Virtue Signaling and Status

The Three Types of Status Competition (Yuppies and SJW’s Included)

Many high-IQ people, both from the ‘left’ and the ‘right’, are status seekers, but so are most people. More status mean more money, respect, and, from an evolutionary perspective, a greater likelihood of passing on your genes, as well as the confidence boost that comes from having control instead of being controlled.

Persona Striving is the option of last resort for strivers. They have no career prospects, no money to show how trendy they are, and so they instead have to focus primarily on their online persona.

They don’t buy trendy things, or go out and do trendy things, but instead work on displaying to others some deep, esoteric (and sometimes entirely fictional) character traits. Social Justice Warriors embody this to a T, as their twitters and tumblrs are looking more and more like character sheets of some strange board-game than the short autobiographies of actual people. Granted, not every persona striver is a SJW, because you can wrap your online persona around video games, or anime, or philosophy, or elves, or conservative politics, or whatever; but in my experience SJW’s are more involved in persona striving.

Political Correctness, anti-sexism, anti-racism, etc. are more often than not the result of persona striving, because how else are you going to be better than others if you can’t compete with them with money or by your trendy leisure activities? It is far easier to beat someone over the head with a political agenda (or your gamer-score, or your atheism) than it is to leave your house and do actual things.

Not so sure about this. Based on my own observations, the ‘alt right’, which includes but is not limited to NRx, Redpill, HBD, and MGTOW, embraces minimalism and intellectual pursuits over materialistic ones. People who are of average intelligence tend to signal and seek status though material possessions (ostentatious materialism); smarter people tend to signal through more esoteric or creative means such as writing, STEM, or conversing over philosophy or economics, as I explain in The Esoteric Celebrity:

This new nobility has given rise to affectations intended to signal intellectual-worth, which in our increasingly technological, winner-take-all economy has become inseparable from self-worth. We all want to be philosophers (or at least perceived as smart as one) as well as economists, scientists, and objectivists. I want to be a part of it, too. In post-2008 America, STEM and STEM-like subjects like philosophy and economics are more respected than ever in the marketplace (in terms of higher wages), online (as measured by shares, viralness, approbation), and in pop culture (as measured by appropriation), too.

We all want to be perceived as smarter because smart people are among the most successful in society today as measured by wealth, wages, and social status. While famous athletes and other entertainers make a lot of money, no one seeks their counsel on anything substantive, whereas if you’re smart you are elevated to the status of an ‘oracle’, and your opinions on a wide-range of issues – be it global warming, economics, sociology, or history – are valued and sought. Thus, intellect more so than even wealth, gives you credibility, and credibility and status tend to be interchangeable, especially online and in academia. Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku are theoretical physicists, but because they are so brilliant, their opinions are sought on topics unrelated to physics, such as social issues. Here is a clip of Dr. Kaku fervently defending democracy. I don’t agree with Dr. Kaku, but the video is an example of how smart people are sought for their expertise, even in subjects not related to their fields.

We’re also seeing a backlash by millennials, in general, in rejecting superficiality and materialism, attributable to the perpetually weak labor marker, the recent backlash by millennials against baby boomers, as well as broader society and culture valuing intellect more (the rise of the STEM celebrity), and other factors. But it may also cut both ways, with smarter liberals espousing social justice nonsense as a means of signaling.

A commenter (dividual) writes:

The two standard sociobiological categories are dominance and prestige. Increaseing these two creates a testosterone trip, see Kemper, 1990 Social Structure And Testosterone. This model looks like offering three kinds of prestige. What is missing here is dominance status. E.g. lift weights, be big, be manly and aggressive, elicit fearful respect, be the local tough guy. This is typically what lower-class men do. Not saying it is necessarily ideal, just in order to show a complete picture.

In accordance with Ravi Batra’s Social Cycles, physical dominance may be losing its potency. Nowadays, especially since 2008 or so, society and culture seems to revere smart ‘gammas’ and ‘betas’ more so than the alpha ‘tough guy’. The former are making all the money in tech, real estate, stocks, and other high-IQ means, while getting all the prestige whether it’s in science (Higgs boson and gravity wave detector stories which made headlines globally, for example) or technology (web 2.0 founders making headlines and billions, the idolization of Musk, Buffett, Gates, and Jobs etc) it seems. The latter, on the other hand, are losing their jobs, whether it’s oil falling from $100 in 2014 to $30 today, hurting lots of blue collar energy workers, or the housing bust of 2006-2009, which hurt blue collar construction workers. Or the rise of the low-paying service sector, replacing obsoleted but high-paying factory jobs. Meanwhile, high-IQ tech is doing better than ever, impervious to pretty much all macro conditions, save for a blip in 2000-2002 during the dotcom bubble or in 2008 during the recession. This dichotomy is also observed in the housing market, with real estate in high-IQ regions such as the Silicon Valley constantly making new highs, versus almost everywhere else still well-below the 2006 highs.

He’s probably right that less intelligent or lower-class people signal dominance through physical prowess than through intellectualism, but popular culture of today, in contrast to the hyper-masculine ideal of Brando and Dean generations ago, seems to favor brains over brawn. And people tend to emulate pop culture.

It would probably take a major catastrophic event to turn the dial of the social cycle, in which the the ‘warriors’ would accede to power. But decades of post-WW2 peace and prosperity (Pinker’s Long Peace) favors the acquisitors and intelligentsia.

Not to make this too political, the social cycle could explain why the welfare left seeks crisis, because they perceive technology and the meritocratic ‘nerd culture’ of Silicon Valley as a threat to their aspirations of an egalitarian society. ‘Nerds’ are the ones making most of the money in today’s hyper-competitive ‘new economy’, and the left wishes it weren’t that way, preferring quotas, lowered standards, and equal outcomes, over successful people rising to the top through hard work, talent, IQ, and merit.

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