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Sorting out the Castes: Testing How People Think

A quick data mining search could give us a rough idea where most people are at in the hierarchy, but the caste system, like a system of courts needs to judge people with a very high degree of accuracy to preserve the system’s legitimacy.
A lot of busywork could be eliminated with easy disqualifiers but this frees up greater effort for the rest.
For the next step, maybe a test or evaluation of some kind would be required. The goal might be to look for key indicators of someone’s psychology in a way that would be hard to fake. Or perhaps even start testing people when they are children and continue to test periodically. In this process we would look for accurate constants that could improve the data mining algorithm.

Tests would need to be focused more in determining how someone thinks as opposed to memorized knowledge in itself.
Perhaps some raven’s style matrices could be thrown in like on an IQ test or reading comprehension/analogies to get an idea of spatial and verbal reasoning but more important might be simply asking someone’s opinion.
The idea wouldn’t be to screen people based on what they believe, but to examine why they believe it. If someone explains they believe in invisible unicorns because of lack of falsifiability principle, however specious this may be we already know this isn’t someone from the lowest tiers.

-Simple people tend to hold beliefs for simple reasons. The USSR is bad because the Russians are the bad guys.

-Middle people have an idea of a conflict between communism and capitalism and will be able to explain the differences in basic detail, something along the lines of free enterprise against collective control. They can tell us why one is bad and why the other is good but their reasons will mostly be the official propaganda without too much thought behind it. If you ask them to explain what “free enterprise” actually means they begin to stumble.

-Upper Middle can delve into more nuance regarding why a communist ideology that sounds good in theory doesn’t work with human nature and begin to simultaneously examine the flaws inherent in capitalism as well. However, they are quite content that capitalism is at once the least of evils and the best of possible solutions. They are not too interested in exploring further.

-Above that level someone might dissect the weaknesses in both systems and ask what a better alternative might look like. They might be willing to entertain the idea that communism suffered from being too extreme and that perhaps certain forms of socialism have applied Marxist principles more successfully and might in fact be more effective in the long run than a free market system with minimal controls that allows corporations to run rampant. This person has a mind that can place themselves on both sides of the issue and toy with different solutions from a detached perspective.

In short:

-Simple people believe what they’re told because they were told it and everyone else believes it.

-Middle people believe what they’re told because it seems to make sense in their daily life and everyone else believes it.

-Upper middle believe what they’re told because it seems to make sense in a larger context, seems better than what anyone else has come up with, and because everyone important believes it.

-Above that level, people examine what they’re told in depth and come up with their own ideas if it doesn’t check out. Or if it’s generally valid but just sub-optimal, they still ponder better solutions. They don’t really care what others believe for its own sake. They know full well most people believe what they’re told or at least they rationalize belief in what gets them laid and employed.

I figure just getting an idea of how someone thinks would be hard to fake. Even if someone memorized what to say about one topic, they would be lost if the subject were to change. I figure like confucian East Asia, people would send their kids to cram academies to learn how to think, or at least how to talk like a higher person.
My experience tells me though that there’s only so much that can be learned. And if the highest ideal is what every ordinary person strove for, that would be the mark of a healthy and vigorous social order.

Results could be cross-checked against data mining information and if there’s an unusual or unlikely patterns, the bureau of caste standards might have auditors it could send out to take a closer look.
It occurs to me that once people knew there was a data mining algorithm and a testing system, people would constantly try to game the system. An auditor might try to figure out if someone just memorized what to say on several topics and changed their purchase history to reflect tastes they don’t actually have in a bid to “get ahead.” “Speeding tickets” for caste fraud would disincentivize trying to cheat because there’s nothing to lose by trying and drastically reduce auditors’ caseloads to manageable levels. The biggest deterrent of course is most people simply wouldn’t find life beyond their rightful caste attractive.
Ultimately, though, the people on top must really be smarter than those below or else they will fail at preserving the legitimacy and integrity of the system.

Sorting Out the Castes: Easy Disqualifiers

Within 30 seconds of looking at someone’s facebook, their room, a list of their favorite hobbies, what they’ve bought lately we get a rough sense of what type of person they are.  It’s possible we could be mistaken but generally quick judgments work.  In modern society we’re told we can’t accurately judge and categorize people but in reality it’s not only doable, it’s pretty easy.
In real life, it’s generally safe to assume that a passing frat bro is more into jack and coke and fireball whiskey than single malt scotch or that a black dude with baggy pants and expensive shoes isn’t a Babylon 5 fan.  That hipster sitting nearby at the coffee shop probably isn’t into nascar(unless he’s being “ironic”), the rugged looking man with the big pickup truck probably doesn’t listen to NPR.  There’s exceptions of course, but even very crude anecdotal stereotypes work most of the time in real life.  So it’s not that extraordinary to expect that we could sort people correctly at least 90% of the time with a very low amount of effort.  If it was broken down to more of a science, I figure people could be put in the right place almost all the time.
If all a system needs to do is sort people out better than the present system, that’s a pretty low bar.

Perhaps we start with easy disqualifiers:

-Regularly buys lottery tickets, gambles against the house.
-Regularly uses payday loans and maxes out credit cards without compelling emergency reasons.
-Buys products from infomercials, web ads, spam emails.
-Doesn’t understand basics of how government works.
-Doesn’t have a basic idea of or curiosity about nation or world outside of their area.
-Buys all junk food at the grocery store and over-indulges in it.
-Doesn’t read, watch, or listen to anything that isn’t light entertainment.
-Buys flashy cars and clothes they can’t afford.
-Hopelessly, non-functionally addicted to any drug they come into contact with.

People that meet these criteria demonstrate they lack critical thinking and judgment. They lack the brain power to understand how probability or compound interest works. They don’t have the impulse control to manage complex choices or delayed gratification. In our present system they are mercilessly parasitized and exploited and they’re fair game because we’re all “equal.” Sorted into their proper caste, kept away from all positions of responsibility, it would be understood they are inherently vulnerable to the clever and must be protected as an adult would protect children or animals.
A pretty simple computer algorithm could probably instantly remove at least the bottom 10-20% or so without having to give evaluations or examinations to millions of people. Just data mining people’s real life behavior could probably make the initial rough cuts.

Imagine just taking away the vote from the dumbest and most impulsive 10% or so of the US population. There would probably be massive systemic improvements and an upgrade in political discourse overnight as if by magic. Just ponder a moment the magnitude of this lowest-hanging fruit alone.
Just weeding out those obviously unfit for civic life and placing them in an undercaste alone opens up huge possibilities before we even get started.

A Just Caste System

When we think of caste, we think of people predestined into social roles by birth.  There naturally will be a degree of rough correlation—children tend to be like their parents, but not enough to ensure justice in a social system.  One ends up with plenty of capable people who in a fair system would rise above the confines of an arbitrary caste and the entire society suffers a loss of potential from this inefficiency.  Worse, a degenerate ruling caste becomes less competent than nominally lower orders and the system loses its legitimacy altogether.
But a society that eschews delusional equalism naturally recognizes the true differences in talents and capabilities among humankind.  In time the emergent natural categories are institutionalized into a just caste system.
Though these castes would not be determined by birth, it would be clear to most people by young adulthood where they belong.  There would be no decade long extension of childhood like we have now.  A correct society would help each person get on the best path for them and refuse to waste time.

I reflect on my own life and realize that all the advice from social institutions, my parents and family, adults, teachers, popular entertainment, the media—every single thing I was ever taught was catastrophically wrong or even outright lies about every aspect of life from dating to employment. I had to spend years unlearning it all—years that could have been spent productively instead. I still feel betrayed. I understand that the world changed rapidly but I will always remember the smug complacency, the inability to tell the truth under the smothering pall of political correctness, the lack of effort to understand the new stressors and try to set up a young generation for success in life.
I have been successful at many of my goals, but in spite of the social order, not because of it.
That failed society has forever destroyed my trust and lost the mandate of heaven.

When I have met people who were taught values in childhood that help them succeed real life, I notice they carry on their parents’ traditions. They feel natural loyalty to a social system that has always benefited them.
I have especially watched the families of Mexicans and other cohesive ethnic groups. One of the first things that always struck me was the uniformity of custom and clothing in their groups compared to what I was used to in White society. I didn’t see rebellion and resentment, youthful or otherwise. Whether people were working high or low jobs didn’t matter. These people always seemed content where they were at.
As I unlearned the delusions I’d grown up with, it became clear to me, that these people were content because they were in the roles that suited their nature and were given the life wisdom relevant to their lot. Everywhere I went, those who were cultivated according to their nature were stable and content, those taught against natural justice were miserable and rebellious.

I was a first wave millennial born in the early 80s to boomer parents. I was meant from birth to go to college, all the adults patronizingly told me it didn’t matter what I got a degree in. At age 18, knowing nothing else, I went like a lamb to the slaughter and have paid the price ever since. There was some truth to their advice, for a certain personality type going to a certain type of school. But someone with even slightest judgment of character could have seen in about 2 minutes that I didn’t have the social skills or extroverted personality required to succeed on that path. The older generations would always say with a patronizing smile that you’ll understand as you get older. But the more I have learned of life, the more I understand how foolish, greedy, and unwise they were.

Once I graduated college, that was it. The track ended, suddenly no one in society had anything more to tell me after 21 years of sanctimonious blather. I was left to sink or swim as I might. I reinvented the wheel as I had to, learning everything the hard way. I was like a hunter gatherer trying to find food for the first time as an adult. My entire youth was a waste, irrelevant to everything in my life yet to come.
I only began to succeed in life when I threw all the wrong ways away and started to navigate according to my nature and played to my strengths on the battlefield never fighting up hills, always contriving to defend a hill against the enemy. It’s that unforgiving kind of life that taught me the real solutions to problems aren’t always the ones that sound nice. The only thing that matters is what works.

A caste system doesn’t sound nice to Western sensibilities but in my experience with people from all walks of life, something like it is what works. Our unstructured system of atomized individuals doesn’t work. Humans, like dogs require structure and leadership, especially when we are young and know nothing.
I was just one of millions of young men left with no tribal initiation and no role, left to exist unacknowledged like ghosts among the living. Thinking back on those content Mexicans I realize even a completely arbitrary caste system that assigned me and my descendants to clean toilets for life would have given a more stable existence than the “free” system that left me for dead.

See Also: The Masses Crave Discipline

A Creative Culture Requires A Leisured Elite

Trying new things is a luxury.  A wild animal that tries to play with its default script probably ends up dead.  Human societies, though, are actually required to try new things or else a more inventive society outcompetes them.  How a society manages its creative output is a matter of existential importance.

The greatest breakthroughs and masterpieces have always come from those who can labor at their work without distraction and who have significant creative freedom.
The ancient world produced works of genius that still stand out today.
This is completely astonishing when we consider that population size, wealth, and the distribution and storage of information were pathetic compared to now.
Surely the works of Ancient Greece ought to compare to our own as petroglyphs compare to Renaissance painting.  This may hold true if we consider technology, but not in the realm of culture and creativity.  Even when we consider technology, it’s amazing what they could accomplish with limited knowledge and resources.  Amazingly, much of what we have now is merely derivative of what the Greeks had 2500 years ago.

If we look at the creativity of societies in the past, one thing we must notice is that the creators weren’t ordinary people who worked on philosophy or poetry after a day in the fields.
Without exception, the people who produced the best and highest culture came from a small but leisured and insulated class of individuals.
For most of history, 90%+ of people were subsistence farmer peasants, yet so long as even a tiny fraction of 1% had the freedom to be professional creators, it was enough to create enduring culture.

Modern American culture idolizes the myth of someone who can work full time, take night classes, raise a family, and write the next great novel all at once. Thousands of years of human experience, however, tells us that the highest quality creative work requires complete devotion just like any other discipline.

There are of course professional creative people today—far more by numbers and proportion than there ever were in previous societies. There’s a big difference though. Modern creators are still paid workers.

The most creative people in older societies were invariably allowed to live free from the concerns of the market economy. They belonged to a leisured, aristocratic class that would have seen such affiliations as vulgar, even if they lived an ascetic lifestyle. They understood that if you depend on the next paycheck you can’t say what you really think. You have to give your audience what it wants right now or else you’re broke.
When it comes to modern creative talents people throw around the words “authentic” and “sellout.” These distinctions are an illusion when everyone lives in the market economy. Everyone is a sellout when everyone has to sell themselves.
This conflict of interest ensures that great creative work is scarce when everyone is busy earning a living. The market will produce plenty of what sells right now, but precious little anyone cares about 100 or 1000 years from now.
The market knows only the present, so a high quality creative class requires some degree of insulation from its caprices.
In the past, most advancement came from the few people who didn’t have to worry about wealth. Even where they did not have talent themselves, they might become patrons. Patrons were not really the same as employers because they were not directly trying to turn a profit. Moreover, patrons were a single person whom an artist could reason with. Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo both negotiated with their patrons in the middle of the creative process and had some measure of control.
There is no arguing with market demand. The many wants what it wants right now. So when the market prevails we will never see epic works that take half a lifetime to produce, nor works that don’t ape today’s popular taste. Worst of all, the market forces creative people to answer to the masses.

In the past, the few professional creative people were protected by forming tight knit peer groups.
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle represented three generations of master and apprentice, each of them supported in leisure by their society within a school of their making.  We might also consider that Pythagoras or Epicurus thrived as well within their own tribe of students.
In the past, ascetics and mystics formed another sort of leisured aristocracy.  Consider Diogenes who lived on public charity, or that the very name ‘dervish’ originally means a beggar,  or the experiences of John the Baptist, Jesus, any number of saints in the wilderness.   Across the planet, societies that nurtured their mystics have developed lasting spiritual traditions.
Even consider how modern science and education was largely pioneered by monks who had the rare leisure to study and question within the protected environment provided by the clergy.
A universal market economy, though, by its nature has no place for such “low productivity” slow growing endeavors.

Consider how the Romanticist poets all knew each other, most all of them from leisured aristocratic backgrounds.
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis knew each other, both academics with tenure at a university that still had a strong aristocratic tradition.
Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft profited richly from corresponding though both suffered terribly from being trapped in the market economy.  It speaks volumes that like their spiritual predecessor, Edgar Allen Poe, they had to sacrifice themselves to create enduring work.   Imagine what they could have accomplished had they been leisured aristocrats.
One small group of creative peers who needn’t fear for money are a more powerful force than an entire modern hive cluster of hundreds of millions where everyone is slave to money.
Constant busyness at pointless jobs is one of the biggest drains of productivity, the slayer of creativity in a population. The overworked do not tolerate idle creativity in others. Like-minded people are the substrate on which the individual grows. Just as guerilla insurgents cannot survive without a sympathetic population to harbor them.

Not long ago, societies could only afford to have a tiny number of people trying new things. But like efficient bodies honed by evolution, they made the small amounts of energy they spent on their R and D departments count so they were not subsumed by their competitors.
Now with greater modern wealth, we may do well to observe the successful practices of leaner times and apply them on a larger scale.

See also: Smart Socialism,
How the Middle Class Used to Be Affordable

Only Young Societies Are Egalitarian

A quick glance at the USA tells me it takes about 3-400 years for a brand new society of frontiersmen and settlers to settle down into a civilization at equilibrium.

Every mass society that’s been around for any length of time has set traditions and customs, stratified social classes, and the vast majority living close to subsistence with a ruling class and its functionaries controlling most wealth.

This truth began to dawn on me when I first moved from the American West where “everyone is middle class” to the East Coast.
To my amazement I soon encountered a highly structured caste system.  Each stratum of society lived entirely separate from the others even if they existed in close proximity.  For each caste there were clear codes of dress, of speech, of behavior.
Working low status jobs that required uniforms or heavy duty work clothes, I quickly came to understand that white collar types, the perpetually harried and anxious middle classers, would refuse to acknowledge my existence, even trying to walk right through me as if I weren’t there.  Talking to them was out of the question.
Sure enough, when I went out in nicer clothing, I had no trouble getting their attention and talking to them.  I was amazed.

Lower proles often wore black shoes and gray baggy clothes that allowed them to blend into walls and not be seen as they hauled dollies loaded with goods in and out of shops or cleaned up the streets.   These people I saw were the local class of untouchables, ashamed even to be noticed.

There were aristocrats who walked about in elegant earth tones with a satisfied smug expression on their faces.  Just beneath them were their upper middle class followers, whose attempt to imitate their masters’ smile looked more like a petulant sneer.

In the West where I had been raised, athleticism, fitness, and outdoor activity had been counted as virtues.
In the East, the physical was clearly seen as a vice, fit only for proles.
Men prided themselves on being stick thin, emphasizing their gaunt figures with tight clothes.  For women, gentle Yoga in indoor studios, well away from the sun, was the most vigorous activity they permitted themselves.  They seemed to me very like Chinese mandarins who grew their nails long to show beyond all doubt that they never had to perform lowly physical labor.

It was not just the social systems of the East that made me think at once of China and India, but also the sheer density of people.
For the first time in my life, there were endless crowds everywhere I went.  Public restrooms were scarce, the few available, mobbed by hundreds of people and filthy.  Any public resource at all in such an environment was sure to be quickly exhausted in a true tragedy of the commons.  There were few places to sit, even fountains were designed to make it difficult for people to snatch up the coins dropped in them.    The spaces shown as “parks” on the maps were just islands in the middle of intersections, a ring of benches around a statue, most of them occupied by sleeping homeless people.

On reflection, I understood the East coast of the US, unlike the West, had existed for awhile under the rule of England and inherited its customs and institutions.  But mainly, it has simply been there longer.
All available resources and social positions are taken, everyone is caught in competition for an unchanging quantity of scarce resources.

I realized that the Western USA with its relatively informal egalitarian culture is an aberration.  It’s simply too new to have settled into a more normal system.  The West is still a frontier.
Once there’s no more frontier, people have to live together in the same society.
Within a few generations, people assort roughly into classes based on their ability to control wealth and exert power.  Then each class largely breeds with its own until each caste is practically a distinct genetic breed.
Once the process is complete, you have the classic mature social structure that’s indistinguishable from Ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia.

It is important to make this observation because many of humanity’s best accomplishments come from exuberant new cultures over short periods of time, while ancient empires more often plod on for milennia in a senile daze, living on borrowed inertia, unable to adapt or change, with millions of striving laborers, not one of them producing a new idea.

Why Do People Think Human Evolution Has Stopped?

I can’t count how many times someone has remarked glibly and smugly with glazed eyes and a vacant smile “But we have modern medicine/modern society now.  Human evolution has stopped.”  I’m stunned every time.  I’m used to stupidity, but even otherwise intelligent people will say this to me.  Do they choose not to think?
Do they choose to refuse to understand that nature never takes a holiday and that our genes are locked in eternal competition for survival?  Do they not understand that no one will care about their ‘careers’ past the day they retire?  That our ‘accomplishments’ will be forgotten as soon as we are dead?

Changes in stressors merely change the selectors!  Heavy rains are good for some plants, bad for others.  Socially awkward growing up, I keenly felt the cold steel of Darwin’s axe on my neck every day of my entire youth.  I was trapped in a prison of society’s blazing hostility for over a decade.  I was never allowed to delude myself that everyone succeeds.  Before I was a teenager it seemed I stood on the edge of that ignominious trash pit failed specimens are dumped into by nature’s callous hand.  I’ve never, ever forgot it.

This is, in itself, selection at its best.  Those capable of further reflection will have a major advantage over those that buy into the popular platitudes.

The selective barrier I see in modern affluent societies is for an abstract appreciation of the essentials.

For instance, the type A go-getter that always goes for that promotion but never has any kids, dying out as completely as the dinosaurs, no better than the wino on the street corner, no different than a young man brutally mowed down in battle.
In past generations, the type A’s instincts would have been optimally suited towards breeding with the best mates.

Now, however, a more abstract way of thinking about one’s genetic destiny is required for success…or the total absence of thinking, allowing one to rut without care on the animal level.  These are the two present viable formulae for genetic success in the Modern West.

With humans, we give primacy to ‘environment’ and insist on a ‘blank slate.’
We can breed dogs specifically to herd sheep yet do not believe in breeds of people that have come about from the demands of specialization over the last millennia of civilization?

Childish, williful ignorance at its best.

Those who determine the future of the genes, determine the future of the species.



How to Be a Modern-Day Dictator

Putin chooses to send tax inspectors or health inspectors to close down or shutter a dissident group.

In Venezuela, laws are written broadly and then used like a scalpel against any group that is deemed a threat. The Chinese Communist Party frequently refers to democracy and makes sure that all of its top leaders only serve two terms. There are all sorts of different ways in which regimes are finding how to move and navigate through forces that challenge their regimes that make them appear to be other than what they are.

I was in China about 10 days after Mubarak fell.

And it was an incredible moment, because, on the one hand, there was no visible sign of revolution, but there was a tremendous tension. And there had been a call for people to assemble at different points around China at a particular moment on a particular day.

And the regime knew that. I went to one of those spots at 2:00 p.m. on that Sunday, and it was an incredible thing. You saw the fear that the regime exhibited by just the sheer number of police that were present. But more than the police were the number of plainclothes policeman.

There were moments when I was walking through crowds, and literally, three, four, five people around me, they all had earpieces.

They have really developed excellent crowd control techniques, where they would move the crowds through with street-cleaning equipment. And they would push people through with lots of water, cleaning the same street corner again and again and again.

Mind you, no one is actually coming out to protest. No one is actually declaring, down with the Chinese Communist Party. If you were to do that, then you would be rushed away in no time by security. But, rather, the call had been for people just to come out for a stroll.

And that was a very clever way of going about it, because you can’t really arrest someone for just walking down the street.

One of my favorite examples is actually from Egypt before the revolution, where you had members of the April 6 Movement, who they put out a call on Facebook for people to rally around a strike that was going happen in another part of the country.

And they said to people, on that day, just don’t go to work, another easy way to sort of show your protest without actually taking enormous risk. Just stay within your home on that given day. And the support for this was enormous on Facebook. And so the regime’s initial response was to start putting out a ticker on all television broadcasts saying, on April 6, everyone must go to work.

They inadvertently broadcast this message in a way that the members of April 6 never could have imagined. Egypt is a country of 81 million people. The regime had mistakenly, inadvertently communicated this protest to everyone.

Link h/t Isegoria

See previous:

What Game of Thrones Tells Us About Modernity

It’s not often a work of fantasy breaks into the the mainstream.

I read tons of fantasy when I was a kid and with the exception of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the whole genre was considered a niche market.

Thus the re-emergence of fantasy into the popular consciousness comes as a major landmark.
Why did this happen?

The first word that people use when they describe Game of Thrones is ‘realistic.’
There’s no clearly defined good or bad guys, plot twists break from established conventions.
The whole social world is defined by infidelity, incest, Machiavellian self interest, and betrayal.

The one classically moral character who refuses to adapt and insists on sticking to his values comes to a tragic end.
Not only is he killed, his best intentions lead only to strife and catastrophe.

I tried to read these books at the recommendations of some friends, but I didn’t get very far. The first thing I noticed was that I’d been introduced to about 20 different characters by page 50 and I struggled to keep them all straight in my head and remember their unremarkable Old English names.
Already the social relationships between these characters were becoming a web of petty backbiting.

In short: it was an awful lot like spending time on facebook; the kind of shallow social interaction I’d always gone to fantasy books to get away from!

Fantasy is a form of mythology; it tells larger than life stories about the experiences in our daily lives.

The huge success of Game of Thrones is a powerful indicator of how the popular consciousness has shifted.

The schemers win and the honorable men are naive fools who will only end up being taken advantage of. Worse, their good intentions will inevitably backfire within our modern order.

Why does this tragic outcome have such a deep appeal?
Members of the audience perhaps wish an Eddard Stark could have won the day but simultaneously have a cynical knowledge that this can never be.
In this moral dissonance, we perhaps find a certain catharsis that helps us resolve emotions we bottle up every day.

We know that asshole boss who played The Game of Thrones better than we did is going to be the winner over us, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…

Perhaps before this Second Great Depression revealed beyond all doubt that a great game of selfish intrigue defines our society up to its highest ranks, we could tell ourselves that some how the good guys will win in the end.

Those who care about the future of this society would do well to take note that these ‘realistic’ attitudes have seeped into the wellsprings of our collective imagination.


Eddard Stark

Eddard Stark

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