Case for Boring, Old Economics in an Extremely Online World
May 15, 2019
I do this strange thing, and I’m a bit embarrassed about it: I read Bloomberg Businessweek. I know, what am I doing reading an ostensibly leftist magazine in my limited free time. Besides the obvious point that different perspectives are useful, regardless of your personal agreement of disagreement with them, Businessweek (much like CNBC) is honest. What I mean by that is reading it gives you an idea of what the higher-ups are thinking. It’s like a peek into their diaries, filled with their thoughts, motivations, and fears. The powers that be (the Cathedral as it’s often called) may signal towards all sorts of social justice causes, but right now the people in charge only care about making a buck. Maybe in ten or twenty years when all that signalling has driven the dull, power-hungry white men out in favour of a real rainbow coalition takeover things will be different, but for now the sheer cold and unapologetic economics in something like Businessweek are what’s driving us forward.
Is it, then, safe to say we’re being run by a cabal of greedy sociopaths rather than real dyed-in-the-wool believers in progressivism (or liberalism, cultural Marxism, leftism, Bioleninism, whatever you want to call it)? Yes, but you already knew that. Why then, does everyone ignore the economics? On the right you hear cries over “muh GDP” and to the extent the left talks about economics they talk about raising taxes and reparations. While yes, economics aren’t everything, and there are serious philosophical disagreements to be had with the current order, it’s important to note that economics are everything to that very order. You may not care about economics, but everyone else does, and if you want to affect change, you better start paying attention to them.
It’s important to note that economics are a large part of perceived status. People vote for who they think will make their wallet fatter. Trump didn’t just get elected because he said he was going to build a wall and create tariffs, he won because people thought the wall and those tariffs would improve their economic situation; increase wages and increase the number of jobs respectively. You may (or may not have) supported Trump because you thought he would accelerate capitalism or that he would complete the system of German idealism, but everyone else who voted for him voted primarily over economic concerns, directly (tax cuts) or indirectly (border wall, no Middle East wars).
I know this sounds hard; you would rather learn even Tarot reading or astrology over something so banal as economics; they’re boring and mundane, without any sort of transcendental aspect. You’d rather analyse the metaphysical effects of capital than engage in capitalism, I get it. This whole project is supposed to be about odd, out-there stuff and challenging the status quo, yet here I am suggesting precisely that you engage in the status quo. Remember how engaging different perspectives is useful? Maybe the status quo in this circle of the internet needs to be challenged by the status quo of the world around. Maybe you’ve noticed, but people on the street don’t exactly know who Mencius Moldbug or Kantbot are. If the goal is to create real social change, maybe it’s important to engage people in a way they understand and
think is important. Don’t lose your philosophical sensibilities, but learn how to refine them into actually presentable topics to people not so autistic as you or me.
In address of some potential objections to this idea of economics, yes, power is more important than wealth; an AK will win a war over a dollar bill, but that’s only half the story. To put my point in some abstract terms for you, in a city of lead and brass, iron is king; in a city of silver and gold, iron is king. While in a city of lead and brass, whoever controls the iron controls the city, in a city of silver and gold, whoever controls the silver and gold also controls the iron, and the city. Money and power are correlated, and in a wealthy society, paradoxically more than in a poor one, money is power; there’s not going be some upstart warlord in Kansas; unless his book makes him absurdly rich, BAP won’t be riding nude across the Great Plains anytime soon.
Sure they get things wrong (I still flip through my copy of a 2014 Businessweek issue “Bitcoin Dreams” and chuckle the same way I do at this article), but that’s precisely why this is so important. The people in charge get things wrong. The ‘08 crash wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did, and it was a perfect political opportunity. Unintentional and unexpected events, even small ones, can have major political consequences. If the people in charge get something wrong, or even if something happens that was more or less out of their control, their will be opportunists ready to swoop in and capitalise (yes I chose “capitalise” very deliberately) on the situation. If you want a way to reach people, take advantage of the mistakes the people in charge make.
Is it hypocritical for me to suggest all of this while I do very little of what I actually suggest? Well, first, you barely know anything about me so for all you know I may be the best political influencer this side of the Mississippi, and second, yes it is hypocritical. It may be pretentious or narcissistic to suggest that you do as I say and not as I do, assuming my ideas are somehow better, but if this is supposed to be some sort of disruptive idea space as satirical as it is serious then it is up to the reader to interpret how seriously to take this. Am I suggesting all of these things with dire seriousness, or am I more just poking fun at the autistic tendencies of the people here and satirically highlighting the disparity to normal people? I won’t answer that. The question I will answer is thus: is this a total cop-out? Yes, yes it is.