September 28, 2014

Status contests and the shift from involuntary to voluntary identities

Transplants claiming to be New Yorkers. Whites trying to pass themselves off as blacks. Men who insist that they're really women. And denizens of the 21st century who dress up as though they belonged to the fedora-sporting Forties.

These and many other related phenomena have been noticed and detailed on their own, but as far as I'm aware, there has been no unified treatment of them, for either description or explanation.

What the phenomena have in common is a shift toward all forms of group membership being determined by deliberate choices to "identify" or affiliate with the group, rather than having belonged to that group for reasons beyond your control, say by being born into it.

Sociologists refer to "ascribed" status, which you are born into, raised in, or otherwise given involuntarily, vs. "achieved" status that you gain through your own doing. Membership in a race is ascribed, while membership in a fraternity is achieved. Being a child of divorce is ascribed, being a divorced adult is achieved.

Some forms of status could hypothetically go either way. Does membership in a regional culture stem from your birth, upbringing, and extended family roots? Or can you choose to identify with a region that you did not spend your formative years in, but have moved into as an adult?

When regional membership is ascribed, all that matters is birth, upbringing, and family roots — even if you have spent most of your adult life in a region that you were not raised in, you are still a guest within a host or adoptive culture. When membership is achieved, you're perfectly allowed to claim the regional identity of your adoptive place, after a suitable series of rites of passage, which may be tacit or explicit.

For example, when you first move to New York City, how long of a residence does it take until you're "really" a New Yorker? How numbed to the odor of piss does your nose have to become (in the old days), or how long do you have to use a monthly subway card rather than touristy tokens (in the new days), before you have gone through the trials and rituals that earn you admission into the club of "real" New Yorkers?

Notice that when status is achieved, the aspiring joiners will appeal to as many criteria as they can think of rationalizations for in their favor. Ascribed status constrains the debate. Sure, folks may still bicker about how many generations back the person's roots need to go, or how many kin they must have who are also New Yorkers, but that is still limited to just two criteria.

Thus, ascribed status largely speaks for itself, while achieved status encourages rattling off one after another qualification on the self-promoter's endless list. Status contests are limited in scope when status is ascribed — were you born here or not? — but turn into ever escalating games of one-ups-manship when it is achieved.

This suggests that in status-striving times, group membership will shift toward being more and more achieved, while in accommodating and egalitarian times it will shift toward being ascribed.

The prevailing norms in status-striving times are me-first and laissez-faire — who's to stop me from claiming a New Yorker identity if I work hard enough at it? If you work hard enough for it, you've earned it. Rags-to-riches and rugged individualism are other staples of the zeitgeist in status-striving times.

In accommodating times, the norms favor regulating interactions so that conflict is minimized. If we let one guy pursue New Yorker status as though it could be an accomplishment, then we open the floodgates to thousands of other combatants in a spiraling status war. Instead, individuals will attribute their various group memberships to the circumstances of their birth and upbringing — beyond their own control, and therefore pointless to change, and change, and change, according to whatever fashion battle they're engaged in at the moment.

In fact, you might as well make do with those circumstances and take a little pride in them. Upstate New York, the Ohio River Valley, Michigan — all these places used to carry a certain level of regional pride, no matter whether the person stayed or moved somewhere else. Now they are more likely to identify with the metro area that they have chosen to move into, probably embarrassed about where they came from.

Returning to the examples at the beginning of this post, let's spell out just how extreme our status contests have become. They have moved far beyond groups whose membership could be either ascribed or achieved, to the point where ascribed status should be indisputable, but where strivers are waging wars to make it achieved. They do not have to make up a majority of the status contests of our age — the fact that they are even happening at all proves how psychotic the climate has gotten.

Sex is entirely ascribed, yet the tranny movement asserts that men can identify as women or vice versa, and that the rest of society ought to assign them the sex status that the trannies insist on, rather than it being ascribed at birth. Tranny psychos are so status-striving that they whore for attention more than the others in the feminist and women's groups, and are always ready to start rattling off the top 100 reasons why I'm just as much of a woman as you (or more). They also viciously compete against each other to see who's unlocked the most achievements in the sim game of pretending to be a woman.

Generational membership is also determined by birth, yet we see more and more people cosplaying and LARP-ing as though they belonged to another generation. And not one that's just on the other side of their own, where honest disagreements might be made, but a generation whose formative years unfolded long before the person was even born.

Gen X-ers pretending to hail from the Midcentury, Millennials pretending to belong to the Boho vintage-y Seventies, not to mention legions of geeks placing themselves in the old timey Victorian era — steampunk conventions, going to night clubs wearing black corsets or black tailcoats, and so on. These are not occasional costumes worn as a fun break from routine, but part of their ongoing identity which they take (and craft) very seriously.

Similar widespread movements involve members of one race pretending to belong to another. OK, so they don't actually have the DNA test to back it up — but are we seriously going to rely only on bloodlines? The wigger is not an "honorary black," but someone who acts as though they were black, merely by aping real blacks. In the '90s, this term used to be a portmanteau word of "white nigger," alluding to the lily-white suburban area that this dork actually came from. Now that other races than whites pretend to be black, it now means "wannabe nigger," including East Asians and Indians who act that way.

Blacks have tried to push back against this attempt to make membership in the black race (or ethnic group) achieved rather than ascribed, but that hasn't stopped the wigger phenomenon from growing. It's just like women feminists trying to push back against mentally ill trannies trying to make membership in the female sex achieved rather than ascribed. Such efforts are ultimately doomed in a laissez-faire climate because they are seen as pleas for special or unfair treatment — to carve out race, or sex, as a domain where status is ascribed. But if status is to be achieved in so many other areas, it will play out that way for race and sex too, no matter how ridiculous it feels to normal people.

What were the counterparts of these extreme forms during the previous period of rising competitiveness and inequality, the Victorian era and turning of the 20th century?

Fin-de-siecle England was not only plagued by out-of-the-closet faggots (search Google Images for "gay Victorian photographs" — safe for work, they just show couples sitting together embracing). Trannies also had their own subculture and nightlife haunts that were raided by police.

Then there were Orientalists who LARP-ed as members of an exotic race or ethnic group, one that they were not rooted in one bit. As with today's wiggers, they did not merely dress up every once in awhile for fun, or borrow certain design elements to spice up their otherwise native style. They were constantly leveling up their identity as The Other, as close to 100% max stats as they could manage. They always dressed in the exotic style, and tried to re-create a foreign architectural style on English soil.

Finally there were various strains of anti-modernists who affiliated not with somewhat earlier generations or zeitgeists, but all the way back to the Gothic and Medieval periods from their nation's history. The most well known group was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of painters. They were not merely seeking contact with the past, or Luddites who hated where all this new-fangled technology was taking society. They chose to base their very identity on affiliation with the Medieval period.

In our second Gilded Age, everything old is new again.


  1. It seems like a stretch.

    Out homosexuals, trannies, and extreme Orientalists were very much on the fringe in the 19th century.

    If you read classic Victorian literature, for example, such subcultures are not represented even remotely to the same degree as their counterparts are today in arts and letters.

  2. Trannies are on the fringe today as well, both in real life (incredibly rare to run across one, even in urban areas where they live), and in mass media and pop culture. And they were visible enough in the fin-de-siecle for the police to notice them, where they congregated, and so on.

    Outright wiggers -- not just white guys who listen to rap music, but the Ali G type -- are also on the fringe today.

    It's not about how fringe-y the fringe groups are, since I said that it doesn't matter that they're not a major movement numerically. It's the fact that such movements are even minor trends that shows how status has shifted from ascribed to achieved.

    There shouldn't be any debate at all about whether race / ethnicity, sex, and generation are involuntary. And yet these movements are familiar to people who know what the zeitgeist was like at one time or another.

    During the Midcentury, all these phenomena were non-existent -- not merely on the fringe. The Beatniks and Hippies didn't claim to belong to another race or ethnic group, or to a distant generation, and trannies were unseen and unknown.

  3. I had never heard the term "wigger" used in reference to asians before.

    I'm somewhat unsure why you distinguish cosplayers from "occasional costumes worn as a fun break from routine, but part of their ongoing identity". It's my understanding that they wear costumes a very small percentage of the time, such as at conventions. And they typically don't stick with a single costume, which might be an indicator of having one's identity wrapped up in it. I suppose they can expend a lot of effort in a silly endeavor, but that was true of Halloween a century or so ago when you couldn't buy a costume in store but had to wear something home-made.

    I'm somewhat surprised you didn't mention Henry Maine's "from status to contract".

  4. I mean the LARP-er more than the cosplayer. Someone who has steampunk gadgets in their apartment, wears a fedora and double-breasted suit when the occasion calls for getting dressed up, etc.

    I didn't refer to Henry Maine because I'd never heard of him. I haven't read much sociology (given away by just now picking up on some of their most basic ideas like ascribed vs. achieved status). Worth noting that he was writing during the previous Victorian heyday of laissez-faire individualism, hedonism, and utilitarianism.

  5. A lot of these groups are very low status. Marginal. A lot of the others like fedora wearers have no clear status affiliation (although that one is beginning to turn negative). If they play into status striving at all, it seems more of the sort where disaffected losers in status games take their ball and go to do something else.

    Most of these seem like "genuine" self expression movements, in the sense that they aren't motivated by an underlying desire for status or to distance another group, even if they are motivated by nutty, weird desires. Some of them may be motivated by seeking a sense of belonging in a society where people are quick to cast off others in pursuit of success (so why remain loyal to whatever group of your birth?).

    But at the same time, seems plausible they will come out much more strongly in times in which individuals see themselves as self made, self moulding and maximising their own potential, etc.

    It's that ethos of abandoning stoicism and hey YOLO, so live the life you choose right?, that comes with individualistic status striving. Even when people are not chasing status, they are chasing pleasures, or at least joyless, numbing addictions, or ticking off another achievement on their Bucket List.

    Re: the Victorians, particularly Orientalism - in the Victorian Age of white supremacy, figures who wanted to practice yoga or Eastern meditation or whatever seem pretty marginal, at least compared to John Bull Nationalists who wanted to amp up their status as proper volkish gentlemen. Noted as eccentrics rather than high status. Although they existed, there were not many kufeya wearing Bedouin cosplayers, like T E Lawrence, etc. They were more salient for how unusual they were and how in contrast to the prevailing romantic nationalism they were.

    Like, there probably weren't many more of them than pretentious hippies claiming that they totally understood Eastern mysticism or whatever.

    I also get the impression some ascribed status features were more important in the Victorian era - family class background (which individuals can't control) at least. Not necessarily more ascribed but more salient.

    Same way as in our era, Blacks and women fight more vigorously to make their ascribed qualities high status (like Blacks making being Black integral to hip hop in a way they failed to do, perhaps even try to do, with rock), rather than seek to make Whiteness or maleness more achievable or create more ascribed characteristics.

    The desires of feminists or militant Blacks to keep their categories closed, although perhaps superficially sensible, doesn't really have much to do with sanity - look at how they ascribe to voodoo sociology ideas like cultural constructivism. Instead its more that having some ladyboy or chigga willing choosing to be in their categories and going around making a success of themselves would make a mockery of their claims that their categories are oppressed, that they are status suppression and that they have unique special experience that no one else can hold. It's never "This is madness", more "This damages us as a protected class".

    Finally, didn't you previously say there were a lot of mentions of transsexuals in lurid Midcentury magazines? It seems like that phenomenon, like homosexuality, connects to the sexual revolution and all that preceding Kinsey / Masters and Johnson type stuff more than anything else.

  6. You're using "status" to mean only class -- wealth, power, education, influence, etc. I'm using it in the broader sense, where a lower-middle class geek can spend 100+ hours a week leveling up his stats on whatever status contest he takes part in. He is painfully status-anxious, locked onto a status-striving treadmill, and so on, only it doesn't move him up the class pyramid but some other geek pyramid.

    Ditto trannies who spend so much time leveling up their he-she stats to climb to the top of the tranny pyramid.

    The Gen X-ers who LARP as Midcentury / retro Fifties types aren't marginal or low-class, BTW. That's definitely a middle / upper-middle class thing.

    White supremacy was not a thing in the Victorian era. That was more around the time of WWI and the Twenties. The UK would never have allowed a Jewish Prime Minister if it were white supremacist, and neither would so many American states allowed Jewish Senators, mayors, and governors if our Gilded Age were so racist. Uncle Tom's Cabin (a bigger seller in Britain) was a central novel of the Victorian / Gilded Age. And the whole White Man's Burden and third-world missionaries came from an impulse to use Christianity to serve the dark-skinned peoples from all over the world. Shades of Emma Lazarus' poem at the Statue of Liberty about giving us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.

    The Passing of the Great Race is from 1916, around the time when race riots explode across America (and when bloodthirsty chauvinism exploded in Europe -- Germans as Huns, mad brutes, and so on). Blackface performance is from the '20s and early '30s, so was eugenics, and the end of immigration. Nazism and the Holocaust was a bit later still.

    Homogeneity and egalitarianism are causally linked, so it's only natural for Uncle Tom's Cabin to be a mega-seller during a period of inequality and Civil War, and for Heredity in Relation to Eugenics to be a mega-seller during a period of Progressive attacks on concentrated wealth / corruption, and a shift toward celebrating America rather than the tired, poor, huddled masses.

  7. Blacks are desperately trying to make membership in their group ascribed, but it's not succeeding very well if Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj can get outshined (heh) by Eminem and Iggy Azalea (who's not even American, hence also claiming Southern culture as an achieved-status thing).

    Ditto for women trying to keep trannies out of beauty pageants or even women's bathrooms.

    Those two should be slam-dunk wins for blacks and women. Their defeat shows just how ridiculously "achieved" status has become for all groups.

    The Midcentury gossip magazines mentioned homosexuality, wife-swapping, and other things that were rare / falling at the time. That was the whole point of gossip rags -- "Finally, some perversion in the world of June Cleaver." It's not like today where you read about tranny rights movements, or Victorian tales of the police raiding the tranny clubs again this weekend.

  8. I agree that LARP is more along the "taking on an identity" line. I tend to associate it with D&D rather than retro America, but on the other hand there is "Cthulhu Live".

    The Velvet Underground took their name from a book about just such subjects as those gossip rags.

  9. Lou Reed released "Walk on the Wild Side" in 1972, which describes a budding transexual subculture. The Kings released "Lola", about a transexual, in 1970. So the transexual subculture must have started sometime in the 60s, which is a little earlier than Turchin gives for the 70s.

  10. *Kinks

    also, I mean cross-dressers and transexuals

  11. It finally dawned on me while reading this that the reason weirdos really stuck out in the 20's thru 60's is because most people acted and dressed quite modestly. So the weirdos, looked, uh, weird compared to the normal people. Nowadays that period gets slammed often for not being accepting of 'different' people but really it was a reflection of how unpretentious people were. Cut the crap and just get along with the rest of us.

    Fashion, both in terms of clothing and an affected manner/identity, began getting goofier in the 70's (the Me Generation). But there still was enough of a pro-social mood in the 70's and 80's that only a small minority of dysfunctional people avoided a clean cut, ordinary image. After that we've been swamped with ostentatious trends (bum chic baggy/wrinkled clothes, tatoos, non ear piercings, gender/race flip flopping, bla bla bla) since about 1992. Back in more equal times people were content to blend in to the crowd.

    If I had never come across this blog I don't think I would've ever done the math about how these things can be explained. Without diligent, open minded people doing research and trading memories and ideas with each other it would be tough to put these trends and cycles in the proper context.

    As long as we're talking about homos & other freaks, If you still watch a lot of 80's movies and TV, it's something of a shock to hear 'fag' or 'queer' casually said by non antagonist characters. Refreshing compared to the post early 90's PC onslaught.

  12. Steve Sailer has a prescient comment:

    "When the culture decided around 1964 to stop propagandizing in favor of “self-discipline” and start propagandizing against “conformism,” the less naturally conformist sex, males, followed, which led some to be rock stars and led others to be jailbirds or burnouts (and some to be both)."

    So the trend to inequality seems to have started in 1964 or so, somewhat earlier than Turchin claims.

  13. Turchin shows that any particular case study has its own trendline -- some begin earlier than the average, some later. Nothing odd in that. Also, status-striving changes direction before inequality does.

    You can already see key signs of the status-striving trend by the late '60s -- anything that Bill & Hillary would've been a part of. Inequality doesn't start rising until the second half of the '70s.

  14. 'You can already see key signs of the status-striving trend by the late '60s'

    Like the rampant and quite pathetic draft dodging. We don't want to fight this war because, man, it's not fair and it's cooler to go to college, party, get indoctrinated by leftists and whine about our parents while the rednecks get put through the meat grinder. Some 'Nam vets I think were just as distressed by the increasing social divisons in American society as they were by the combat.

    Many of the Boomer zombie asshole politicians showed their true colors by dodging. There are some pretty comprehensive lists floating around that expose these disgusting hypocrites.

  15. "But there still was enough of a pro-social mood in the 70's and 80's that only a small minority of dysfunctional people avoided a clean cut, ordinary image."

    Even those who were into outside-the-mainstream sub-cultures were pretty dressed down. If you liked new wave, it's not like you went to school or the mall or the arcade looking like you stepped out of a Duran Duran video. Maybe for special occasions like going out to a dance club, you'd put a "look" together, but not the way that non-mainstream kids these days walk out to the 7-11 looking like an attention-getting production.

    Same for other non-mainstream groups -- punks, metalheads, goths, they all looked pretty ordinary in daily life. Jeans, t-shirt or simple buttoned shirt, sneakers.

    I'll take some of the blame for where things are now, BTW. Teenagers in the '90s had already begun to try to have a certain "look" during the regular school day (like anyone really gave a damn), if they were into grunge, alternative, punk, metal, etc. More poser-y than the '80s for sure.

    The ska scene was more good-natured and well-meaning, though. They had an identifiable look, it seemed to come from a night club scene, but it wasn't in your face. They were also the group most likely to be listening to '80s music (Madness, English Beat, the Specials), and the most likely to be into going out dancing, in a manner of speaking. Somehow all those things hang together.

  16. There also used to be a strong urban vs. suburban split. If you see pictures of punks looking uber-punky circa 1980, they're either urban dwellers or suburbanites dressing up like urbanites for the night as they hit up their favorite night clubs, before going back to the burbs where they'll dress more normally.

    Garden-variety punks from the 'burbs didn't look like an S&M show, or whatever they thought was the "real" punk look from the city.

    Nowadays, the punky / emo / goth kids shop at their suburban Hot Topic store, where they buy "edgy" urban club scene-inspired clothing, which they wear while sitting around their home in a subdivision, or the Jamba Juice at the nearby strip center, or for ordinary school-day clothing.

    The geographical boundaries of status-striving have opened up to swallow ordinary suburban teenagers by now, not just the 20-something urban dwellers.

  17. A few reminders of how ordinary and clean-cut the misfit and metalhead used to look back in the '80s, unlike the nightclub-in-daylight caricatures that they'd be today:

    "Subdivisions" by Rush (1982)

    "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister (1984)

  18. You're using "status" to mean only class -- wealth, power, education, influence, etc. I'm using it in the broader sense, where a lower-middle class geek can spend 100+ hours a week leveling up his stats on whatever status contest he takes part in.

    So status here in your usage is more like any personal quality that can be cultivated (like working on their tan, getting veneers on their teeth, building their muscles, working on their guitar playing, learning esperanto, whatever), etc. even if it lessens overall social status? Not really like social status?

    The Gen X-ers who LARP as Midcentury / retro Fifties types aren't marginal or low-class, BTW. That's definitely a middle / upper-middle class thing.

    I didn't know that about the social status, but I was thinking it didn't really enhance their social status though, for sure. Like its neutral - wearing 50s gear doesn't help them get social status. Also I was thinking of the recent meme about fedora wearing men that mocks them (google fedora wearing men and all the hits are disses).

    And the whole White Man's Burden and third-world missionaries came from an impulse to use Christianity to serve the dark-skinned peoples from all over the world.

    You sure about this? 19th Century has Richard Wagner, Manifest Destiny, Nativism, etc. Most historians seem to think the 19th century was a nationalist time. Even the history of minstrel shows describes them as more prominent in the 19th.

    That seems like the orthodox story - Historians are all like "Nationalism was the most successful political force of the 19th century.". Lots of romanticised Scotch Highlanders, ersatz nationalistic epics, proto-Zionistic Jews, Fenian terrorists, etc.

    Largely people think of the 19th century as a time when people where trimuphalist in their national identities, not ashamed or dismissive.

    Internationalist movements like the League of Nations seem to have entered play in the early-mid 20th century, around when we'd think inequality would fall. They seem to "fit" with modernist rationalism. People like HG Wells start advocating for world government in the early-mid 20th century.

  19. "So status here in your usage is more like any personal quality that can be cultivated ... even if it lessens overall social status?"

    Your generation didn't receive enough failing grades in reading class.

    It's not any personal quality, it's those qualities that affect an individual's status within the social group within which they compete for status. Not every population, society, and sub-culture uses the same criteria, or with the same weightings for a given criterion, when they measure status.

    You're solipsistically trying to project upper-middle-class, white, Western / Anglo, liberal norms onto the rest of the world, throughout the rest of human history.

    Go back 1000 years, and going off to college was not part of the status game. It was about military prowess and violence. Go to the Amazon basin today and it's largely the same thing -- being smart, industrious, and learned doesn't buy you jack in the social context of Yanamamo status-striving. It's how many men you've killed.

    We have these divisions within our own society -- hunting skill enhances status in some groups, but lowers it in others. Staying on top of global fashion trends boosts status for folks in some groups, but would result in ostracism for folks in others.

    Class is specifically about power and influence at the highest scope. Status may and does play out at a much lower level.

  20. Why didn't any of those racist or nationalist Victorians put their money where their mouth is? The Victorian and Edwardian era was one of the most bloodless and conflict-free periods in human history -- right up until World War I. The Napoleonic Wars and the *true* height of Romantic nationalism was a long-dead memory during most of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    You're just pointing to examples of nationalist thought and feeling during the Victorian era, not showing that it was growing more and more intense. Compared to the late 18th and early 19th centuries -- the Romantic-Gothic period -- Victorian nationalism was weak. It was also weak compared to the explosion around WWI (and even then, nationalism was more intense in Southeast Europe, not Northwest).

    Manifest Destiny was sui generis, not part of the general Victorian / Gilded Age zeitgeist. Racism against Indian tribes or Mexicans only developed right on the frontier -- New Englanders could have given a shit about the Apache. For the rest of America, and certainly the rest of West, they faced no bloodthirsty exotic race that caused them to develop such intense feeling of racial superiority.

    Wagner was an anti-Semite, but Disraeli was PM of the UK at its all-time height of global power and influence -- I wonder which factor is more telling. Fenians are up to some shenanigans, yet there's no real War of Independence, and Anglo-America is unquestioningly welcoming the Irish over by the millions, part of the worldwide "poor, tired, huddled masses" that a Jewish writer commemorated at the Statue of Liberty, at a time when Jews are American Senators, Representatives, governors, and mayors.

    The only war that erupted over racism during the Victorian / Gilded Age was the American Civil War, in which the anti-slavery side were the victors, pumped up by Uncle Tom's Cabin, a mega-seller in both America and Britain.

    Again, which examples are more instructive? -- who can say? It's all up in the air, a case can be made for either side, etc. etc.

    I know it goes against Millennial educational upbringing, but you *are* allowed to use your own brain rather than parrot an off-base conclusion held by experts (even if the facts drawn on are not in dispute).

  21. 'Teenagers in the '90s had already begun to try to have a certain "look" during the regular school day (like anyone really gave a damn), if they were into grunge, alternative, punk, metal, etc. More poser-y than the '80s for sure.'

    'Nowadays, the punky / emo / goth kids shop at their suburban Hot Topic store, where they buy "edgy" urban club scene-inspired clothing,'

    I do remember kinda snickering in the 90's when I saw goth or whatever kids wearing things that I had seen at Hot Topic. Was never into any "look" so I never really bought anything there myself.

    These corporate stores would have set off the BS detectors of irreverent kids back in the 80's. People back then were less superficial, more independent (physically & mentally) and more attuned to other people's thoughts & feelings. Attitude was just as important as appearance.

    It's funny how when PC took off in the 90's there was quite a bit of anti-corporate even ant-capitalist rhetoric. Yet many of these would be rebels didn't seem to have a problem shopping at the chain stores that destroyed the colorful good for the little local guy Mom & Pop stores in the 90's. Of course when real rebels existed in the 80's they didn't just use non corporate businesses; They were bold enough to start some of their own.

    As the bleak 90's took their course it really drained individual initiative and the will to think for yourself and take real action rather than just mope. Thus the Beavis & Butthead deliquents who daydream about being more cool and powerful but often are just stuck to the couch watching TV.

  22. Hey, if you really think WWI and WWII are related to decreasing inequality, rather than just being a random off the cuff chance connection, why not publicize this connection and put it to the test? Preventing or limiting wars seems important and maybe it could help change politics in a way that could save millions of lives.

    I could find it plausible that the will of the majority, rather than the international business class, is more important in times of falling inequality, and that this could lead to populist / nationalist wars. That the Victorians were less into poncey, "look how folkish I am", Morris Dancing ascribed in group camp than their descendents, I am not sure of (whatever their strength of genuine feeling).

    I know it goes against Millennial educational upbringing, but you *are* allowed to use your own brain rather than parrot an off-base conclusion held by experts (even if the facts drawn on are not in dispute).

    I thought we were arrogant know it alls who ignored all texts and established knowledge in favor of whatever our bratty little self serving preferences were? I thought the problem was that we just picked a few counterexamples of the net to support our argument and ignored people who actually knew anything about a thing?

  23. Now you've gone full sperg-out and are just making stuff up to keep the argument treadmill a-runnin'.

    No general claim was made about inequality and war. You made a particular claim -- Victorian era was a hotbed of racism / chauvinism -- which I disproved.

    The original context was your kneejerk rejection of my claim that Victorian status contests included adopting or affiliating with the culture of an exotic race or time period. ("Impossible because Victorian racism.") In your mind, Victorian gentlemen would never have competed with each other over who had explored more of Africa and gone on more safaris, akin to today's status contests over traveling to exotic lands and taking part in colorful local experiences.

    I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas about Victorian era, but they're so off-base yet so firmly held that they must be internalization of the propaganda you've been fed throughout schooling. I.e., just because Victorians were not 100% paragons of social justice warriors by today's leftoid standards, they were white supremacists who despised other races and cultures.

    I've noticed this unquestioning internalization among both "liberals" and "conservatives" (whose views aren't very coherent in their 20s). Liberals like it because it gives them yet another historical group to whine about, part of their broader belief in how awful the past was. But then conservatives like it because they yearn for a golden age free of, even averse to politically correct ideology.

    There was indeed such a golden age, but it was around the 1920s and '30s. The Victorian era saw white status-strivers competing over who could minister the poor benighted heathens the best, who could convert more third-worlders to Christianity (a la the Evangelicals and Mormons today), and who could control more land in the vitally important continent of Africa.


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