent because the demands of political situations rarely fit into half-minute explanations at a fifth-grade reading level.

The real problem with this situation is that once we tell these pleasant lies, and as grotesque oversimplifications they are that, they snowball as people “trust” them to be literal interpretations. As a result, we quickly reverse course from truth-seeking to myth-building.

One such example is class warfare. Here’s the official story, which is official because it’s the most popular with the widest segment of our population:

Conservative social scientists argue that income inequality is mainly the result of more workers in the average household and their age and education, and that the disappearance of the middle class is more statistical than real.[4] In a 2004 poll of 1,000 economists (from the AEA), a majority of polled economists favored “redistribution”. Note that in voting, the majority of respondents were of the Democratic ideology (Democratic:Republican ratio of 2.5 to 1.) [5] A study by the Southern Economic Journal found that “71 percent of American economists believe the distribution of income in the US should be more equal, and 81 percent feel that the redistribution of income is a legitimate role for government.”[6] One social scientist argues that without holding education, experience and industry constant, inferences to inequality are mere guesses.[7] – Wikipedia

For an even more dramatic view, you can feed into the burn-the-witch-err-the-rich view:

The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. – Vanity Fair

Why do so many economists, journalists and others think that wealth redistribution is a good idea?

It’s the dominant media myth: that we’re experiencing class war from the top down.

In fact, if we look at the layer beneath the sales job, we will see that the reverse is true.

Throughout history, societies have collapsed because of class war, true — but class war from the bottom upward.

What kind of war is this? Demographic warfare.

Think about it this way:

  1. You start a civilization with ten of your buddies and their families. A few others come along, and while they’re not quite as sharp, you let them tag along as unskilled labor.
  2. You and your buddies find a way to prosper. First, you organize specialized roles and get everyone working efficiently; then through hard work, you make the land ready for sustainable farming, and start producing.
  3. Over time, a surplus of food is created. This enables you to spin off more people — grandchildren, at this point — into specialized roles such as doctor, hygienist, inventor and law enforcement. Stability increases, efficiency increases, and with your new technology, so does safety.
  4. What happens next is a shift in perspective, but a valid one: because you offer more of a safety net, the poorer and/or less intellectually powerful people in your society have more of their children survive, which means you have a sudden surge in the lowest sectors of your population:

    Throughout human history around half of humans died during childhood, and without reproducing:

    http://137.140.1.71/jsec/articles/volume2/issue4/NEEPSvolkatkinson.pdf

    In developed countries, almost all children (about 99 percent) now survive to adulthood, and even among the most impoverished, ignorant or undeveloped segments of these populations, the proportion of children who die during childhood is biologically almost insignificant.

    [...]

    But childhood mortality was probably considerably lower than 50 percent among the wealthier, more intelligent, higher in status.

    Therefore, the modern population in developed countries (you and I) are almost entirely the offspring of the wealtheir, more intelligent, more conscientious, higher status classes of history.

    [...]

    No matter how relatively underdeveloped and underprivileged a population – no matter how stupid, feckless and uncaring the mothers – for almost everywhere in the world at present, childhood death rates are all-but irrelevant to reproductive success: almost all children are ‘kept alive’ by ‘society’.

    Consequently, for the first and only time in human history, pure fertility drives demographic change – and also evolutionary change. – Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany

    With the advent of a modern-type society, childhood mortality falls and so those who pop out the most kids dominate demographically. That means a shift from the wealthy and powerful, to the poor and less powerful.

    In other words, you replace the founders of a society who could craft civilization out of raw wilderness. You replace them with the people who tagged along and ended up being unskilled labor.

  5. The unskilled labor starts demanding that it be recognized, because it can. It now knows that the civilization you built is passing on to those who came along for the ride. This is as natural as a leech draining blood, or rats stealing grain, or snakes snagging the eggs of unwary birds. It’s class warfare of the unskilled labor against the skilled founders.
  6. Eventually, degenerate members of the founders class — generally those with stern and judgmental parents — decide to “defect” and take up the cause of the poor. They invent theories of equality and the brotherhood of humanity to sugar-coat what is essentially a seizure of society by its least competent members.
  7. A revolution occurs. Like the revolutions in France and Russia, as well as the political intrigues of old Rome and Athens, it is followed by executions of those with the wisdom to point out what is going on. Socrates dies alongside the Romanovs; the guillotine severs the head of Lavoisier and drops the average IQ by ten points.
  8. Now the civilization enters its death cycle. The unskilled promote their Middletons own, who gain riches for their party-planning businesses relatively trivial acts. These nouveau riche are nothing like aristocrats; they squander wealth and use it as an excuse to be abusive. Society as a result enters into a downward spiral of class warfare that is actually not class warfare; you’re not seeing the hereditary upper classes versus the poor/unskilled, but the former-poor against the poor. This isn’t productive class warfare, but incompetents squabbling over social status as they try to divide up what’s left of the pie.

The official narrative is that the poor/unskilled are persecuted by the rich. The truth, if we look at broader history, is that the poor/unskilled overwhelmed the ability of that society to produce wealth. The root of class warfare is overpopulation from the bottom, and because they won’t blame themselves, they blame “the rich” which becomes a broad brush to target anyone with more than subsistence income.

Naturally, this has dire implications for democracy. What is the point in having universal voter participation if each idea to be voted upon is in fact a sales job? The myth of the “informed voter” dissolves when we look at how little of the situation is actually conveyed, and how a stalemate would occur if we tried to tell the voters the truth. Politics becomes a stage-play after which the actors scurry home and get real work done.

Even worse is the fact that we’re thinking in reverse. We blame people for being rich, since we assume that the rich are waging class warfare against the poor. As a result, we ignore the fact that people who got wealthier legitimately — professionals (doctors, lawyers, architects, MBAs) and small-business owners or managers — did so because of raw cognitive ability:

Even assuming that, there are massive advantages inherent simply in being born rich (and disadvantages in being poor.) My favorite example, simply because it’s so dramatic, is that a child born into the lowest-earning quintile who manages to attain a college degree is less likely to be in the highest-earning quintile than a child born into the top quintile who does not attain a college degree. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that making it to, and through, college is far harder for poor kids than rich kids even at a given level of aptitude. (Two thirds of the kids with average math scores and low-income parents do not attend college, while almost two-thirds of high-income kids with average math scores do.) – TNR

Even reducing all other factors, what we’re seeing here is that those who are more prosperous tend to be more intelligent.

Not all of them, of course, but statistically, most of them.

This is why books like The Bell Curve freak people out. Sure, there’s that troublesome chapter 13 about race — but even more, there’s the problematic idea that our native abilities determine what we should be doing in life.

When you look at people who got rich for trivial acts, like entertainers or those who sold venal products like liquor to the masses, you’re not seeing the best of society rising. You’re seeing a champion of the unskilled dominating other unskilled through their own incompetence at choosing art over trashy entertainment, or quality liquor over gut-rot.

We love to subsidize the unskilled, and pretend that by raising their income, we somehow make them as intelligent, morally balanced and insightful as the founders who persist in our professional classes:

Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills? – WSJ

Our budget in the United States is divided roughly in two. On one side are military and infrastructure costs; on the other, equivalent in dollar value, are entitlements and resulting government costs.

Conservatives want to end war by ending subsidies. This stops the reckless proliferation of the unskilled and preserves the founder class. If you want your country to avoid falling into third-world status, this is your only option.

Liberals want the unskilled to win the class war through wealth redistribution. The idea underlying this is that if uniformity is established, and equality imposed, there will be no cause for conflict. Sadly for liberals, it doesn’t work that way — when equality is established, even more vicious internal fighting results as some try to climb above the rest.

In the process of trying to reach that equality, civilizations and lives are destroyed en masse:

We live in an era of ethnic, national, and religious fratricide. A new two-volume reference work on “the most severe civil wars since World War II” has 41 entries, from Afghanistan and Algeria to Yemen and Zimbabwe. Over the last 50 years, the number of casualties of intrastate conflicts is roughly five times that of interstate wars. The number of refugees from these conflicts similarly dwarfs those from traditional state-versus-state wars. “Cases such as Afghanistan, Somalia, and Lebanon testify to the economic devastation that civil wars can produce,” note two political scientists. By the indexes of deaths, numbers of refugees, and extent of destruction, they conclude that “civil war has been a far greater scourge than interstate war” in recent decades. In Iraq today—putting aside blame and cause—more Iraqis are killed by their countrymen than by the American military. – Chronicle for Higher Education

What is the source of our failing as a human species?

Class warfare. Specifically, the unskilled/poor crusading against the skilled/wealthier.

Much of the history of the 20th century has resulted from political jockeying to evade this problem. It didn’t work; the problem persists.

And what happens to nations where the unskilled predominate?

Prole behaviour is invariably guided by poor impulse control, and subsequently, their lack of foresight.

[...]

This compounds my theory about low IQ people having high testosterone, and therefore poor impulse control and everything else that entails, like breeding more. Obesity and addiction problems are also symptomatic of proles, which can be partially explained by other factors, but when it comes down to it: they are guided purely by caprice and appetite and those very issues engender prole problems. – Sofiastry

Whether we call them proles, drones, unskilled or poor, the reality remains the same: people differ in intelligence and character, and those at the lower end of the scale wind up in less-essential positions with less wealth.

While we may want to treat them well (most of us want to treat everyone well) we also have to look at the implications of their predominance in society. Sofia’s description above is as apt as any: lower-IQ and higher testosterone equals low impulse control, low systematic/planning, a certain amount of opportunism and socialized cost.

Societies do not collapse because the rich decided to wage war on the poor. In fact, it’s ludicrous to think the rich would bother; they’re already rich. Societies collapse because the unskilled overwhelm their resources, force a crisis point, and then bring about collapse.

This offends the public eye, composed equally of guilt-ridden middle-class people and the burnt-out unskilled, which thinks it is “elitist” to notice differences in ability and to deviate from our Soviet-style insistence that all are equal.

However, that pathway leads only to the one kind of class warfare that does exist, which is the unskilled destroying the founders and thus, by killing off the intelligence their society needs, plunging it into darkness.

14 Comments

  1. Slava Mirko says:

    Again, a 2×4 hits me across forehead; I fall.

    Beautiful ideas to play with in my brain, Brett Stevens, I love how your writing enhances my world view with every new article.

  2. It’s basically the Characterless-thesis you are defending here. Noobs (those without cultural knowledge and sophisticated skills) breed faster than Übers (the intelligent and virtuous) and are also more encouraged to procreate. Given enough time, this means a transformation of mankind into little pleasure critters, which is the ultimate downfall of the Humanist ideology.

    Your cycle essentially grasps the ideas I put forward as well as those of Plato, Orwell and Nietzsche.

    Plato –> A democracy becomes a tyranny when people gain a large following among the unskilled. This is due to catering to the lowest instincts of people and pure popularity, not through rational comprehension.
    Orwell –> At some point those who are not at the top of society, but who do wish to be there, turn towards the grey masses. They will promise this lowest class a lot of dreams, and tie this mass as a horse to their cart, ride it, and then force them back to their original (and natural) positions once they have overthrown the previous elite.
    Nietzsche –> The morality of the original founders of society was “do what needs to be done, do not look back in regret, and waste not time with feelings of guilt.” Those aristocrats held raw and remorseless marching towards one’s goal as the highest virtue. This morality is reversed once the lower classes gain more intellectuals among their members – these will devise new memes that compete with those of the existing elite. Compassion and charity will become virtuous, and by coming into contact with these new memes, the ruling classes will become influenced and ultimately subjected to them. The morality of the lower classes will subvert that of the elites – it will now make the aristocrats feel guilty for trampling the meek underfoot.

  3. CallistoRising says:

    I remember our good man Tomislav Sunic had a lot to say about proles offing the best bits of the gene pool in the Marxist revolutions.

  4. Bruce Charlton says:

    Two points:

    1. I don’t think the process is quite as machine like as stated. Certain types of religion seem to be able to hold this process in check, and if devoutness continues in a society (which depends on human choice, among other things) then this cyclical process may be delayed considerably.

    I return to my favourite example of the Byzantine Empire. They lasted about 800 years without self-destroying, and even at the very end (which too another 150 years or so) they were defeated by superior forces – they did not cave-in. In some ways the Byzantines were decadent for a lot of this time, but they maintained self-belief.

    2. AMplifying your basic point, contrary to what nearly everybody believes, the industrial revolution helped the poor MUCH more than it helped the rich – it did not create poverty but alleviated it, massively – as should be obvious from the very rapid growth in population.

    But the concentration of poverty in cities led to egalitarian socialism, which claimed that ‘capitalism’ had caused the poverty (which it now noticed for the first time) and sought a remedy (incoherently) in ‘redistribution’ – essentially by stoking up evil passions such as envy and resentment.

    The process continues. If poverty is what concerns you, there was a massive alleviation of world poverty from the 1980s through to recent years – because China and India became much wealthier and they are 1/3 of the world’s population – yet the left spent the whole time bemoaning the inequality of the world due to globalization.

    Since when poverty is defined exclusively in terms of inequality, injustice is endemic and the left always have urgent redistribution to do in the name of ‘fairness’ (=envy, resentment).

    1. Glad to have you back commenting on the blog! You’ve put a lot in here, so let me tackle some of the many possible highlights:

      I don’t think the process is quite as machine like as stated. Certain types of religion seem to be able to hold this process in check, and if devoutness continues in a society (which depends on human choice, among other things) then this cyclical process may be delayed considerably.

      I return to my favourite example of the Byzantine Empire. They lasted about 800 years without self-destroying, and even at the very end (which too another 150 years or so) they were defeated by superior forces – they did not cave-in. In some ways the Byzantines were decadent for a lot of this time, but they maintained self-belief.

      I agree this was a successful reign. In many ways, it compares to the early years of Athens and the Hindu state, although it may have run longer. We should learn from it and perpetuate its best traits, which seem to me an orthodoxy mated to intellectual curiosity and a strong self of not only self, but of good.

      From my observation, there are many natural forces which act on us and we withhold them to varying degrees. If as I suggest the forces of Crowdism are a type of entropy, there are differing responses which may hold that entropy back. The best will hold out longer than the weakest.

      One factor here also is the genetic substrate of an empire. If an empire were ever to arise that pared away the truly insane and resentful, and implemented a policy of existential cheer toward divine goals, it would most probably use social Darwinism/natural selection to refine its population toward the type who exemplify its values, and thus be a truly enduring state.

      We can see echoes of that in some of the older European Christian societies.

      AMplifying your basic point, contrary to what nearly everybody believes, the industrial revolution helped the poor MUCH more than it helped the rich – it did not create poverty but alleviated it, massively – as should be obvious from the very rapid growth in population.

      But the concentration of poverty in cities led to egalitarian socialism, which claimed that ‘capitalism’ had caused the poverty (which it now noticed for the first time) and sought a remedy (incoherently) in ‘redistribution’ – essentially by stoking up evil passions such as envy and resentment.

      The process continues. If poverty is what concerns you, there was a massive alleviation of world poverty from the 1980s through to recent years – because China and India became much wealthier and they are 1/3 of the world’s population – yet the left spent the whole time bemoaning the inequality of the world due to globalization.

      I think this is a very important point, which is that over the life of society, results have shown an increase in living standards for the poor and more ways out of poverty than ever before.

      Yet poverty remains. I remember somewhere in the Bible a wise sage saying “The poor will always be with you.”

      In my view, the left uses poverty as a symbol because the left is ego-driven (the right is more Id). They would like to achieve social approval, so they use symbols like inequality, suffering, cruelty, compassion, etc. to manipulate others.

      The right is more for the lone wolf/frontier settler who wants to achieve results in reality, not in social situations. The left is more of the salesperson empire, figuring that if they convince others of something, it’s as good as real.

      From a religious standpoint, as well as a scientific-philosophical one, I find the left to be arrogant in that they deny consequentialism in preference for “wishing makes it so” logic, which I have always found dangerous. Behind every impoverished person, mental health case, abuse scenario, etc. there is “wishing makes it so” convincing people to ignore reality and recede into the ego.

      If there’s a real-world analogue for the demons of old, surely such levels of mental deception would be it!

      And as I mentioned in a reply to your other post (itself in reply to Nicholas Marville’s article) this is the type of mental deception that will eternally create slave philosophies and inject them into other social and ideological concepts, a process I call “Crowdism.”

  5. [...] on the wholesale level can be provocative, and it is with that idea in mind that I point you to an essay by Brett Stevens, which argues that while there may be a class war, it’s likely being fought in a surprising [...]

  6. David WL says:

    Several points: The poor, especially the black under-class, have a lot of abortions. They are committing genocidal suicide.

    There’s a growing belief among one group of scholars, that appears to be especially British, that religious communities “out-reproduce” secular people :
    http://www.scilogs.eu/en/index.php?op=printView&articleId=333&blogId=3

    On the reproductive rate of the wealthy, one can search for “The Reproductive Success of Wealthy Americans” by a Susan M. Essock-Vitale (it’s behind pay wall), which appears to give data that counters the thesis that the “unskilled,” unintelligent and poor will demographically replace the “founder” class.

    1. On the reproductive rate of the wealthy, one can search for “The Reproductive Success of Wealthy Americans” by a Susan M. Essock-Vitale (it’s behind pay wall), which appears to give data that counters the thesis that the “unskilled,” unintelligent and poor will demographically replace the “founder” class.

      It’s a misplaced faith to think that one-fifth of a population, reproducing at 2.1 rate, will somehow hold its own against the other 4/5 reproducing at a 3.x rate. But thank you for the citation.

  7. joe blowe says:

    Simple answer for the ancient empires; we have had game changers in the form of – antibiotics – higiene – nutrition.
    The lower class populations of ancient times were kept in check by the forces of nature.
    We have a bigger problem now with technologies that save lives, all lives.

  8. Henry says:

    A long essay and not one mention of race. You gutless coward. Did the white proles work day and night to have themselves replaced by less-capable non-whites, or was that a policy imposed from the top? How does that fit in with your simple class-warfare and eugenics theories?

    1. A long essay and not one mention of race.

      a) We mention race enough on this blog to make us and our readers partially sick of it.

      b) It’s better to tackle the issue at a higher level of abstraction.

      If people need to see the connection to race, the other 400 articles should do nicely.

      1. Brett didn’t need to include it in the essay because it had already been covered at the time (he didn’t want to bore people by making them read again what they just did):

        http://www.amerika.org/darwinism/racism-and-the-sexual-revolution/

  9. red says:

    Excellent post. Just one quibble:
    “Eventually, degenerate members of the founders class — generally those with stern and judgmental parents — decide to “defect” and take up the cause of the poor. They invent theories of equality and the brotherhood of humanity to sugar-coat what is essentially a seizure of society by its least competent members.”

    It’s actual the intellectuals who think they should rule and other worthless smart people who weaponize the poor. The poor themselves can’t organize well enough even to run a mob well.

    1. It’s actual the intellectuals who think they should rule and other worthless smart people who weaponize the poor. The poor themselves can’t organize well enough even to run a mob well.

      I enjoy your use of the word “weaponize” here. I agree; the degenerate founders I was referring to become “intellectuals” (people who like to think as an activity, and don’t really care what they discover) because they have no functional, practical role anymore.

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