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Thoughts for Tonight’s SurrealPolitiks Member Chat 20230719

The news is packed with interesting things today. Another Trump indictment coming down the pike, a gay Democrat testifying before Congress today in the Hunter Biden probe, and during this testimony, a seating competition between those who are wearing Ashli Babbit shirts and people who would far prefer these symbols not be broadcast on the news.

I am happy to speak with you about these things or whatever else is on your mind, but I view these things as largely repetitive, and so to start off I would rather prefer to say a few words on the subject of success and its pursuit.

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On Monday’s show I made mention of this and referred the listener to names like Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, and John Maxwell. I should, myself, revisit these authors and producers, then come back to this subject in the near future, but that necessity is no obstacle to what I mean to convey today.

Success, it might at first glance appear, is largely theoretical to your humble correspondent. I do not boast of wealth or power. If I did I would be quickly mocked with greater justification than usual. I can however claim to have prevailed against substantial obstacles and accomplished things few would think conceivable. I won’t list them, as I do not mean to brag, but we are of course having this conversation, and that is something more powerful people than I would have liked to prevent.

I consider our challenges in some sense a very fortunate gift. Resistance is the stuff of greatness. An athlete does not become an athlete by doing easy things. He powers against the forces of gravity and inertia, and in many cases other human beings, to increase his capacities. If he happens to be born with certain qualities, and tries hard enough, then he attains a certain status in his sport of choice. A student who excels tends to take on more challenging classes, often at the direction of his educators, through honors or advanced placement programs. In his youth he might even skip a grade or two. Challenges force us to try harder, and trying helps us to increase our abilities.

Contrast this with our opponents who are and have for a very long time been very powerful. They have limitless financial resources and are shielded from criticism. The people who are in their social orbit are largely dependent upon them financially, and are consequently disinclined to offer criticism for fear of upsetting a petulant mental child who would revoke their sustenance if he gave them offense. In no shortage of instances, these gifts were inherited for no greater effort than the stress of being born, and they consequently have no memory of struggle, much less recent experience. They are deprived of nothing, and obtain no perspective from scarcity. To them, the most pressing concerns in our society are people saying things on social media they disagree with, and those problems are largely solved to their satisfaction through expenditure of funds they have not earned. If they know anything of physical exertion, they have had to pay to pursue it in a gym, likely with a personal trainer, and this is a form of recreation for them rather than any pressing need. They marry, divorce, remarry, commit adultery, and in the midst of all this likely still find themselves addicted to pornography in no shortage of instances. For those that do drugs, they meet no financial limits on their abuse, and may spiral into depths of depravity that make the junky nodding out in the park look fortunate by comparison.

This state of affairs is unsustainable for the privileged party, and please don’t accuse me of libertarianism, but there is a market element to this phenomenon.

Imagine if you will, a “pure free market” in which merit is the only means of obtaining money and the power it tends to bestow. One succeeds or fails by his capacity to meet the needs of others, which typically involves the capacity to solve problems, or to innovate new and better and less expensive means of producing goods and providing services. Necessity being the mother of all invention, there ensues something of a cycle in which the scrappy underdog struggles to find his way and does so at his competitor’s expense because his competitor has gotten too comfortable in his position.

Except in so far as they seek novelty for entertainment, comfortable people are averse to change. Why disrupt a good thing?

The scrappy underdog, by contrast, requires change, he seeks to disrupt the established order which has endowed his competitor with the comforts he enjoys so that he may enjoy those comforts.

As the comfortable actor fends off competition he expends his resources. This, after some time, becomes all he knows how to do. He has not had to innovate or struggle, only spend, and this has become a reliable means of solving problems for him. So he repeats his behavior expecting the same result.

The scrappy underdog lacks this luxury, he is at all times vigilant, taking greater notice of what is happening at all times. He tries, fails, gains an inch, loses two, reassesses strategy, tries something else, and fights for everything he has in much the same manner that an athlete attempts to prevail against gravity and inertia. He learns the whole time. His lessons are often very painful and pain contains a great deal of information.

The scrappy underdog is not alone in this pursuit. There are many of him. There are few of the comfortable entrenched market actors, and they have created this circumstance by their own hand through crushing and purchasing of competitors over time. He spends and spends and spends fending off the competition, and so long as his expenditures do not exceed his revenues he may do this in perpetuity.

But should a point be reached at which the expenditures exceed revenues, his time is up. All he can do is drain the resources which have allowed him to maintain his position, and once he has drained them beyond a certain point, he is now on a level playing field with the scrappy underdog, who is by now in all ways better informed and motivated than the comfortable entrenched market actor.

The scrappy underdog is underdog no more, and in due course he ceases also to be scrappy. He obtains the comfort. He now has the resources. He now buys the competitors. He now uses his power to crush those he cannot buy. He now becomes comfortable, and as a consequence, he meets the same fate as the actor he just defeated, and so the cycle continues.

One cannot here draw a direct line to politics. Political power endows one with means beyond the fictitious market scenario we have just described. The market scenario has a tendency to give way to the reality with which we are met, because the comfortable entrenched actor ventures beyond market aims in to political ones and uses State power to retain his position. He may do this much longer than he can in the imagined “pure free market” in part because he can sustain his expenditures at the expense of those he means to crush.

But political power is no more static a thing than money. Even kings had to contend with all manner of threats to their authority, and those who must stand for reelection every so often face greater perils than this. Even upon realization that he can rig elections, he can only do so to the extent such rigging remains plausible, and to even know what that means he must have some connection with the people he means to deceive. Having walled himself off from criticism he loses this capacity, and this disconnect becomes ever more obvious to the people he aims to govern.

That state of affairs is as unsustainable as the market fiction we have indulged above. In the most extreme case, the people he abuses may take up arms against him. Even if he manages to muster the forces to quell the rebellion, the challenge to his authority is a wound, and may be quite severe. Soldiers typically become soldiers to fight foreigners, not their fellow citizens. Police typically become police to fight crime, not dissent. They will endure much for the sake of their positions and paychecks and pensions, but their tolerance is no more limitless than the patience or gullibility of the broader populace.

But force of arms need not ensue to displace the entrenched political actor. The rigging of elections is a thing that must be done with some caution, and caution is not his strong suit. It requires many hands, and secrets do not fair well under such circumstances. If the election loses its legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and the government it purports to elect suffers the same loss, then the government will in any meaningful sense of the word cease to exist. There will remain only an ever shorter list of names of guilty parties.

What follows is no more pleasant than it is certain, but the power once concentrated is dispersed and the game begins anew as the players seek to consolidate power for themselves.

The currency of that transaction is inspiration, and I dare say we are better suited to that contest than others.

I’ll expand upon this a bit before the show begins at 9:30pm Eastern, this and every Wednesday for our members.


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