The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Contemporary neo-feudalism

King Bannon, Jester Trump, and the Strange Case of the Fate of Billions

only explanation

must deserve it

The neo-feudal world and its aristocracy’s quest for trollightenment. Also its aristocracy’s recruiting of the disaffected to further its agenda. MRAs, Gamergates, the “endarkenment” (surely this should be “endimming”?), the new gilded age. Trolls, Moldbug, Bannonism. The mobilisation of clientelism amongst those who, losing their hopes to recent economic and political trends, blame people who benefited in any measure for masterminding diabolical conspiracies and want revenge. Multiculturalism and tolerance and its discontents. Are the institutions of neofeudalism capable for fostering human progress? Or even economic growth?

I’m curious about the relationship between the actual political authoritarianism and the current support base, the angry mildly privileged.

I’m not presuming angry reactionaries are people without legitimate grievances, although I really want to think about the reactionary and disproportionate and possibly long-term self-destructive responses here; esp scapegoating of that another party on the basis of being visible, other and/or involved, rather than plausibly to blame or malevolent, or free from oppression themselves. Just because the response is disproportionate, or ill-considered, or is harnessed for reactionary ends, should not be taken to mean something bad did not happen to the aggrieved people. Although if the thing (people) they are blaming is not the root cause and their strategy is not a real remedy it is of course an interesting question how this can be manipulated for even more nefarious ends.

For a lefty version of this problem, see The Soft Target:

Even more modest reformist goals sound increasingly forlorn at this end of modernity. […] All the institutions and systems involved in what seem to be the most awful, oppressive or unjust dimensions of everyday life in the 21st Century seem to be vulnerable to nothing but their own frailties and contradictions. The powerful are mostly behind walls, inside fortresses. They have the money and the influence to outlast or overwhelm most legal challenges. They don’t particularly fear mass protest, not that there seems to be much danger of protests being genuinely massive in the United States as they have been in many other countries. The political process is drowning in oligarchic money, and even if reformers get elected, they often find it nearly impossible to challenge entrenched interests or do much beyond tinker with the status quo.

Most targets are hard, both in the sense of “difficult” and “protected”. So what has happened in a lot of what passes for democratic politics in the 21st Century, particularly in the United States, is a preference for soft targets: institutions that have to remain ‘open’ in some sense to protest and dissent, or individuals and groups who are compelled for some reason or another to remain accessible and responsive to public criticism.

Directable generalised rage is a fungible coin in modern politics. See: “I don’t have a job because black people/asians/latinos/women took it”.