"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

The 21st Century Leans Toward Aristocracy

It has now been nearly 20 years since George W. Bush, the son of a president, inherited the grandest ship of state in history and splendidly wrecked it.  He could have passed into history as just one bad president but as the people desperately cried out for the ship to steer, it stayed the course no matter who the pilot was.  What little remaining illusion that the masses can meaningfully participate in the exercise of power peels quickly away.  Even Trump, the avatar of American popular discontent, finds himself powerless to bring decisive change and is only half-ironically called an emperor, as if in hopes he might somehow take up a more authoritarian mantle.

Counter-intuitively in this time of populism, we see conditions arranging themselves in favor of aristocracy and the ebb of the 20th century high tide of the masses.  The official state politics playing out before us is just one area where a few become increasingly dominant over the many.

Mass politics ascended toward its peak when firearms combined with industrialized logistics.  We may not appreciate now how revolutionary it was to have an army of hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers in the field at once in the Napoleonic Wars for prolonged periods, millions by the mid 19th century, and tens of millions in the 20th century.  Mass production, pasteurization, railroads, the telegraph made possible a condition of total war that was new to agrarian peoples.

Political power is ultimately backed by the potential for violence and since the inception of settled agriculture, only a few people could have the equipment and leisure to be skilled soldiers on the backs of massed peasant labor.  Among settled peoples war had always been aristocratic by nature.  Though there have always been levies, mercenaries, and conscripts, they were support for a backbone of warrior elite whose investment in the system gave strong incentive for loyalty and whose training gave them tight discipline in combat.

Even Roman legions that made heavy use of commoners promoted soldiers on retirement to citizen status for them and their posterity.  In our time, any warm body under a state is a “citizen” but for most of history that distinction has meant entry into the petty aristocracy.
Warriors not only need to fight well against others, they also need good reason not to overthrow the government and install one of their own.  So it follows warriors are by definition invested in politics.  Anyone who is relied on to fight for the state, gets a share in state power sooner or later.  Even if kept as slaves, the warriors just make themselves into kings, as the Mamluks did in Egypt.

As more of the population was potentially needed for state violence in the 19th century, suffrage became universal to every male and there the bloat exploded out of control to its conclusion with everyone but children and teenagers allowed to vote.  This craze has left us with an enormous political power bubble.  If elected leaders simply ignore a bunch of powerless peasants, what do they do about it?  “Oh yeah? How are you gonna make me?” applies to state power as much as it does on the grade school playground.  If there is no solid backing to claims of power, the illusion fades and reality begins to re-assert itself.  Just as the Mamluk warrior slaves could not be shut out of power, the helpless cannot long hold onto it.

Some suppose a coalition of single women, gays, and impoverished races holds the key to political power in the future because their helplessness makes them dependent and therefore fanatically loyal.  Yet once reality inevitably returns, a furious trans-genderist in a dress can shriek at the top of his lungs all he likes only to be sent tumbling into the mud with a saber slash to the face from a smug, mounted noble wearing a powdered wig.  A coalition of the weakest is by nature opportunistic and requires the support of the strong to hold power at all.  At best, they are tools who are ultimately discarded the moment they cease to be sufficiently useful as a legitimizing priesthood.  That moment always comes sooner than ascended undesirables think because a successful religion helps pacify the masses, save the ruler energy, and keeps the army inspired and loyal—a church of obnoxious political commisars inflames and sabotages things instead.

It was the possibility of mass conscription that ensured the common man the vote but since the atomic bomb wars of mass conscription have gradually all but disappeared and with it, the impetus for mass political power.  The battlefield has returned to being a realm only a small minority participate in directly and consistently.  Modern technology and the precise nature of objectives in 21st century war make it so that unskilled, inexperienced, unmotivated conscripts just get in the way and cause trouble. 
The US military has relied on volunteers for decades now and over time an increasingly small number of those are relevant to combat.  Now, even the tiny front-line military shares even this diminished role with mercenaries who answer directly to factions of elites.

Public opinion no longer supports the reckless wars of a discredited elite, but simultaneously, rulers that no longer rely so strongly on a loyal public to fight wars does not need their consent so much as before.  They do not need to fear their subversion either so long as most people are prosperous enough to stay in an apolitical torpor.

In the culture we see the same principle of a warrior elite applies.  In an emerging neo-tribal age ISIS forces that may have numbered a mere 10,000 men fought multiple national armies to a standstill for years.  Similarly the altright and antifa each likely have no more than 10,000 operatives active in the field.  Yet when 300 alt-rightists have an event, their signal is amplified across the world by behaving strategically as a culturally disruptive vanguard.  Those 300 have more impact than the next 30 million who cast ballots from time to time and look on in disappointment as nothing happens.  In the mercantile modern world, tight group loyalties are far scarcer than money, enabling even a handful who can actually work together to run roughshod over millions of atomized serfs who just want that next paycheck.

In Silicon Valley a handful of people at a few companies hold a few billion consumers in the palm of their hands.   A few small cadres at national banks can influence the trajectory of all the wealth in the world.  A few incestuous social circles in a few big cities tell everyone what to think, tell all their stories for them, and make all their music and dance.  Even those active in the emerging counter-cultures are vanishingly small as a percentage of the population yet their impact is wildly disproportionate.

Meanwhile, the average worker scurrying to and fro from a job has almost no impact or influence on the culture, the politics, on finance, or anything that matters, even if they are among the dwindling number who live comfortably above subsistence.  Actually, comfort makes them that much more inert, their only attribute of significance an implacable dead weight for forces of change to push aside. 

It becomes increasingly explicit that nobody cares what ordinary people living their lives on facebook and netflix think.  Almost every meaningful interaction we see is propelled by just a few and when this is the reality, it is only a matter of time until there is aristocracy.

20 responses to “The 21st Century Leans Toward Aristocracy

  1. Poli Ti November 25, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Well observed. The wheel of history is turning back to it’s usual setting.

    First though there will be war.

  2. korezaan November 25, 2017 at 5:38 am

    When you say “there is aristocracy”, and I’m focusing on the word “is” here: you mean they will make themselves visually obvious? Or explicitly codify their rank via culture change in some way?

    • Giovanni Dannato November 25, 2017 at 5:53 am

      I think that mostly organically emerges over time as people change the labels and eventually the titles to reflect reality. The old aristocracy were originally soldiers and generals who distinguished themselves by ability and loyalty.

  3. Garr November 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Haven’t super-rich people been ultra-powerful in the US since the Civil War, though?

    I guess you’re emphasizing that they can operate more independently of “the common man” now that the common man isn’t needed for warfare?

    When I think of “aristocracy” I think first of all of 13th Century barons in England, where there was some continuity (I’m guessing, based on vague mental images; I don’t really know) between upper and lower levels of nobility, and the landowners at the lower end weren’t very sharply divided (physically, culturally) from the peasants living nearby …? (Again, just guessing.)

    The fact that “special forces” do all of the fighting now does seem very significant. I imagine that a few companies of elite guys could seize and hold NYC. Which also means that a wealthy corporation could hire a few hundred ex-special-forces guys who’d be able to seize and hold NYC.

    I wouldn’t know about an emerging alt-right aristocracy or counter-aristocracy … are there very wealthy alt-righters? Maybe there are, but they won’t step forward until the time is Right. Meanwhile they’re probably camouflaged as “moderates” with a cautiously favorable attitude toward Trump.

    • It's all a show November 27, 2017 at 3:35 am

      Check out Z Man and Pleasureman. They wouldn’t explicitly call themselves alt-right, but they’re definitely dissident thinkers. They write a lot about emerging and vanguard rightish political and cultural trends.

      • Garr November 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        I follow Zman. He seems to read books, which is nice. I don’t get the sense that many of his commenters do. There’s no way to know whether any of them are potential aristocrats. They seem to be car-dealers and insurance-salesmen, for the most part.

        I googled “Pleasureman blog” and just weird stuff came up (as one might expect, given the title) so I don’t know what you’re referring to. Now that I’ve googled it I’m sure I’ll be getting lots of pop-up ads for Hot Ukrainian Girls Who’d Love To Meet You! — thanks a lot.

  4. Garr November 27, 2017 at 11:26 am

    “Some suppose a coalition of single women, gays, and impoverished races holds the key to political power in the future because their helplessness makes them dependent and therefore fanatically loyal. Yet once reality inevitably returns, a furious trans-genderist in a dress can shriek at the top of his lungs all he likes only to be sent tumbling into the mud with a saber slash to the face from a smug, mounted noble wearing a powdered wig.” —

    The homosexual part of that coalition could probably run an empire, though. And the shrieking man in a dress could be the one riding the horse, slashing downward at bellowing proles.

    Intelligent homos feel that they belong to a superhuman group, in fact, and their homosexuality clearly sets them apart from those who don’t belong. If the women and impoverished races piss them off they could go hard right very quickly, in an organized, explicitly self-promoting (“we are your natural rulers, honey!”) and dangerously effective way. Of course, the Homo Right wouldn’t be traditionalist; its goal would be a Brave New World style hedonistic oligarchy, with homos as alphas.

    • Daniel Chieh November 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Amusing as a Jack Donovan world might be to think about, the evidence of gays with their widespread promiscuity and inclination to child abuse suggests they aren’t a stable coalition even in a world of artificial wombs.

  5. Gregory Daniel Nikolic November 27, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    *twisted smile on my handsome, extrovert’s face*

    *leaning forward to you*

    WELL, stranger Giovanni, if I didn’t know better I would say you were rooting for an aristocracy . . . and hoping to take your place in it.

    Am I right?

    • Giovanni Dannato November 27, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Everyone wants to be in the aristocracy, sorcery god. You just have to get better people in charge than mob rule gets you, a pretty low bar for aristocracy. Also just observing what’s going on for good or for ill.

      • Gregory Daniel Nikolic November 27, 2017 at 10:25 pm

        *grinning and yet red-faced at your reply*

        You know what, my Good Lord? If I ever start an Aristocracy, you’ll be one of the first I recruit. Swear to …


      • Gregory Daniel Nikolic November 27, 2017 at 10:26 pm

        But now that I think of it, that doesn’t answer the question of whether you prefer a blatant aristocracy over our current set-up, which could best be described as meritocratic vote-manipulation under the general guidance of the MSM Cathedral.

  6. Gregory Daniel Nikolic November 27, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I comment-blasted Heartiste if you wanna check it out. Double-digits worth of pure, unvarnished GOLD.

    • Garr November 28, 2017 at 11:25 am

      On your CH comment about women’s use of language — I’ve had the same thought, that women use language almost entirely as a practical device, while men to a much greater extent speak in order to direct their own and other people’s attention to Reality — which I suppose amounts to saying that they use language as a theoretical device. Men are more theoretical than women are.

      But most men, and almost all lower class men all the time, still mainly use language as a practical device (speaking in order to establish social alliances and acquire objects that they want to possess). And, on the other hand, sometimes women do seem to want to figure out themselves and other individual people in a mainly theoretical way.

      This might be the only kind of interesting conversation one can have with a woman — conversations about individual people that you both know. This is why a persistently interesting long-term relationship with a woman would have to involve your having and raising children together — then you can have interesting discussions with her about your children.

  7. aryaavart November 29, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Agree but it may not be the type of Aristocracy you want. Many muslim country are Monarchy for example,

  8. JohnnyGood November 30, 2017 at 12:02 am

    The discourse needs to be fed, otherwise the ant drones will remain restless. There is an endless yearning of the ant people and constant fear of being exiled from the main hive. It is instinctual. So is an aristocracy. The aristocracy provides the necessary sprinkles to garnish the salad of social decorum, structural hierarchy, etc. It serves as a convenient heuristic. The ant people prefer to be in the hive rather than scattered about and outside of the discourse.

  9. JohnnyGood November 30, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Part 2
    Ants need a mound to call their own home. The creation of an aristocracy is a template for the rest of society to follow suit. No aristocracy is akin to having no place to call home. It follows part of the premeditated script laid out in the society that is agreed over and understood.

    • Johnny March 11, 2018 at 9:44 am

      The hoi polloi are ironically enough the first to complain about how hard they worked yet piss their money away on celebrities, politics word games and sports which keep those figures in power.

      Wealth is a key to part of establishing a set hierarchy where others are their bootlicks and they sit on top of them.

      I agree with the notion that wealth at some point is an ego driven thing where they count as many personal slaves that are indebted to them.

  10. Pingback: 2017 Nov 23 ~ Dec 05 | Lines

  11. ass February 20, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    “Some suppose a coalition of single women, gays, and impoverished races holds the key to political power in the future because their helplessness makes them dependent and therefore fanatically loyal.”

    Why don’t you just link to spandrell’s post on biological leninism?

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