Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

On Sovereignty

Anomaly UK wrote a couple of weeks ago the kind of post I always want to write, but never do. It’s really good, and it touches many points that should be obvious to any interested in public policy. For example, on employment:

That isn’t wrong — within the libertarian framework it’s completely true. But I’ve left the framework behind. Political power will be gained and held by people who believe that gaining and holding power are always a first-order consideration. I hope for a government whose hold on power is so solid that it does not depend on interfering in the market for labour, but that is not relevant to any present government or any feasible near-future one. Welfare is here to stay (even if based on private charity rather than the state, it would still have market-distorting effects), and unemployment will therefore always need to be addressed.

This is so true it’s painful. It should be branded on steel on every libertarian’s thigh. Politics is not about policy, it’s about power. And power is about patronage. It has been so since at least Roman times, who gaves us the words Patron and Client. Well it happens that the powers that be today have the widest and deepest clientela of human history, one that goes starts in government, goes through the civil service, big business, the academia, the media, and then directly to the underclass, bypassing the people who actually bother to work. Game players call the sex-starved betas Average Frustrated Chumps, AFC. Well you might call those bypassed by the government patronage the OWC, Overworked White Chumps.

The point is that government doesn’t intervene in the economy because it’s evil and loves fucking around with people. The government meddles because it has to. All human organisations are ultimately about self-preservation. Governments too, they just have more resources. The government is wrecking the labor market, is wrecking education, is wrecking the legal and tax system. If we just reformed any of these, any country would become way more efficient overnight. But it’s not going to happen. Because it would endanger it.

See Anomaly on education:

Well, the education system. It’s not that it’s failing to teach people “what they need to get jobs”. Rather, the purposeless and ineffective attempts to control unacademic children are actively teaching them not to work. Being forced to do schoolwork is a fairly crappy training for doing real work, but today the bottom stratum aren’t even getting that training. The result is they’re unemployable, not for lack of skill so much as lack of socialisation. It may be only a few percent, but the risk to the employer of getting one of them, and the costs if you do, push a large swathe of the lower classes out of employability.

(…)
The education system doesn’t need to be improved, it just needs to be in large part abolished. Actually doing useful work, for the family or for someone else, is not only a better preparation for being a useful adult than our schools are, it’s probably a good deal more personally satisfying and rewarding as well. The norm should be for people to be in full-time employment by the age of 16, and 13 or 14 is probably a good idea in a lot of cases.

All very true. But government can’t and won’t get its paws out of the education system. Public education is the perfect propaganda mechanism. And the government needs it for its survival. Imagine that education is privatised and totally liberalised, schools can teach what they will. Who is to stop the market into consolidating? Say 30% of schools go libertarian and teach the morals of not paying your taxes? Or say Bill Gates spent his money in building a school network that taught the virtues of charity and blasted the government for not doing more about it.

Japan, before the war, had a huge problem with its education system, which in the same way as today is full of liberals,  was full of fascists preaching the virtue of killing for the emperor. The government in that day was your run-of-the-mill racket of corrupt country politicians and pork barrel. Educated soldiers found it proper to go on a killing spree until the government yielded power to the army. Also see what Roman laissez-faire policy on religion did to them.

Once it was established empirically that people do as they are told, and that consistent repetition of the message is sufficient to have the populace at large believe something, it became obvious that government has to control education and the media if it is to survive. Which means it must add all education and media workers to the patronage network.

it was easier back then

As I wrote before, politics today is intrinsically unstable, as agitation using modern technology is very easy. See my first quote of Anomaly: Political power will be gained and held by people who believe that gaining and holding power are always a first-order consideration. Well it follows that the incumbent’s first-order consideration is to stop other like-minded people from taking that power from them. For 100 years the socialist movement was a pain in the ass for all governments around the world.  People who believe that gaining and holding power are always a first-order consideration, i.e. professional agitators went around inciting the workforce to disobey their governments and take power. The USSR had them all well funded and ready to do its bidding. The way government reacted was by intervening in the job market, creating artificial job security and artificially high pay, plus the whole welfare system. The alternative was takeover by the mob. Sovereignty counts for shit when the people refuse to obey you.

Then the agitators switched to incite blacks and women. Government then reacted by giving them artificial jobs and inserting them too in the patronage network. Why didn’t they resist?, you ask. Why should they? They had money to spare. And they don’t have arguments to fight it, anyway. The civic religion is equality, one person, one vote. Who’s to say that women shouldn’t be CEOs? Or that blacks shouldn’t head NASA? Science? Science doesn’t vote. Any patronage network is happily willing to add more members to its support base, as it makes it stronger. See how fast fags have been let in. Of course a horizontal patronage network including 50%+ of society, which we call socialism, only works until the money runs out. Which is quickly doing.

Education and labor would work much better if we let the market clear, but we can’t let that happen. Even if the Antiversity took over, it would have to tightly control education, justice administration and the labor market, if only to keep liberals out of it.

Of course if 19th century technology makes agitation much easier, and sovereignty weaker, 21st century technology is quickly fighting back. China is leading the fight against “public” opinion, but it’s not being easy. If surveillance and online profiling keeps growing at the present rate, we might see very soon a government whose hold on power is so solid that it does not depend on interfering in the market for labour. But do we really want that? I wonder. It can’t be worse than what we have now, can it?

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13 responses to “On Sovereignty

  1. nydwracu May 6, 2012 at 08:13

    There is a theory of the policy process that states that organizations have no knowledge of either the problems on the ground or the necessary solutions, limited rationality, a vague metric for judging their success, and few, if any, goals other than keeping themselves running.

    My policy professor regularly insisted that, with the exception of large-scale government projects like Social Security, this is the model that most institutions — not just governments, but even the college! — operate on. And I would have to agree.

    • spandrell May 6, 2012 at 11:04

      That’s old as sin, and very true. But we all keep doing the same mistake of believing that a noble king will solve all our problems. It doesn’t work like that.

      • nydwracu May 6, 2012 at 11:44

        Right. A hierarchical system that isn’t deluded is rare, if not impossible. Robert Anton Wilson got that one right, but true anarchism is effectively impossible, so we just have to accept that there’s no real solution, and figure out how to make things marginally less broken.

      • Anomaly UK May 7, 2012 at 08:40

        The snafu principle is always around, but there are means of treating it: mostly using organizations that are temporary and ad-hoc. It’s giving power to an organisation per se that causes it to metastasize.

        The noble king to solve all our problems has been out of fashion for three centuries; now we seem to believe that the right organizational arrangement will solve all our problems. But that always involves giving power to an institution which will then grow the pathologies of hierarchy without limit. I’d say we’ve got to the point now where even a bad king would be an improvement.

  2. asdf May 7, 2012 at 14:14

    I think one reason I don’t hate government is I’ve found being a beuracrat no less dysfuctional then when I worked for a giant private megacorp.

      • asdf May 8, 2012 at 03:49

        Large megacorps are about corporate politics. Most effort goes into that. Their business decisions are mostly idiotic, and they are usually just existing on the economies of scale and market power created by the organization a long time ago that are decaying.

        At my large megacorp my pay was based on politics and the overall economy. As a bureaucrat my pay is based on politics and the overall economy.

        At my large megacorp projects were implemented at a terribly slow pace, then often canceled or changed years in because the winds had shifted. In the government more of the same.

        Need I go on?

  3. Vladimir May 8, 2012 at 01:34

    Well it happens that the powers that be today have the widest and deepest clientela of human history, one that goes starts in government, goes through the civil service, big business, the academia, the media, and then directly to the underclass, bypassing the people who actually bother to work.

    That’s not true. To be sure, in any system of transfers, by sheer math there must be some parties that are net losers. However, practically nobody today is innocent of patronage and rent-seeking. Just to be able to participate in any productive and useful work, you need an immense amount of patronage and rent-seeking to establish yourself and subsequently remain competitive in it. Moreover, the welfare state, the education bureaucracy, etc., etc., have plenty of programs aimed at productive middle classes, and these are enthusiastically embraced by everyone except for a tiny libertarian fringe. (And even the latter will take advantage of them simply because it’s impossible to stay afloat without entangling yourself with the system.)

    So, the situation is in an important sense much worse than you suggest, and this is an additional reason why libertarian politics is a non-starter. (Come to think of it, the situation is well exemplified by that Tea Party sign that read “Keep the government out of my Medicare!” For once, I had to concede that the subsequent jeering of leftists had a point, and given the reality of the right side of the mainstream public opinion, they would in fact have a point even if the sign wasn’t genuine.)

    • spandrell May 8, 2012 at 02:06

      “Just to be able to participate in any productive and useful work, you need an immense amount of patronage”

      While I concede the point that nobody is innocent, the combination in your sentence of “just” and “immense” sounds a bit exaggerated to me. Immense amount of patronage is what Obama got, not what your average plumber or programmer needed to get a job.

      • asdf May 8, 2012 at 03:51

        The programmer has a job because the government created the internet and funded all the basic R&D research that makes his entire economic sector exist.

        The plumber may be licensed and bonded in many states, limited labor supply and increasing his wage. Also, immigration laws restrict competition with his labor.

  4. spandrell May 8, 2012 at 10:47

    On corporations vis a vis government,

    China has arguably rationalized the system. All megacorporations are state owned. Promotions et al. of course depend on politics and not economic efficiency. They are lionised daily by the Economist crowd, but as asdf say there may be is little real difference.

    re: everybody being inside the system, well, ok. But I still think there’s a meaningful difference between the IT business and the education racket. The mechanism by which the government “invented” the internet are of a different nature than that of the self-reproducing bureaucratic hydra.

    The East India Company conquered India. Of course it was a government granted monopoly. But that doesn’t mean that the British government conquered the place. In fact when the government did take over, the economics of the whole business changed immensely. Any definition of government that doesn’t take that into account isn’t useful.

    • asdf May 8, 2012 at 13:30

      I grant all this. I just think its folly to divide people into parasites/producers when nearly every sector and every job is in some way a parasite and a producer. For instance, I considered myself more of a parasite in the private sector (where I did no good) then the public sector (where I try and occasionally succeed at doing good).

      I guess I’m just bitter because everytime someone tries to “shrink” government it usually means penny wise pound foolish bullshit and a lot of “privatization” that turns out to be ways for contractors to rip us off big time. I’ve yet to see a reform that helped more then it hurt. Most people here just want to do their jobs like anyone else.

      • spandrell May 8, 2012 at 15:14

        This reminds me of this post at Alrenous’ http://alrenous.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/psychological-egoism-is-true-and-it.html

        Of course a deeper analysis makes clear cut good/evil categories to be more nuanced. Sure. Of course the system is very complex and many people are doing both good and evil. Sure. But that’s like saying that women aren’t shorter than men because Sally is taller than me.

        The fact is that some people are objectively parasites who are leeching vastly more than what they produce. Programmers working on a industry built by the Pentagon doesn’t mean that QUANGO workers are parasites who don’t deserve they paycheck, while a manufacturing programmer is doing productive work.
        We need a conceptual framework that tells one from the other. It probably isn’t as simple as public vs private sector. It must include most government agencies + the financial racket + the education racket + the defence racket + the management of big corporations. You name it.

        But not everyone is actively working for the survival of the Cathedral.

        I understand that you get to see more of the system than the average private sector worker, and you don’t believe yourself to be evil.
        Well I have no doubt that in a better world the government would be stripped of its superfluous functions and you would be a noble worker for the common good. But in the world we are in, the 98% of public servants are doing harm.

        OTOH I agree on your frustrations against “reform”. Hey, you have first hand info, make a nice blog post and give us some data. The Antiversity needs people like you. The truth needs to get out.

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