Locklin on science

Classic books on the NPC

Posted in Book reviews by Scott Locklin on October 18, 2022

One of the more hilarious memes out there is the NPC meme. The idea that many modern Western shitlibs are not fully conscious; non player characters in video games. It’s so threatening to, well, NPCs, twitter has basically banned people for spreading the meme and rustling NPC jimmies. Of course, the NPC isn’t a new phenomenon at all; such “stuffing for the mattress” is a product of early industrialization. Peasants and slaves raised to managerial clerical status have an ideology. It’s considered left wing, but since it presently involves free trade, open borders, rampant warfare, no restrictions on movements of capital and low taxation for the wealthy, it probably should be considered something else. These mores are really as self-serving as trade-union protectionism and wealth taxes are to lower middle class industrial laborers. The medieval moral autism that goes along with the ideology, the demonizing of the heretic, is what makes them particularly dangerous. Political writers from Orwell to Eric Hoffer to Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote about them in the early 20th century, as they were considered a serious problem to the stability of societies even 100 years ago. There’s no point talking about Orwell, who is an overrated thinker who happened to get good publicity courtesy the CIA; you can find plenty of that elsewhere. It’s worth talking about Hoffer and Ortega y Gasset though, particularly in light of all the insane dipshit covid fanatics running around with Ukrainian flags or whatever the latest thing is. Mind you, not everyone who subscribes to a certain kind of political belief is an NPC, nor is it even a necessary condition for NPC-hood, but people who fanatically buy into every infotainment spread trend absolutely are NPCs, just as the brownshirt or communist swine of the 1920s. If they haven’t yet committed genocides comparable in numbers, it’s only because they haven’t yet had the opportunity.


Eric Hoffer’s True Believer is pretty well forgotten these days. Hoffer’s background is worthy of comment: he was known as the “Longshoreman philosopher.” His origin story seems to be the sheerest bullshit: supposedly born in the Bronx to an Alsatian family, blinded at a young age, his eyesight mysteriously returned at 15 at which point he became a voracious reader in case he was deprived of his sight again. He left home, became a hobo and fruit picker while scouring the libraries. He became famous in 1951 for this book, and was a regular columnist (while working as a Longshoreman) thereafter. Mind you some dude shows up in 1951 with a German accent and writes a best selling book…. later becoming one of the great English language aphorists… I dunno I’m a little suspicious! Maybe it really happened the way he said it did, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone digs up the fact that he was some kind of WW-2 intelligence asset spirited out in the war, given an obscure job, and rising to great heights either as part of an internal propaganda campaign, or sheer merit.

Very Neolithic Farmer Physiognomy: not very Alsatian

Hoffer was a sort of libertarian conservative, and his book was a  big influence on the younger me. His views on mass movements in 1951 were topical both because of the war, but mostly I suppose because of communism.  Some of it rings hollow in the current year, though I remember it making me feel kind of smug the first couple of times I read it. For example, he dismisses propaganda out of hand, thinking only weak minded NPC types are subject to it. I mean, this doesn’t seem real true to me: lots of reasonable people seem to be perfectly willing to participate in mass hysterias driven by propaganda. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t behave that way without the propaganda. Hoffer also notes that participants in mass movements don’t tend to be happy self-sufficient people, and lists what I take to be a fairly out of date taxonomy of people who participate in  mass movements. Hoffer couldn’t have anticipated the kinds of weirdos we have now, but his taxonomy is none the less dated and of his time, rather than something eternal. One thing is for sure though: Hoffer thinks the NPC type is an actual type: a sort of moral defective who is deeply unhappy. I do too; I view them as Aristotle and the Greeks viewed slaves: people who outsource their reason to others. Pretty sure Hoffer didn’t read Aristotle, to his great loss; in any case that sort of talk wasn’t popular after WW-2. There’s other stuff, sprinkled with actual insights; yes, leaders of recent mass movements do tend to literary types, though somehow he fails to notice …. many of them absolutely weren’t. Of course his larger point that literary (or merely educated) types are a locus of power in any regime, and such needs to be controlled in a repressive society is true: that’s why the imbeciles running things now are so hot on censoring the internets. There are gems scattered throughout, noting for example if Americans start to hate foreigners with real passion we will have lost confidence in our way of life. I believe we’ve hit that point with the insane dehumanization of Russians, who appear to be a sort of Jungian shadow of what Americans and Europeans used to be like. He also notes that leadership which holds the people in contempt doesn’t tend to be real popular (WEF types and the rest of the current Western political class should carefully contemplate this). He also notes the clarifying and unifying power of action: even trivial action in drawing people into a movement; marches, masks, what have you. I think I first read this when I was a 22 year old libertardian atheist and it was heady stuff back then. Now that I’m older and none of those adjectives apply, it seems pretty fluffy and vague (though very well written). The ratio of insights to baloney rates it something like a C. I am a dissapoint, especially since I bought his complete works to eventually read before I left the country.

The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman. I got this from an off handed comment in a Tim Ferris interview with Ed Thorp (both parts are worth your attention). I love off handed comments by genius types as they can occasionally lead me to books like this. Essentially this is a sociological documentation of people’s character changing over time: moving from being tradition minded, to “inner-directed,” to “other directed” aka mindless NPC conformists (the other kinds of people can also be conformists). This is fascinating as it was something observable in 1950, I guess the mass media of the time was responsible for some of it, changes in child rearing techniques more of it and corporate culture the remainder. It’s a useful model to me as I’m completely obviously a classic inner-directed eccentric (like Ed Thorp except a lot dumber), as has been a common type in the middle to upper classes in the West since the Renaissance. I have a hard time recognizing the “outer directed” type as actually thinking the way they clearly do, and tend to treat them as if they were more like me, capable of rational thought and not prey to anxieties about social status; a classic “inner-directed” solipsistic error.  Riesman was a good sociologist so all of his writing was “no judgement zone” -I’m adding in my own judgments. He does point out the numerous downsides to being inner-directed compared to outer-directed, though to my inner-directed sensibilities, they all seem pretty trivial costs to pay for having a soul.

He identifies the traditional minded character as growing up in a fixed society in a large family, the inner-directed as being a common type in an expanding society with large amounts of social mobility, and the outer-directed as in a shrinking populace with contracting though cosmopolitan bureaucratic horizons. Riesman shows this existed in classical times, and even points out the insane things NPCs did back then: late Athens was notorious for banishing and murdering its best people, and various post-Republic Roman eras were famous for the injustices rained down on great men: just like NPCs are notorious today for destroying the lives of the great and the good (and admittedly a villain here and there). As for child rearing practices: the traditional family is large and extended with standards being simply enforced by imitation of various adults, the inner directed, more or less the nuclear family where ideals and self discipline are emphasized with clear goal setting and standards, chores and expectations, and the NPC family, the children are spoiled, raised by the opinions of others, vague mooshy standards, in an emotionally claustrophobic, female-led family with no extended family or numerous siblings, and with parents being sort of “buddies” to the kids. Mind you he’s describing this in the 1950s; it’s ridiculously obvious that this is the common mode of child-rearing today, and it’s breeding kids who basically have no superego or soul in general. Teachers: same thing. The inner directed child has strict, regimented, orderly and strictly delineated teachers in a disciplined classroom: nuns with yardsticks more or less. The NPC is taught (early preschool is a consistent feature of NPC children) in non hierarchical ways in informal classrooms with boundaries between parental roles and teaching roles blurred and play turned into a sort of weird group “inclusive” activity instead of something kids do naturally. Riesman even mentions the lowering of standards and emphasis on the group activity and “tolerance” -in 1950 mind you. Before SSRIs and social media made even more insane behavior possible.

Riesman describes the inner-directed personality as having a sort of “inner gyroscope” that keeps him stable; the outer-directed NPC very pointedly has no such thing, to make their personality flexible enough to get on inside bureaucracies. The NPC has social radar, constantly searching for the latest thing and the approval of others (Riesman words not mine). Instead of a strong superego, the NPC is pervaded with anxiety he picked up from his neurotic parents who weren’t confident in their child-rearing techniques. Riesman points out that the motivating emotion of the tradition oriented personality is avoidance of shame, the inner-directed, guilt, and the NPC is diffuse anxiety. Anxiety is something I find completely foreign, but which is apparently the defining emotion of our era, and why some huge fraction of the country melts its brain on the daily with psycho-pharmaceuticals.

Riesman thinks NPC characteristics can probably be mitigated in adulthood (he phrases this as switching between roles), though he presents no clear evidence for this being done successfully; only of “inner directed” people becoming neurotic NPCs as they move up the bureaucratic food chain. I remember a few years ago, the rediscovery by NPC types of the quality known as “resilience” -which is of course something you learn when you’re a kid and your parents make you go chop the wood then “study differential equation 8 hour a day.” This fascination and the ensuing self help books was a year or two before ‘ronatime: how do you think that worked out? Maybe it would have been worse if NPR fans hadn’t heard of this concept? I suppose some may develop entrepreneurial natures through various self improvement regimens, though most of the entrepreneurs I’ve known have been, like me,  inner-directed by the time I met them at least. NPCs do make decent bureaucrats, and most upper middle class meaningless jobs are bureaucratic in nature. The vanity of the bureaucrat class being why they confuse themselves with the great and the good: the bureaucrat has always been a sort of glorified slave: one above menial slaves, but not free men or leaders. Look at the cringe toadying of Twitter’s present executive: his behavior is more typical of a domestic servant or chaiwala than someone who leads a large organization. His sort of consensus leadership may be necessary to hold together a large organization of bureaucrats; we’ll find out soon. Speaking of which, I wonder what Riesman would have made of the witch hunts and various hysterias spread on social media. One thing is for certain; he would have absolutely nailed those people as being “outer directed” NPCs. You could look at the NPC-brain as being a sort of newfangled, more psychologically unstable version of the traditional brain; one specifically adapted to the conditions of late empire where other NPCs are the extended family. This sort of fits my main mental model of such people as being broadly akin to peasants and slaves who were elevated above their station.

This one is a 700 page “A.” The insight to page ratio is off the hook; he even nails NPC boys entertainments (comic books naturally) versus inner-directed (Robinson Crusoe, Horatio Alger stories -he doesn’t notice “hard science fiction” but that probably counts). To say nothing of NPC hobbies (being a foodie and sex-degenerate) versus inner-directed (maybe a perfectionist gourmet, but more likely has a tool room: BTW I have a tool room). He nails this in 1950! You’ll be thinking through the implications of this for years; for example, geopolitically, the reason China is successful is all the Tiger Moms raising ambitious, productive inner directed kids who are building vast new industries and infrastructure, but it’s entirely possible for the next generation (such as there is of it) will be entirely NPC/outer directed as its mandarinates have been historically. I suppose it also has implications as to how political correctness can be stopped in its active attacks on, well, just about everyone at this point. Maybe what Turchin is trying to measure is an inevitable growth of this class “over production of elites” and it eventually being killed off or mitigated somehow? The book also has human resource implications to any would-be entrepreneur, researcher or corporate executive. I should probably make a survey of 1950s era sociologists; thinking back to the last sociology books I read, they also paid large dividends per page.

Jose Ortega Y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses, Ortega Y Gasset was a liberal bourgeois from Spain, writing in the dark days before the civil war. Ortega Y Gasset (OYG) is quite interesting in that he basically had the type of classical liberal republican meritocratic views that gave birth to the United States, living in a country where virtually nobody had such ideas. Interestingly he was not a democrat, which a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around (neither were most sane men in the US until fairly recently). OYG points out the recent increase (in 1929) in European population and the fact that there is a new kind of mass-man made possible by the scientific progress of the 19th century. He also points out that even 20th century elites take these huge strides forward for granted without realizing the heroic efforts that go into building a civilization. Hungry mobs that riot and burn down the bakeries is the ideology of the day. He points out the towering stupidity of the current year peasant and how narcissistic he is (I wish he lived to see Instagram; cruel I know). He also points out the “elites” themselves are essentially barbarians with no historical conceptions. People who were over-specialized, particularly scientists earn OYG’s special ire; he’s correct that this type is elevated above all others in current year (1929 as today), and most of these people are extremely mediocre people more or less engaged in factory work. I remember thinking it wasn’t quite fair to physicists the first time I read it, as most of those I knew in Grad School were reasonably curious people who read old novels and philosophy books. However when I think about those left behind in the subject, or when I turn the idea over to the “scientific” heroes of current year, computer programmers and adherents to imaginary “sciences” of noodle theory, quantum information and nanotech: his scorn is well deserved. Most of them can’t actually think outside their tiny speciality (which may be an actual glass bead game), and are glorified mechanics: some are only theoretical mechanics. He rightly saw that the profusion of peasant-brained scientists (in 1929 mind you) would result in slower progress, or perhaps rot in the sciences.

OYG didn’t draw the functional distinctions Riesman did: I’m pretty sure he would despise most “inner directed” types as deeply as peasants and “outer directed.” In fact he admires the old Nobility, which he sees as being responsible for the existence of all European states and all of the things which make them unique. He rightly points out that mass-man specialists given technocratic control the State will eventually destroy all cultural production outside the state. The spiritual power of a state over people is something little commented upon; OYG points out that the mass man’s takeover of European (at the time, world) governance is coincident with things falling apart, with no spiritually commanding ordering principle to replace it. Russian marxism or American mass-democracy could only bring chaos: he talks specifically of such ideologies applying themselves to colonies and worldviews, and he was exactly right in both regards. OYG predicts the EU coming after the fascist nations, and both Russia and the US turning into something else, and sort of leaves us there, making him not so helpful in current year. Still, many deep insights, lots of bracing misanthropy and pessimism. A gentleman’s B.

Incidentally I also read the widely touted “The Psychology of Totalitarianism” by Mattias Desmet thinking it might provide some insight into the last couple of years. This was the origin of the “mass formation” term used by various people (some of them admittedly nitwits) when talking of the mass hysteria which so obviously took over the world for the ‘ronatime, and which continues in the moronic and utterly avoidable march towards apocalyptic WW-3 with the Rooskie. I obviously agree with the author’s theme, that, in fact, we have a large number of people possessed by  collective mental illness, and I appreciated how much the term “mass formation” triggered the NPC at the time,  I guess for sounding more sciencey than the latest gibberings from “public health experts.” Sadly, this book is a raging dumpster fire of nonsense: even where I agree with it. His argument is that society and science-in-current-year are both fake and gay (I more or less agree) and that people are lonely and mentally ill (ditto), and that mass movements make NPCs feel better (tru). These are trivial observations, and better stated by all of the above authors. He then yammers on about the Holocaust because it’s current year and that’s literally the only historical event your average retard knows about any more, and blames it all on science somehow, presumably because his muse (a love sick Heidegger groupie nincompoop) said this. The best thing about this book is he talks about Gustav Lebon a lot, who I assume gave him his less wrong ideas, though it appears he didn’t do much more than skim. The second best thing about it is it is very short. I’m outraged I actually paid money for it rather than downloading it on Libgen at least for a preliminary skim, but it serves me right for doing an impulse buy. D minus.

Interesting article on how NPCs were weaponized to increase Pfizer and Moderna share price at the expense of public health (note to self; the people who did this to us should probably face the firing squad):


My favorite living sculptor presents Colin Wilson on the NPC:


96 Responses

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  1. rademi said, on October 18, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    I think you’ve got some contradictory comments in here. (That doesn’t mean that they were entirely incorrect, just that as phrased it sounds like you’re picking at the same points from opposite directions.)

    I’ll try to add some of my own, here:

    First, I’ll note that in the context of covid we’re talking about both marginal death rate issues (covid increased annual death rate by about 20%) and we’re talking about having been exposed to propaganda from every country in the world on the subject (India, in particular, seems to have been a source of anti-vax messaging — I attribute this to that country’s rather minimal per-capita medical budget. Though possibly also it was about the variety of vaccines which they took seriously.)

    (My personal view on the covid vaccinations that I have access to is that they’re risky, but orders of magnitude less risky than the disease and for some percent of the population — perhaps 1% — it looks like it was a lifesaver: the disease itself was mildly risky for most people but of course lethally risky for some people and utterly miserable for a larger percentage. But because of its odd character — where many people are asymptomatic — any and all statistics about the disease are going to be sensitive to the methodology used to collect them. Thus, in the paragraph above, my nod towards the excess death rate.)

    Anyways… censorship and propaganda both tend to be suboptimal (due to lack of insight in their directives) but also reinforce each other (in the sense that each offers partial protection from the other which means efforts to eliminate one boost how annoying the other becomes), but … in that context … the USA has gone from being a walled garden to being largely unprotected, thanks to the internet. But since we now have people pulling strings from outside the country, we also get to experience heavy handed “truth management” from that perspective. And, in contexts where it’s particularly blatant, some of the underlying motivations tend to shine through.

    On the flip side, though, purely mechanical definitions of both “censorship” and “propaganda” tend to be useless. Curation — which is actually useful — can be the target of anti-censorship done mechanically. And, similarly, information — especially if it’s politically relevant — can be the target of anti-propaganda efforts done mechanically.

    But at least we’ve got a lot of machines. Or something like that…

    Anyways… there’s a lot going on here, and it’s not pretty.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 18, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Worrying about internet propaganda is fundamentally retarded when foreigners own US media companies and bribe US politicians to get their ways and have for decades. It just gives NPCs shitty and worthless jobs as censors enforcing inner party directives. This isn’t normal; it’s totalitarian and dangerous.

      Fundamentally it doesn’t matter what you think about covid anything; noticing that we just experienced the greatest hysterical chimp out in human history is what I’m concerned with. Nothing the authorities said was true, and most of the people telling the truth were censored and deplatformed or worse. NPCs made this possible.

    • nate-m said, on October 19, 2022 at 2:58 am

      USA is the country that pioneered mass media propaganda. If you visit a county like North Korea and you see “Great Leader” banners and statues and whatnot floating around every public place… It is from the banners of President Wilson in WW1. The Nazis and Communists got it from us.

      Nothing produced by Russia or India in the past 10 years holds a candle to what the USA media produces on a daily basis. The wall garden didn’t keep the propaganda out. It kept the propaganda in.

      • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 11:41 am

        There’s some truth to that.

        There’s not enough truth there, however:

        The bill of rights, including the first amendment, were designed to weaken troubling trends of the 18th century. They do so by weakening (not eliminating) the USA government’s efforts to regulate speech. But the bill of rights says very little about the efforts of other governments to stir up trouble here — for that, we rely on the main body of the constitution – we require that the president be a citizen and not accept money from other countries while acting as president, for example.

        Also, we have had various laws which had the effect of scaling back the influence of other countries. However, those are a work in progress, and we don’t always make the best choices. For example, the Citizen’s United v. FEC decision pretty much eliminated a lot of political labeling requirements.

        Anyways… currently, we’re being sold (on a large scale) the idea that the USA is responsible for things in a way which implies we’re responsible for decisions originating in other countries. And, while we do have an influence, there’s far more implication than fact here.

        Or: we’ve “always” had to live with these foreign influence issues, to some degree. And we’ve had people go “overboard” trying to fight foreign influences, but we’ve also had people go overboard trying to deny their very existence. Neither point of view has been completely accurate. But politics has never been about complete accuracy — it has always been about doing what we can about the issues which seem most important.


        Yes, the USA has had government people try using its advertising capabilities for government aims. But those aims have always explicitly included weakening incoming “divide and conquer” and “toppling” efforts from foreign governments.

        In other words, I view the implication that “since the USA government made an effort, that that was the only successful effort” as misleading. (That said that implication is as American — and as truthful — as the Paul Bunyan stories.)

        • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 11:50 am

          “They do so by weakening (not eliminating) the USA government’s efforts to regulate speech.”

          Oops — that was the first amendment. The other amendments weaken USA government efforts in other critical areas — areas which were particularly troubling at the time.

        • nate-m said, on October 19, 2022 at 2:53 pm

          The First Amendment doesn’t really apply directly to what is going on now. Except that the Government is actively conspiring/bribing/extorting major corporations to censor speech on their behalf. This is a gross violation of the First Amendment, of course. The government can’t use businesses to do what is illegal to do itself. But it is exactly what they are doing.

          But the mass media style of modern propaganda I am talking about is largely a 20th century phenomena. It is the result of then-new field of psychology. Prior to that advertising/propaganda was pretty straightforward. People would produce material that promoted a particular point of view or advertised a particular good or try to create stories about why certain behaviors are positive, etc. Sure there was lots of lying and forgeries and fake publications going on to make it look like Catholics ate babies or whatever. But it doesn’t hold a candle to modern stuff.

          Modern propaganda I am talking about involves significant investment in psychologically profiling the target audience and creating messaging based on theories of the subconscious and whatnot.

          Propaganda is a dirty word and has been for a long time. This is why they call it Public Relations now.

          PR is very much something that originated in this country. The national budget (corporate spending, etc) for more straightforward forms of PR is probably just over a 100 billion dollars right now.

          People like Edward Bernays, who was a cousin of Freud, was able to very successfully weaponize psychological manipulation to promote various goods, services, and wars. He is widely considered the father of public relations.

          Early successes involved figuring how to convince people it was socially acceptable for females to smoke cigarettes (The “Torches for Freedom” campaign is early example of successful woman liberation propaganda). Convincing people that it’s normal to eat bacon and eggs in the morning (All American breakfast campaigns). And things of that sort.

          The most apropos example was how Bernays was able to convince the American public that communists were behind unionization and nationalization efforts in Guatemala in the early 1950s and thus created public support for military intervention on behalf of United Fruit Company. This was a complete fabrication, of course.

          This involved fun things like flying reporters into the country and setting up staged protests and evidence of political unrest. Fake bombings, too, IIRC. The reporters would then go back to the USA and write stories based on these staged trips as if it was truth.

          They even went so far as to bribe Guatemalan military leaders to purposely loose battles with Honduras to politically reinforce the establishment of the USA puppet government.

          Staged protests, fake terrorist acts, manufactured reports of “public support” for USA intervention, and manipulated battles are a staple of USA propaganda now. All this stuff was pioneered during the creation of these early “Banana Republics”. We saw the same exact techniques Bernays developed on behalf of United Fruit used in Syria with their “white helmets” and such nonsense.

          They do it because it works. It worked in the 1950s, it worked in Vietnam, it worked in Iraq, it worked in Syria and it still works today.


          > Or: we’ve “always” had to live with these foreign influence issues, to some degree.

          One of the popular techniques used by USA propagandists (CIA, etc) during the late 1960’s (and probably through the 2000’s) was to bribe foreign news services to publish USA propaganda as local news for their own countries.

          They did this because studies had shown that even back then Americans were growing suspicious of domestic news sources. CIA had various reporters and editors that they regularly worked with to publish stories all over Europe, Africa, and in Asia. American writers regularly wrote foreign news for foreign news agencies to publish. They would just hand the stories over to foreign editors, the editors would make sure it matched the style of their news paper and gave it to a reporter to publish it in their name.

          Also it was a convenient work around for laws that forbid the CIA to directly propagandize the American people.

          This way USA media outlets could reference foreign news sources and give the propaganda targeting Americans a big boost in its “truthiness”.

          Citing sources makes it “real”, right?

          (conveniently the 1948 Smith–Mundt Act, which forbid the most obvious examples of domestic propaganda, was successfully gutted in 2013 which made their jobs much easier when it comes to internet-based public relations)

          > Yes, the USA has had government people try using its advertising capabilities for government aims. But those aims have always explicitly included weakening incoming “divide and conquer” and “toppling” efforts from foreign governments.

          There are a variety of reasons USA was first to develop this sort of propaganda.

          One of the major ones is probably that USA was the first really to adopt this particular “Wilsonian Model of Administrative State”. Another one is the development of the “General Corporations” and stock market, etc. Which is another mostly 20th century thing. General Corporations (which most businesses are now) didn’t really exist until 1895 or so. Now they are world-wide.

          The model of American business organization and administrative state that was pioneered during the progressive era and fully developed during WW1 and the Great Depression was then exported to the rest of the world after WW2. The modern American Administrative State requires large national corporations to function. It is key to how regulation works now. The constitutionally mandated role politicians have now is quite tiny compared to overall function of the Federal government as performed by the dozens of top level Administrative Agencies. The politicians approve the budgets, but the majority of actual law making, policy direction, and enforcement is done by semi-autonomous agencies and the faceless/nameless bureaucrats that run them.

          Public Relations plays a significant role in how this model of government functions. It wouldn’t be possible without it.

          There has never been an era were it was “Government vs Corporations”. They are not rival powers that need to be balanced. They need one another in order to function. They have always been on the same team, since the beginning. Top tiers of major corporations rotate in and out of government. They are all related to each other, invest in one another, support one another.

          For example the 1906 act that created the FDA was something that was campaigned for by Chicago meat packing plants. The FDA wasn’t created to fight those corporations and force them to behave. It was created by their own request.

          When Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle” the stories he combined together about meat packing conditions was intended to convince people to organize into unions. He was trying to get the workers to “rise up”. It didn’t work. However people in competing businesses did realize that it was useful in convincing the public that meat produced in the mid-west was suspect.

          During the era we had the development of the refrigerated train car. This effectively made cattle drives from the midwest to the East Coast meat packers obsolete. Instead of driving cattle across the country to be slaughtered they could just slaughter them locally and then transport the meat in refrigerated trains. This saved a lot of money and the cattle didn’t lose mass from the long trip.

          Which meant that East coast meat packers were losing their shirts. Their industry was rapidly disappearing. That is when they realized that “The Jungle” was useful in making it look like locally slaughtered meat was significantly higher quality. They heavily promoted the book to boost their own sales.

          So the FDA was created on behest of the Chicago meat packers as a way to convince the American public that the government was ensuring that food they produced was safe. The FDA was created to offset the negative public perception created by that book. The joke with all of this is that there was already Federal meat inspectors in Chicago prior to the book being published.

          Which is the point of FDA food regulation now. It isn’t an issue of making sure food is safe. There is still an allowable amount of “cockroach parts” in your breakfast cereal. (it is highly advisable that if you are allergic to cockroaches you should grind your own coffee beans) Their primary purpose is to convince Americans that their food is safe. People look at ingredient lists and nutritional labels and say “uh-uh” and put it into their cart.

          The result are things like the epidemic in Childhood type-2 diabetes.


          Public relation departments and research into the psychological manipulation of the masses were exported along with this. The same people that are paid to make you think that Harley Davidson Motorcycles are cool are the people that try to convince you that the Ukraine war is a purely war of Russian aggression.

          And, sure, propaganda is produced to offset propaganda. It’s easy to point out Indian propaganda or Russian propaganda.

          That doesn’t change the fact that most of what Americans hear about the rest of the world is complete nonsense. The news produced domestically or foreignly is highly suspect.

          Pointing out that foreign propaganda exists doesn’t change the fact that the noise to signal ratio in news is so abysmal that the more you read newspapers and watch news programs and go on news websites the less you know. It actually makes you dumber. Sure there is truth to be found in the news, but if it’s 90% nonsense then how are you supposed to know what is real and what is not?

          You can spend hours trying to understand news biases and balancing reports and viewpoints carefully and reading and comparing sources… and have far less understanding of what is going on compared to a person that ignores news media completely. If you take two piles of shit and try to compare them and figure out their differences you still end up with two piles of shit.

          • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 5:29 pm

            The First Amendment doesn’t really apply directly to what is going on now except in the sense of being a defining issue?


            But, sure, mass media before the 20th century was more limited than mass media within the 20th century. And 20th century mass media was more constrained than the internet, in a variety of ways.

            Also, I think the design of the internet was largely influenced by first amendment concepts. Its slapdash character is, I think, somewhat characteristic of the USA and its concepts of free speech. And, maybe without the USA we would have eventually seen something analogous having originated in some other country. The OSI model, for example, hints at how a more bureaucratic and institutionalized design might have eventually looked.

            As for propaganda — it tends to be both incredibly annoying, and incredibly inadequate. But it was never limited to the USA in the past. See, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_propaganda#Pre-modern_precedents

            And, sadly, it’s not at all limited to the USA in the present. Near as I can tell, every government in the world thinks that their own propaganda is great. What distinguishes the USA here is that we’re (deliberately) weaker at this than anyone else. Our courts routinely sabotage our government’s propaganda efforts, and we try to bake these anti-propaganda efforts into our laws and regulations.

            • nate-m said, on October 20, 2022 at 4:28 pm

              > The First Amendment doesn’t really apply directly to what is going on now except in the sense of being a defining issue?

              It’s not the defining issue. It is an issue. One of many.

              Another issue is that corporate and government institutions have been at first slowly, now rapidly, taken over by a new religion. One that the vast majority of people don’t recognize as a religion because they don’t worship a “sky daddy” for the most part. Yet it has all the aspects of religion. They believe in a superhuman controlling power, have an origin story, a simplistic concept of sin, ethical framework with directives on what you are required to do for your faith, and have a full-fledged eschatology.

              The first amendment may eventually apply to that. But until people realize what is going on the first amendment might as well not even exist. It is irrelevant.

              > As for propaganda — it tends to be both incredibly annoying, and incredibly inadequate.

              Billboards on the side of the road are annoying and usually inadequate forms of propaganda, but the effective stuff you are not even aware of unless you put a lot of effort into studying it. It seems normal.

              Like how the military funnels a lot of money into professional baseball to ensure that they put on patriotic displays in order to reenforce feelings of patriotism among a certain class of Americans. Or how the term “gender” was successfully redefined so that applies to humans and not just gendered languages like Spanish. Or how females smoking cigarettes is signaling a subtle form of rebellion. Or how people now drink fruit juice in the morning. Or how people think their vote for president matters. Or why people drive around SUVs now instead of station wagons or minivans. Or the development of the 5-day work week and weekends.

              All these things are examples of how propaganda has shaped our culture. It is insanely effective.

              Saying propaganda doesn’t work is like saying it is impossible for somebody to scam you. The more you believe that you are immune to con artists it the easier it is for you to fall for one. Propaganda is the same way.

              • rademi said, on October 20, 2022 at 5:56 pm

                I didn’t say propaganda doesn’t work. I said it tends to be suboptimal.

                Propaganda has never been entirely avoidable, but its benefits are usually lame. (Which is why it has been beneficial for the USA government to sabotage its own propaganda efforts — as a consequence it forces itself to face the underlying issues instead of trying to ignore them. Though, granted, not always soon enough.)

                That said, the first amendment also has a “freedom of religion” clause. So I’m kind of baffled as to why you would suggest that the presence of religious issues makes this not a first amendment issue.

  2. DamnItMurray said, on October 18, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    “It’s considered left wing, but since it presently involves free trade, open borders, rampant warfare, no restrictions on movements of capital and low taxation for the wealthy, it probably should be considered something else.”
    This is a hill I’m ready to die on and is usually a big misunderstanding on the part of American right-wing NPCs: leftists and neo-liberals (who, in the US, hijacked the term “Left” in order to discredit and destroy Occupy, the last true state-side leftist movement that posed a threat to the neo-con doctrine) are diametrically opposed to one another. I’m an Eastern European leftist, I’m part of a leftist political movement, I’d like to invite you to TRY to bring up any of the issues that modern woke pundits consider to be pillars of “”left”” politics – you’d either get your sorry ass laughed at or kicked (most likely the second one). When I had my internship at a chemical plant I talked a lot with the foremen, the operators, and ordinary workers – those guys are leftists – meaning they want unions, they don’t want to be abused by corporate fascists, fair wages, and reasonable working hours. Having drag queens read geography in kindergarten or come up with gender-neutral pronouns was not on their priority list.
    BTW, I use NPCs as a counter-argument to hardcore libertarianism all the time: NPC existence directly disproves a system where autonomy should be maximized.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 18, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      Yep, Occupy and the antiwar left have been destroyed by a combination of political correctness and hysteria about “muh Russia” BS. Unfortunately the technocratic “left” uses these issues to distract people from, you know, asking for a living wage.
      NPCs aren’t a good counter-argument to hardcore libertarianism, but they are a good argument against democracy.

    • card carrying NPC said, on October 23, 2022 at 1:22 am

      > I’m an Eastern European leftist, I’m part of a leftist political movement, I’d like to invite you to TRY to bring up any of the issues that modern woke pundits consider to be pillars of “”left”” politics – you’d either get your sorry ass laughed at or kicked (most likely the second one). When I had my internship at a chemical plant I talked a lot with the foremen, the operators, and ordinary workers – those guys are leftists – meaning they want unions, they don’t want to be abused by corporate fascists, fair wages, and reasonable working hours. Having drag queens read geography in kindergarten or come up with gender-neutral pronouns was not on their priority list.

      Better do not tell in this thread how these Eastern European people feel about Russia and Russians, if you do not want to be designated as NPC.

  3. Wayne R McKinney said, on October 18, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    I just voted in Cali. I voted for zero Drumpfists, and zero Repukkafuckers in general. Took some searching for the judgeships, and other non-partisan offices to suss out their real colors. I did this out of rational thought. I care nothing for social standing, and wear my libtard appellation with pride. I specifically take issue with the implied criticism of Biden about taking on Russia by proxy using the Ukranians. Of course it has risk, just not as much ridk as letting Putin get away with it.

    • Prime said, on October 18, 2022 at 8:22 pm

      If you claim to be rational, could you please articulate why you voted at all?

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 18, 2022 at 8:59 pm

      > specifically take issue with the implied criticism of Biden about taking on Russia by proxy using the Ukranians. Of course it has risk, just not as much ridk as letting Putin get away with it.

      Yes, the all important borders of a country that dates all the way back to 1991; totally worth nuclear war. Makes perfect sense. Meanwhile Airstrip one has no borders because it’s bad for inflation.

      • rademi said, on October 18, 2022 at 9:11 pm

        I’m not at all clear why it makes sense to talk about nuclear war as a risk because “Russia is running into problems expanding via conquest from being the largest country in the world into being an even larger country”.

        The narrative I am being sold is that defending against such a thing is immoral and corrupt. That Russia is being “backed into a corner” because it can’t get what it wants.

        I understand that that narrative exists and is being sold broadly. I guess having billions of dollars with which to buy editorial support from news media outfits is a thing now.

        But I do not actually understand the logic behind these claims (if any).

        • Scott Locklin said, on October 18, 2022 at 9:18 pm

          You clearly should acquire more facts and forget about “narrative.” Narrative is for NPCs.

          • rademi said, on October 18, 2022 at 9:33 pm

            What facts do you want me to read?

            • Graf Zeppelin said, on October 19, 2022 at 7:07 am

              I recommend http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181.

              If you want to go deeper, read Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol (who was born in Poltava). It’s a quick fun read and it will make you understand what Ukraine meant to Russians for hundreds of years.

              • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 9:23 am

                Great book. Decent 60s epic with Yul Brynner as well.

                Reading what the Russian government say is also a decent idea. So is looking at a map.

              • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 11:54 am

                I see nothing there of the Ukraine perspective.

                That said, if having a common ancestor is sufficient justification for conquest, then we would never to look further than https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_recent_common_ancestor

                • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 12:59 pm

                  You post a lot of irrelevant things here. Could you stop doing that?

                  • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:03 pm

                    Sure, if you can explain to me how the Ukraine perspective is irrelevant in the context of “It’s a quick fun read and it will make you understand what Ukraine meant to Russians for hundreds of years”, I would be happy to comply.

                    Failing that, I guess I could refrain from commenting entirely — it’s your blog, after all. (But if that’s what you’re aiming for here, I’d prefer an explicit statement from you that that’s the case.)

                    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:07 pm

                      I’m talking in general: at some point maybe two years ago your poasts stopped relating much to the subject being discussed. Maybe a year before you stopped poasting under your real name. It’s odd behavior, and I hope you’re otherwise doing OK, but it’s awfully rude.

                      For example, poaster above suggested you read what Putler had to say and maybe read Taras Bulba; I’ve done these things. I’ve also looked at a map, and have visited some of the areas being contested. You just replied with some nonsense about “whaddabout” as if this related to anything stated above. It’s not an argument, it’s just being weird. All I’m asking is you simply stick to something vaguely related to what someone else is saying.

                    • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:24 pm

                      It’s true that I have not read all of what those people wrote.

                      In my defense, I had thought you had previously opened the scope of discussion to be a much larger discussion (including, for example, the risk of nuclear war).

                    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:53 pm

                      As I said this is a general and confusing thing I see with your poasts. In fact it isn’t just me; I regularly get 1-2 pals writing me “cool shitpoast: who is that rademi guy and what is he talking about.” Including on this one.

                    • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 2:18 pm

                      So, it’s about your circle of pals as much as it’s about the inadequacy of my comments?


                    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 3:22 pm

                      Nobody knows what the hell you’re talking about, I think including you!

                    • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:53 pm

                      (Thinking about this further, I’m having trouble motivating myself to read their works — that whole realm currently seems fruitless to me.)

        • Altitude Zero said, on October 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm

          I can certainly understand why Ukrainians would not want to be controlled by Russia, given the events of 1931-32, and I can see why Russia would not want Ukraine in NATO, given the events of 1941 and 1991. It seems to me that some kind of compromise could have easily been worked out, had the US butted out. Also, I do not see why the status of Ukraine is a pressing national security priority for the US, whe Russia/USSR controlled Ukraine for hundreds of years without any significant impact on our national security.

          Putin is not doubt a dangerous paranoid, like lots of world leaders (including ours), but you don’t deal with a paranoid by yelling “We’re coming to get you!” 24/7/365.

          • rademi said, on October 21, 2022 at 3:43 pm

            When should the US have butted out?

            1993? (When Russia signed a treaty to defend Ukraine?)

            2014? (When Russia began taking territory away from Ukraine?)

            This year?

            What would that have looked like?

          • Igor Bukanov said, on October 22, 2022 at 8:30 am

            This misses that when Soviet Union did threaten US security like during Cuban crisis and later, Ukrainians were in charge there.

            One really does not want to have Ukrainians as enemies.

            • rademi said, on October 22, 2022 at 8:44 am

              Maybe, though I doubt that’s the issue.

              More likely it’s that border changes through conquest are bad news for treaties (and probably for an international economy).

      • Wayne R McKinney said, on October 18, 2022 at 11:44 pm

        Ah, the US borders are leaky false meme boogeyman cuts no ice with me. Who’s gonna pick the lettuce, Ivanka? We need those low skilled workers. Besides, US companies and the CIA have fucked over central and south American countries for decades. We reap what we have sown. Check out “The Wine is Bitter” by Milton Eisenhower. Comparing our border to Ukraine’s is insufferable bullshit.

        • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 9:29 am

          Funny, the US and the CIA fucked over south america for decades …. but you can’t see what they’re doing in Ukraine I hope you and your family have a supply of iodine at hand; if “thinking” like this is common, you’re going to need it.

          • Altitude Zero said, on October 21, 2022 at 3:24 pm

            So low income Americans and people not even born until the 1990’s have to pay the price for what a bunch of CIA goons did in Central America by not letting the experience the wonders of Communism in the 1970’s? Impeccable logic, but exactly what I would expect from someone who uses the word “Drumpfists”. A better illustration of NPC behavior could not be found.

    • hanamel said, on October 19, 2022 at 6:13 am

      The potential for the deployment of nuclear weapons in an escalatory spiral being “not as much ridk as letting Putin get away with it.” is a stunning statement.

  4. Igor Bukanov said, on October 18, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    My personal observation is with Hoffer. In Soviet Union times propaganda was much more professional that what Russia does these days. Yet by the beginning of eighties it was clear that it stopped to work. People simply refused to take it seriously.

    As regarding a nuclear war, I think we are extremely lucky that it has not yet happened. I recently learned that Stalin was planning to invade Europe in the late 1953 or the beginning of 1954. Already in 1952 Soviet military learned that Soviet Union could survive massive bombardment with atomic bombs and preserving enough military to continue military operations in Western Europe. Fortunately Stalin died. But then apparently Putin read a lot of later Soviet research that even thermonuclear war would not be too apocalyptic and a country with strong police and military can survive.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 9:30 am

      Do you have sauce on that?

      • Igor Bukanov said, on October 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm

        Sorry, no good references in English.

        Probably the best description presently is a video in Russian about Stalin’s plans for WW3, https://youtu.be/pqDuLCfHMJQ . About atom bombs the video starts from the minute 32. It’s author works on a book about this topics.

        Too bad the transcript is not very comprehensible especially after auto translation into English.

        • Related to this, post-Cold War it was discovered that the Soviet war plan for an invasion of Western Europe would not be a conventional affair but would have been opened by a barrage of ca. 400 tactical nuclear weapons on just about every major NATO target. Sources on this, I recall seeing it in the press in a few places 2006-7 ish, most prominently in the NZZ (Zürich newspaper). Just tried looking for the article in the NZZ archives but they are awful, no joy.

  5. Prime said, on October 18, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    It’s emotionally disturbing to interact with NPC types because you experience mild deja vu when they open their mouths; it’s kind of like John Carmack says about computer code, but: “Every syntactically legal permutation of authorized opinions will eventually be endorsed by an NPC.” Also, they are uncanny valley humanoid simulacra; “Man is the animal with the capacity to reason” so when someone is shockingly deficient in that capacity you have to wonder whether or not there’s anything at all behind their eyes or if they aren’t a hologram. Even never speaking to another person, you can see that almost all people are meat machines; just look at the obesity statistics. A very fat person must either be nonhuman, have never had an opportunity to employ his reason in addressing his condition, or have reasoned that being fat is appropriate. Those are the only three possibilities. Right reason could never lead one to the lattermost conclusion and the second is unimaginable as, surely, someone must have pointed out to a fat person that they are fat at least once. I think once everyone can accept that there aren’t actually very many people on earth, we can readdress the democratic paradigm. “Rule by the people” might actually work if you make sure only real human beans are counted as people!

    • sigterm said, on October 19, 2022 at 7:52 pm

      An animal put in a cage might stop taking care of its fur or develop all kinds of tics, and a man in the modern world might let himself go obese. For comparison, try to avoid non-procreative sex and masturbation. The ancients are all clear that losing your seed takes away your life force and virility; yet how many men can even stop touching themselves?

  6. Xens said, on October 18, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    I was not nearly as impressed by Hoffer as I was by Le Bon, whom I plan to read again. As far as Hoffer’s history, there is interesting evidence for his being of Jewish origin, with some European past that he evidently kept very hidden.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 9:33 am

      LeBon is amazing, and is the sort of ur-marketing/propaganda thinker. Don’t know how Bernays gets so much credit: I assume it’s a sort of red herring thing, as nothing he produced in cultural output is actionable, where LeBon is.

  7. Privilege Checker said, on October 18, 2022 at 11:51 pm

    Great meme. AI is close to replicating the speech of some of these types, e.g., bot accounts on twitter are nearly indistinguishable to low-level human NPCs. With modern celebration of weed and schizophrenic screen-flitting (see “into the shallows” by Nicholas Carr), short term memory is bound to decrease as well. Ray Kurzweil may have been onto something after all.

    Certainly, there is an aspect to NPCism driven by social decline. Still, it’s not a new concept as you make clear therein. Nevertheless historically, Democracy was never this vulnerable to mass manipulation of flaccid NPC types. This may demonstrate a need for a new system of government entirely, despite the absurdity and infeasibility of such a proposition. I tend not to worry about solutions though, as nobody else does either.

    I’m an American who just turned 300 pounds this week. Haven’t you caught on? Russia bad. I’ve been reading about Russia bad for a long time and my favorite tv show hosts agree. so it is fact. We have to support Ukraine with an endless arsenal of weapons because Putin bad and also look how well it worked in the Middle East. You are probably a nazi who only wears one mask. Gosh why haven’t my lizard overlords bought out WordPress safe yet. Anyway, I need to get back to scrolling reddit with CNN on in the background while I’m high and eating Cheese Puffs with my boyfriend. How else will I know who to vote for. Btw, my vote counts as much as yours.

    • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 12:06 am

      Eh… “Russia bad” is oversimplified to the point of ridiculousness. Not to mention it’s an annoying way of thinking.

      There are people in Russia who are pursuing goals which are hostile to the wellbeing of a lot of people (including many or most of the people in this country). But that’s not the same as “Russia bad”. Most of Russia is fairly decent. But in some contexts, that’s an irrelevant issue.

      Note, however, that is not at all the same as saying that I think Russian military people should be blowing up Ukrainian shopping malls and hospitals and power stations, etc. I don’t even think it’s particularly important that the Russian government succeeds in its land grabs (or re-grabs, or whatever it would be that you would want to call them).

      I just don’t have to believe that Russia is inherently bad to recognize that some of what some of their people have been doing has been making a lot of people’s lives miserable (including mine) or worse than miserable (in case it’s not clear, I’m counting “prematurely dead” as worse, here).

      • rademi said, on October 19, 2022 at 12:47 am

        (That said, I can also empathize with Ukrainians who feel different — like I said, it’s an irrelevant issue in some contexts.)

    • card carrying NPC said, on October 23, 2022 at 1:17 am

      >Haven’t you caught on? Russia bad. I’ve been reading about Russia bad for a long time and my favorite tv show hosts agree. so it is fact.

      No need to listen to talk show hosts.

      Reading about Russian past and present from as many sources as possible, including Russian ones, is sufficient to learn that Russia is not a shining city on a hill, that no reasonable person and no reasonable country should ever want to be part of Russia.

      > We have to support Ukraine with an endless arsenal of weapons

      Not necessary. NATO support consists of very limited numbers of 20-40 years old technology and ammunition near expiry date, and this is enough to kick “world second superpower” to the mud.

      Although some F-35 piloted by American volunteers would help to speed up the process.

      Look at Russian support for North Korea and North Vietnam – this was really endless stream of most advanced technology of the time and tens of thousand of advisors.


      >because Putin bad

      Because world where nuclear countries can conquer non-nuclear ones with impunity is world, where every country that could will work overdrive to build their own nukes.

      Want to see Turkish, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Swedish and Finnish nuclear weapons? Want to see Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Philippine ones? If you are worried about nuclear escalation, would be world with ninety nuclear powers more stable than one with nine?

      >how well it worked in the Middle East.

      Yes, US unprovoked Iraq attack and “axis of evil” BS brought us North Korean nuclear weapons (among other things). Mission accomplished.

      • anonymous said, on October 25, 2022 at 5:32 pm

        Want to see Turkish, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, Swedish and Finnish nuclear weapons? Want to see Japanese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Philippine ones? If you are worried about nuclear escalation, would be world with ninety nuclear powers more stable than one with nine?

        Actually … I kinda do. It would be a world that is far less “stable” and prone to nuclear war. But stability is *death*. Imperial China was stable, and it lead to the waste of 1000 years: an intelligent people under the boot of useless bureaucrats.

        It would also be a world where countries of reasonable size could hold their own against our current usurious globe-spanning empires and maybe open up some breathing room for their people, and for self-determination.

  8. Privilege Checker said, on October 19, 2022 at 12:16 am

    Your reply looks like it was generated by GPT3 and your profile picture like it was generated by a shitty GAN implementation.

  9. Eric said, on October 19, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .

  10. chiral3 said, on October 19, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    Funny you bring up Hoffer. I discovered Hoffer last year – I can’t recall how – and read True Believer and Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher, the latter of which challenges Hoffer’s account of his own life. I had never heard of him before this and I was struck by what an odd character he was but suspect the truth is boring: he was the usual high-functioning type by birth that became a kind of con-man later in life. Not for money. I’ve met a number of european immigrants that would have been about his age, working class sensibility, throws a good yarn, not very specific about their personal lives… I can only assume he came over on a boat from somewhere and had the wherewithal to reinvent himself a few times until something stuck.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 19, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      He’s definitely cannon for some kinds of libertarian. I think he had a brief revival when Trump got elected.

      I suppose he could have just been some kind of European drifter turned grifter. There must be accent experts who could place him more accurately than “germanish.” For some reason when I was reading him in my 20s I never doubted his story -I guess I’m less inclined to be so trusting these days.

  11. Anonymous said, on October 20, 2022 at 1:19 am

    I just don’t understand this attitude. Like, you have this insight into the nature of the society, the government/media/market/etc and yet you still try to stay in the system, rise up the ladder, generally fight for a place under the sun… in this system that tries to control and exploit you. Like, why? Is this domestication, dementia, testicular cancer, what? For me, once I see something’s rotten I try to move away. I understand that some things are hard and migration can be a lengthy process but that’s the general direction – away from the rot. There are lots of people nowadays writing about the decay and there are generally two types of blogs/etc: the first type simply chronicles the decay and keeps lamenting and predicting even worse things to happen, and the second is mostly about, like, renovating a boat, building a cabin inna woods, etc while occasionally noticing how bad things are in the ‘civilization’. There’s a youtube where some chinese gal e.g. grows cotton then makes thread/etc and ends up with a comforter or does some light construction or whatever and I once had a argument with an NPC that it’s totally staged because it’s not possible. I dunno about staged (not that I care) but I grew up in a bungalow where we had a sizable garden, a sauna, and a few sheds and back then it was just me, my mother (in her 30s) and my grandmother (in her 50s). I naturally wasn’t of much help but saw these two *women* build those sheds, work in the garden, and generally keep the house in order. That same dude told me that buying is cooler that diying and that I should get a stable remote job (I work odd jobs because I value my free time). Whenever there’s an argument about autonomy NPCs are like ‘but how are you gonna X/Y/Z?’ and it’s not a question, more like a declaration of values. I know the system mistreats me, I hate it, but I prefer to stay in. That’s domestication. If you take a dog into a forest it won’t magically become a wolf. But these seeming high-functioning dudes that have a semblance of a head on their shoulders choosing to stay in? Like really, why? I bet most of them are not secretly building bunkers or whatever. And this is not the first time either: right before the bolshevik revolution there was a lot of talk among intelligentsia about how nice it would be to strangle the last tsar with the bowels of the last priest but then came the bolsheviks and strangled *them*. Is it the typical nerdism when people dissociate from physical reality because overexposure to ‘social reality’ during their formative years?

    • card carrying NPC said, on October 23, 2022 at 12:56 am

      >But these seeming high-functioning dudes that have a semblance of a head on their shoulders choosing to stay in? Like really, why?

      “High functioning dudes” are, per definition, living well and “the system” works for them.

      Why exactly should they leave their well paying jobs and comfortable suburban homes and move to log cabins in the forest (or whatever form of “resistance” you propose)?

      • Anonymous said, on October 23, 2022 at 9:26 pm

        >“High functioning dudes” are, per definition, living well and “the system” works for them.
        It works until it doesn’t. This very post mentions:
        >Riesman shows this existed in classical times, and even points out the insane things NPCs did back then: late Athens was notorious for banishing and murdering its best people, and various post-Republic Roman eras were famous for the injustices rained down on great men: just like NPCs are notorious today for destroying the lives of the great and the good (and admittedly a villain here and there).
        I understand the approach of using what the system offers to smoothly transition to a less precarious environment, I just don’t see this approach being used much by people who should know better. If you choose to stay in then the only ‘winning’ strategy in the long term is to die before things go sour.

        >log cabins in the forest (or whatever form of “resistance” you propose)
        You seem to be reading a rather different vibe than I actually have. Resistance is like counterculture which has any meaning only in the context of the mainstream. Similarly, people who talk about ‘resisting’ the system are so firmly embedded in it that their goals are limited to power theater reforms that look like they should give them power but never deliver: the system controls and exploits because that’s what it was designed for, you can’t meaningfully reform something like that. ‘Me vs the system’ is rather juvenile because it pedestalizes the system. In physical reality (as opposed to system reality) the only thing that matters is whether you can satisfy your needs efficiently. Even the whole morality aspect is only about satisfying your needs efficiently in the long term. You can sure choose to stay in because it feels convenient now but stuff like wars, economic crises, covidiocy are also products of the system. And the high-functioning dudes know this, yet very few of them are into boats or log cabins or whatever. I mean, it’s literally whatever as long as your needs are efficiently satisfied.

  12. tg said, on October 20, 2022 at 6:25 am

    the inner and outer directed points were interesting. You can observe how bureaucracies tend not to promote people based on skill but sociability more or less.
    It is hard to believe NPCs support all their own propaganda. Was the covid panic because people were afraid of a virus or actually political motivated? Same for gender and race propaganda. The propaganda explicitly undermines the history of western countries. NPCs and elites can’t state their intentions but hide behind platitudes. For example, we all know that “science denier” and “toxic white masculinity” implicitly go together suggesting “science denial” isn’t the issue. What’s harder to understand is the conditions NPCs start supporting propaganda.
    The reason we are even having this discussion looks like a fight between different groups and factions of extremely elite bureaucrats. Elite overproduction is real. The PhD title on Twitter now means underemployed and partisan. Race/gender propaganda incidentally creates nonpersons of former elites and grants hereditary and moral privileges on current elites.
    A hereditary class with special legal privileges is a nobility. It’s pretty clear we have them. Every society has a nobility, it can’t be avoided. Even the Soviets. They were called nomenklatura. It just seems so obvious that things like wokeness and transgenderism are meant to remove the previous hereditary elite and enshrine the new nobility with higher moral status.

  13. […] Scott Locklin on the NPC and its history. […]

  14. The House Dick said, on October 21, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    Good poast! The Bible, Plato and Aristotle pretty much nailed NPCs. It’s the human condition. Also Pareto’s 80-20 rule.

  15. Internet Intelligentsia said, on October 21, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    hey, found this poast via theamericansun. great summaries of these books and great thoughts. i will definitely check out the riesman book

    question: why/how do you have so many idiotic boomers commenting on your blog? where the hell do these people even come from? it’s “ironic” (not really) that you have “people” like “rademi” spam poasting comments on a blog about NPCs when he’s not just an NPC, he might as well be a fucking GPT-3 bot. his comments are borderline non sequiturs that have nothing to do with the topic being discussed or the content of the poasts he’s responding to

    anyways, good blog. i’ll check out your other stuff going forward. have a good weekend

    • rademi said, on October 21, 2022 at 6:30 pm

      Medice, cura te ipsum.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 21, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      As I said, I dunno what his problem is. He’s a very talented J programmer who used to poast interesting things until around 2 years ago, and indeed now writes like a markov chain (GPT2 tier would be a welcome improvement). Wayne is my old boss from LBNL; he used to go on the Michael Savage show and similarly foam at the mouth, so I assume it’s some kind of compulsion or passover syndrome. He’s pretty chill IRL.

      • rademi said, on October 21, 2022 at 6:35 pm

        Hmm… two years ago, approximately, I went unemployed (covid). Perhaps the extra free time has wacked my perspective enough that I am no longer particularly comprehensible on most topics… if that’s the issue, I’m not sure how I’d fix it.

        • Scott Locklin said, on October 21, 2022 at 6:37 pm

          I dunno bro, consider talking to someone IRL? A lot of people lost their shit during the ‘ronatimes. Doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.

          • rademi said, on October 21, 2022 at 6:42 pm

            Talking to people IRL is one thing I’ve been doing a lot more of recently.

  16. Sprewell said, on October 24, 2022 at 3:57 am

    It’s funny that you wrote this early last week, as I had similar thoughts on the same day. I was more thinking about how the mass of humanity cannot really reason, so an elite “farms” their labor through government taxes (ballooning from 8% to 40% of all economic activity simply taken by the various arms of US government over the last century, now approaching once-temporary WWII levels just taken every year) and high prices in certain corporate sectors. Worse, most of that elite lives off the technology created by the few tinkerers and thinkers of the last couple centuries and considers themselves their equals or even sometimes their superiors, though they are completely incapable of recreating that same science and technology independently, let alone seeing the holes in the existing canon (even the greats of the past made mistakes or need to be updated for new times, but whatever they wrote is simply preserved whole by this cargo cult “elite”), or god forbid, coming up with something new and worthwhile.

    As a middle-aged man now, it really highlights the wisdom of conservatives in the past who cautioned against the “progress” narrative, that human nature remained faulty and simply giving people more control over their surroundings wouldn’t end well, perhaps this year in a nuclear conflagration started by a senile idiot and his neocon puppet-masters. As someone probing for new tech approaches myself, it really makes me think about which fields not to enter, as there are even more Pandora’s boxes that are best left closed, for example, the gain-of-function research that probably created Covid in a US lab and then likely used by the insane US deep state to attack other countries.

    Now for some extensive notes on your great post:

    – “it probably should be considered something else. These mores are really as self-serving” This surprised me, as much of what you list seems more self-destructive.
    – “I was a 22 year old libertardian atheist and it was heady stuff back then. Now that I’m older and none of those adjectives apply” What changed? A link to someplace else you explained this would suffice too.
    – Heh, I had never heard of Thorp, funny that he may have been the first to privately finger Madoff.
    – “The Lonely Crowd” title seems the perfect description of twitter. It is funny that social media, which should have and initially did lead to more independent thought, has now become more stiflingly conforming than the mass media that preceded it, though only for the small minority currently obsessed with it. However, that’s only because twitter lazily recreated mass media online, allowing past mass media celebrities like Trump or Rihanna to grow their crowds much larger on the ‘net, rather than using the fundamental features of this new online medium to create something more appropriate. As such, I fully expect this first iteration of mass-media-aping social media like twitter to be washed away in the coming years by new waves of more decentralized social media (I think Jack senses this, hence his recent work on Twitter’s new Bluesky protocol).

    More notes to follow, battery running low.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 24, 2022 at 12:49 pm

      1) The NPC managerial class mores are definitely self-serving just as they are destructive of the civilization they live in. Example: offshoring is more work and money for NPC managers, and has the side effect of creating more work for NPC managers/social workers in the realm of social decay. Same story with weird sex or whatever: if your kid is born with the right junk, there’s no jobs for gender studies majors. There’s no conspiracy; shit just always works out that way.

      2) Most libertardians I know/knew outside of New Hampshire have government jobs, just like I used to have. Somehow once you get out into the world and you realize Somalia is the ultimate libertarian paradise, people eventually figure it out. The government sucks, so do cartels, mafias and ethnic rackets. I’m still libertardian in spirit in that I want to be left alone, but that tendency is a sort of lassitude of a spiritual aristocracy.

      3) Thorp is amazing, read his biography and his website. http://www.edwardothorp.com/

      4) I think Pareto and Zipfs law shows us that you’re always going to have power law distributions in social networky things, just as with centralized networks. I haven’t looked at Twitter’s new protocol but if it involves voting, NPC censorship is still going to be a problem.

  17. Cameron B said, on October 25, 2022 at 12:19 am

    Scott, another excellent and informative post. A couple questions for you:

    1. You’ve disparaged SSRIs before. Undoubtedly it’s an epidemic, but do you think there are justified prescriptions? I took an SSRI for a few years before I discovered CBT. The older I get (30 now) the more I’m convinced there’s a strong correlation between character flaws and mental illnesses.

    2. No more atheist? Since when? Why?

    • Privilege Checker said, on October 28, 2022 at 3:01 am

      1 Nobody knows how SSRIs work, exactly. They are not as effective as cardiovascular exercise for depression or anxiety. SSRIs also tend to make young men commit suicide. Cold showers are effective for depression, according to some small case study I won’t cite. There are very simple solutions to depression that don’t involve tampering with the neurochemistry of the brain. I’m sure some people truly do need them, notwithstanding.

      2. most atheists suck. There are some bad apples in christianity, but it at least holds some moral standards, gives people community and existential purpose. Has anyone seen San Francisco lately? Not exactly an atheist success story.

      I’m sure this dude Scott doesn’t hold a fundamentalistic—Ken Hovind style—interpretation of the bible. To me, Christianity is the same cult that it was once seen as hundreds of years ago. If the romans hadn’t picked it up, it’d probably have been forgotten. Many of the stories in the Bible—new and old testament—were plagiarized from older stories and texts. There’s a reason why they start kids young in church. The “free will” concept cannot really be defined in a way that is mutually exclusive to humans. Too many holes in the bible, many more than evolution has.

      But people who say they are atheists are NPCs of the worst kind, typically.

      • Cameron B said, on November 4, 2022 at 1:26 am

        I sincerely appreciate the reply — particularly the bit about SSRIs — but I’ve been reading Scott for a few years and am mostly interested in his views.

  18. nrtr said, on October 25, 2022 at 3:25 am

    This may be relevant to your post:

    Why School Boards Ignore Parents: Or, How The Expertocracy Works


    • Scott Locklin said, on October 25, 2022 at 9:52 am

      Yes, Briggs generally on point. Of course you could look at it as overproduction of elites, who are picked for loyalty to expertocracy. But then, we have men like this (its almost always men), who in my ideal world would be in charge of everything:

      My own path in life has been one of extreme doubt for “experts” pretty much starting as soon as I was sentient enough of my own subfield to realize nobody talking about atomic physics knew what they were talking about, and nobody in high energy theory or cosmology was doing anything resembling science. Unlike most who make such realizations, I didn’t stop; poke at a subject with the nub of a pencil and you can detect rot everywhere.

  19. Sprewell said, on October 27, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Any plans to address the current lynching of Ye over expressing thoughts that may red-pill the NPCs? This tech guy jumped on the Ye bandwagon:

    As many there point out, Ye pointing out jewish power and being crushed simply for saying it actually proves the point he’s making. Nobody bans an NBA star like Kyrie Irving for saying the earth is flat because they’re confident the evidence is on their side.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 28, 2022 at 2:41 am

      Why would I care what some goofy armenian-boinking colored guy said about jews? Let alone some nerdy dipshit’s opinion on the topic.

      America is fucked: Putl0r can’t nuke it soon enough. Marg bar amrika.

      • chiral3 said, on October 28, 2022 at 12:26 pm

        I hesitate to even comment since I don’t care for giving this stuff meaning. Less than zero fcuks about Ye or any of the truly bizarre celebrity celebration that happens everywhere, esp America. I suppose that most ideas are valid in some way, particularly that to be noticed one has to keep pumping the edges of the distribution, but the semiotic / memetic aspects are somewhat interesting. So the sign / symbol of Ye wearing a “white lives matter” shirt – deemed offensive and racist and wrong or whatever – re-imaged as the same image, but with added context that it is wrong, is correct. By extension it would be hard to take a person hostage, drag them into the square, shoot them in the head, and scream “this is wrong”. But silence is violence, words matter? So clearly physical acts and images/words are not on the same footing, yet people are called to action for one but not the other. Clearly physical is higher up the totem pole despite virtue signaling? America is fucked.

        I was hiking in the mountains the other day and passed serval groups of younger people. Obese kids in tight stretchy clothes, annoying and vapid video-game-like music coming from devices in their backpacks as they struggled to move, prattling on about race and gender in some kind of moronic argument, all while being clearly oblivious to the physical space around them. They were disgusting. It’s not the same as previous generations and complaints etc etc because at least those decades did something interesting, even if it wasn’t tasteful. I am not sure what they will be able to offer the world, which is ultimately physical. I know nothing about Ye, but if he does have some obsession with das fuhrer I suppose targeting youth is a good strategy.

      • Some Random Commentor said, on October 30, 2022 at 9:52 pm

        I know that your a pessimist when it comes to your views on our current society, and I know how it feels. But, going to the point of just asking to be nuked takes it a little too far. I mean, yes everyone reading knows that society isn’t in a good place, but asking to be nuked? Honestly I would have let society eat itself before I let any nukes fall. Especially since they would hurt everything around it, including the countryside. Let me hear what you think.

        • Scott Locklin said, on October 30, 2022 at 10:24 pm

          I dont live in America, and yes, I think the Russians would be doing the world a favor.

          • Some Random Commentor said, on October 30, 2022 at 11:32 pm

            “I think the Russians would be doing the world a favor.”

            Yeah, and then Russia would get nuked by America’s ally’s. Starting the WW3 you wouldn’t even want to happen anyways. And while it’s pretty likely that many people would survive, it doesn’t mean life would be good. If anything, America still holds some power over the world, even after china giving it the shithole known as TikTok.

    • Some Random Commentor said, on October 30, 2022 at 11:56 pm

      I’m just going to throw this out there because fuck it. Kanye is an utter retard for thinking that buying Parler would fix it’s problems. Lilke Musk thinking he can buy Twitter because he thinks it can be fixed. Now somethings can be but Twitter is flat out the cesspit of the internet at this point.

  20. Ed said, on October 30, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Funny article — like you I revisited Hoffer recently and similarly had a reduction in his rating. Although I find the man fascinating. Moving on, I think it is s mistake to think that NPC is, in contemporary times, a shitlib phenomenon. They have their mirror images on the other side of the spectrum — they are NPCs too, just doing whatever is the opposite of the current thing — whatever it is, whether it makes sense or not. I suspect 80% of the populace fits the bill. The right NPC is perhaps more dangerous in many ways. However, I think a lot of the shitlib NPC causes come from the “woke”, who are disconnected from reality in dangerous ways. Nonetheless, the right NPC, by mirroring the shitlib NPC only exacerbates the problem. Basically, we just have idiots everywhere, and some strange “reality” which shapeshifts accordingly.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 30, 2022 at 1:35 pm

      Of course it is a bipartisan affliction. Shitlib NPCs did, however, just shut most of the world down for a cough and seem determined to fight a nuclear war for reasons which remain obscure to me. I’ll worry about the right leaning NPCs (who would probably be the same physical people) when they actually achieve political power; something that hasn’t happened in the US in 100 years.

  21. parusharama said, on October 30, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    Given the contents of this post and “Revolt of the Masses” in particular I suspect you’d get a lot out of the works of Christopher Lasch, if you haven’t already read his books. If you haven’t, “The Culture of Narcissim” and “Haven in a Heartless World” are a fascinating historical and psycho-analytical examination of the NPC phenomenon. “Revolt of the Elites” is a direct answer to “Revolt of the Masses”, and it predicts the Donald Trump presidency. It also dunks on the lizard people leaders of the current order. He belongs to an older, extinct breed of humanities academic: ridiculously widely read. He’s a great historian of the bygone Anglo-American age.

    P.S I discovered this blog when I was a listless 22 year old and your writing on this and other sites was very helpful in deciding the future direction of my life. Thank you for your work.

    • Scott Locklin said, on October 30, 2022 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. I hope you didn’t go into some lame quantum computing subject.

      Yes, I read Lasch years ago -haven’t read Haven in Heartless, but the others are very good. He was an unusual person and had a whole school of thought behind and around him; I think he wrote for the New Oxford Review (I also did, though only once). At the time, they were sort of Catholic Social Democrats of a type that don’t seem to exist any more. Now I guess they’re just Latin Mass Catholics. I hadn’t thought of Revolt of the Elites as relating to the phenomenon of the NPC, though it is easily the best criticism of the current year “left” who hates poor people.

  22. Cameron B said, on November 4, 2022 at 1:37 am

    Commenting again after a reading an article that reminded me of your post. You claim America is doomed (no disagreement there), but what is it about the European state you’re living in that is superior in its capacity to avoid the same problems America faces? As far as I can recall you haven’t explicated this.

    • Privilege Checker said, on November 4, 2022 at 3:05 am

      Not scott but I’ll explicate it for you: better health outcomes, public transportation, infrastructure, and better work-life balance. European culture is also different, in mostly positive ways. You’d have to go experience it to understand the differences though.

      What even is American culture now? I image some lad waiting through miles of 6 lane rush hour traffic headed to buy some greasy ass cheeseburgers because an app gave them a 15% discount. Or some cunt at the Walmart checkout line throwing a tantrum because her food stamps don’t cover the bill.

      NYC, LA, and San Fransisco are all in visible decline. Feces on the sidewalks, crazy homeless people, and a general aroma of piss and rats and disease. This just isn’t something you see in Scandinavian cities for instance.

      The American political situation speaks for itself. Some creep with dementia is the leader, but it’s obvious that the real system of power is a corporate oligarchy.

      • Scott Locklin said, on November 5, 2022 at 10:08 am

        Almost everyone in America is insane and denies physical reality on a daily basis; left, right, center. Almost nobody anyplace else is. Everything else is downstream of that.

      • Some Random Comment said, on November 8, 2022 at 7:02 pm

        I’m inclined to agree on this, but I’m wondering about the rural part of this country. Especially states with nearly no large cities like Arkansas? Yes, I know Little Rock exist but how does it compare to the rest of country?

  23. Burt said, on November 5, 2022 at 12:01 am

  24. Sean Purser-Haskell said, on March 6, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    What shocked me the most over the last couple of years was how well educated people seemed to turn their brains off in their personal lives. One extremely smart engineer I know, with whom I’ve had many intelligent work-related conversations involving statistics, said things like “I’m glad I’m not in Wuhan” in February 2020, and more recently, in reference to my correct predictions over the period, said “you make enough predictions, and some will come true”. I asked him which predictions I’d made to him didn’t come true, and he said “it’s just a general principle”. I can’t count how many such hair-pullingly stupid conversations I’ve had lately. “It’s The Current Year, we’ll have an effective medicine for it (in March 2020)”, “Russia won’t invade because things like that don’t happen anymore” etc etc. It’s a bit frightening to know that even those who should know better will just choose to believe the narrative. Of course I’d read about that in historical books, but it’s different to experience it so starkly one’s self.

    • Scott Locklin said, on March 6, 2023 at 5:01 pm

      It’s a habit to trust media and expert bullshit. And it’s very difficult for some people to come to terms with the fact that those people are now unaccountable imbeciles who absolutely can’t be trusted. Doesn’t bother me at all: I find it all most invigorating.

      • Sean Purser-Haskell said, on March 6, 2023 at 5:17 pm

        I’m sure some part of you wishes you could apply yourself to continuing on the big-science trajectory to power too cheap to meter, vacations on the moon, etc. But yeah, this state of affairs does create plenty of good put buying opportunities, both literal and metaphorical, and that can be fun too.

        • Scott Locklin said, on March 7, 2023 at 1:44 pm

          It’s not a time of scientific or technological adventure, that’s for sure.

  25. Wm Arthurs said, on March 15, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    If classic books could loosely include articles, I’d recommend Michael Oakeshott’s “The Masses in Representative Democracy” (1961) for completeness.

    • Scott Locklin said, on March 21, 2023 at 2:38 pm

      “The familiar anonymity of communal life was replaced by a personal identity which was burdensome to those who could not transform it into an individuality.”

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