Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

My social hierarchy view:

Imagine a picture of a bunch of people. As you're looking at it, a ring jumps out at you. Your brain is recognizing a pattern, in a sea of heads. So, you take a crayon and you draw a circle over the picture, connecting all the little heads like little dots - in a circle. You say "It's a social circle." In fact, the people in the picture do not know each other at all. The circle is irrelevant.

That's how I see social hierarchy. I'll explain more specifically:

Nearby, there's a gigantic technology company, (well, Seatt... (read more)


Um, I wouldn't call any of this arguing for the nonexistence of social hierarchies. More like arguing that hierarchies are unstable, context-dependent and, well, social.

If all of the IT workers decided to quit, what would happen to the poor workers? They'd still pick food, and they'd be fine.

Ah, but once the IT workers invent food-picking robots, poor people are screwed.

If all the poor workers stopped picking food, what would happen? It will spoil, and the IT people won't eat.

They can always eat whatever the striking food-pickers eat (and will win ... (read more)

0Kindly7yThere's a limit to the power you can have that people can't take away from you (I believe one of the Name of the Wind books had a nice quote about that). If you want more power than a self-sufficient farmer, you have to rely on other people for that power. For that matter, a lot of the things the IT guys want, the poor workers don't have. If something happens to those workers, the IT guys might drop down a few rungs on the hierarchy, say to just about where the poor workers are, or maybe still a bit higher. They're still no worse off than they would've been if they tried not to depend on anyone.
3[anonymous]7yActually I'm pretty sure farmers across the world are better off with IT workers existing than not.

Open Thread, September 1-15, 2012

by OpenThreadGuy 1 min read1st Sep 2012360 comments


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, even in Discussion, it goes here.