Schelling Orders

by Ziz7th Jan 20186 comments


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For the benefit of others: I had an easier time reading this when I realized it came sequentially after this post.

Slight extension of this framework: there's a way a coalition can expand its reach by constructing an ostensibly neutral set of operating parameters that implicitly treat their core members as the central case, and everyone else as exceptional. Since the ostensible universality is foregrounded, resistance to the standards' asymmetric burdens can be delegitimized as undermining solidarity/fairness by asking for special treatment, because the system is constructed so that this asymmetry is not legible inside the frame, or at least so that such complaints have a high message length. (Also, people harmed by these standards will often find people who actually do want to tear things apart ready to work with them as tactical allies.)

“First they came for…” is what it looks like in a scarcity environment where the dominant coalition is retreating/retrenching, but things can look quite different with growth. Consider that Americans now openly talk about how Hispanics will be considered more white in the next generation than this one. This doesn’t make any sense if you are trying to cluster people compactly by genetic characteristics, but it makes a lot of sense if a particular coalition is trying to adjust its narrative to maintain a governing majority by acquiring more allies as ostensible equals.

Unfortunately, in a finite world, growth based on expanding your coalition (rather than learning to make better use of a fixed pool of resources) must end eventually. Fortunately, this sort of “expanding circles of concern” can also be a symptom of abundance freeing people to be nicer. Unfortunately, these can be hard to tell apart, and there is a strong incentive for the former to pretend that it is the latter.

What's the "O'brien technique"? Google gives me results about some guy who was really good at shot put.

Relevant keyword: the side-taking hypothesis of morality.

Oh shit, I was gonna write that up before I published this and then I forgot. Will fix later. (Edit: posted with slightly more detail [here](

I'm naming it after the character from 1984, it's a way of disentangling social reality / reality buckets errors in system 1, by holding two different contradicting verbal statements in your head, "2+2=4", "2+2=5", and contrasting them and their uses and anticipations until they split apart into not seeming to be talking about the same thing. (Use "2+2=5" to anticipate social reality, use "2+2=4" to anticipate reality.) Try guiding the "that's inconsistent" processes it spins up to focus their efforts along two separate planes, or something like that.

It should not end in doublethink. I.E., when you get the S1 shift, then you are done with verbal contradictions, and can just think "2+2=5" in quotes with an implicit "this is a lie" tag. Sort of it's a way of getting your S1 to feel the quotes.

Practice it a bunch and you may build up immunity to social reality.

This was a helpful encapsulation of a concept, thanks. (I have a vague feeling I might be missing something subtle about in, more due to priors than any specific information about this example)

Thanks for linking that. From shallow accesses to caches because I'm in the middle of something, "side-taking" morality is too specific. I call this component "trade morality".