The reset button: Wool/Silo series

aka World Order Operation Fifty.

The prophet has different plans for taking out the USG and Cathedral.  Some involve game changing technological/sociological advances like secession/cryptography/seasteading.  Others have to do with setting up a rival to the Cathedral that would take over via increased perceived legitimacy.

My favorites though are the ones involving outright taking over of power and hitting the reset button.  These usually take the outright seizing of sovereign power according to some program.  There is historical precedent which is both criticized for being unrealistic and yet viewed as possible with modifications (some Party attaining victory with exclusive goal of completely reorganizing govt as we know it along reactionary lines, whether absolute monarchy or neocameralism).

And of course, the most straightforward and time tested one of all:  the military coup.  The problem with the military coup is that while it is possible quite easily if enough of the upper echelons of the military agree to it, the conditions for that to happen require the almost total loss of civilization first.  And the more loyal and used to civilian leadership the armed forces are, the worst said conditions have to be before they step in.  The Anglo-Saxon world such as it is is not Brazil or even France.  Imagining how bad the economy/social breakdown would have to be before they decide to say enough is a frightening thought experiment indeed.

There is something to post-apocalyptic fiction that naturally makes it beholden to reactionaries.  And so your author was quite pleasantly surprised indeed to come across the Silo series.

Wool begins the series.  The basic gist is that for some unknown reason all that remains of our species lives within a silo underground.  Why?  What happened?  Why can no on remember?  You know what, just read the following nine pages excerpt free online.

Have you read it?

Good stuff, right?  Gripping?  How bleak an ending was that?  While not incredibly original, the execution is quite flawless for those 9 pages and for most of the first book.  The mystery of what happened, who knows/who doesn’t, and above all WHY.

The first two books, Wool and Shift, are very good.  Wool sets the stage and the world, and Shift explains what happened and how we got there. Sadly, the conclusion, Dust, left much to be desired of, sinking to some basic cliches (in particular a very stupid shoehorned religious angle).  But the first two are gripping page turners of a dark world.  And the gradual revelation of what happened and why is as NRx as any I have read.

I will in short order write a separate post discussing it in more detail, but it will be filled with spoilers.  My recommendation?  Buy (or just dl the books online, the author is on the record saying he’s ok with this) the books and enjoy the mystery and reveal for yourselves.  And then come back to discuss the implications.

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Political Officer

Someone I know worked for a number of years at one of the top investment banks in the world.  This was pre-2008.  He had a value seat on a trading floor under one of the top producers of that firm; basically one of the top traders on Wall Street.  On said trading desk and on the sales desk linked to it were several very high ranking members of the bank, some of whom would go on to senior management positions.

To the extent finance is an army, this was the special forces.  The allocation of billions of USD (and other currencies) worth of capital was determined by the choices made by those individuals. Some economic systems have bureaucrats and well, it usually doesn’t pan out so well.  Capitalism, while certainly not perfect, has these voracious workaholics who ruthlessly chase profit (economic efficiency) like prepubescent males after porn

However, said efficient operators are not left to play their games alone.  Upon rewatching for the umpteenth time the glory that is Sean Connery’s accent in a certain movie, I realized we have a very clear parallel here.  The exact same function played by the political officers in the Soviet Army is that played by HR in corporate america.  They supervise, monitor, chastise, admonish, control, and punish the economic operators who manage the wealth on which the power of the West relies while maintaining a stricter ideological straightjacket than a radical communist could dream of.  Since wealth can lead to political power, Inner Party members must be strictly monitored for deviant thinking.  

And you’d be surprised how spending 12 hours a day 5-6 days a week strictly monitoring what you say/write easily becomes internalized.  This of course after the cursory k-12 years of education, 4 years at an Ivy, and often an MBA/JD/etc.  One’s social circles commonly involves true believers, and a simple comment/joke/email out of line can ruin a career.  Wearing a PC mask all day, and sometimes all night, one finds one’s mask becomes one’s face.

Which brings us to the personal connection at the belly of the beast.  Working on an international desk, our acquaintance witnessed the following spectacle:  One of the top traders at the firm laughed at a joke over the speaker by a colleague abroad, involving the spanish word for gay/faggot.  In that language and culture they have not yet reached the level of enlightenment the anglo world has, but give them time.  Unfortunately for our Master of the Universe a member of the new aristocracy took umbrage at said outrage and brought the issue to the attention of the political commissars.

And thus the spectacle occurred of a high ranking member of the econ elite having to kowtow to an infected aristocrat for violating the religious mores of society.  Only after a public apology/humiliation in front of the high priest was our Paul Allen spared the loss of job, status and prestige.  Never was a more clear example made of power over money.  

The system worked.  And all who witnessed it loved Big Brother a little more.

Humans need not apply

“First they came for the horses, and I did not speak out- 
because I was not a horse.”  – Skynet wins poetry contest on subject of humans in 100 years (closest contender)

Say what you will about progs, but they occasionally really “get it.”  Their proposed solutions of course are hilarious (none in that video as pointing to a problem is far less divisive than attempting to solve it).  

At some point though we as a society (or rather, those who run it) will have to make a decision with regards to what to do with those who are superfluous.  A few come to mind, undoubtedly less entertaining than watching them burn down their own neighborhoods, but probably more efficient.  Maybe the owners of capital can truly come into their own (excellent read and a subject for another day):

“Rather graciously because it delights them and puts them into good spirits; for those who are cruel enjoy the highest gratification of the feeling of power.”

Some form of sterilization of the lower orders is long overdue.  Perhaps a guaranteed life income of 1k USD a month in exchange for permanent sterilization at age 18.  Or 16 the way things are headed.  The type of person willing to take that deal is probably the type you want taking it.

Of course, the “what to do” is trivial relative to the “how to get it done.”  One thing is for certain:  that which cannot go on forever… will not.

Regardless, this is at best a temporary solution for the lower orders.  As automation climbs the job ladders, those now enacting the solution may soon find themselves being enacted upon.  And, whether voluntary or not, let us not forget the fate of the Solarians.