Recently, a reader at The Rational Male, had this to say, in response to one of my comments in which I argued that it might be better for some men to push back ideologically compared to “sucking it up” and simply compete within the environment in which they have voluntarily placed themselves:
I sense you are trying to alleviate cognitive dissonance in your pursuit of Selonomics. (me perusing your blog).
If you want to talk about maximizing your value by producing less or wanting to produce less in a Society, a top down analysis of economics is practically useless.
One of the essences of The Rational Male is that it espouses a bottoms up approach to Awareness and self actualizing. In other words, you can’t complain about the village, or society, or city or state or country in which you voluntary place yourself. It is up to you to develop agency among those which which you place yourself.
Or move to a different environs and don’t suffer fools (aplenty) with gladness. A lot of fools have bobbed to the surface lately.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb says that “it is immoral to be in opposition of the market system and not live (like the Unabomber) in a hut isolated from it.“ Selonomics is not in opposition to the market system, the sexual market system, or whatever other system one might conceieve of, despite the fact that sometimes it appears that way. The suggestion that you can “maximize your social status without working any more than you want to” sure does sound like lazy defeatism, I admit, but Selonomics is not about fundamentally doing less and then complaining about those who make you look bad by doing more.
It’s about first acknowledging and then committing to a set of particularly reasonable self-limiting beliefs, followed by optimizing your life around those commitments. It’s definitely not about dragging other people down with you. In the Selo, there is an oft-repeated joke about two brothers, one who moved to San Francisco, and one who stayed in his village by the sea. I won’t repeat it here. You can read it by following this link.
The moral of the story, however, is that maximum psychological fulfillment can be attained in many ways, some of which don’t depend totally on unfettered competition and personal growth within the bounds of your current cultural environment. A sentiment such as this will surely irritate many in the Manosphere, especially those who preach bodybuilding, extreme work ethic and game (several prominent high-testosterone men among them come immediately to mind), but I don’t think any less of them for it; it’s simply the stone cold truth.
This is something that comes up often in debates I have had when discussing Selonomics with friends, and will form the crucible of conflict between Yarco Suarez and Matthew Kensington in The Selomachean Ethics upcoming. One the major problems with claiming that you can actually do better in life by refusing to work very hard, by not competing and by implicitly criticizing the values of those who do the opposite of you is that it is nearly impossible to credibly signal that your criticisms are not a form of lazy defeatism.
The most common criticism of Selonomics I’ve heard goes something like the following:
Matthew: Man, you and I both know that if you could just flip a switch, you’d take the $100 million and yacht full of babes. Don’t deny it.
Yarco: It’s not about the money. It’s about the switch. You can’t just flip it and poof, “you’re rich!”
Matthew: See? Your Hamster is spinning hard right now. Why not work hard, go to the gym, buy that new souped up BMZ, and succeed?
Yarco: I’d do all those things if it weren’t so hard for me, if the outcome were proportional to the effort. But I prefer spending time with myself, reading intellectual treatises and taking long hikes in nature. Does that make me any less a man?
Matthew: You know that’s just a cop out. If you could get girls, you wouldn’t care about those things as much. Bro, I care about you but you’re really missing out, and I can’t spend any more time around you because your negative thoughts are really cramping my style.
Yarco: Negative thoughts? Let me know when the crack wears off.
On the one hand, I have shown that Hypergamy is a general purpose filtering mechanism for maximizing the genetic quality of a stock of evolving agents. On the other hand, it can be shown to be highly deleterious in a society of cooperative agents. In that post I went on to say that:
“In simple systems with few additional feedback loops, Hypergamy can be a good thing [and successful men should be rewarded for gaming it]. In complex systems, such as human societies, however, Hypergamy, the mating access and genetic inequality that results, is likely to cause a society to self-implode, in much the same way that too unequal a distribution of household income in an economy, for example, stalls growth by [causing technological unemployment]…The Mating Economy is likely best understood as a series of feedback loops, in which a balance between Regulated Monogamy and Open Hypergamy maximizes the ‘socioeconomic growth rate’ of a Civilization.”
It appears as though norms about work ethic and compensation tend to change as we alternate between economic regimes. When fiscal policy is such that the Neo-Keynesian regime prevails (low interest, more-regulated, moderate inflation), norms tend to be re-distributive. This is because the median worker is happiest (and evolutionarily-speaking, psychologically optimized) when equality is high and growth is moderate. When the Austrian economic regime prevails (high interest, less-regulated, deflationary), norms tend to be competitive. This is because the median business owner is happiest when inequalities reflect true differences in work ethic. In this regime, technological innovation tends to be highest.
This should make intuitive sense. When capital is “winning”, hindsight bias allows capital to claim that it is capital that generates the best outcomes, whatever those outcomes may be. When labor is “winning”, hindsight bias allows labor to claim that it is labor that generates the best outcomes. Time Machines aside, the economy is vastly non-ergodic. As a result of our inability to realistically reexamine interesting real world events such as Recessions without massive, costly computer simulations (as of today, even these suck), whoever is currently winning can often easily claim that they, and only they, know why they and the rest of their world are winning as well.
However, hubris is the handmaden of hara-kiri. When either of the two economic regimes become too extreme, norms begin to devolve at the margin. There is a deep Tao to this. Those who do not benefit from a pervasive Austrian regime (labor class) tend to complain about “too much competition” and at the height of a Neo-Keynesian regime, those who do not benefit from redistribution (capital class) tend to complain about “too much unionization”.
A paper by Pedro Forquesato (2016), recently published in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (the full text is available here) shows us empirically that this is the case, by examining cross-cultural differences in firm output as a function of interactions between technology and attitudes toward work ethic. The dissemination of work ethic, it seems, is a function of both the incentive-steepness of an economy (how inelastic are firms’ reactions to profit-making opportunities), and the underlying team-contingency of its available technologies (how independent does capital make its workers). For example, an economy centered on assembly line manufacturing encourages more shirking than one which relies heavily on mathematicians and designers.
There is a direct corollary here with sexual marketplace economics. When the sexual regime that is best aligned with Open Hypergamy prevails, those who benefit, i.e. the fractal distribution representing Alpha Males and Third Wave Feminists, tend to complain that those who oppose them are lazy creeps. When the sexual regime best aligned with Regulated Monogamy prevails, married men will complain that those who oppose them are part of some vast misandrist conspiracy and want to ban liquor to punish them.
My position in all of this is that there is simply no right or wrong. The success of which ever regime currently prevails will dictate the norms around which the ethics of work and social contribution depends. Only when those ethics are pushed beyond their natural tipping point (which, frankly, is hard to discern—although it’s not hard to guess in which direction we’re currently facing, at least in North America) will the opposition begin to have the leverage needed to undermine the established ethics, and revert the feedback loop. The natural conclusion is that if you’re living in society in which Open Hypergamy prevails, and you don’t want to compete to earn a top spot, move somewhere else, like Eastern Europe.
The world is large and regime shift is not unilateral. You can find places where labor (the sexual strategy of the median man) is in full-effect. The best a man can do is figure out where approximately on the sociosexual hierarchy one can see themselves sitting in 5 years times, and plan accordingly. Should a man move to their ancestral village? Should he try working in Eastern Europe? Should he become an an agitator for some greater sociopolitical cause? I don’t think this is as clear cut as many believe.
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