Not having a car and thus not being able to go out very often, it feels like every time I do go somewhere new, it’s into a whole new world. The concepts definitely exist of course, I have a structural idea, but comparing me to a third worlder who has never seen a supermarket before is really not too inaccurate.
One of my friends is a shoe reseller, and yesterday, I went with him to a high-end shoe store. He always tells me of these crazy exploits, reselling some stupid pastel-colored thing with a Jordan or Nike label on it for 1000 profit. He’s been doing it for a while and I always just took it as ripping money off of dumb people. I’d hear stories about him reselling it to DJs who would then sell it to “celebrities”, or doing meetups with “real gangsters” and I’d always just treat it like a book of collected short stories.
But that shoe store forced me to unify all those things.
Every wall was lined with cheap colored simple design shoes, all under different neon panels with logos of two colors. The whole store was similarly colored, and every inch of it was bathed in white light which would blind you within a moment of looking up (I have big beef with this kind of lighting, but I’ll make the architecture post another day). There were nothing special about these shoes, structurally. Same, or similar enough material to every other shoe in existence. Color not so much, but color is fairly cheap. Designs that could’ve been drawn by a six year old with no prior drawing experience. And yet, every single one of them, going for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to illustrate my point without using dollars, because to be honest I don’t think particularly in dollars. For one random pair of shoes in that store, I could’ve gotten a month of food, a 24-inch monitor, a good motherboard, a good CPU, 5 or 6 games, or tuneups on my bike for a few years. Why would I spend that much on a shoe which has no higher production value than anything else and looks like shit?
And yet here this store was, able to pay the bills on all that annoying light. So all those super rich and super poor lapping this up like dogs and flies on shit must actually exist.
Which then begs the question: Why? What is going on? How is it possible for them to congregate at the same place, much less desire the same thing? Or more importantly, how is it possible that I can’t tell who exactly these shoes are being marketed to?
It doesn’t particularly make sense if you think about it traditionally. Rich people and poor people have historically had different styles – namely, that the poor were too poor to be worrying about such things as looking good and more concerned about not dying due to natural causes. It was a linear and easily readable trend: The poorer you are, the less energy you will be spending on frivolous and nonfunctional things; the richer you are, the more you get to do what you want. Now it’s the Twilight Zone bizzaro world where depictions like Saint’s Row: The Third are completely accepted because that’s fundamentally what’s going on in reality: we have gangsters coming out of LA, rapping about whatever, becoming “cultural” icons to the rich and to the poor, and then turning around and start making “music” about how they can “make it rain”. Because they can really do that now. They’re rich.
You don’t see this kind of thing happening at any other point in history. People with high time preference simply did not rise to the top, and nobody looked up to them.
There is one similarity between the upper and lower classes, as F Roger Devlin notes,
It is an old observation that sexual morality is most strict among people of moderate means; looser behavior occurs among the very rich (because they can afford it) and the very poor (because they do not calculate the consequences).
but this is fairly easy to accept because no one can ignore the prime directive. One can however ignore beads and baubles (this is what “Jordans” are) because it’s clear they don’t have utility. Historically, sub-saharan africans traded gold for salt at a 1:1 mass ratio, because they needed salt and could not obtain it while gold was plentiful but had no particular use except to look pretty. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp; it’s the reason why our mothers didn’t just buy the whole toy store for us when we were kids. Looking good is is important, to be sure, but importance in a vacuum is a stupid concept. All things have an order, and being pretty is pretty low on the list. Devlin continues however,
The worst possible situation arises when the poor become artificially “rich,” by their own standards, through welfare payments.
– The Feminine Sexual Counter-Revolution and its Limitations
and though he uses this to talk about other things, this I think answers the question. It’s not that the rich and the poor like the same thing. It’s that we incorrectly see the poor as poor.
Are “the poor” actually poor? Perhaps, if we use number of dollars in the bank account, or amount of dollars accrued per hour. But in the ratio of effort exerted to market value of objects obtained, it could not possibly be said that they are poor. Where once it was impossible to survive well-off with a high time preference unless you were the son of a king, it is now possible to live in luxury if you are the bastard of a 16 year old couple from the slum district. “Safety Net”s have made it so that the poor can buy the latest crazes, live in some of the most convenient locations, and get plenty of basically anything for free. Capitalism has of course also made plentiful and cheap any of the most basic products for human need.
These poor who buy these shoes for looks and for status should not be considered poor, because they act exactly like the rich. It has been said that to discover who has power, just test to see who you cannot criticize. Can you criticize the poor? How about blacks? Do people like you have voting power? Or does the poor voting bloc? Do your standard appeals have more power, or do protests? If you murder a middle class person, what would happen? Now, imagine you murdered a black person. What would happen instead? The comparisons are endless and they all answer the question in the same manner, as they should.
I believe that modern American marriages are, by and large, conducted on a basis of equality, but I also believe that the opposite contention is far closer to the truth than that of the New Feminists: namely, that it is men, not women, who are more likely to be the oppressed class, or gender, in our society, and that it is far more the men who are the “blacks,” the slaves, and women their masters. In the first place, the female militants claim that marriage is a diabolical institution by which husbands enslave their wives and force them to rear children and do housework. But let us consider: in the great majority of the cases, who is it that insists on marriage, the man or the woman? Everyone knows the answer. And if this great desire for marriage is the result of male brainwashing, as the Women’s Libs contend, then how is it that so many men resist marriage, resist this prospect of their lifelong seat upon the throne of domestic “tyranny”?
Indeed, as capitalism has immensely lightened the burden of housework through improved technology, many wives have increasingly constituted a kept leisure class. In the middle class neighborhood in which I live, I see them, these “oppressed” and hard-faced viragos, strutting down the street in their mink stoles to the next bridge or mah-jongg game, while their husbands are working themselves into an early coronary down in the garment district to support their helpmeets.
In these cases, then, who are the “niggers”: the wives? Or the husbands? The women’s libs claim that men are the masters because they are doing most of the world’s work. But if we look back at the society of the slave South, who indeed did the work? It is always the slaves who do the work, while the masters live in relative idleness off the fruits of their labor. To the extent that husbands work and support the family, while wives enjoy a kept status, who then are the masters?
There is nothing new in this argument, but it is a point that has been forgotten amidst the current furor. It has been noted for years-and especially by Europeans and Asians – that too many American men live in a matriarchy, dominated first by Momism, then by female teachers, and then by their wives. Blondie and Dagwood have long symbolized for sociologists an all-too prevalent American matriarchy, a matriarchy that contrasts to the European scene where the women, though more idle than in the U.S., do not run the home. The henpecked American male has long been the butt of perceptive humor. And, finally, when the male dies, as he usually does, earlier than his spouse, she inherits the entire family assets, with the result that far more than 50% of the wealth of America is owned by women. Income – the index of hard and productive work – is less significant here than ownership of ultimate wealth. Here is another inconvenient fact which the female militants brusquely dismiss as of no consequence. And, finally, if the husband should seek a divorce, he is socked with the laws of alimony, which he is forced to pay and pay to support a female whom he no longer sees, and, if he fails to pay, faces the barbaric penalty of imprisonment – the only instance remaining in our legal structure of imprisonment for nonpayment of “debt.” Except, of course, that this is a “debt” which the man had never voluntarily incurred. Who, then, are the slaves?
And as for men forcing women to bear and rear children, who, again, in the vast majority of cases, is the party in the marriage most eager to have children? Again, everyone knows the answer.
– Murray Rothbard, Against Women’s Lib
Just as men are the real niggers due to the sexual revolution, the “middle class” are now the real niggers due to the mass socialization/communisation of societal functions. If someone can live off free money handed out by the government and charities and aid from whatever source, spending their time however they want outside that once a month maybe not even an hour trip to the local office, but you have to spend four or more years of your life accruing a ridiculous amount of debt to aspire no higher than to be some “middle level” “manager” in a large corporation where you’ll spend every daylight hour the rest of your life sitting in a box passing papers from the desk on your left to the desk on your right (or doing the same thing electronically), who is the real nigger?
You can’t afford the Cadillac and the 42 inch TV and the hyped up shoes that release every couple of months not because you have to conserve that money and use it elsewhere. It’s because the money is worth more to you. Regardless of how this capitalistic culture has told you that every dollar is equal to every other dollar, you know this isn’t true. Your friends’ and family’s dollars are worth much more to you because you feel it is part of your duty to return those dollars. There is more value in the dollars you receive in a paycheck than the dollars you get from winning a prize. Just as you know the money you’d get from a teenager is probably worth less for him than the money you’d get from a business owner, so it is that you value your money more than the rich white kid or the black woman on welfare. Because you have to work for it. Who works?
Does the master work?
If you have to work for your money and they don’t, and they can “afford” something and you don’t, it is not because you’re more intelligent. It is not because you have better tastes. Replace those shitty shoes with something you like. Something fairly standard, like a good laptop or a decent phone. The same principle applies. They can get more of it than you can.
It is because the poor are not forced into order. When one is not forced into order, it is essentially equivalent to being forced into disorder. Through liberalism and capitalism they have been freed from the bounds of existence to exert physical force in order to obtain resources and instead do…. what? Nothing. Why would they use the free money to get back to working for money? Why would they want to be like you, when they get everything they want and you can only talk about how you are better? Are you actually better? When they attempt to rob your home can you shoot them with impunity and the confidence of a trained marksman? Where is it that you are allowed to exert dominance, in which region of human interaction? No one cares about your ideas and dreams of saving the planet or getting some girl you never talk to and always bend over backwards for to fall in love with you. In the end there are only things, how nice they are, and how they are obtained and maintained.
You can’t afford nice things because you are the nigger.
YOU are the slave.