Every living thing strives to make the best of available resources. Trees grow in fractal patterns to maximize the amount of sunlight they can capture. Competing groups of humans are no different. The society that can arrange its branches to best capture energy and use that energy the most efficiently will tend to displace its neighbors. The superior structure triumphs without even trying.
When we look at societies all over the world there’s nearly only one question that matters: how well can they preserve wealth? Those that are effective at it thrive and tend to dominate weaker groups. Those that cannot preserve wealth wallow in such vicious poverty that even conquest by a richer group can be a mercy.
The ability to preserve wealth decides a group’s rank in virtually every form of achievement, from literary excellence to scientific discoveries.
Some groups just have it and others don’t.
Drive out some Jews, Armenians, Maronites, or Alawis in fiery pogroms, kill them off in droves, it doesn’t matter. They successfully preserve wealth wherever they go and quickly make up any damage they suffer. Keeping them down is like trying to keep an inflated balloon underwater.
But wherever subsaharan Africans are found, without exception they are unable to preserve wealth. Even in the best of times, all the wealth of the world slips through their grasping fingers. The justifications and reasons are many, there are among them many good individuals, but in aggregate the same pattern always emerges.
We’re faced with a riddle when Mexicans who are far less effective at controlling wealth than full-blooded Europeans seem to have the superior group structure. Mexicans make less money on paper but they use wealth far more effectively. So we see a Mexican man who works as a roofer and his wife who works as a maid manage to support 3 kids while a white family that’s twice as wealthy struggles to support even one child.
The Mexicans are a more efficient and effective organism. As an invasive species they easily outcompete and replace a slow and weak native strain. So while whites are far better at getting wealth, they’re unable to preserve wealth.
The problem with rich European majority countries is despite all their wealth, it just raises the bar people have to reach to be considered members of society. Social expectations cancel out many of the benefits of wealth. It’s an example of what I’ve called ‘collective checkmate‘, a situation where popular pressure forces competition that hurts everyone.
I’ve also written about what I call social participation tax. In a wealthy country, it’s not socially acceptable to wear clothes you’ve made at home or to patch up worn out clothes. You’re ostracized unless you buy them at JC Penney. You can’t just build a log cabin or live in a yurt. To be a member of society, you have to buy a house or rent an apartment.
Add in the loss of social cohesion and family, atomized whites can save up hundreds of thousands of dollars and not be able to accomplish what Latinos with real extended families can get done with 10k dollars. There’s no contest.
It’s a case of lean and efficient desert plants used to making do with the bare minimum outcompeting garden plants that require rich fertilizer and daily watering just to survive.
Mexicans can preserve wealth, but can’t get that much of it.
Whites can get wealth, but can’t preserve much of it.
Then there are the elite groups like Jews, Parsees, Brahmins, Armenians, and Maronites that can both get substantial wealth and preserve it.
We end up with a rough hierarchy of the peoples according to their effectiveness.
The ideal to strive for then is a group organism with the commanding robustness and complexity of a tree with the efficiency of a desert cactus.
6 replies on “Competition Between Societies: Desert Plants vs. Garden Plants”
Humans are the only species on the planet whose reproductive success is *inversely* correlated to material abundance, and it’s because rich and upper middle class families burn up so much wealth in zero-sum competitive status-signaling that they can only afford one or two children.
I live cheaply in a rural area that lacks diversity. My wife and four kids don’t seem the least bit harmed by our lack of social status, though my daughter commented that her friend doesn’t appreciate how lucky she is to have a Wii.
I am conflicted about the complaint that we will get an idiocracy if the middle classers fail to reproduce.
Because if they were really so smart, they would understand the real problem is that status signalling is draining most of their wealth and try to adjust their strategy.
If they’re unable to adapt to change and analyze their circumstances to play things to their advantage, they’re certainly no smarter than much-disdained blue collar workers who got washed up when their factory jobs were exported and automated. Would it be a disservice, actually, if people who put their blind striving before group cooperation simply weed themselves out?
There’s a blogger who calls himself escapefromwisconsin who recently did a brilliant analysis of class niches, with the middle and uppers using up all the resources to pursue a high-investment strategy with their offspring. This links to the first part.
Yes, in the Darwinian sense, which is the only sense that matters in the long run, the smartest people in America are the Amish. The Industrial Revolution will be undone by 2200 not because it ran out of resources but because it ran out of people.
I’ve wondered before if the Amish will be among the big winners of this age. They’ve already gone from a small group to hundreds of thousands, another couple generations there will be millions of them. They have both an isolated gene pool heavily selected for their core qualities and their own memeplex.
Hutterites share many of the admirable qualities of the Amish. The Hasidim are thriving where other groups suffer. The Mormons could also be among the big winners.
In just a few generations North American whites could be as different in temperament from the present populations as modern Swedes are from the Vikings. The perhaps tens of millions of white Americans with 1 or 0 children represent a cataclysmic die-off equal to the worst famines and the greatest of wars.
This status by “goods” is changing. Maybe just from shear necessity. Notice the interest in tiny houses. I see a lot of post on people living cheaper that still have money. Lots of people are talking about making money and saving it to buy a homestead out of the cities and having enough money to have more of that most precious commodity…time.
There’s a guy I read often who was a executive of a lot of different businesses. he moved to Texas and bought several acres, a solar power system and a trailer. He has money, a plane but doesn’t follow the big house etc. lifestyle.
I disagree on the Amish. If there’s ever a complete blowout with the destruction of government they will be wiped out. Everyone knows they’re none violent and have food. Maybe they would change and become violent. Maybe that’s the only ones that would be left. Have you read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy? Under that type situation you will eat or be eaten. I might add I believe over time the worst cannibal/evil/ marauders would be killed off. As people would band together for protection from them and see them as an existential threat that must be wiped out and they would be.
There’s less wealth available now and people are adapting. People may try to clothe overall reductions in standard of living as something trendy but it’s really just status posturing trying to call a strategic retreat by any other name.
Agnostic, the guy who writes the Face to Face blog has done an excellent series of essays on how people default to lifestyle and persona striving when career and material striving is no longer accessible. He really captures the psychology of how people rationalize decline. Cydonian Signal wrote a great summary of ideas that were spread across several of his posts.
A strategy of pacifism makes sense for the Amish while their numbers are still relatively small compared to the host society and outside threats are unlikely. They smartly take advantage, owning land and prospering while other fools go out and fight the wars.
When they are sufficiently numerous and it is in their interests to do so, I would expect them to quickly switch strategies. While not known for aggression, they are highly organized and cohesive. They would crush their fractious neighbors easily in the event the state fell apart.