Grifts, in order to succeed, have to secrete ideologies in order to justify themselves, and the main product of ideology is identity. The identity is the shitty door prize that people get in exchange for accepting the grift. So when you start questioning the grift, people who get no real benefit from it but do get an identity out it as a by-product are the ones most quick to get pissed off and react negatively. Exploiters don't have to suppress thoughts, the exploited do it for them.

I had a dream last night about a house nobody lived in. Staff would come and go to clean it and do laundry and cook food, there were rooms where you could pay to sleep, tours would come and go from it and through it, there were tradespeople fixing and altering it -- but when I asked anyone who lived there and owned it, nobody had any idea or had ever seen them. This is basically a dream about the contemporary economy.

One of the perennial truths of political philosophy is that statecraft is not fundamentally about command, and that if you think it is you're going to end up with _sic temper tyrannis_ carved into your back eventually; it's about artfully balancing force against force in the interest of some equilibrium approximating peace. Which is why every single human participates in it, whether this is acknowledged or not. What makes a status quo is persuasion, which is as much lateral as horizontal.

'Whoever does not know just how far necessity and a fickle fortune hold the human soul under their domination cannot treat as his equals, nor love as himself, those whom chance has separated from him by an abyss. The diversity of the limitations to which men are subject creates the illusion that there are different species among them which cannot communicate with one another. Only he who knows the empire of might and knows how not to respect it is capable of love and justice.' (Simone Weil)

'Further, moderation itself is not always without peril; for the prestige which constitutes three-fourths of might is first of all made up of that superb indifference which the powerful have for the weak, an indifference so contagious that it is communicated even to those who are its object. But ordinarily it is not a political idea which councils excess. Rather is the temptation to it nearly irresistable, despite all counsels.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad, or the Poem of Force')

'For they never think of their own strength as a limited quantity, nor of their relations with others as an equilibrium of unequal powers. Other men do not impose upon their acts that moment for pausing from which alone consideration for our fellows proceeds: they conclude from this that destiny has given all license to them and none to their inferiors. Henceforth they go beyond the measure of their strength, inevitably so, because they do not know its limit.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad')

'He who possesses strength moves in an atmosphere which offers him no resistance. Nothing in the human element surrounding him is of a nature to induce, between the intention and the act, that brief interval where thought may lodge. Where there is no room for thought, there is no room either for justice or prudence.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad, or the Poem of Force')

'If all men, by the act of being born, are destined to suffer violence, that is a truth to which the empire of circumstances closes their minds. The strong man is never absolutely strong, nor the weak man absolutely weak, but each one is ignorant of this. They do not believe that they are of the same species. The weak man no more regards himself as like the strong man than he is regarded as such.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad, or the Poem of Force')

'Might suffered at the hands of another is as much a tyranny over the soul as extreme hunger at the moment when food means life or death. And its empire is as cold, and as hard as though exercised by lifeless matter. The man who finds himself everywhere the most feeble of his fellows is as lonely in the heart of a city, or more lonely, than anyone can be who is lost in the midst of a desert.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad, or the Poem of Force')

'On no occasion has the slave a right to express anything if not that which may please the master. This is why, if in so barren a life, a capacity to love should be born, this love can only be for the master. Every other way is barred to the gift of loving, just as for a horse hitched to a wagon, the reins and the bridle bar all directions but one.' (Simone Weil, 'The Illiad, or the Poem of Force')

'The plain consequence to be drawn, it seems, for a partisan of the workers' revolution is that, before launching the workers into the adventure of a political revolution, one must try to find out if methods exist likely to enable them to lay hold silently, gradually, almost invisibly, of a considerable part of real social power; and that one must either apply these methods if they exist, or give up the idea of a workers' revolution if they do not.' (ibid.)

'A visible revolution never takes place except to sanction an invisible revolution already accomplished. When a social class noisily seizes power, it is because it already silently possessed that power, at any rate to a very large extent; otherwise it would not have the strength necessary to seize it.' (Simone Weil, 'Is there a Marxist doctrine?', 1943)

People like Adolf Berle and Leon Duguit have been trying to draw attention to this stuff for literally a century, and I think properly considered their work has a lot of value for anyone with a healthy distrust for the myths of modern liberalism and a desire to understand how our institutions actually function, but for some reason nobody reads them these days.

When you add to this the fact that the managers are the ones who do all the hiring and firing, what you get is in effect less a system for transferring wealth from the laborer to the capitalist (though this does happen) than a system for transferring control from both of them to the manageriat, which as a consequence also involves a wealth-transfer. In a way, dividends are hush-money to shareholders to keep them from asking too many questions about where the pre-dividend funds are going.

The same thing happened in the Soviet Union and in China as in the West, because doctrinaire Leninism also simply has no place for this phenomenon to occupy, making it effectively impossible to talk about without calling your own party credentials into question. Simply by controlling access to information and presenting an acceptable story to whoever you're theoretically answerable to, you can carve out and maintain your own petty despotism almost any regime.

The reason Marxist predictions largely failed to come true can be traced to something Marx noticed but underestimated, i.e. the effect of segregating ownership of capital from the management of capital. The de jure control doesn't even match the de facto control, and in effect most owners of capital are absentee landlords from their own operations who view them in purely financial terms. This allows managers to capture rents by controlling information, passing privileges off as operating costs.

I'm happy to see Graeber's work on bullshit jobs getting traction, but it's incomplete without making the connection to his other work on bureaucracy: the former is a product of the latter, in the sense that bullshit work is secreted as a by-product of petty empire-building on the part of the manageriat, and that this in turn is parasitic on well-meaning but misguided respect for 'the rules' and other totems of order and morality that aren't quite what they pretend to be.

Bizarrely, though, the actual practice of the idea is most often avoided by people doing it backward: presuming to understand the causes of affirmation first and reasoning a priori about them, without bothering to take an unprejudiced look at the affirmations the motives purportedly explain to see if the explanation makes sense of them. In this way the universal acid against exploitative relationships gets converted to an enormously addictive way to stay stuck inside your fantasy world.

The central insight of both dialectical materialism and psychoanalysis is that by examining the patterns of people's expressions of belief (direct or implied), without worrying about the truth-value of those beliefs, you can infer the causes of those affirmations and thereby learn something about how the world you live in actually works, i.e. you can triangulate on the real by carefully tracing out the connections latent in the symbolic. That idea is a perennial bit of jarred lightning.

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Sunbeam City is a anticapitalist, antifascist solarpunk instance that is run collectively.