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Heros of happy talk

Steve Sailer notes something notable:

In the past, typically, happy talk was the style of the insecure middle of the social scale. Those who wished to be seen as above status concerns espoused frankness … A really odd thing about American culture today, however, is that as you go up the educational and social ladder, the more sanctimoniously hypocritical they tend to be about enforcing the code of diversity happy talk.

One explanation for the situation is that nobody in America is above status concerns. We have an infinitely high social pyramid and careers open to talents, or at least to careerism. The result is that people get and retain high status because they devote themselves to it single-mindedly all their lives, and there’s always something to gain and something that can quite easily be lost. We don’t have a nobility—a group with stable assured high status—or anything like one. The higher you are the more status is an issue for you.

Another explanation is that high status people are those who are identified with the society’s notion of human value. If you embody that notion then you can do anything and still get deference. So if you live in an aristocracy or plutocracy you can say or do what you want as long as you have the right parents or lots of money. We in America today believe that what makes life worth living is hedonism, and what makes it noble is recognition of the equal hedonism of others. High status therefore depends on a combination of political correctness and the higher consumption (knowing all about the latest cuisines and whatnot). If you’ve got those things you can say what you want on other topics and you’re still OK, but you must have those things. The result is that high status requires a steady stream of happy talk on diversity issues.

Still another is that we’ve rejected essentialism, the idea that there are enduring qualities that make things what they are. That means, among other things, that we don’t believe in stable solid valuable human qualities that form personal character, with some people having more of the good qualities than others. What you do and are, and what those things are worth, depends on environment—on a shifting network of purposes, relationships, attitudes, images and what not else. That’s why spin is everything, and it’s why we have celebrity instead of fame. It’s also why status tends to be evanescent today, and therefore insecure.