The Dark State

Builds Upon: The Obsoletion of Nation States: What Inevitably Fills the Void,
The First Generation,
The Purpose of An Introvert Civilization

We all complain about and feel dissatisfied with our schooling, our jobs, the government, the whole modern state of life.
Yet if it’s all so horrible, why don’t we just do something else or go somewhere else?

Maybe it’s because other options are scarce or non-existent. Maybe the bubbly optimism in all those self help books is as empty as it sounds. We just have to bear the slog day after day. If we don’t like it, we just have to suck it up, same as lots of previous generations.

Most of us are stuck where we’re at. The truth is, the society we’ve been born into is a monopoly. The fact that it’s a monopoly explains why it’s generally inefficient, cruel, boring, and lazy. There’s no reason for it to be otherwise. No matter what abuse might get poured down onto individuals there’s nothing anyone can really do about it. And nothing ever will change so long as the same agricultural top down type of society persists without challenge, without incentives.

Every state, I think, has need of a dark state. That is, a sort of negative image of itself. An opposite of the bright, orderly, repressive surface state. A shadowed, chaotic society that fills any vacuum the bright society might fail to fill.

In the bright society, commuters all try to get to work when everyone else is trying to get to work. Shoppers all try to shop when everyone else is shopping. Travelers book flights when everyone else is booking flights. The result is that everyone has to struggle to do the most basic things.
Clearly a person from another planet would ask within minutes of arriving on Earth: “Why doesn’t the society make staggered schedules?”
It’s stupid to have a roadway that fills to bursting 2 hours of the day and is almost empty late at night. Roads are a costly piece of infrastructure and most of the time they’re either under or overused.
Clearly the people in power have no great incentive to care that the uniform schedules they set have a negative impact on overall quality of life. Clearly, workers want to persist with what they’re used to and be on the same schedule as their friends and family.
A combination of employer indifference and workers’ force of habit keeps the mass society locked into the self-perpetuating, idiotic routine. For those who see and loathe this idiocy, there’s no alternative within their monopolistic birth culture.

The unthinking routine of the sunlit state leaves a huge vacuum to be inhabited by a shadow state.
All those roads are nearly empty for hours every night! They are an enormous resource just laying around waiting for someone to come and use them.
In the natural world such a phenomenon, such an enormous state of disequilibrium is unheard of.
In the complex environment of a coral reef or a rainforest, no possible niche goes uninhabited. No resource remains unused for long. In comparison to nearly any other natural system, human societies are wasteful on an epic scale. Amazingly, there are no other species competing for our niche!

We tell ourselves that all the frontiers have been conquered yet there is more space and more untapped resources lying around in our modern world than there was in ancient times. There are sparsely inhabited nighttime cities to colonize and thousands of miles of early morning roads to connect them all together. In depressed cities across a nation, there’s real estate that no one wants for any price, just waiting for a more resourceful group to take over.
The bright society needs only the barest fraction of its citizenry as skilled workers and thinkers. How many capable people lie fallow, their talents gone to waste? These valuable people are just laying about for the taking.
10%+ of the population is unemployed, many millions more labor for sub-subsistence wages. The mass society doesn’t need them. They’re just laying there for someone to pick them up and do something with them. Same goes for the 2-3 million who are incarcerated or the 5-600,000 homeless. There’s no use for criminals and homeless in a mass society. But they represent huge resources for the first entity that can come along and find uses for them.

Most people who perform skilled labor for decent wages realize at some point that they’re still just wage slaves. They keep doing what they’re doing because they’re in a less miserable situation than nearly anyone else. What if there was somewhere else to take their expertise if they got sick and tired of their birth society?

No matter where someone is in society, they could no doubt get a better deal if the mass society was no longer allowed to simply sink into complacency.
The less efficient, the more oppressive, the more directionless and brutal the society, the greater a shadow world would grow in population and power.

A shadow to haunt the light would help bring human societies closer to a natural point of equilibrium comparable to an actual ecosystem. No niche would remain unoccupied. The light society would have every reason to try and starve its shadow into submission.

Merely introducing a competitor that grows in proportion the inefficiency of the mass society could accomplish more than generations of eloquent idealists and reformers ever could.

It is important to dream, but no dream ever comes true for a mass of millions until the conditions and incentives are right.


Breaking the Iron Law: Developing Public Resources

Builds Upon: The Illusion of Higher Standards of Living

In an industrialized nation the single biggest expense is simply having a place to stay. One could have a huge advantage over the iron law of wages if one could do without this expense. However, residences of any kind are expensive in part because very few people are able or willing to go without them. Plus demand causes the price of any residence near anything desirable to skyrocket.

In every country there are homeless people, but anyone can see that most of them are much worse off than even the laborer peasants. They are unable/unwilling to pay Social Participation Tax. They are generally socially shunned and are banned from indoors areas.
In industrialized societies being homeless is especially bad because without a place of residence, finding employment is impossible.

What do we get from residences that we need for employment and paying the SPT?
When people speak of the homeless, properties such as ‘dirty’ or ‘smelly’ are among the first to be mentioned.
Clearly one of the main divides between a homeless person and the rest of society is lack of personal hygiene.

How do most people maintain socially acceptable hygiene?
Residences generally have a bath or shower.
Only residences typically have a bath or shower. Without that bath or shower social participation quickly becomes impossible. Therefore one is forced to buy a whole residence to get a shower.

Thus if one wanted to break the iron law by circumventing standard residence options, one must find an alternate way to achieve acceptable hygiene without the standard residence.

A group of people absconding from exorbitant residence costs could possibly support a public bath or showers. Such resources have been readily available in any number of civilizations across time and place. They just happen to not be available in our society. This hardly comes as a surprise since:
public resources tend to disappear as private wealth increases.
The iron law adjusts to its clientele.

In North America, there is a type of business that still offers a public resource. It’s called a laundromat.
At least I think they still exist because those that remain are few and far between. One doesn’t see them often in good neighborhoods. Predictably, only by lower end apartments or neighborhoods, or in dense urban areas.
Unfortunately the relatively prosperous character of industrial society prevents these places from being a good deal. Except in the biggest cities most people are going to pay the money and time to drive to the laundromat. Once there, the cost of washing the clothing is not trivial. It’s not a lot of money for each individual load, but it’s something that must be done often. It adds up quickly.
The cost of using a public washing machine is probably comparable to actually owning one privately and paying the utility bills associated with its use.

This is an example of how overall public prosperity makes existing public resources cost ineffective while a less prosperous society compresses the cost of services.

Obviously, spontaneously arising services are inefficient and unsuited to the needs of Lawbreakers. For an optimal solution, there must be something deliberate about it. The Lawbreakers themselves must arrange minimal public solutions for their needs.
That is, they would provide themselves with ‘free’ public services financed through a collective pool.
Where does this pool of cash come from? The lavish wages of living outside the Law, of course. One possibility begets the other.
Where there’s super-subsistence income, investment, escape from liquidity becomes possible.
A sort of inertia is achieved through the transition from tokens of exchange to actual assets.
The accumulation of resources that passively generate wealth has the potential to destroy even the necessity of wages, with the result of social immunity for the organized Lawbreakers.

Breaking The Iron Law: A Game of Social Arbitrage

Builds Upon: Social Immunity

A common issue in affluent nations:

“The immigrants from poorer countries are taking our jobs and driving wages down.”

How might immigrants compete against locals and drive their wages down?

If the pay is so little that adult locals can’t survive on it, how could immigrants manage to do so when they too are faced with the high living expenses of an affluent nation?

Not only do these immigrants survive, they often have extra money to send back to their home countries.

Clearly the immigrants must thrive where the locals starve because they have more effective survival tactics.
They’re used to living in a land where the iron law of wages is set considerably lower. Thus even the scarcest wage in an affluent land is a considerable improvement over their usual options.

The immigrants succeed in playing a game of arbitrage switching from one society to the next as it suits their needs. By so doing, they are able to break the iron law that holds dominion over all classes and societies.
How does a sub-subsistence job in an affluent society become a source of wealth?

The iron law adjusts to the mandatory expenses of most workers.

Therefore: If one figures out how to eliminate expenses that are mandatory to everyone else, one can break the Law and get ahead.

Thus, two dollars are not equal. A dollar covered by the iron law is a non-existent dollar. It belongs not to the laborer but to the Law. It will disappear in exchange for survival.
Typically, we strive to earn a dollar beyond the requirements of the Law. This can only be done if one has a skill in high demand. By definition a skill is in high demand only if a few people have it.
Therefore: most people cannot have a skill high in demand. Most people will never in their lives possess a dollar.

There is another option. Instead of going beyond the Law, one can work outside of the Law and exploit its loopholes to the fullest.

This exactly what illegal immigrants in affluent societies manage to do.
How do they do it?
They establish public resources.
They share the cost of housing units between multiple people. They live off of collectively purchased food commodities instead of pre-packaged food products. They establish cohesive neighborhoods that offer an array of cheap services catering to their income bracket.
For the most part, they simply bring a microcosm of their home country with them. This microcosm turns out to be a safe bubble from where they can flout the iron law.

So busy are most locals protesting against these immigrants that they fail to perceive: There is a lesson to be learned.
Yet the immigrants benefit only so long as the locals blindly persist as individual earner drones who want their own private everything.
Otherwise the market would readjust and the newcomers would quickly lose their edge.

The Illusion of “Higher Standards” of Living

Builds Upon: The Tragedy of the Lords

As a kid I was constantly told that I was lucky to have been born in America, the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth. In other countries, I was told, people frequently went hungry and lived on the brink of survival. Newspapers and magazines always had lots of pictures of emaciated malnourished people staring forlornly into the distance. This was the rest of the world.

In early adolescence I reasoned that it was hard enough to get by in America, the wealthiest nation on Earth. It seemed incomprehensible to me that people in other places had it so much worse.

As an adult I finally got the chance to see some other countries. In Latin America and in parts of Eastern Europe, I was clearly no longer in an affluent society.
Yet the situation I actually encountered was nothing like all the stories of famine stricken countries and bread lines.

The truth?
Whatever the overall level of wealth in an area, people’s lives didn’t seem lacking in any critical way. Not even if their entire net worth might be a puny fraction of the average American income.
How could this be? I asked myself. All my life I’d been bombarded with hysterical articles wailing about huge percentages of the world’s population living on less than a dollar a day. ‘Dollar a day’ in America was synonymous with the malnourished people in the pictures!

Clearly all those statistics don’t mean what most people think they mean. It would seem that in many parts of the world, a dollar a day is actually a livable wage.

Wherever one may go, living expenses adjust to living costs. There’s an iron law of wages for any labor pool. If workers are paid too little to be able to buy food and have families, the system cannot function. Thus to some extent the idea of higher standards of living is illusory. Or at least the differences between places are not nearly as great as first world citizens believe. A hundred times the income does not translate into a hundred times the life!

If we stop and think: If a dollar a day is a normal wage somewhere, then the overall cost of labor there is very cheap. Therefore many locally produced goods and services lie within the purchasing power of the laborers. If most people make a dollar a day, local landlords obviously can’t demand hundreds of dollars to occupy a flat. They have to come up with some sort of option that suits the typical local income, even if it’s a hut. It might not have climate control, but it’s a place to occupy.
Luxury items and imports are going to be out of most people’s reach but one would anticipate that the basic needs of living must be affordable for the society to continue existing.

Furthermore, I noticed certain patterns in poorer countries.

-Where money is scarce, human relationships are a much more valuable asset than in affluent countries. There’s a lot more incentive to have cohesive social ties throughout a society when accumulation of capital is impossible. A third world laborer will never have a 401k plan. Most people in most places throughout history have never had retirement savings. Retirement was nearly always been provided by family and community rather than an individually amassed fortune.

Additionally, low earning laborers are going to have access to things that money cannot buy in prosperous lands. Any land on earth has its share of resources that are difficult to find anywhere else.
In America, I’ve never been able to find good papayas. The ones available are invariably withered, battered, and expensive. Worse they don’t ever seem to properly ripen. Maybe refrigeration arrests the ripening process? In any case, they’re not even edible unless they’re baked in the oven.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of third world laborers who have daily access to a small fortune worth of fresh, ripe papayas for pennies or even for free.

Recently, I met a former archaeology student who told me tales of a dig he’d worked on in Bolivia. He told me of how the local poor farmers lived at high altitudes with no electricity. Then he mentioned that they had herds of alpacas. I pointed out that these Bolivians were able to protect themselves from the cold with some of the finest wool on earth. Most Americans would be hard pressed to afford the high quality alpaca wool clothing those Bolivian peasants probably take for granted.

In an affluent nation it’s too easy to forget that wealth can take many forms besides tokens of liquid exchange.
We can anticipate that:
Where capital is lacking, people manage to fulfill the same needs by cultivating other forms of assets.

-Markets adjust to the needs of the average laborer in more than just wages. The goods and services available, the way they are made available must also be adjusted to local consumers.
In Latin America, I found most people had easy access to the internet even though none of them could afford their own computers or internet connections. When the average income is low, it’s only a matter time before there’s an internet café on every corner. I’ve found abundant internet cafés in nearly every part of the world I’ve been to except for North America and the UK.
Renting a computer is fairly expensive in wealthier countries. In poorer countries, the rates are trivial pocket change, even in the local currency. The cafes are full of adolescents who have no source of income. Even the little bit they can scrape together is enough.
As average income decreases, the iron law further compresses even the price of the same service!
The big idea?
If there’s a service in popular demand, merchants will find a way to provide it in a way the locals can afford.

Until one is truly among the malnourished and starving of our world, there are ways to accomplish the tasks a local population wants to accomplish.

It turns out that there’s expenditures to fit every budget.
In America, most people live paycheck to paycheck. Elsewhere, people live paycheck to paycheck. Thus, the iron law is a natural law that works with far greater reliability and efficiency than any manmade institution.
Wherever one might go, subservience is the price of purchase.