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The Social Module

It’s common now among scientists of the brain to propose that the brain is made out of separate modules, which receive input, process it, and produce an output, often in the form of behavior. If you’ve read any Haidt or Pinker you know what I’m talking about.

Letting aside the question of whether the brain actually works like that, even if we understand the idea of “module” as metaphorical, it does seem to be a productive framework.

Imagine that human beings all have a number floating above their heads. Like the HP floats above a character on a RPG or a strategy videogame. Let’s say it’s a three-figure number. That’s your Status Points. It’s more of an ordinal system; 001 means you’re awesome, 999 means you’re some omega piece of shit.

Now, we can’t actually see that number (maybe we could in the lost ancient Golden Age of Magic); but we have a pretty good feeling for it. For all purposes a big chunk of a brain is dedicated to perceiving this number in oneself and in others. Some people are better, some are worse, there’s a bell curve of SP perception. But all humans are pretty good at that.

The number isn’t quite fixed. It hovers around a certain range, depending on the social circle you are at on a given moment. We all know people who are alpha at work and beta at home, people who are bullied at school but high status with a different group of friends. The SP number hovering around your head changes in these circumstances, and everybody else is able to perceive it, and act upon that knowledge.

Now one could propose that the basic principle of human behavior is to raise the SP number. Sure there’s survival and reproduction. Most people would forget all their socialization if left hungry and thirsty for days in the jungle. But more often than not, survival and reproduction depend on being high status; having a good name among your peers is the best way to get food, housing and hot mates.

The way to raise one’s SP number depends on thousands of different factors. We could grab most of them and call them “culture”. In China having 20 teenage mistresses as an old man raises your SP; in Western polite society it is social death. In the West making a fuss about disobeying one’s parents raises your SP, everywhere else it lowers it a great deal. People know that; which is why bureaucrats in China go to great lengths to acquire a stash of young women (who they seldom have time to actually enjoy), while teenagers in the West go to great lengths to be annoying to their parents for no good reason.

There are other modules in the brain; one allows you to see, another to hear, another to recognize faces, another to find your way home, another to make accurate predictions about reality. All of those are useful, which is why we evolved them in the first place. Brain tissue is expensive. But the SP optimization module likely has higher priority. It is nice to see; but blind people can make a living. It’s important to recognize faces; but face blind people can make a living. Being unable to appraise one’s status and try to improve, however, leads to likely social death, and human groups being what they are, social death leads with almost complete certainty to bullying, scapegoating, and eventual death. In the best of cases you are ostracized and sent to starve or be eaten by wild animals in the forest.

It thus shouldn’t surprise us that something as completely absurd as Progressivism is the law of the land in most of the world today, even though it denies obvious reality. It is not the case that most people know that progressive points are all bogus, but obey because of fear or cowardice. No, an average human brain has much more neurons being used to scan the social climate and see how SP are allotted, than neurons being used to analyze patterns in reality to ascertain the truth. Surely your brain does care a great deal about truth in some very narrow areas of concern to you. Remember Conquest’s first law: Everybody is Conservative about what he knows best. You have to know the truth about what you do, if you are to do it effectively.

But you don’t really care about truth anywhere else. And why would you? It takes time and effort you can’t really spare, and it’s not really necessary. As long as you have some area of specialization where you can make a living, all the rest you must do to achieve survival and reproduction is to raise your SP so you don’t get killed and your guts sacrificed to the mountain spirits.

SP theory (I accept suggestions for a better name) can also explains the behavior of leftists. Many conservatives of a medium level of enlightenment point out the paradox that leftists historically have held completely different ideas. Leftism used to be about the livelihood of industrial workers, now they agitate about the environment, or feminism, or foreigners. Some people would say that’s just historical change, or pull a No True Scotsman about this or that group not being really leftists. But that’s transparent bullshit; very often we see a single person shifting from agitating about Communism and worker rights, to agitate about global warming or rape culture.

Most people, including leftists themselves, perceive those different movements with completely unrelated ideas to be the same thing, i.e. “leftism”. There’s good reason for that; this feeling is not the output of a logic module; it’s the output of our SP module. We unconsciously classify people according to their character. “Character” is what we call consistent patterns of behavior. A large, if not the largest part of human behavior is SP maximization. It follows that what we call “leftism” is a particular strategy of SP maximization, used by a proportion of the population in all countries and cultures.

The leftist strategy could be defined as “psychopathic SP maximization”. Leftists attempt to destroy social equilibrium so that they can raise their SP number. If humans are, in a sense, programmed to constantly raise their status, well high status people by definition can’t raise it anymore (though they can squabble against each other for marginal gains), their best strategy is to freeze society in place so that they can enjoy their superiority. High status people by definition have power, and thus social hierarchy during human history tends to be quite stable.

This goes against the interests of many. First of all the lower status people, who, well, want to raise their status, but can’t manage to do so. And it also goes against the interests of the particularly annoying members of the upper class who want to raise their status on the margin. Conservative people can be defined as those who, no matter the absolute level, are in general happy with it. This doesn’t mean they don’t want higher status (by definition all humans do), but the output of other brain modules may conclude that attempts to raise SP might threaten one’s survival and reproduction; or just that the chances of raising one’s individual SP is hopeless, so one might as well stay put.

Leftists have a raging desire to raise SP, one which overpowers all other modules, and which doesn’t care much about risk assessment. Thus they seek to agitate to destroy the current social equilibriums, both local and wider, by any means possible. If agitation by lower class leftists reaches some momentum, they may ally with the upper class leftists (marginal SP seekers) and actually pull off a revolution.

Again the particular content of their ideas is completely irrelevant. As it happens, humans evolved in fairly egalitarian forager groups, so egalitarianism always has a pleasant feeling for many. In Western society, a tradition of Christian doctrine and state-church conflict meant that individualist egalitarianism also has religious backing, so leftists (sociopathic status seekers, S3) had so much material to work with.

The populace will agree or disagree with leftist agitation to the extent that their SP modules compute that they can raise their status by doing so. At first, most people might find it better to stay loyal to the system. Some may have proclaimed their commitment in the past, and thus would look very sneaky if they defected. Most would just think there’s little chance of actual change, so why risk it.

Once momentum rises though, the best strategy is to join the party before it’s too late. Of course this may not necessarily raise your status. The leftists may have coordinated among an idea that makes you evil. They may have coordinated among a set of rituals that you find repulsive. You might have committed in the past very strongly to principles that go against leftist ideas, and you can’t pull off a reversal. Even if you just went for it and lied your way in, eventually the purges will begin and you’ll be the first one shot. Which is why not everybody becomes a leftist; it’s not always a good individual strategy. I’m sure all my readers can relate to this.

Now, anti-social agitation is generally a one-off event, a rebellion, perhaps a long war or a revolution. The modern West, though, is very wealthy, and has been able to afford constant agitation for quite some time. Under this circumstances, the little radio in our brains which tells us how to optimize our status have a hard time keeping up. What people do is extract some abstract schema of what is high status now, and what leftist agitators are shouting about. The best strategy is to adopt some vague keywords from the conventional wisdom, and proclaim one’s loyalty to that, while leaving the door open for plausible innovations by new leftists. So yes! Racism is evil. Feminism is great! Global warming is a serious problem! Transsexuals? Well, I don’t know. But we’re a free country, right? Oh, you mean Bruce Jenner is on drag in the NYT? Transsexuals are awesome! Pedophiles? Well… people can’t choose their orientation… I think.

You can’t blame people for being logically inconsistent; because they can’t possibly know anything about all these issues. Few have any experience or knowledge about evolution and human races, or about the history of black people to make an informed judgment on HBD. Few have time to learn about sex differences, and stuff like the climate is as close to unknowable as there is. Opinions about anything but a very narrow area of expertise are always output of your SP module, not any judgment of fact. People don’t know the facts. And even when they know; I mean most people have enough experience with sex differences and black dysfunction to be quite confident that progressive ideas are false. But you can never be sure. As Hume said, the laws of physics are a judgment of habit; who is to say that a genie isn’t going to change all you know the next morning? At any rate, you’re always better off toeing the line, following the conventional wisdom, and keeping your dear SP. Perhaps you can even raise them a bit. And that is very nice. It is niceness itself.

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50 responses to “The Social Module

  1. Pingback: The Social Module | Neoreactive

  2. Lee October 9, 2015 at 19:39

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines recently. In short, the right specialises in inter-tribal competition, and the left specialises in intra-tribal competition.

    • spandrell October 9, 2015 at 19:56

      The right isn’t competing. At most it’s busy trying to keep the losers down.

    • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:18

      Excellent point. I see exactly the same. A good example is the early 20th century, Communism / Socialism was about class struggle and explicitly against nationalism, while most right-wingers in Europe were nationalists who disliked Communism precisely because it is divisive.

      The major problem in the Anglosphere and amongst intellectual conservatives is that they find nationalism and suchlike distasteful. So you can find these really fine guys like Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott or Irving Kristol forever analysing why the Left just wants so much intra-society conflict. And they come accross they just want peace and social harmony instead. Read them and it looks like conservatism just means harmony.

      But of course it is wrong. The only way to unite a society is against an external enemy. Internal leftie divisiveness happens because there is no credible external threat.

      So basically what would for the conservatives is nationalistic flag-waving and hating on some neighbor country. That would end these internal fights.

      But of course Edmund Burke and Michael Oakeshott and Irving Kristol and Bill Buckley and suchlike were truly nice guys and would have found something like that horribly distasteful.

      Which is fine, but it also means they completely missed the point of what causes all this.

  3. Leonard October 9, 2015 at 20:34

    A few thoughts on this.

    First, we know that Europeans, or at least Brits, have experienced centuries of selection in Malthusian conditions, where the population was gradually replaced by the downwardly-mobile surplus children of the upper classes. Presumably this sort of selection would select for, among other things, stronger SP modules. We might thus expect to see leftism be more pronounced in Europeans than other races. Not sure where the East Asian peoples came from in this regard.

    Second, it might be interesting to study people on the autism spectrum who nonetheless have a strong SP module. That is, they don’t intuitively understand people and status, but they want status nonetheless. Is there such a thing? What do these people do besides (when they end up at 999) shoot up schools?

    Finally it’s worth pondering the relationship of the SP module to reactionaries. Some of us are probably just autistic, but I think many are quite sensitive to status — we all use pseuds, for example. So are we broken in some sense, SP-wise? Or just playing the long-shot game? (This does seem true to me since IRL I am quite risk-averse.)

    • spandrell October 10, 2015 at 01:14

      1. I’m not sure how Malthusian conditions matter that much. Surely people have been nasty to dissenters in the ingroup forever. If anything what matters is how tight the ingroup has been historically. There’s an old argument about how rice farming requires far more group coordination than wheat farming, thus Asians have been bred for conformity.

      If anything leftism in Europe has been stronger because of our tolerance for individual strivers. Anywhere else a Luther or a Rousseau would have been hanged as a teenager for disturbing the peace.

      3. Well I can only speak for myself, but I’ve always been on the wrong side of leftist arguments because of family background and temperament. I’m quite certain I’d lose status for every leftist advance, so opposing it does fit a status maximization strategy. And at any rate I’m too committed now to defect without losing my reputation.

      • Azn October 10, 2015 at 14:02

        I’m from Singapore. We are supposed to be the most pragmatic, sensible, realistic, common sense-driven, right-wing society there is.
        Guess what? We are generating, spontaneously it seems, ex nihilio, a crop of retarded leftist bastards spewing nonsensical social justice crap. Spandrell has of course heard of Amos Yee, just to name an example. So to answer Leonard’s question, autists pursuing sp become SJWs too.
        Anyway China had the great leap forward and the cultural revolution, and that’s just in recent history, so east asians are absolutely capable of massive left-driven insanity.
        But my wider point is that leftism happens to everyone. Its a dark and insidious rot driven by status seeking or pride, if you prefer.
        I found my way here from Heartiste. It’s sad, because they used to have really good comments and now a few idiots drown all conversations blaming “the jews” for everything wrong with the west. Its crazy.
        I think spandrell’s right on the money. Leftist SJW behavior is status seeking pure and simple. SJWs want power, period. Chinese will screw Chinese to get ahead. Whites will throw whites under the bus to get ahead. People want status and they’ll do anything for it, race and other identity markers are an afterthought. I guess that’s what the metaphors of Luciferian pride and original sin are really all about.

        • spandrell October 10, 2015 at 15:17

          Welcome here. Do call your friends in, and check out the archives. I’ve written some on Singapore, and I believe my post on the Cultural Revolution was linked up at heartiste.

          How bad is the SJW scene over there? Amos Yee was annoying but it seems he’s been taken care of.

          • Azn October 11, 2015 at 07:03

            The good news, its not that bad. The bad news is, its following the same pattern as in Euro societies – self righteous, wilfully naive (or in deliberately denial?) folks basically pushing marginal interests. And the tone, which you cannot prove, but you can hear, is not humility, “this is good for all of us”. It is pride: “it should be done this way! Because. Listen to ME”. Just like the slutwalk feminists. Same all over the world.
            No blog, but been through all your archives – good stuff!

            • spandrell October 11, 2015 at 07:55

              Thanks.

              In Singapore being a self-righteous asshole might, maybe, perhaps, if some day USG decides to crack down on Singapore, get you high status and some hot chick.

              The alternative is being yet another beta corporate drone without much hope of future status; at least for their particular kind of loud annoying personality, which is of course not very valued in corporate Asia. So going SJW is not a bad bet given what the Cathedral is publishing these days. Worst case you get the State Department to sponsor a visa to the US to work in some agit-prop nonprofit racket, which at least suits their personality.

              I think it’s brilliant of the Singapore government to deal with agitators not by imprisoning them, but by suing them for money. Prison gets you Cathedral attention and a cool heroic past as a brave fighter against injustice. Being in debt only makes you poor and forces you to ask others for money, which is completely uncool.

        • James Wentworth October 15, 2015 at 20:31

          Singapore has had people agitating for democracy for years, by complaining that the government doesn’t care about equality, though this seems to be pursuit of power directly rather than status.

          “Whites will throw whites under the bus to get ahead.”
          I’ve thought this about WW1. Instead of fighting each other during WW1, it would have been better for the Germans and English to go on conquering the world together.
          One can view this as a coordination problem.

          • spandrell October 16, 2015 at 05:10

            Conquering the world at that stage was a notoriously bad business proposition. All Empires were bleeding money at that stage; Bismarck didn’t want one for that very reason. Germany’s strategy was sound.

        • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:44

          See my longer comment. SJW behavior is better described as destroying status hierarchies than gaining status. For example about gay marriage they are always like “nobody should be a second class citizen, equal respect and consideration for all” so this translates to “no status difference between straights and gays” not “more status to me”.

    • peppermint7889 October 12, 2015 at 22:56

      The mainstreaming of red pill may indicate White men discovering that leftist signaling does not help them, and therefore giving up on it. Perhaps my posting career could be described as reaching the pinnacle of what I could have as a leftist, wanting more, and shitposting. I thought I was just being autistic and following the consistency of the ideas, but, other autistics are SJWs, and I make no attempt at probing the consistency of their ideas, because I know they’ll hate me for exposing their doublethink.

      Spandrell, did you just back up Jim’s claim that capitalism is more important than nationalism by fleshing out the case that only the best will ever be willing much less able to understand anything, and explicit nationalism has calls for plebiscite as an unacceptably easy schelling point?

      • spandrell October 12, 2015 at 23:25

        I think so too. Some people just aren’t very good at SJW, even the mild mainstream version. It seems women have monopolized it, so large amounts of men just feel silly by parroting what’s supposed to be normal.

        To the extent that there can be a clear cut choice between capitalism and nationalism, it’s only as a standard bearer of an internet movement of dissenters of progressivism.

        Nationalism as a Schelling point for internet heretics necessarily derivates into Nazism, which is generally unpopular, and in many places illegal.

        Capitalism as a Schelling point usually produces libertarians, who last time I checked were quickly pozzing themselves into support of gaymarriage and open borders.

        So I don’t know which is more important.

        • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 16:04

          Redpill Manospherical masculine stuff are useful Schelling points, because on the instinctive level it forms the base of most other forms of rightie leanings. Pro-capitalist sentiments are often like “grow some balls, earn your living, don’t whine for a handout”, while nationalist sentiments are often like “grow some balls, be loyal to your tribe, protect it like a tru warrior”.

          This is why #cuckservative is an extremely clever devastating psychological superweapon. Whoever came up with it attacked the insecurities of moderate cons extremely well.

          But basically I think if a person or a community emits messages like “don’t have betafag politics” it works as this kind of Schelling point.

          But it can derivate into ridiculousness, as this attitude can often be very, very anti-intellectual and downright dumb, and into the kinds of PUA antics or let’s-all-moan-how-horrible-women-are which is roughly why I tend to not get too deeply involved in the Manosphere / Red Pill myself.

      • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:57

        But look at how on Reddit, predominantly white male, how much RP is hated. Just being associated with that sub in your comment history makes you a pariah and the ugliest thing is you reply to a neutral topic and someone shouts “watch out this pariah is a redpiller!” and while RP gets following, they are still minority. These white male SJWs stil outnumber them 10:1.

        It takes courage to join something hated and most betas today don’t have much.

        About your posting career, you often sound like a white nationalist on Jims, and I dunno, to me that sounds both in the mainstream’s eyes and in my own far more extreme than red pill, tradcon, religious con, social con, anarchocapitalist, or monarchist reactionary ideas, which I myself tend to support. To me someone wanting to restore the Inquisition under an absolute monarch would still sound far more moderate and less extreme than someone who doesn’t like a black guy provided he is well adjusted and classy and good at “acting white”. . But it may just be me. I don’t know. I like Singapore style race-blind rightiness. And I like to have some smart J’s around. Like Yudkowsky. To me my own skin color never mattered, although my nationality, ethnicity, patriotic loyalty to my small country did. Again, it is possible that the dynamics are totally different in the US but still I would far more be ingroup with people who are white inside, no matter their outside color, than the other way around. I would be certainly ingroup with Thomas Sowell and Condie Rice.

    • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:40

      >Second, it might be interesting to study people on the autism spectrum who nonetheless have a strong SP module.

      I may qualify. I would say, my status dreams – I was never stupid enough to actually do this – were always very overt while those of more extroverts or neurotypicals are more covert. At 16 I just wanted to be the kind of rich playboy who does nothing bit ridiculously pimps his richiness around. Huge gold chains, Leisure Suit Larry clothes, pink Cadillac, cocktails, and at least two women for an evening. I had no idea if such things are actually considered cool or not, I picked it up from the above mentioned videogame and some movies.

      At 36, part of my reactionary desire is because in old societies status was so simple and unambigous. It would be what you write in front of your name: the title. “freeman” or “guildsman” or “guildmaster” or “freiherr” or you name it. Even if mine was low, at least I would know exactly where I stand.

      I think one autistic trait is to dislike fluid status competitions: it is OK if it is lower, although of course not the lowest, but make it 100% clear, write a title on a piece of paper, write on my door, put insignia on my uniform, make it clear and unambigous. This is why I like the idea of the military. Zero context culture, everything is clearly defined.

    • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:42

      > have experienced centuries of selection in Malthusian conditions, where the population was gradually replaced by the downwardly-mobile surplus children of the upper classes. Presumably this sort of selection would select for, among other things, stronger SP modules.

      No, it was a fairly rigid hierarchy, not much SP competition. You can be a super cool peasant and you still cannot outcool a noble.

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  6. infowarrior1 October 18, 2015 at 07:08

    SJW due to their individual inability to compete would be highly attuned to status as well as having a strong aversion to being outgrouped consistent with their r-selected nature.

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  8. TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:10

    Dear Spandrell,

    This is one of the most positive developments in the last 10 years that SP theory got popular, we are seeing it everywhere, Less Wrong, Overcoming Bias, Manosphere / Red Pill, and this is is a truly predictive one. Basically one grand theory used to be the utility or money maximizing homo oeconomicus, now we have a better theory, homo praestigiosus, and the homo economicus is just a subset of that: when prestige can be bought with money.

    Nice to see you are working on it, too. We should have a conference or something.

    But I must disagree with this:

    >Most people, including leftists themselves, perceive those different movements with completely unrelated ideas to be the same thing, i.e. “leftism”. There’s good reason for that; this feeling is not the output of a logic module; it’s the output of our SP module.

    >The leftist strategy could be defined as “psychopathic SP maximization”. Leftists attempt to destroy social equilibrium so that they can raise their SP number. If humans are, in a sense, programmed to constantly raise their status, well high status people by definition can’t raise it anymore (though they can squabble against each other for marginal gains),

    I don’t think this is how we detect it. The way we detect it is that Leftists constantly engage in one kind of egalitarianism or another. So they are saying clear and loud that there should not be any status differences in people or this or that particular type not.

    This used to be more hidden in the past, more clear today. Like they are for gay marriage not because marriage is that useful for gays but because “nobody should be treated like a second class citizen”. So they are trying to destroy the status difference between straights and gays, for example. They are trying to elevate the gays status.

    So the essence of Leftism, at least on the surface, is not to gain status but to destroy status differences: equality.

    Now it is possible that in the background it is a way of them to gain status. But that is less obvious, that is more hidden and conspiratorial.

    I mean, the point is, one should focus on the more visible part because if you focus on the less visible part, many readers will not get what are you talking about.

    The more visible part is destroying status difference, the less visible is gaining status this way.

    For example for the visible part, in the Leftist lingo an “asshole” is defined as someone who openly declares that someone else has lower status than himself. E.g. “fat people are disgusting”.

    So their most visible commandment is thou shalt not have a status difference or not express it.

    Now the more hidden part can be that they want to gain status for themselves. But I mean is this so obvious? Is this even working? Do the Tumblr feminists look high status?

    What if there is no hidden motive and Leftists really truly just want to destroy status hierarchies, because they really suck at that game? What if they are more interested in really destroying it, and not a hidden motive to gain status?

    What if both? What if there are multiple scales of status, and by destroying S1 they can gain status in S2?

    But anyway the more visible part is status difference destroying, not status gain.

    • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 15:13

      To make the difference clear, your theory says “gay marriage yay” means “more status to me because I am so enlightened”.

      But evidence shows (the kind of evidence of how they talk”) that it actually means “no status difference between straights and gays, destroy that difference, equal respect and consideration no second class citizens etc.”)

      Perhaps, it is possible that by destroying status difference on one scale, they can gain status on another one.

      But it is a stretch. Occam says a simpler theory will do: they don’t want to gain status. They know they suck at status games so they want to destroy status difference in general.

      • spandrell October 21, 2015 at 15:34

        I can’t agree. Look what they do, not what they say. They obviously mean “more status to me because I am so enlightened”. And they very obviously mean “less status to you, because you are not enlightened”.

        If the theory is to make evolutionary sense, the behavior has to be personally advantageous at some level. Status is also local. A Tumblr feminist may not be getting into Harvard; but they are creating their own internet bubble, inside which they are quite high status, or they fool themselves into thinking they are. Arthur Chu is still a repulsively ugly troll, but his activism surely has made him higher status than he would be as a normal omega nerd.

        Egalitarianism exists everywhere, especially in small groups. It’s the human default; we evolved in egalitarian bands of hunters. The best way to motivate people to work hard is to assure them that the status spoils will be shared equally, i.e. their SP (which are ordinal, zero-sum) can’t possibly fall. Everybody does that, in every culture on earth.

        But Western Leftism is distinct from this natural impulse. For a modern leftist egalitarianism is a means, not an end. The same sort of people in a different culture behaves in the exact same way but arguing for different principle. An Islamic leftist (under this definition) goes full-retard on Salafism. A 1930 German one goes rabid Nazi. A 17th century one starts finding witches everywhere and making a fuss of it. It’s the same impulse.

        • TheDividualist October 21, 2015 at 16:22

          I understand, but I don’ think it is reasonable to approach politics so to flat out ignore everything the opponent says especially when they are winning with it. They drop something like “gays shall not be second class citizens” on Reddit and get so many upvotes it is ridiculous, it cannot just be ignored and focusing on some hidden message behind it.

          I mean, of course one can just see it as a marketing message, a slogan. Like a corporation having a slogan like Just Do It, but their real goal is profitability. But that is clear out in the open. To think the stuff so many bright people agree to are insincere advertising slogans and the real motives are far more hidden is a bit too paranoid for me.

          You are certainly right about the need for personal advantage, but that is the point: to someone who sucks at status games, simply destroying status hierarchies is advantageous.

          Hence Occam. Hence the simpler hypothesis, without the unnecessary multiplication of ulterior motives: we can assume egalitarianism is honest and not just a slogan, and still it is something advantageous to them: they have below-average status, so if everybody gets equal status that benefits them.

          Or split the left in two groups. One really has this motive, to gain power. But only a minority. But their followers can be seen as just lazy people who have below average status and want average one without earning it, and thus they support destroying and equalizing status hierarchies.

          Consider your typical ugly fat feminist. Why should she want especially high status? The simpler hypothesis is, that by destroying the status advantage of attractive women, and thus having equal status, is something that benefits her.

          And this theory requires less ulterior motives assumption and we can think their egalitarian motives are not just slogans but it is what they really want – at least the followers. The leaders not necessarily.

          So this theory explains this with less potential for bugs.

          I don’t really understand natural HG egalitarianism. As far as I can tell since agriculture culture changed so much and perhaps genes too, that it does not feel natural anymore. Even Soviets wanted to manufacture high status workers, the Stakhanovites. Why would equality be a better way to motivate people than to lionize the best worker and make all the others try to compete with him? From McDonalds to generic capitalism to Stakhanovites, competition works better.

          The modern Western version of the Salafist or Nazi was the Communist, the Old Left in the pre-1960’s sense. Same ideological purity move. I largely mean guys like Sartre or Foucault.

          But the 1968 New Left changed things. Amongst the hippies, you see not so much this gain but this destroying. Tune on, turn in, drop out. Egalitarian communes. It is closer to “i am too lazy to compete for status so just give me equal status” than “all status to me”.

          The New Left is a very different phenomenon from the older Gnostics hell bent on establishing a rule of the pure. It is far lazier. It likes losers far too much. It always finds the utterly useless folks and valorizes them.

          So the Old Left could have been a brutal status game, but the New Left is more like Nietzsche’s ressentiment of the failures, slave morality thing.

          I am not a Nietzsche fan, but the slave morality thing predicts the New Left well. A Leninist all power to me is still a Herrenmoral, albeit perverted. A lazy hippi “no status to no one, as I don’t feel like fighting for it” is closer to Nietzsche’s slave morale.

          • spandrell October 21, 2015 at 17:47

            I am not multiplying entities; I am simplifying the model, in that all signaling is done to maximize SP, and leftist signaling is just agressive SP maximization.

            Leftists don’t stop at status equalization. Once you decriminalize sodomy; then you must “normalize” it; then they are on every single sitcom on earth; then they have lewd parades on every city; then they marry; then it’s illegal to deny them a cake, while it’s completely legal to deny it to anyone else.

            Now it’s those who oppose sodomy who are second class citizens; and SJW brought this to happen, so they are victorious, higher SP than you.

            This is only natural if human brains are program for behavior that maximizes SP. At first you need to bring the higher status down. But once they’re down, you need to raise yourself over them.

            • TheDividualist October 22, 2015 at 08:25

              Sorry for my obstinacy, but I just think it is important to optimize strategy properly against status-grabbing vs. status-destroying. Like, if you would design a car that is hard to steal, if I think cars are burned down more often than stolen, I had to be a bit obstinate about that. So let me try another angle.

              Status Points are somewhat like an economy with transactions and currency, right? SJWery is like socialism in that sort of economy? So we can draw paralells with actual economic socialism? So far agreed?

              The two major ingredients of economic socialism are 1) a small group of power hungry people 2) a large group of gimmedats.

              Who are more important? I think the second. They generate the consumer demand for such a policy. And the power-mongers policy will be largely focused on satisfying that demand in order to keep support. You as a citizen of a socialist country are more affected by gimmedattery than by power-mongery. And if you want to fight it, you probably need to somehow turn off that consumer demand for gimmedattery, instead of hunting down every power-hungry group, because as long as demand exists, someone will try to grab power by satisfying it.

              I absolutely agree that if someone has low status, demanding equal status (no status hierarchy) is a handy first step, and then they can focus on getting more than equal status. I just think the equal status demand is the actually powerful political weapon. This is what garners support. This is what is important for optimizing counter-strategy.

              I think once a lower status group gets equal, they start to run out of steam anyway because they lose the support. They just cannot really grab compassion by sob stories anymore, and they cannot garner support through “justice” outrages, right? Example 1 white male socialist unionized working class Example 2 how SJWs tend to now turn slowly against “cis gays” – “too privileged” compared to trans etc. Example 3 Euro elites warning women not to sexually provoke immigrants. This is basically a multiculturalism > feminism move, perhaps because middle class native European women are already seen as more privileged than them.

              • spandrell October 22, 2015 at 08:40

                Say SP are like a gas. Society is an air-tight bag. Once you open a small hole in the bag, the SP start leaking away.
                You can’t turn off consumer demand. Gimmedats are a constant. They must be. Once there is a leak in the pool of SP, everybody is going to run automatically to grab some for themselves. That’s the obviously fit strategy.

                Now of course operationally is easier to get support to equalize status than it is to argue for more status for someone else. If you want to take status form group A; everybody outside group A is going to agree. But if you want to increase status for group B to the expense for everyone else; well then you gotta change tactics. The way it usually works is you divide non-B into group C and group D; and tell group C that by supporting higher status for group B, group C will have greater status than group D for their efforts. Group D being evil rednecks, racists, bigots etc.

                In your example, if group C (liberals, women) fail to comply with supporting greater status for group B (Muslims), they are threatened with demotion into group D (racist men). Supporting group B may not give group C more status; but it maximizes SP because the alternative scenario is a huge loss of SP by being demoted to group D. And so I for one welcome our new alien overlords.

  9. Rico October 22, 2015 at 05:49

    The SP model rules!

    @TheDividualist, not every leftist has to be a genius Machiavelli for Spandrell’s theory to be correct. It’s true that many leftist followers are lazy–but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, even unconsciously, to maximize their SP. For some people maximizing their SP just means going from 999 up to, say 750. That increase doesn’t make them high status, but it is still maximizing. And 750 is enough to avoid being banished or killed–and all they have to do is lean the way the wind is blowing.

    And the most highly effective, sociopathic leftist leaders ARE good at playing status games. You could argue that the best rightists, for example truly noble kings, are actually good at *wielding* status. They know how to rule. Well. But they prefer stability because they’d rather rule than engage in endless palace intrigues. While the leftists prefer the status gaming and the palace intriguing to actually putting their power to good benevolent use. They would rather continue the destabilization racket and keep upping their status points.

    @Spandrell, one thing this article made me remember which is somewhat related is Moldbug’s point that ambitious young people have every incentive to go left. On the left there is more tearing down of old authority, more dynamic change to be managed, new pockets of power to seize, and above all, more status to seek.

    Anyway, this is all great stuff! The SP theory rules.

    • TheDividualist October 22, 2015 at 09:02

      All true, but e.g. if you see this as status-socialism and compare it to economic socialism, you see two groups 1) a small power-hungry group 2) a large group of bummish gimmedats.

      Group 2) is more important because they generate the demand, they are largely egalitarians, at least, their own interests are served well enough with egalitarianism, and 1) will focus largely on satisfying the demands of 2). Thus, the generic political strategy of 1) is to get power through supporting and satisfying the egalitarianism of 2), thus the outer shape and actual effects are largely characterized by it.

      Maybe I have to rethink my modified model, seeing how nobody agrees. But I just think demand is more important than supply! It is a given in democracy that some groups always try to grab power by satisfying voter demand – what determines the whole thing is largely what the voters demand (what the intellectuals and journos told them to demand).

      Anyway the two models are not so different. It is clearly about status, and it is clear both grabbing and destroying happens, the difference is which is the more central.

  10. TheDividualist October 22, 2015 at 09:58

    http://lesswrong.com/lw/1kr/that_other_kind_of_status/

    “In this model, people aren’t just seeking status, they’re (also? instead?) seeking a state of affairs that allows them to believe they have status. Genuinely having high status lets them assign themselves high status, but so do lots of other things”

    Quite frankly a lot of SJW antics appear to me not so much about effectively grabbing status but convincing themselves they have it. Self-esteem etc. Like the “I am a fabulous” posts from tumblr fatties. The whole “never hurt anyone’s feelings” liberal stuff is more about never letting people feel low subjective status, not about actual objective status.

    This seriously explains a lot. When a random guy with a nickname talks about “justice” to the poor on Reddit, how is he going to get status? People are not even knowing his real name. But he can _feel_ like having high status because he sounds like a professor. What else could fuel those endless online political battles between internet nicknames, who try to stay anon and thus their real person will never get any status out of it? I think what drives it is simply the desire to subjectively feel status.

    After all, the human and animal brain usually works like that. We are not actually trying to get food, we are just trying to stop the hunger signal in the brain and getting food is a good way to that. Turn off the hunger signal in a rat and he starves to death.

    Similarly status-seeking can be seen also as just simply seeking the subjective feeling of high status.

    And like other instincts that can be shortcut, similar to drugs, simulations, virtual realities.

    Seems to me a lot of SJWery is about inhabiting a virtual reality where their status is OK and much of their shrieking is about when real reality butts in. Like the fat activists don’t mind so much that nobody fucks them, it is just that nobody should actually tell them it is because they are fat. They want to feel beautiful in the virtual reality and explain their lack of real world sexual success differently.

    A reasonable assumption would be that those who suck at getting real status are drawn towards such shortcuts of direct stimulation of status receptors, like how the lack of real joy draws one to drugs or world of warcraft.

    One big part of the whole Manosphere / Red Pill thing is attacking that directly. Like don’t be the guy who feels like he has subjective status because you white-knight on reddit, but be the guy who gets actual respect because he brings a pretty girlfriend to the party. Kind of. Real vs. virtual success. This sounds like something useful. I remember one awesome comment on RP reddit about videogames – you may feel you are a heroic fighter massacring enemies, but really you are just a dude staring at a screen pushing buttons. High subjective virtual status vs. low real objective status.

    Maybe this virtual subjective status drug thingie is just a subset of the left, but these days a big one.

    Maybe this even should be encouraged. Divide the enemy by encouraging them to retreat into virtual worlds and subcultures where they all can feel like aristocrats.

    Overally the more real your status desires are, the more likely to move right. Like, owning a small business, as your own property, is more real and solid than a prestigious Cathedral job that could be destroyed one drunk tweet that happens to be not PC.

    We could try to move the world right by moving people’s status desires towards the more real. E.g. own land. Own property. Wear golden jewellery. Collect antiques.

    • spandrell October 22, 2015 at 12:49

      The fact that they can fool themselves into believing they have status is a different question. The fact is they seek status, they behave in ways that lead to them maximizing their status; it just happens that they have a secondary program that produces an ersatz reward internally, which substitutes for a real reward.

      It’s like saying that the fact that people get hooked on drugs means people don’t enjoy pleasure. It just happens that the pleasure reward circuit is hackable with some chemicals.

    • Daneel November 9, 2015 at 01:56

      “We could try to move the world right by moving people’s status desires towards the more real. E.g. own land. Own property. Wear golden jewellery. Collect antiques.”

      All earthly things are transient. Your car or house or antique collection can be destroyed by one drunken mistake or taken from you by click of button, just like prestigious job.

  11. Pingback: Virtual And Real Status, Left, Right | Dividuals

  12. Daneel November 9, 2015 at 01:51

    Autistic people are the wrong example. If you want to find people with broken or missing :SP module”, the best you can find is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizoid_personality_disorder.

    Schizoids (0.5-1% of population) just want to be alone and really do not give shit what anyone thinks about them. They are happy with keeping low profile, do not want to be “cured” and do not organize as opressed minority. It will be interesting project to survey the schizoid’s politicsl opinions, if any.

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  16. drytreemadonna November 28, 2016 at 17:36

    The implications here are so deep my mind is reaching. This is a strong theory.

    First thoughts:

    * Left must fight for SP more aggressively because theirs is built on tenuous social consensus… Subjective value of art and odd lifestyle choices.. Tendency to construct and defend social bubbles with censorship and exclusion for the same reason.

    * Right points to tangible things like family, bank account, muscles and heritage as proof of SP. These do not require social consensus, and are only weakly attacked by the extreme left as being bad things.

    Current NPI drama is a low SP coup

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