I’ve written before about the fractal nature of social grievance, and the curious inversion of status that is only made possible by comfortable political and material conditions. Back in 2014, I had this to say:
As I’ve said before (see here and here), “injustice” is fractal. (Zoom out and you get slavery, the Holocaust, ISIS; zoom in and you get this.) The corollary of this is that when it comes to social-justice warriors, faction is fractal too. Interest groups will form ad-hoc alliances so as to unite against a common or external enemy, but once he has been driven off, the various factions no longer have enough in common to bind them one to another, and so they begin to squabble for dominance over the newly conquered territory. What’s more, when exposing social injustice is the defining purpose of your life, and the the measure of all that is holy, then you always need new injustices to put right, or you’re out of a job. So you zoom in. Rinse and repeat.
To those with any sense of history, that this bickering is happening at all is actually a sign of tremendously luxurious social conditions: if we were grappling with the Black Death, or a sacking by the Mongols, we’d never get around to any of these things. Another sign of this is the curious inversion of status that characterizes the grievance culture: as is always the case in human affairs, it is a competition for status — but in this case the rules have been reversed so that the highest status within the grievance community is awarded to those who can demonstrate the lowest status in the broader culture. It is as if the grievance culture is a little ‘virtual machine’ running inside the Western cultural operating system; it is only the smooth functioning of the external OS — peace, prosperity, tolerance, etc. — that makes running the virtual grievance-culture ‘game platform’, with its amusingly inverted status polarities, possible at all.
In June of last year, I added this:
In the end, of course, real power wins. When the ‘external OS’ that supports this platform stops running, natural inequalities will assert themselves, as they always do.
In that 2015 post, I also offered Pollack’s Principle of Privilege:
To learn where true privilege lies, simply see how people choose to identify themselves.
For today’s example of the fractal nature of the grievance industry, and of the eternal engine of faction in human affairs — which operates at every scale — we have this account of a conference at the University of Irvine.
The title aptly describes what’s happening: a descent into chaos. When natural order and hierarchy are crushed and broken at higher scales, they will still, just as naturally, try to reassert themselves among the rubble. In descending eras such as the one we inhabit, however, as soon as they appear at lower scales, they are broken again — until everything is smashed to atoms.