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    For links of this general category, I’d like to encourage a norm of always posting posting your own take on the matter, or your takeaway from the article, or your analysis or disagreements or something—the reason being that there’s a lot of such insight-porn-y “talking head explains current cultural trends” pieces out there; this one might be particularly good, but it’s hard to distinguish from the forest of not-particularly-good similar things. This way, if you don’t feel like writing something to go with the link, then maybe the link isn’t worth posting! Costly signaling, don’tcha know :)

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      In this particular case what I found interesting was the notion that the core cause of increasing left radicalism might be economic rather than ideological. That it’s a consequence of there being a lot of people with strong writing muscles but no obvious (ethical) way to use them to extract resources from their environment. And as a consequence they’re going rogue and rampaging around the social media ’verse.

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        That’s an interesting insight!

        Can we say why it might be that people who are skilled writers are radicalizing leftward and not rightward? (Or is that even true? Maybe this explains the alt-right as well…?) (Edit: or perhaps more appropriately, not the alt-right exactly, but the “grey enlightenment” and NRx and so forth?)

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          Attempting to answer my own question—some possible components of an explanation:

          1. [for completeness] Nothing to answer because it’s not true (cf. parenthetical about grey enlightenment).
          2. Writing skill correlated with intelligence and education, which is correlated with liberal leanings.
          3. Technological literacy (required for participating in social media, i.e. getting your writings out onto the Internet) correlated with both of the above.
          4. Economic interests of the unemployed and/or unemployable better aligned with (or perceived as being better aligned with) liberal / left political factions.
          5. Development of “strong writing muscles” somehow caused by existing liberal / left political convictions. (How? Not sure. Perhaps, something to do with universities?)

          Are there other possibilities?

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            It strikes me that Marx was wrong for lots of reasons, but the biggest is because classes under capitalism are not in fact engaged in a zero-sum competition for resources, but in positive-sum economic exchange. Capitalism has been such a success by allowing for that positive sum process of trade and innovation to accelerate and progress. But if the supply of a good considered necessary to a dignified life (like owner occupied housing) becomes almost perfectly inelastic in spite of increasing demand, then the society becomes much more zero-sum after all, with what is good for Peter being bad for Paul. In this way, left wing politics become more analytically correct as the society constrains and limits the ability of capitalism to give people what they say they want- a dignified home and means of providing for themselves.


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              Another thing to consider is something Paul Graham pointed out in one of his essays that Sam Altman echoes in this interview:


              “Altman, as he nursed a negroni after dinner, had his own warning for the timid: ‘Democracy only works in a growing economy. Without a return to economic growth, the democratic experiment will fail. And I have to think that YC is hugely important to that growth.’”

              If you can become wealthy by creating wealth, then that provides an avenue to social mobility which isn’t based on zero sum politics. Once your economic growth rate falls below a certain level though, then no new wealth is being created and the best way to become wealthy is to take it from someone else.

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                Huh. Yeah. That makes sense.

                Edit: It does not quite answer all the questions, like: yes, but why exactly should such people’s economically left-wing views be so consistently tied to socially left-wing views? A “natural allies” explanation seems obvious, but something feels missing.

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                I don’t remember exactly where I read this. (I vaguely remember it might have been Academician Zex?) But someone pointed out that on the right wing side, you have the Koch Brothers and other billionaires financing the careers of talented right wing authors and speakers. Equivalent resources don’t seem to be there for the left, since Soros for example mostly focuses his funds on far left activism.

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          It will be interesting and amusing to find out whether the twitter mob phenomenon is contingent on people not realizing it’s ridiculous, or it just keeps happening forever because, even though everyone understands how ridiculous it is, it’s required by the incentives set up by the mere existence of Twitter. (Of course, that would imply that complaining about it on the object level, like this article does, is equally ridiculous.)

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