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Culture Politics

Day 644 and Status Equivalence and DAO Leadership

Capitalism has largely been a triumph of hierarchy as an organizing mechanism. As we evolved from mercantilism into corporatism, appointing and holding accountable a single point of failure in a chief executive officer has become an effective shortcut for managing complexity when deploying capital. Leadership is responsible for the outcome.

The aphorism “failure is an orphan but success has many fathers” abuts against the reality that while we love to lavish praise upon executives, monarchs and other singular nexuses of responsibility it’s often not reflected in reality. Our bias in the post-industrial revolution has been towards leadership via individual even as post Enlightenment values valorize democracy and community participation. It’s been a tension for since the Industrial Revolution. America exemplifies this as the country most committed to both participatory federalism and corporate capitalism.

I am particularly interested in this tension as I believe we may be on the crux of larger organizational needs and are seeing them begin to coalesce in crypto. As decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, make an attempt to become the new corporate governance structure in Web3, it seems worth studying the question of whether leadership is a singular or collective exercise for humans.

What does the historical and anthropological record have to say about how we organize? What are we evolved to prefer and are we capable of evolving further?

The bias we operate with now is great man theory. But what if that is not just wrong but not even the predominant form of human organization through history? Critics of cooperation might do well to explore this in particular.

I came across a Rob Henderson blog post which is an extended overview of a piece of sociology Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior by the UCLA anthropologist Christopher Boehm. According to Rob’s post, the main question of this work is whether humans are by nature hierarchical or egalitarian. And it turns out our hunter gatherer forefathers were mostly egalitarian. The bulk of our history is egalitarian.

The anthropological record along with research on extant modern hunter-gatherers suggests that for most of human history we have been egalitarian, defined as “status equivalency among the decision-makers of a group.”

Rob Henderson reviews Hierarchy in the Forest

If you extrapolate this into a modern corporate context, the C-Suite or executive team, or perhaps even the founding team, are roughly the status equivalent decision makers. Maybe there is a first among equals in the CEO or founder but they can, in theory, be replaced by a board. But what if instead of a C-corporation you are managing a cooperative like a DAO? What then?

Apparently we humans are rather good at maintaining status equivalence. Richard Wrangham’s Goodness Paradox discusses how humans have self domesticated to avoid too much resource and power aggregation.

Over time, early humans eliminated those who were overtly aggressive. They killed or ostracized upstarts hungry for power; men with aggressive political ambitions. Other men would quietly organize to commit collective murder of troublesome male

Rob Henderson on Goodness Paradox

Moral communities evolve and punish those who deviate from acceptable standards. If you are too ambitious as an individual we swoop in as a species. It seems a bit miraculous in that light that we live in an era of kleptocracy and power consolidation given our tendency to murder upstarts. Great man theory isn’t all that sustainable. Or is it? Perhaps it’s that we asset influence obliquely. I’d wager any woman would agree.

Oftentimes, headmen display “self-effacing” behavior. Headmen and informal leaders usually obtained their roles through talent in hunting or warfare, storytelling ability, or congeniality. They rarely assert direct authority.

Rob Henderson on Boehm

If indirect authority is a sustainable organizational preference in the anthropological record, perhaps corporations are more amenable to reconstruction as DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) through the principle of status equivalence.

The autonomous part seems the trickiest, but decentralized authority inside tribal organizations are at least recognizably human. If as a group we disliked a status or resource hungry “great man” we leaned on the leadership preferences of status equivalent equals and forced you out.

I see no reason we can’t write in similar parameters into a smart contract as an experiment. At the first hint of a rug pull let the burning begin! We are already seeing political battles for resource allocation inside bigger organizations like MakerDAO. Crypto may be a worthy space for experienced leadership to show that figureheads like CEOs or founders are not the crucial lynchpin for progress and stability we believe.

Which would be quite a balm to me personally as I’m deeply skeptical of authoritarianism as a solution for our technical and social problems. I’d much rather we explore the wisdom of past tribal knowledge to guide us than look to a mythical great man to save me.

Categories
Aesthetics Community Preparedness

Day 628 and Intensity

If my brain is a sponge I think I’ve been sopping up more than I am designed to handle. But I am holding on and facing a lot of new information and acting on it quickly.

I’m at a wilderness medical first responder class. And I’m the odd duck out on the class. Everyone else is living with much harder realities than I do. They are the ones that fight our wars. Provide our security. Fight our fires. They keep up with where our most vulnerable live. It’s an on the margin make your best call world.

My body can feel that this reality is very different from what I live with and on different class and wealth bands. People that are more buffered from harsh realities often don’t want to face the costs of our lifestyles. But we are not in a morally neutral systems. And a lot of violence still happens on the margins.

I feel somewhat invigorated by the immediacy of decision making in these chaotic environments. If you are in a natural disaster like a wildfire your capacity to react calmly under extreme conditions is a given. So naturally we arm these people with more agency and skills as it’s a set of problems with a lot of nuance and grey areas too.

I am frankly exhausted even though I didn’t do anything that intense. I did some traumatic brain injury drills. And I worked on how to properly stint and secure broken bones if you are in the back country and need to hobble back in to society. I learned a lot about agency and context and the need for high emotional intelligence as you cope with those who are in need or duress.

I suppose with that in mind, it’s no surprise that I’d like to enjoy a good long night of sleep and a big breakfast in the morning. One has got to enjoy living when you have the chance.

Categories
Politics

Day 617 and Overnight

I plowed through a bunch of choring yesterday. Which apparently tuckered me out. I took maybe an hour nap before dinner. I had a little extra CBD beforehand and found myself drowsy as hell. I passed out sometime around 8:30pm.

Alas the napping and the early bedtime, if you can call just utterly losing consciousness “bedtime,” had consequences. I came to around 1am and found myself wide awake. Oops.

At first I wasn’t quite sure how to approach this unexpected moment of being lucid and energetic in the middle of the night. I toddled over to the bathroom to pee. I crawled back into bed. I debated if I should try to force the issue with an Ambien. But I didn’t have anything in the morning so I thought maybe I should take those sleep hygiene folks seriously and just do something till I get tired.

Of course, the thing I decided to do was read on my phone. I cleared a few back logged essays from my collections on my favorite reader app Matter. I logged into Bloomberg to check pre-market sentiment. I opened up the New York Times and read Queen Elizabeth’s obituary.

Around 2am it seemed clear I wasn’t sleepy at all. Whether from the back lighting of my phone or the five hours of sleep I’d logged earlier. So I said fuck it and opened Twitter. I dig deep into the feuding discourses of “God Save the Queen” versus the survivors of British empire. Monarchists loved their kindly grandmother and the Irish did their best to be polite about the genocide of it all.

If the sun never sets on the British Empire the doom scrolling through the celebration of the end of the longest reigning monarch seemed like the way to go out. But unsurprisingly there was a lot of darkness to be found in the pre-dawn sentiment. I tweeted a reminder to myself to explore how enclosure movements and anti-colonial “fuck the federales this is our land” historical context plays into the American political moment.

Eventually I got drowsy. I feel asleep around 5am just as the rest of the country was waking up. I slept till 9am or so.

Categories
Politics

Day 609 and Dark Brandon Rising

I really don’t know why I’m commenting at all on it except that capturing some of immediate sentiment of the moment has some value. But I watched Joe Biden’s Soul of America speech.

I wasn’t planning to but the siren call of the Twitter feed sucked me in. Like the rest of America, I feel the call of the discourse. And I have to say I’m surprised yet again at how divergent it feels.

I saw Dark Brandon Rising memes come to life. Our usually stumbling gaff prone president was on fire. Literally as the background was red. I want to know what they pumped him up with. And I don’t think it was a playlist. But he seemed passionate and he made as decent a play for the values of democratic norms as I’ve ever heard. But he also did it on a red lit stage with marines and the imagery of the presidency and norms means pearl clutching from all sides.

I don’t think it’s bad to call out that Trumpism involves election denialism. January 6th has a clear message even if it lacked finesse. It’s not like we are seeing Americans at their best after two years of pandemic. I suppose I recognize that it’s insulting and maybe insidious to say that some people are worse than others. But differences of opinions become a bit less valid when one wants representative democracy and one acts like brute power is fine if it serves their interests.

I felt like it came across decently and relatively unifying and I’m sad that this is a position that is contrarian or in dispute. I’m no fan of the man but I also don’t want to become Argentina or Albania. America is supposed to be better.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 599 and The Lamentations of Their Women

A bunch of people asked me about what happened to me on Twitter over the weekend. I’d been hitting a bunch of different niche communities like startup Twitter, finance Twitter, doomer Twitter, and discourse Twitter with a thread that has a bunch of extremely extra and occasionally outright hostile weirdos saying reactionary shit.

I think it all started when my friend Ashley wrote a post about the commodification of women’s bodies. She was responding to another piece of discourse and found herself getting dog piled by one of the most irritating but unavoidable portions of the the internet; reactionary angry young men.

I didn’t like that Ashley was getting ripped for functionally agreeing with right coded, socially conservative men. I thought “damn, you can’t win with them”.

Entering the Fray

I decided to jump in and tease some of these boys. My inner child loves to shitpost as she finds humor and playfulness protective. I promptly got blocked. I went about my business. Now that I live on our homestead in Montana, I’ve got a lot of chores.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I kept discussing the damn discourse. I expressed my concern that we’ve got such an intense population of reactionary young men who act as if they are perpetually victimized. I expressed empathy for how men are getting screwed and mostly got told it is women’s fault. It did some numbers but it wasn’t going into a context collapse situation just yet. Basically another day on Twitter.

The thread started out with all of the empathy and good faith I’ve come to expect from niche Twitter. We avoided purity politics. Tucker graciously discussed his own journey and how he let go of anger and began taking responsibility for himself and his family. Jack made some jokes. A number of internet friends discussed the varied ways they handled the systemic discrimination that some masculine virtues experience in modernity. Much wisdom was shared about how different they had grown up to be men.

Later that night I wrote a throwaway post about how we’ve got a crisis of masculinity and maybe only other men can get through to angry young boys? I suggested that perhaps right coded men who discuss modern masculinity would have an easier time reaching them. I tagged Tucker Max and Jack Murphy as men who seem to have done a good job taking responsibility for their own lives.

I basically went to bed with a sense that people had been good to each other. And I didn’t really notice being quote tweeted by a niche main character in groyper Twitter or what it would mean for my tomorrow.

It Escalates

His thread contained the following:

  • A very intense discussion of the ethics of doing butt stuff and posting about your experience with polyamory and cuckcolding.
  • The ethics of charging for coaching and clubs and whether one can have masculine virtue if your wife sleeps with other men.
  • A surprising amount of hysterics about what constitutes hypocrisy if one claims to be masculine.

Basically a bunch of people who haven’t figured out their own shadow lives told me exactly how uncomfortable they were with other people’s sex lives.

But honestly it was just so much fucking butt stuff.

Unfortunately that visibility of discourse meant I suddenly got flooded with harassment. A coordinated re-tweeting campaign began. People started digging into back posts and old news headlines. My direct messages got flooded with threats against me and my husband. It was definitely enough that we started thinking about security around the homestead.

I can only assume someone’s group chat or some message board was like “look at the phenotype on this bitch”. And to be fair, some people came with good jokes about venture capitalists moving to Montana. But then there was the graphically racist, as in, “oh we still have Nazis” plot twist. I realized I might need to actually start blocking people. I felt modestly disappointed as I hadn’t been dogpiled in a long time. But protecting myself was more important.

Why

Now you can ask why am I even stepping into these spaces if they contain this kind of abuse? What can I say there is a part of me who enjoys a frisson of danger. The feminine urge to protect our menfolk often runs head long into the reality that they can be dangerous. Walking into male spaces has inherent risks if you take up space in public life.

I have to be honest honest with myself that there is a breed of men who considers all public spaces to be male. I am an offense to them even if I am in the process of lamentation for our men. The space I take up by existing with different preferences is proof enough I am an enemy to be subjugated.

So I guess I owe anyone I teased about blocking on Twitter an apology. There are some people in too much pain out there. And I am not in anyway responsible for their emotional health. Only they can choose to let go of the pain.

Categories
Politics

Day 598 and Reactionaries

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to engage with a bunch of disposed reactionary young men on Twitter this weekend but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I took some pleasure in it. Cognitive dissonance and copium can feel like an amusing game if you don’t think too hard about the pain behind it. And I saw a lot of pain in the responses to me.

My husband asked me if we should increase security at the homestead. I told him I wasn’t sure if these boys were up to more than larping but in truth I’m not sure if teasing groypers and trolls is dangerous or not. The real danger is civilizational. We’ve got angry, disaffected, and emotionally violent men with nowhere to go and nothing constructive to do. Our politics reflects it but only barely.

What happens when the reactionaries go beyond Roe v Wade and clip the wings of democracy? Will the 19th amendment be up for discussion? You’d be surprised at what the discourse is considering at the moment. For all the whining about cancel culture, we’ve never had so much open consideration of rolling back modern liberalism.

I guess I’m glad that we are having conversations about the success of our current political and civilizational social contracts and whether or not some of our choices were failures. But if any of these boys thinks I’m giving up even an iota of the freedom to be responsible for my own life, well, they have got a surprise coming in.

Categories
Politics

Day 594 and Feminine Mystique

I spent my morning desperately trying to distract myself from the pain of menstrual cramps. It’s my first period being without the luxury of living on a city sewer and I am modestly grossed out by having to roll up my tampons in toilet paper and toss them in a tiny trash can.

If you haven’t had your own private septic system, well here is a lesson in rural living. You can’t be putting big globs of cotton into them. Technically you shouldn’t be flushing tampons into any kind of plumbing anywhere. But who amongst us hasn’t done so. Flushable wipes are a lie that big butt wipe has put a lot of marketing dollars into.

Were you uncomfortable reading that? I bet you were. The indignities of embodied life are plentiful but we especially dislike hearing about women and their reproductive system. Don’t trust an animal that can bleed for three days and not die amirite?! Something super mundane that is the reality for half the planet is treated as incredibly foreign and disgusting. I totally love how it makes me feel like a monster just for being human.

I am feeling this particularly acutely because the discourse around women and their rights is at a nasty place in America. We are barely a month out from Roe v Wade being overturned in America and the horror stories are pouring in. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal some unattractive realities.

And I’m not even talking about just abortion. A whole slew of reactionary positions are being floated by the Moldbug crowd and spun up into adjacent meme spaces by feral readers of Bronze Age Pervert. They are happily chatting away about the failures of liberalism and chief amongst them is women’s right to vote. It’s not at all shocking to hear open discussion about how the franchise should only be open to land owning heads of family. So naturally sorry women. It just follows.

I’m getting a lot of pushback from more progressive men (and by that I mean anyone who thinks women voting isn’t up for debate) on my feeds absolutely confident this isn’t happening. No one could possibly believe this they assure me. It seems so shocking to them. But I’m here to stare back into your soul and say “honey please.” It’s all up for debate when people are hungry and angry.

But since you need convincing. I’m telling you that regular people with normalcy bias have already decided I have less bodily autonomy than you. What makes you think these reactionaries have any respect for my franchise if you didn’t even notice the right to chose mattered.

It’s offensive to say this as women have never had more rights but also I’m still a second class citizen. And I’m a white married lady so I know how fragile my perch is and how very high in this delicate dénouement of the battle of the sexes. Progress is fragile. Branches can snap.

Categories
Politics

Day 575 and Harm’s Way

I got put in a hotel room for the final days of packing up our Colorado townhouse. I’m useless at lifting heavy things right now. I find this to be vaguely insulting as I used to be an avid power lifter.

But I can’t dispute that the high cost of my energy makes it uneconomic to involve me in physical labor. My family and friends reasonably want to keep me out of harm’s way. My role in our groups is to be Tom Sawyer not the paint brush brigade. Or if you prefer a story with less moral grey area, I am the mouse Frederick from Leo Leoni’s classic tale about story tellers and community. I scan the horizon and organize people. It’s probably the original professional path for the disabled. We’d have gone instinct in a Darwinian view of simple capacity and yet here we remain.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to mitigation of tail risks recently as the person tasked with keeping our group out of harm’s way. The average prepper isn’t much more convinced that the world is ending than your average person. We simply think that probability being what it is, it is worth doing some work to stay out of harm’s way if you can. Complicated worlds have complicated risk profiles. Buying insurance is just doing the math.

Not everyone is convinced that moving to Montana is staying out of harm’s way. A marketing executive and Vice contributor recently wrote a viral essay about how people like him (and me) are walking into some kind of a Trumpian civil war. I am skeptical of this position having been raised in the mountain west that things are quite so dire in Montana. It’s not Idaho.

But I agree with the basic gist that culture wars are getting hot. But I’m also a native of the West and deserve to be there as much as anyone. I code just as much right wing as I do left wing. My plans are to integrate back into country living. I am all for good neighbors and church and building sustainable communities. But I am also virulently anti-MAGA as populism tends to go badly for diverse populations. And I believe the only way we keep anyone out of harm’s way is by simply resisting simple narratives and taking sides.

Categories
Politics

Day 565 and Mommy Issues

I just want to scream into the void about how disappointed I am in American men right now. I probably shouldn’t but this is my own little space so I may vent briefly and without a lot of citations. I’m angry and sad and I’m pretty convinced we’ve got a bad case of mommy issues with the way we are treating women’s rights this summer.

I’m surprisingly steamed that gay marriage is being protected via legislation before bodily sovereignty. It is just so American to protect the fucking tax regime. Like I get it. We organize all our property around monogamous two person households. Everyone should have equal access if we have it.

Also maybe we could not have the government involved instead. But nope we’ve chosen to get the government involved in social organization and now we’ve got to fight for equal access. And sure the liberals in America are scrambling in this particular summer to front run the Supreme Court being open to overturning settled precedent on all kinds of shit. I get it. I swear. I get it. I’m glad something is being done.

But like in what fucking world is bodily sovereignty for half the population the sort of problem you don’t bother to codify into rights first. Or at all! Why is it easier to protect marriage than my body. What message does it send we protected gay marriage before the right to manage your own body.

We are able to pass legislation on protecting equal access to some dippy tax scheme but we couldn’t figure out how to have control control over your own body if you can get pregnant. White gay men have more sway than brown women. I get it. I get it. I’m just so fucking disappointed.

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 551 and Enjoy The Decline

I didn’t celebrate Independence Day yesterday. At least not in any meaningful sense. Typically I like to watch Roland Emmerich’s classic film Independence Day and cheer on American exceptionalism with explosions and hamburgers.

Instead I’m abroad and trapped in a small Airbnb that has me tethered to the nearest air conditioner. Pollution and climate change isn’t very good for enjoying time outside. 100 degree heat and a lack of EPA pollution standards are not a great combination so best of luck to my friends in Texas.

Nothing breeds appreciation for capitalism quite like spending time somewhere it hasn’t existed for long. Even at the end of the empire, American capitalism is so effective, our living standards still eclipse eastern block countries and other experiments in strongman style socialism. There is a reason people want to come to America and it’s not because we make it easy on immigrants or offer a strong social safety net.

It will be better to live in America for another fifty years or so than nearly anywhere else. Even with all our problems and bullshit, America at its worst is better than most of the planet. Entropy is a bitch though so you may you may as well enjoy the decline as eventually our lack of infrastructure and crumbling institutional capacity will destroy us.

Eventually “the crumbles” and the “Jankening” will eat away at our quality of life lead over the rest of the world. And let me tell you having been reminded of how much it sucks to live without the comforts of modernity, life this life to the fullest while you can. You are not going to enjoy the average lifestyle of a Balkan or Baltic state.

Which might be optimistic given some of the reactionary types striving to be the next Victor Orban. So might I recommend going out to eat at some fine fast casual restaurant and then making a Target run for things you don’t need. It won’t be around forever.