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“Average Is Over” Is A Destructive Mindset

Every year the sort of inspirational speakers who appeal to drab office schlubs come up with flashy new slogans to say the same things.  For some time the theme they’ve had to address is how the marketplace has grown more competitive as the pond of opportunity shrinks for most people.  They can’t say it like that of course because that would be “negative thinking.”  You can’t make a living giving seminars at business hotels unless you make your clients feel good about themselves.  So this year the fad phrase to say while wagging your finger in admonishment with a smug, fake smile is “Average is overrr!”

All this means is the job market and society itself continues to become more scalable.  Instead of having musicians in every town, you have 1 musician who plays for 300 million.  So it goes for increasingly more fields.  You get your very best talent recorded to internet video or on a website and the guys 99.99% as good are out of business. 

 “Average is over” is an attitude of acceptance that only extreme excellence is of any worth from now on, the rest of us consigned to the dumpster.  And so we must go out and strive to beat the lottery.  If we make it then we are quadruply entitled to adopt sanctimonious airs and wag the finger at those below on “the ladder to success.”
This may well be the final form of that American strain of Puritanism before it finally implodes under the dire pressures it glorifies.

Hyper-individualist Americans love to hear stories about the very best meeting with stratospheric success.  Striving to do one’s best is admirable, but this attitude is not compatible with successfully running a massive empire of 330 million souls who all get hungry and sick whether or not they are particularly useful to anyone.

Furthermore, as only a few can be successful in the scalable world, we ironically see a regression to mass mediocrity in everything from culture to services.  This is because the best possible performers do not come from a vacuum but are incubated by thriving local subcultures filled with other competent enthusiasts.  If only a few can succeed at something, the subculture that cultivated geniuses withers and ironically, the baseline for the elite performers declines.

The subculture of a field that contains relatively average people also supports the sort of refinement that can beget works of genius that stand the test of time.  The very best talent has colleagues as a preliminary audience through whom the works of genius filter down to the populace.  When we have a culture that worships “average is over” the elite .001% answer directly to the perfect democracy of the masses.  The natural output is endless remakes and prequels calculated to reap x millions of dollars with y minimal % of risk.  We are left with precisely calculated drivel churned out as if by a data-mining algorithm.  This is the apotheosis of a market culture that tries to maximize popularity while eliminating all concept of selectiveness and loyalty.

One of the challenges a new society must overcome in the post-industrial age is to figure out how to cultivate subcultures, and eventually actual castes that concentrate human potential in self-reinforcing ways.  The pathological individualism of “average is over” is ultimately the delusional idea that you can have a rose without the bush.  A post-Western caste system asks: “what kind of bush might produce the best rose.”

This is achieved by thinking of culture or any other kind of excellence as we might think of politics and government.  We can’t get the best performance or the best talent without having the right filters.  Even the decadent United States governs through representatives rather than direct mob rule and retains certain filters of the unadulterated popular will such as two senators for every state, the electoral college, or the absence of voting rights for children.

The important concept is no human endeavor can be successful without selecting and filtering specialized groups within society.  This is like the difference between a multicellular creature with organs and an undifferentiated primordial soup.  Every one of the organs within the social body has its own bell curve of performance and in any healthy living thing, the average is not over, it is the backbone.

There’s No Such Thing As “Free Markets”

Whenever I hear someone start to toss around phrases like “free markets” and complain about “big government” and “regulations.” I know I’m likely talking to a libertarian or neo-conservative shill making excuses for crony capitalism.  

The idea that there can be “free markets” in an anarchic capitalist society is a clever joke—a reality that dawns at some point on idealistic anarcho-libertarian undergrads that want to say they believe in something that sounds cool to say.  One day in between bong hits, it hits them—who pays taxes if no one makes them pay?  If you have no taxes how do you stop military invasion from even the most mediocre states?
Anyone pushing these ideas after age 30 are likely either fools or just sociopaths who want less rules so they can try to screw over everyone else.

Markets cannot exist without a state that uses the threat of force to guarantee property, profits, and contracts.  Thus the state has the implicit prerogative and responsibility to control the market.

Imagine what would happen to the local grocery if all police and soldiers disappeared.  The grocery would be forced to hire the local gang to defend their merchandise and before long, that gang would become the new state getting protection money(taxes) in exchange for their services.  Then, the guys with the guns, of course, get to call the shots.  

If the grocery owners hatch schemes to bleed the rest of community dry for their own benefit, the gangsters start to lose out on their neighborhood protection rackets.  The furious gangsters respond by threatening to shoot the store owners if they don’t follow certain rules.  Thus, we get regulations, which no market lacks.  The market itself is regulated into existence by the gangsters’ guns.

Even most “free market” ideologues can’t claim to believe in actual completely free market.  They usually recognize the need to prevent monopolies and try to have a “level playing field.”  But they are slippery and try to blame the centralization of wealth into monopolies on “big government” ineptitude and corruption.  In fact, power tends to centralize over time whether we speak of political bodies or business enterprises.  In real life, big, powerful government is the only thing that keeps markets competitive.

The market is one of the most powerful and flexible tools known for organizing and channeling the creative power of humanity.  Used properly, it can give rise to prosperous nations.  But it is first a tool to improve society, not an end unto itself.  Business exists to serve the people and is fundamentally subordinate to the needs of the tribe.

When businesses are allowed to do whatever they wish while enjoying the protection of armed men, the state creates and aids the growth of competitors for its power to rule.  The market is a dangerous tool that must be handled with firm discipline.  

If the gangsters grow soft, the grocery store competes with them for money that would’ve gone into taxes and eventually has its own armed men.  If the gangsters lose the ensuing struggle, the grocery store becomes the new government.  Then the grocery store has to worry about staying in power just like the gangsters did.  

The worst possible state, actually, is when the market is let to grow out of control with no responsibility for governing.  Then business, which should be enriching the neighborhood becomes like a brood of writhing tapeworms bloating the collective body even as it starves from within.

There will always be corruption and ineptitude in government so long as governments are ran by people, or even by machines programmed by people—and therefore infused with human bias. It has been argued endlessly if government is good or bad.  What cannot be debated is whether government is necessary and those who try to say otherwise in favor of business are most likely traitors.

All Mass Societies Are Built on Coercion

To suppose coercion would go away without governments is foolish.  Those who rail against tax collection forget that if there were no large government, small governments would quickly take over.  Instead of paying taxes, we’d pay protection money to the local gangsters.  Then, over time, one gang would centralize power and eventually grow into a state that collects taxes. We’d be right back where we started.

One of the hard facts of being human is all our societies are founded on parasitism.  Since the foundation of agricultural settlements most people have lived in poverty while a small, dominant group extracted tribute from everyone else.
Before farming, there may not have been parasitism on the same scale, but those who got in the way of the strong were simply killed instead.
There’s never been a paradise because a tough grind with high attrition has always been the normal state of the natural world.  Humans are just another animal in the wild.

To change this state of affairs we’d have to transcend the trap of natural selection which thrives on scarcity and suffering to select ourselves instead.
Since transhumanism will remain science fiction for some time to come, it remains incumbent on anyone who wants to change anything to find ways to identify and enfranchise the best people and mitigate the damage done by the worst.
For the individual human, it is impossible to change the nature of billions of people, it is reasonable perhaps to form tribes of those with similar temperament and create within that sphere the world they wish to see, and that sphere finally formed, devise a means of its further transmission.

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