October 11, 2019

Upside of deep recession: depopulating the swollen professional class

A major factor overlooked by commentators on the rise in inequality, and loss of working-class collective power, is the over-production of the elite class. So far, only Peter Turchin and related academics have discussed these dynamics.

The ranks of the professional class have exploded during the rise of neoliberalism -- signaled by the explosion in college enrollments and the migration into mega-cities, compared to the populist New Deal era when hardly anyone was maximizing their career ambitions, and when they were content to stay close to their humble geographic origins.

Expanding the share of the population that is professional, or professional-aspiring, necessarily shrinks the share of the population that is working-class. And therefore, empowers the professional class, while neutering the working class. Not to mention concentrating more wealth and power in the mega-cities, while robbing it from everywhere else, including urban areas that are just not in the top tier.

A populist or socialist outcome would be for this top-heavy distribution to shed a bunch of slots in the upper layers, reducing the power of professionals to collectively hoard as much as they can, and increasing the collective power of workers to get more of it for themselves -- while remaining in their working-class jobs.

Thus, "college for all" is an anti-socialist goal. It would only worsen these tensions by further depleting the working class of members, turning everyone into strivers. The goal is for working-class people to earn more income, enjoy more benefits, have more humane working conditions, and exercise more control over how their workplace is run. They can only do that by sacrificing individual ambition for the greater good of collective bargaining power. Feeding them all into a college program, in pursuit of professional careers afterward, would make hyper-competitive individualists out of the entire nation.

The upcoming recession is going to be far worse than the 2008 financial crisis, since none of the underlying problems were addressed -- indeed, they were encouraged to fester and grow. The so-called recovery was merely the central bank printing over $4 trillion out of thin air, and handing it out to rich morons to gamble on whatever struck their fancy (quantitative easing).

Those middlemen restricted these trillions of free dollars that the central bank handed them, to the professional class and above. None of it was spent in a way that could create well-paying and humane jobs for the bottom 80% of society. This make-work program for the elites is the Shark Tank economy -- strivers competitively begging for funny-money that the investors had gotten for free ultimately from the central bank.

After the coming financial crisis, though, the central bank will not be able to do the same thing. The success of the last / current project of quantitative easing owed to belief that it would be undone over the course of the recovery. Supposedly, the central bank was not permanently monetizing a shitload of debt that it took on via creating the over $4 trillion that it handed out to the financial elites. That was only supposed to be an emergency measure, and the central bank would contract the money supply that it had so massively inflated.

So, everyone treated the funny-money as though it were real -- if you had a social connection to the central bank, through however-many layers of financial middlemen, congratulations! You could live like kings and queens, despite doing unproductive work.

Only now that the central bank has failed to minimize its debt burden, and has already announced further rounds of quantitative easing -- to zero positive effect in the stock market, contrary to the original rounds -- the jig is up. There is no credibility left to the idea that they can just create another $5 trillion or $10 trillion, hand it out to rich morons, who dole some of it out to the top 20% of society, and somehow that emergency measure will correct and solve itself.

So the professionals won't be living it up like they were during the Obama years. In fact, the crash will be worse than any we've seen because there is no higher financial power left to bail out the institutions that became compromised during the current bubble. Earlier neoliberal bubbles only took out a regional bank, hedge fund, sector (savings & loan), at most the big Wall Street investment banks in 2008.

But now the quantitative easing program has compromised the central bank itself, the one that prints the world's reserve currency no less. So that's it -- whereas the central bank could bail out the Wall Street banks last time, there is no central bank of the solar system that can bail out the de facto world's central bank.

On the bright side, though, all of these depopulated professionals will have no choice but to get real jobs and pursue working-class goals rather than whine for the continuation of a professional-class bubble economy, which is no longer do-able. It will be a boon for populism and socialism -- real socialism, not the SJW-ism of today's professional class.

I discussed this issue earlier, in the context of Bernie tanking his campaign by catering to these professional-class strivers with appeals to Nazi-hunting as the justification for socialist economic programs:

The only glimmer of hope is that the upcoming recession will be a Great Depression-level catastrophe, so painful that it forces the libtards to stop masturbating to their Nazi-hunting fantasies, and train their sights squarely on the real-world threats of laissez-faire, oligarchy per se, and inequality, uniting the great majority of the country in that fight to bring back order after decades of teetering neoliberal chaos.

Their fantasies are luxuries that can only be afforded during comfortable times, and so far the current economic bubble has yet to fully burst. If they were working-class, they would have been mired in hard times for awhile now, but they are all professional-class strivers who have benefited massively from Obama's re-inflation of the info-economy bubble.

Once the global central banks are no longer running the printing presses, the venture capitalists who fund their online media outlet will cut them off, and they will have to move back in with their parents in flyover country, bye-bye Brooklyn. Only when they are materially forced to re-join the human race will they be able to pursue a humanizing political project like socialism.

That proved to be timely, as one of these online media sites -- Splinter -- was just shuttered by its investors, who don't have an endless line of free credit at the central bank anymore. Time for their laid-off staff to move back to wherever they came from, and liberate themselves from the hyper-competitive shithole of Brooklyn.

It will be good for their moral fiber, and hopefully for working-class politics -- they'll have to shut their mouths about alienating culturally liberal bullshit, if they want their minimum-wage job to pay $15 instead of $7. There's no way for them to amass a huge movement to compel employers into raising wages, while shitting all over the majority of the country. Before, there was no cost to them for doing so -- now that they're part of the majority themselves, they have no choice but to conform and shut up about matters that are irrelevant to winning higher wages and better working conditions for themselves.

Final word goes to Aimee "The Vest" Terese, who detonated a bunch of the Splinter staff (and related people elsewhere) for their direct role in hamstringing Bernie's campaign by trying to push him into being an extreme leftoid rather than the culturally moderate populist he won so many people over with last time. These are only two remarks among many ("pmc" means professional-managerial class):



October 9, 2019

Why dropping ID pol in favor of class is harder for left than right; Why only finance can save Dems from libtards

Below is an expanded version of a comment to a recent post about the interplay of class and ethnicity in the Democrat primary system. Naive Marxist theory would predict the clustering of groups by class, and perhaps secondarily by race, and yet it was the exact opposite way around. Whites of both elite and working class status lined up behind Bernie, and non-whites of both classes lined up behind Hillary.

That is largely true this time, except for the rift among whites along class lines, with working-class whites sticking with Bernie and professional whites defecting to Warren. Non-whites remain unified across class lines behind their machine candidate, Biden, and will easily defeat the deeply divided white camp of the electorate. Biden, a status quo candidate during a time of realignment, will then flame out to whichever GOP-er replaces Trump as the nominee.

This raises the issue of how Democrats, leftists, populists, or whoever, can undo the focus on identity politics in the Democrat primary system, given how entrenched it is. Basic sociological theory tells us it will be far harder for Democrats than for Republicans, because although both sides have identity politics to distract from class issues, it is easier to put aside those on the right, compared to those on the left.

I detailed these distinctions during the last primary season, and didn't see anything like it at the time or since. Most people with morally liberal brains just don't get any of this stuff, even if they have a PhD in sociology. If it has to do with in-group vs. out-group dynamics, they're color-blind to it (see Haidt's typology of morally liberal vs. conservative minds). So I'm reviving it now, and expanding on it a bit to reflect what's transpired in the meantime.

* * * * *

I hate being right so early. From way back in February 2016, the shift from ID pol to class will be easier on the right than left.

Reason: left-wing ID politics are about ascribed status, right-wing ID politics about achieved status. People stick to their ID guns more when the identity is beyond their control, an innate core of who they are.

In addition to evangelical Christianity, I'd add gun owner and non-urban resident to right-wing ID pol that are based on achieved status. They choose to own guns or not, and choose to live in rural or suburban places. They're not born into it, and it's not beyond their control.

Of course, this only applies to the electoral base of each party -- Trump defeated right-wing ID pol during 2016, but in office the GOP elites took over, buried economic populism, and threw meaningless right-wing ID pol to the rubes instead.

For Dems, it would be the opposite pattern. It's a daunting challenge for them to kill off ID pol during a primary, and focus on class instead. But if they successfully did so, they'd have an easier time doing economic populism in office (e.g., under a Bernie admin -- or FDR admin).

I think it's going to come down to the informational sector elites, who control the Democrat party, getting sick of being the opposition rather than dominant party, and defunding and otherwise shutting down left-wing ID pol during their primaries. Definitely not the media / entertainment cartel, since they massively profit from culture war content. And probably not the info-tech cartel, since they're neck-deep in ID-pol-motivated censorship.

Most likely would be the senior faction of their elites -- the finance sector. Sure, they're all personally woke, and their brands have been crafted to be woke as well. But they don't make profits from catering their services to culture war libtard rubes, and they do not have a mass audience interface like the social media platforms, so the big banks don't need to engage in culture war censorship. None of that cultural BS affects how much Goldman Sachs will make by bringing some phony tech bubble startup to its IPO. None of that impacts how low or high the central bank will set interest rates, how much quantitative easing they'll be doing, etc.

Of all the major Democrat coalition members, the ones who keep the most silent on culture war crap have been the finance crowd. It's amazing how little you hear of the typical libtard crap on MSNBC's sister network, CNBC, or on Bloomberg (let alone more culturally conservative Fox Business). That is true for all the major propaganda narratives of this cycle -- Me Too, Russiagate, impeachment, and imagining Nazis / fascists / white nationalists under every bed and in the rapid ascendancy.

The banks have incredibly stronger powers to wield -- they can make it so their targets can't hold any banking accounts, can't get loans, can't send or receive funds, can't even cash their paycheck without going to a payday loan shark. Compare that to the limpdick shit that the social media companies can do -- kick you off Twitter, oh no, it's the end of the world. Or slandering you on a libtard cable news segment -- oh no, please, not the hatred of over-40 wine moms.

And yet the banks have largely (not to say completely) refrained from using that power against cultural conservatives, Trump supporters, Bernie supporters, anti-Establishment types of any stripe. People already have such a low regard for bankers, they don't want to draw the public's ire any more by politicizing their business activities -- beyond the obvious of supporting one party over another, or one candidate over another. Not materially casting out huge swaths of the population for holding taboo ideas.

From a related post, Bernie's followers should bring back the New Deal coalition of big banks and labor unions, squeezing the professional-managerial class strivers from either side.

So far, there's little sign of improvement among the various groups in the Dem base -- they're pretending 2016 did not happen, and are right back to whites vs. non-whites as the first filter, and then professional vs. working class as the second filter (distinguishing Warren from Sanders among whites).

I don't pretend to be certain that there actually is a way out of this mess that the Dems started with the ID pol phenomenon. They obviously weren't planning ahead. But if there is, it will come from the working class and the finance elites, not from the broad professional class or the media or the tech sectors.

Aside from Dem elite intervention, the only solution is a hostile takeover of their primary by Trumpian populist Republicans -- they flood in and vote for Bernie in massive numbers, not giving a shit about Pocahontas or the right-hand man of My Cool Black President.

That needed to happen between '16 and '20 -- and it has not. So there will be no shift to class, away from ID pol, and we'll get another awful GOP admin after Trump leaves. Populist rhetoric, elitist policies, and right-wing ID pol to keep the rubes from grumbling.

In the meantime, Bernie supporters on the left should re-orient their efforts away from the media and tech world, and toward the non-culturally motivated finance sector, as well as organized labor and the broad working class (except for urban non-whites who are locked in to the Democrat machine candidate).

October 6, 2019

Mid-2000s nostalgia from Aimee Terese, in praise of catcalling

As the vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle draws to a close this year, Me Too is dying because people are all emo'd out by now. When the restless, warm-up phase begins next year, people will be eager to come out of their shells and start mixing it up with each other again, to re-establish a baseline of normal energy levels.

And in order to overcome the oppressive taboos against sexuality that have prevailed during the vulnerable phase, they will start making quite overt signals that horniness is back in fashion -- just to make sure the awareness is public, giving people permission to stop feeling so negative about the opposite sex. Catcalling will make a major comeback, for one thing.

To the Millennials who don't remember, or to Gen X-ers and Boomers who've forgotten, this isn't the first time this cultural and emotional shift has happened. The first half of the 2000s were incredibly emo and sex-negative, and suddenly that began changing around 2005. The second half of that decade was like a return to the disco era, with no inhibitions about the two sexes getting up close and personal with each other.

Not all Millennials, though, have forgotten that atmosphere circa 2005. Here's the anti-woke Left princess praising catcalling:


Adding some fashion nostalgia to bring it more to life:


TFW no almost-17 Lebanese big-hair gf...

Reminds me of some other Mediterranean Australians of the five-foot firecracker type, in full 2005 style and sex-positive attitude. Thank God we're almost there again:



October 3, 2019

Songs about traumatic childhood produced by vulnerable phase of 15-year cultural excitement cycle

During the vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, people's energy levels have crashed into a refractory state where everything feels painfully over-stimulating, and puts them in a mindset of being victimized or traumatized.

To see how this is reflected in pop culture, consider the ultimate level of victimization -- child abuse of one kind or another.

Wikipedia has a list of songs about child abuse, although it's not only physical abuse that's covered -- anything that leaves the singer psychologically traumatized. There has to be some kind of painful conflict within the family, whether the parents fighting with each other as the child tries to block it out, or getting heated against the child, all the way up to physical abuse by one parent toward the child or toward the other parent.

(And some are not about traumatic childhood at all -- they're just depressing songs that the list-maker associates with a damaging childhood, but are not actually about that topic.)

To ensure that these resonated with the popular zeitgeist, we'll only consider those that made it onto the main Billboard chart, the Hot 100. I'm going with the weekly charts, since using the narrower year-end charts only gives a handful of examples. As in the previous case studies here, I'm categorizing songs by the first year that it was released to the public, either as a single or on an album. These years are grouped into the standard phases of the excitement cycle model: 2015-'19 is the current vulnerable phase, 2010-'14 the last manic phase, 2005-'09 the warm-up phase before that, and so on back through earlier 5-year blocks.

The model predicts a concentration of such songs in the vulnerable phase, and sure enough that's what we find. Here is a table of the songs in order of year released, along with the phase that year belonged to:


The model makes no prediction about the overall number made, or long-term trends, only about cyclical patterns. As it happens, there were a whole lot of child abuse songs in the vulnerable phases of the late '80s and early 2000s, but not so many during the current vulnerable phase. That suggests a longer-term decline. But we see the cyclical pattern in the relative absence of such songs during either half of the '90s, or the early '80s, late '70s, etc.

There were songs about child abuse released in the early '80s, late '70s, back to the late '60s, but they did not chart -- they were in the wrong phases. Still, you'd think there would have been some in the vulnerable phase of the early '70s, but none are in the list. They only became popular starting in the late '80s.

Perhaps the high number in the late '80s reflected the near-peak level of violent crime and child abuse, which didn't peak until 1992 (overall crime) or 1994 (child abuse: see Finkelhor). The early 2000s peak was most likely from Gen X-ers who were recalling their childhoods from that earlier crime and abuse wave, despite the rates having declined by the early 2000s. The shift in attitude from manic in the late '90s to vulnerable and emo in the early 2000s awakened those memories of victimization, leading them to write a bunch of songs about child abuse even though it was far less common by the time the songs were written.

By now, the late-20s Millennials making pop music didn't grow up during the crime-and-abuse wave the first time around, and rates are still declining into the present. That makes it harder for performers to tap into their personal experiences, or current affairs, to make songs about child abuse.

In any case, let's set aside the longer-term trends, and look just as the phases of the cycle. If each phase were equally likely to produce these songs, then there would be 1/3 of the total (22) in each phase, or roughly 7 per phase. Instead, it is heavily lopsided toward the vulnerable phase, which produced 14 of the 22, heavily away from the manic phase (3 of 22), and fairly away from the warm-up phase as well (5 of 22).

For now, we can test the main prediction that these songs will cluster most in the vulnerable phase, and collapse the other two phases into non-vulnerable phases. Then using a binomial test, the probability of getting a result as extreme as this one, or more so, is 0.0035 -- very unlikely. They do in fact cluster in the vulnerable phase.

A secondary prediction is that, among the non-vulnerable phases, such songs would be less common during the manic phase, when people feel invincible and on a constant high, and relatively more common during the warm-up phase. That is apparently true from these results (3 in the manic phase, 5 in the warm-up phase), but I'll run a tedious multinomial test later and post the results in the comments, maybe update the main post as well.

Hopefully this little study will serve as a hint into the cyclical pattern of widespread moral panics -- those involving victimization, at any rate. I'll get around to that when time permits.

For now, a reminder that the "Save the children" moral panic of the late '80s was not restricted only to the conservative busybody housewife types, like Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center. It encompassed the urban bohemian childless 20-somethings as well, who were no less earnest -- if less annoying and imperious. It was indie music made by good-natured social workers. In less cocooning times, the entire society was looking out for one another, and women channeled their maternal instincts into caring about unfortunate children in general.