It’s inconvenient when those whose sacrifices are essential to the system get fed up and find some other way to live.
Convenience isn’t just about small appliances. It’s also about ruling nations. Let’s start with the semantics of ruling nations. Some labels might be viewed as somewhat inflammatory (Kleptocracy, anyone?), so let’s stick with the neutral Ruling Order.
Some things have been extraordinarily convenient for the Ruling Order. Take the life and death of one Jeffrey Epstein, an intel “asset” who assembled a veritable goldmine of dirt on an astounding collection of bigwigs, and then became, well, inconvenient.
Very conveniently, the security camera in his cell failed, the guards dozed off and he hung himself in this fortuitous interlude. This was the acme of convenience.
Extending the Surveillance State into Big Tech’s planetary-wide social media networks was also convenient, and a bargain to boot. Instead of all that expensive stuff the Communist State in China had to pay for, America’s Ruling Order just put the squeeze on Big Tech and saved a bundle.
The Surveillance State assumes that any revolt / revolution can either be nipped in the bud by identifying foreign influences / domestic extremists, or crushed by foreknowledge of the storming of the barricades.
In conventional times, these are pretty safe assumptions. But the times are no longer conventional, and so the Ruling Order is in effect investing its treasure and confidence in fighting the last war.
It’s convenient if rebelling citizens organize themselves in visible networks and concentrate into groups that can be crushed by force. It’s inconvenient if the revolution is not neatly organized and crushable but an invisible revolution of not showing up.
In other words, a revolution of getting fed up and opting out, of finding some other way to live rather than spending 10 years paying down the student loans and another 30 years paying down the mortgage and the last few years of one’s life watching the tides of financial excess erode the sand castles of pensions and retirement.
There’s a consequential asymmetry to the inconvenience caused by people getting fed up and opting out. The average worker not showing up is consequential but not catastrophic. But when the managerial class thins out, and those doing the dirty work thin out, there are no replacements, and the system breaks down.
Few are willing to make the beds, empty the bedpans and work in slaughterhouses. When those willing to do the work nobody else wants to do quit, the system collapses. Those with higher expectations will not volunteer to do the dirty work, and many are unable to do the work even if they are willing. It’s too hard and too physically punishing. (Says a guy who’s carried stupid amounts of lumber up hillsides where no forklift could go.)
Despite what many of us may think, the majority of workers lack the experience and tools to manage complex operations. (Those of us who try soon reach our limits.) Many lack a deep enough knowledge to fix major breakdowns. When the critical operational and managerial people retire, quit, or find some other way to live, the system breaks down.
All the surveillance and all the force that the Ruling Order depends on to maintain its dominance is useless when people get fed up and quit supporting the system with their labor and their borrowing / spending. All the surveillance and facial recognition software is worthless, all the monitoring of kitten and puppy photos on social media, all the tracking of foreign influence–none of it matters any more.
It’s inconvenient when those whose sacrifices are essential to the system get fed up and find some other way to live.Yet this is the inevitable consequence of a system hopelessly corrupted by fraud, inequality and unfairness, a system rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many. People eventually get fed up and opt out.
They don’t throw themselves on the gears of an odious system, they simply stop greasing the gears with their time, effort, experience, debt and money. It doesn’t take many opting out to trigger decay and collapse. The Pareto Distribution applies. The system can adjust to the first 4% opting out, but those consequential few trigger the decay of the commitment of the next 20%, and the system cannot survive when the 20% find some other way to live. The 80% can still be willing to grease the gears but that’s no longer enough to maintain the coherence of the system.
The asymmetry of decay and collapse is inconvenient.
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A Hacker’s Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).
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The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake (Novel) $4.95 Kindle, $10.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)
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