FORWARD BASE B

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Tag Archives: nobles

Alt-Lite and the Weakening of the Merchant Caste

Since Charlottesville, most of the alt-lite has fallen into line and is back to to selling merchandise and maxing out their follower counts.  Nevertheless, a significant segment still seem to be flailing about in fury and confusion.  As I noted in my article about dissident factions, those making money from the spread of ideas tend to be unhappy when the fault lines shift.  The alt-lite’s business lies in being just edgy enough so whenever the edge moves they have to pick up and move their market stalls.  It’s especially annoying when they’ve written a book or a blog only to find it’s suddenly irrelevant.

I knew they would be indignant and that a great deal of this indignation comes from their self-image as the leaders.  But there has been more of a reaction than I was expecting, because like the establishment, they misunderstand their position in a changing ecosystem.  Furious that the core alt-right has asserted control over the rules of engagement there has actually been a foolhardy attempt at a takeover.  Needless to say, this attempt and its aftermath has been one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen on the internet in some time.

A faction best known for selling e-books, t-shirts, and supplement pills actually thought they had the social and political capital to co-opt a movement from those who have real organizations, go out in the streets, and take physical risks.  How is this?  This depth of childish miscalculation just doesn’t make sense until we examine on a cultural level.

Such delusional thinking is more understandable when we realize the mercantile caste of society has been ascendant since at least the French Revolution.  The obsession with equality that we take for granted is connected to the bourgeois attitude that the customer is always right and two men with the same amount of money in their outstretched palms are effectively the same, to be treated the same.  This attitude informs the obsession of the modern world with being popular and inoffensive above all else.  This attitude is so ingrained we run even our personal relationships like businesses.

Concepts like honor and loyalty seem like anachronistic ideas from old stories of knights and samurais, or even the creed of alien species like Klingons.  It has been so long since any other world view held sway, we have have forgotten any other way is possible.

We see a great example when alt-lite personalities discuss the alt-right as a “brand.”  They cannot yet understand anything other than the mass market.  Why would they?  The business of America is business.  The attitudes of the marketplace have dominated the culture of the USA and the entire West for centuries.
When we realize they are going by the rules that have worked for generations which we are all taught our whole lives, it is easier to understand why they are unable to adjust to a changing reality.

The enlightenment itself was a new value system for a rising merchant caste.  It is no coincidence that secularism’s original and eternal enemies are the aristocracy and the priesthood who stood in the way of advancement.  With widespread literacy and the dawn of an industrial revolution the old order of landed nobles backed by priests was obsolete.  Wherever the forces of modernity came into play, the merchants became the new ruling class.  Even Japan which was far away, culturally distant, and not exposed to modernity until much later went through the same developments as everywhere else.
A nobility and bureaucracy dominated by a hereditary warrior caste steadily fell from grace as wealth and influence went to the new captains of industry and commerce.

History has its longer cycles that are greater than the parochial span of a human life.  We reach a point where all the easy gains from colonies and industry have been taken.  In a mature, saturated world, the winnings go to the strongest.  In this kind of a world, warriors and barbarians bound by clans and honor re-emerge with a vengeance.

In our present transactional utopia we think money is the source of power.  The truth is money is a manifestation of power as light and heat comes from the sun.  The light is soon extinguished without its source.  The established merchant princes thought money alone could defeat an unusual challenger in the 2016 election and to their complete astonishment they failed miserably.  Likewise, a faction of the alt-lite thought wealth and popularity alone would be enough to take over an organically-formed group with ardent devotion to a clear mission.  These foolish modern magnates are not unusual in the course of history.
If you read Spandrell’s brilliant series of essays on the Song dynasty, you will learn how a mere 1,000 horse archers was enough to conquer the wealthiest nation on earth—a huge empire of millions.  We can also consider the Italian city states, which relied heavily on mercenary armies.  They were able to fight each other to a draw but when faced with real armies from real countries they never stood a chance.

The fundamental limitation of money is that all the money in the world is worthless to a dead man.  The currency of successful organizational violence is men who are willing to risk their lives.  This is a law of the universe so primal and obvious that the wealthy and the educated are bound to forget it.  As cultures of honor and prestige again take root, the cosmopolitan bourgeois will have to accept that they are no longer the natural ruling class of society just as the lords and the samurai once had to make way for them.  Like their predecessors, they can either accept their proper place in the hierarchy from where they can contribute, or they can go down fighting against the universe itself and maybe leave behind some tragic legends if they’re lucky.

The Ruling Class: Why Changing Rulers Doesn’t Change Society

The first job of the ruler isn’t to rule well or make anybody happy.
First they have to keep themselves in power.
Next is to keep some kind of society going from day to day even if it’s a shithole, so they have something to rule over.
Finally, they have to worry about competition from other rulers.
The other stuff is mostly optional extras.

From this point of view, most rulers are actually pretty good at what they do and are on top of the pyramid for a reason.
When discontented members of the upper middle class have a successful revolution, they always try to focus on the optional extras first but find that the three fundamentals of being a ruler are deceptively difficult to achieve.
They get way ahead of themselves trying to bring about their ideal world of peace and equality but are smacked in the face with reality when they can’t keep a currency solvent, can’t settle on a stable form of government, counter-revolutionary movements start springing up within the country, and the state’s neighbors eagerly mass armies on the border to take advantage of the chaos.

The American Revolution is a remarkable exception, because it wasn’t started by jealous skilled professionals.  It was begun by a ruling class.
Because of the distance between the American colonies and Britain, a de facto ruling class rose up in the colonies.  Of course, no place can have two bodies of rulers.  The American Revolution was the conflict that resolved this contradiction.
Guys like Washington and Jefferson weren’t well-paid slaves, they were aristocrats.  They already had the experience, broad education, and mentality of mastery required to actually run a place.
We see a lot of crossroads in the early American state where unsuitable rulers would have careened from one excess to another.
Fractured into 13 weak governments, surrounded by hostile Indian nations, all the European nations circling like sharks, faced with internal revolts such as the Whiskey Rebellion and Shays’ Rebellion, with no clear center of government or finance…
They faced all the classic problems that confront yuppie revolutionaries but with their wider wisdom avoided, or at least managed to mitigate the damage of making the same mistakes.
Already aristocrats of their local regions, they were within a couple decades able to figure out what needed to be done to establish a viable state.
They even went further once they had most of the basics under control and made an attempt at fulfilling their ideological goals.
A glimpse at the dismal history of states tells us they didn’t do so bad.  They sailed through reefs riddled with wrecks and survived.

Rulers cannot wield power wantonly.  They’re forced to tread carefully and react to the realities of the world around them appropriately or they don’t stay in charge for long.
Their struggle is not to chafe under a boss, but to work against the limitations of nature.  It’s them against the world.  They can’t call the police if they have a problem, the police call them with their problems.
Ironically, the unsheltered life of the ruling class shares much in common with underclass gangsters.
While wage earners can’t comprehend the life of rulers and idolize the upper middle class, gangsters dream instead of ruling. Indeed, gangsters are opportunists always trying to set up their own shadow state right underneath the ruler’s nose.

Because rulers just do a few simple things and react to their environment to achieve those goals.  It’s up to the people to achieve those goals.
If a population is ignorant, unorganized, and easily ruled by violence, a violent state results.
If you or I rose to power in such a state, we’d do no differently out of necessity.
The USA discovered the hard way that Saddam actually governed Iraq pretty much as it ought to be governed to hold it together as one state.
If we tried to govern through softer methods when violence is more effective, someone would soon come along with no compunctions and quickly depose us.
If a population is smart, conscientious, and organized, the ruler has to drastically change his strategy to stay in power.  He encourages a relatively affluent society instead of a brutal kleptocracy not out the goodness of his heart—sentimental rulers don’t stay alive very long—but because it is more beneficial to him to have a stable, wealthy society that keeps most people content.
If we imagine the ruler as a man in the wilderness, we can suppose the weather represents the people.  The ruler merely reacts to the climate, staying in when there’s a storm or traveling when it’s sunny.  In the largest sense, every government is representative.
Peoples truly do get the government they deserve.

The problem with mass governments, is each of us is just a drop in the ocean, unable to exert any sizable influence.  But for the fear of bigger organizations, it makes a lot more sense for people to organize on a much smaller scale so the nature of their society better moves rulers to act in their interests.

The problem with revolutionaries is they try to change a people by changing the government.  The key to any real change is not the rulers, but the composition of a population.

How Trends In Education Forecast the Decline of the Roman Republic

“If we bear in mind the principles that governed the education of young men in Rome…
These derived chiefly from tradition, from the way in which the son of a country landowner gradually adapted himself to his father’s lifestyle accompanying him on journeys, observing everything he did, and then attempting to do it himself under his father’s supervision.  It amounted essentially to learning by observation and imitation…
This kind of education was continued in the city too, above all in politics, the chief sphere of activity for members of the nobility.

The nobility appreciated the importance of this largely practical patriarchal education.  This is clear from an edict issued by the censors in 92 BC, banning recently opened schools…

We have been informed that certain persons there have instituted a new kind of training for the young…the young who attend their schools are said to spend whole days in idleness.  Our ancestors determined what children should learn and what schools they should attend.  This new fashion, which is at variance with the uses and customs of our ancestors, neither pleases us nor appears to us right…

Whole days spent at school turned young noblemen into schoolboys, alienated from practical life and forced them into idleness.  Instead of being confronted as individuals with models to be emulated, they were thrown together with their own kind and with teachers.
The young gentlemen were offered little that could command their respect…
What probably told most heavily against the schools was that they estranged the young from their natural environment…

Preparation for adult life did not allow the growing boy much chance to enjoy a carefree childhood and youth.  Many demands were made on him, but this meant that at an early age he was taken seriously.”

Caesar: A Biography
Christian Meier, 1982
Excerpts taken from pages 58-60

My Commentary:
Observe how today’s education system infantilizes young adults, separates them from the adult world, and leaves them with other young people as their role models instead of mature people who’ve gone out into the world and accomplished.
The result is a petty royal court culture in schools ruled by a few top athletes and cheer leaders who’ve never done anything to earn their high stations.  What lesson does undeserved adulation for an aristocracy of useless socialites teach growing children about merit and hard work?
A republic that adopts such a system goes into decline as it slips into this indulgent debauchery, wasting its human capital before it’s even budded.

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