Amerika

Pipe Meditations (September 6, 2019)

On the front page of the latest catalog mailed, along with a bunch of other seemingly pointless spam that somehow generates money, they advertise a “pumpkin spice” pipe tobacco. This makes me want to set the world on fire, but not for the reasons most would expect.

Some would point out that pumpkin spice is associated with millennials or basic generally “white” girls, and see the ire in that direction. Or perhaps the crass commercialism. But perhaps, more fundamentally, it is that this stuff sells in the first place.

As has been said before, if you want to see the demise of the anarcho-capitalist dream, look no further than Coca-Cola. When the vast majority of people have disposable income, they tend to reward the crassest lowest common denominator possible.

When our society had hierarchy, we designed products for the upper echelons, who tended to have finer taste and discernment. They recognized good from garbage slathered in sugar-water and flavoring. They pushed upward for higher quality, longer-term thinking, and a better experience of living.

Now that we live in a proleocracy, all of our products are becoming dumbed-down because the people making the decision are the broadest cross-section of citizens. That means the elusive “average” person, which does not exist, so you get the lowest common denominator instead.

If you ask most people what they want from a pipe tobacco, they will have no idea, so will suggest random things in order to make themselves stand out. It makes for good conversation at the pub or water cooler; it makes them feel unique, iconoclastic, different, and above it all.

The same applies to politics. If you ask people what they want, you get a panicked herd and randomness; if you find someone of good character and brains, they will exhibit gut tendencies that lead you in a general direction that makes sense.

Our social order consists of no social order. We have an anti-culture. Our people have nothing in common, no rituals to partake in, and no real sense of structure to their lives. That is what egalitarianism means: everyone an individualist, alone following whims, with no connection to some structure larger than the individual.

No doubt you have a job, and you could claim that as a structure. Or your church, hobbies, or neighborhood. Those however are little bubbles that do not substitute for having a functional civilization. You are still an island, just one with a small support network.

Everything in modern society resembles Coca-Cola. Take water, add sugar and bubbles, drip in some flavoring and coloring, and you have a substitute for something real. Since it is sweet and fizzy, it pleases most people, so there is no need to go looking for anything else.

We want social order back. We need backcountry aristocrats driving around in open-top motorcars, smoking pipes and selecting the best of the tobacco to give to their friends and relatives. We need our cognitive top percent judging the arts, throwing out the Biebers and keeping the Beethovens.

People ask what went wrong in Western Civilization since we are obviously in decline, but the answer stares us in the face. We got wealthy, and so we chose to be individualistic, instead of remembering that we need a social order — a context, a framework, a story, a purpose — in order for our individual contributions to be valued and enduring.

Maybe it seems like quite a bit to get this from pumpkin spice tobacco. Yet, when something really changes a system, it shows up in the details most vividly, at least until the crash accelerates. Here on the precipice we can really feel it, but no one yet knows what it will look like.

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