A swirling milieu of discourse has brought a renewed focus in my inbox & timeline on what constitutes the pursuit of excellence; that old Socratic dichotomy of the individual human’s personal virtues and his role as citizen in the wider communal project of civilization. The tensions have never felt so taut to me.
Please forgive my focus on revanchist populism, but the good of the many versus the singular hero is a subject of fascination for both fascists and socialists alike. Costin Alamariu has set the warrior master return traditionalists on fire as he’s come out from under his nom de plume Bronze Age Pervert with a complex overview of the tyrannical Athenian philosopher kings and their cultivation (yes he means eugenics) of antiquity’s aristocracy.
The Marxists are just as loud. We’ve got authoritarian leaning proletarian sympathizers assessing a Marxist history of “progressive” American Wilsonian industrial fascism. And yes you will believe its philosophical impact on German National socialist ideology.
Everywhere I look, we are all debating whose rules matter, from Nature to God to man, and how we should use that authority to determine how we organize. It’s a bit surprising to see intelligentsia overcome with fervor for the proletariat and the aristocracy when you’d imagine both classes look back with disdain at the academic class.
It’s a ping ponging back and forth between the individual and his wider group responsibilities to his people from every ideological direction.
I see it in Luke Burgis and Freddie DeBoer’s concern with mimetic collapse and the recursive artistic malaise. If our system produces no truly novel art is it a failure of our elites to pursue excellence? Is it among our elites where genius and high culture produced? Or is it the opposite? Do we seek out frontiers when pushed from the boundaries of those who build and work?
Noah Smith weighed in on the extropian enthusiasm of our technical class for acceleration. The bourgeoise middle class of mercantilism has evolved to engineering and information technology to drive resource allocation.
As a post enlightenment matter, a petit aristocracy of the technical bourgeois is the most balanced of the positions between the masses yearning to be free and recognition of a desire for leadership earned through meritocracy lending a guiding hand.
As a journalist, Noah Smith is coming from a more intelligentsia orientation but the message of progressive futurism is coming from the patrician side as well. A venture capitalist like Marc Andreessen might not see himself as an elite aristocrat, coming as he did from humble beginnings, but he’s the standard barer for the titan class advocating for technological accelerationism.
I’ll fully admit to a personal bias for techno-optimism and effective accelerationism. But it could simply be self serving. Venkatash Rao thinks this mass discourse on individual versus collective responsibility is simply a whole new cope for an entangled world in disequilibrium.