Post Apathy Newsletter: December 2020

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In the October newsletter, I intro’d with some thoughts about the importance of community and culture; community as an antifragile asset we can (and must) invest in as a hedge against the future, and culture as a superior investment to politics. No amount of inflation or any Black Swan event can eliminate their growth potential or ability to endure catastrophic events and rebuild in the aftermath. They are the only assets I can think of that are truly antifragile.

Over the past few months, I also have been thinking about time, capital, power, and how culture and networks are our ways of reaching through space-time to set our mark upon past, present, and future. You'll find some rough thoughts on this below along with my monthly reads and some housekeeping.

The Latest from Post Apathy

I write five mini-essays drawing a thread across capital and power, time and technology, states and corporations, tribes and civilisations, and more. These thoughts aren't final; they're an opening salvo. My hope is that this series of mini-essays spawns wider discussion and thought on the aforementioned themes and more.

With Ahmed al-Dakhil and Eric Wollberg

Eric and I talk Abrahamic alliances, American statecraft, West Coast Century, urban governance, technology, neo-feudalism, virtualism, and other pertinent themes written about on Post Apathy over the course of the year.

Monthly Readings

The theme of my reading in recent months has been social capital, and this is an exceptionally well-written essay combining both prudent economic analysis and a normative appreciation for the values of Utahn society that produce the social capital responsible for its ‘economic exceptionalism'.

The above essay on successful Utahn social capital makes a good pairing with this essay on the failures of social capital among the American elite who have accrued most of the influence, power, and wealth in its elderly members and left the younger vanguard with very little, leading to their greater political radicalism.

Recalling this essay from earlier in the year, Isaac reminds us that if we want to build, we need a shared vision of what ‘the good life’ means, without which we subsequently lose the capacity and will to build. Ontology precedes epistemology.

Willow emphasises the need for community and culture in order to have a shared vision of the good life. We face a social capital glut in our private lives which feeds into our failures in the public sphere to have effective governance and build good infrastructure, among other things. This essay echoes my sentiments around community and culture being an antifragile asset we need to invest more into.

Markets, not software, will eat the world. Alpha diagnoses much of our technological stagnation to the software industry's harvesting of low-hanging fruits which is obscuring the real revolution to come: the Second Market Revolution ('SMR'), a software-enabled atoms-first production and manufacturing revolution.

Synthesis

The conclusion of September's newsletter was that the old means of production and distribution are passing away and a new paradigm is being born. Alpha's thesis is that we are in the early stages of labour producing this new paradigm and that it will take a lot of pain to get there. News such as jobs being replaced with automation, depressed wages, and the threat of feudalism, were similar scenes in the early decades of the Industrial Revolution where the general quality of life plummeted as people flocked to cities for manufacturing work - before soaring again. 'The Republics of Big Tech' like Amazon, Apple, and Tesla are some of the companies attempting to usher in the Second Market Revolution (unlike ad-based companies like Google and Facebook), but they are by no means sufficient, and I suspect that they will not even be the biggest companies to come.

The 21st century has just begun.

But it's not all private enterprise and technology. Like my reflections and the other essays on social capital in this newsletter, to really take advantage of these developments requires a vision of what the good life is, and people who share and build that vision with you. Culture and community matter. Without these things, the struggles we undergo lose meaning, and the gains we make in our lifetimes don't get passed on. Real wealth like food, shelter, healthcare, and property ownership are all needs, but we also need the intangible wealth of culture, tradition, and dynastic thinking to really take advantage of any advances we make in the cause of civilisation.

People still matter, and they won't ever be replaced by robots.

For many, 2020 has been a year of loss, but it has simultaneously been a refounding - of our values, of what we hold dear, of what we want from life in the coming years. We have lost people to the coronavirus and gained new friends in the Cloud. We should be aware that the Cloud isn't our end-goal; it's a new tool to facilitate our search for like-minded people that can form relationships with, and ideally communities in the real world too. The decade ahead is going to be very hard, but enduring it with the right squad and laying the seeds of prosperity will ensure a ripe harvest afterwards.  It's time to find your tribe and start building.

Until next time.

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