Three Peoples Theory

Updated on March 16, 2021 in General Stuff
7 on March 15, 2021

I found this interesting, even if I’m not sure I buy it.

Reminds me of someone I used to work for who liked to say “There are two kinds of people: Those who make things happen, and those who get things done”.

I propose that there are three kinds of people in the world:

People of the Subordinate Self Call them slaves, serfs, workers, clients, marginalized, these are people that do not experience “agency.” They are go-along-to-get-along people, villagers under the thumb of the big man, the serfs of the feudal lord, the factory workers of the corporate behemoth, the ward heelers of the precinct captain.  They attach themselves to a powerful patron in return for scraps from the lordly table. Religion: wrathful gods for whom humans are mere playthings.

People of the Responsible Self Call them commoners, citizens, middling sorts, “deplorables,” these are people that believe they can understand the world and have a responsibility to do something about it. These are people that follow the rules, go to work, and obey the law. Religion: Axial Age God that made the Earth and a divine law and told humans to get on with it.

People of the Creative Self These are people that want to live a creative life, maybe as a writer, an artist, a videographer, an activist, a revolutionary. They don’t want to follow the rules, they want to discover new rules. They don’t just want to go to work, they want to reinvent work. They don’t just obey the laws; they want to make new ones. Religion: Humans, not gods, are now become the creators.

Of course, the world is much more complicated that that. But most of the time most people have difficulty imagining anyone different from themselves as anything but an enemy, in a crude “us” and “them” approach to life, religion, and politics. From John Smith

The flaw I see in this (at least at first blush) is that Chantrill seems to be implicitly buying into what I think of as a “modern” version of what art is. I know John can speak to this with far more intelligence than I can, but the “the don’t want to follow the rules, they want to discover new rules” stuff strikes me as speaking to the “flinging paint onto a wall and calling it “art”” crowd. 

The idea of art being liberated by a set of classical constraints is lost. IE, I could take a violin and smash it to pieces and thus create “art”. OR I could spend 40 years mastering the instrument (ie, subjecting myself to a long tradition of what is “right” and “wrong” when it comes to playing the violin) and create art that way.

In that sense, I don’t agree with Chantrill’s distinction between the “Creative Self” and the “Responsible Self”. In my view, his definition of “creative” is actually defining “destructive”. That’s why I consider the set of traditional constraints on classical art to be liberating rather than restricting. They give the artist some guardrails, those constraints are what allows the artist to create rather than merely destroy.

Being a Vandal is easy. Being creative is hard. 

(Which brings to mind Roger Scruton, but that’s for another day.)

 
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0 on March 15, 2021

Interestingly, I ran across this by the same guy this morning:

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2021/03/figuring_out_the_jordan_peterson_phenomenon.html

Haven’t really had time for serious consideration and unpacking, but on first glance I’m struck by the “yeah, life often sucks. Deal with it” aspect of the whole thing.

Which then takes me to my recent spiritual distillation of Catholic theology. Essentially the Sacrament of Last Rites which says that at death we all proceed alone, broken, and naked to meet God in all his fearsome glory and you are to account for your life. The standard understanding of that is that you’ll be quizzed on just how much you know about the tenets of religion and the laundry list of shit you should be punished for.

A while ago it dawned on me that maybe that’s backwards. Maybe the proper answer is, “I tried.”

Maybe it isn’t all about holiness or Tulsa style name-it-and-claim-it. Maybe it’s about slogging through the intentional suck and doing the best you can with what you’re given. Maybe the “rules” and Commandments are guideposts in a world that simply doesn’t behave in a nice, clean cut manner. Suck it up buttercup and do the best you can for others and you’ll be fine.

Again, really haven’t had time to suss much out other than that, but there it is.

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0 on March 15, 2021

That reminds me a little of a routine Bill Burr used to do.

Something like “What the hell, God?!? You made me, and now you’re judging me? If I fucked up, seems to me that’s on you.”

Which is about half right. I can imagine Fr. O’Leary (old Jesuit from my high school) responding something like “Of course God gave you the capacity to fuck up. Thank God for your fuck ups! But God also gave you the capacity to not fuck up, just as God gave you the capacity to know the difference!”

*****

On “life often sucks”, I think that’s exactly right. In fact, I’d go a little further. In our modern age of unimaginable material comfort, we’ve inverted it. By our standards, historically, life was an infinite series of suck events punctuated by occasional moments of not suck. Today, life is  materially, anyway) largely suck free, and any momentary instances of suck are taken as evidence that the universe has collapsed.

I think about life as a hunter-gatherer. You’re living the life of a hummingbird. Perpetually on the edge of starvation and death. Not that you aren’t necessarily well fed. Maybe you are. For the moment. But you wake up every single day knowing that you absolutely must figure out something to eat, and if you don’t, you’ll be dead in a matter of days. 

That is the context that from which our minds and our consciousness evolved, and it is so different from our daily experience in 2021, I sometimes wonder if reality (meaning the disconnect between our evolutionary reality and the consciousness it created, and our present reality that is so different) isn’t literally making us insane.

*****

What I wonder about is whether there has been an inversion. 5000 years ago, materially, life sucked. We’ve largely fixed that, for almost everyone. (Even the poorest of the poor in the world are seeing things improve by leaps and bounds in recent decades.) 

But at what cost?

It is hard to say, since we don’t know as much as we could about the degree of spiritual contentment in 5000 years ago guy, but I wonder if the widespread sense of discontent that seems present today is the mirror image of our widespread degree of material comfort.

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0 on March 15, 2021

Which then takes me to one of my favorite books of the last couple years, “Shop Class as Soulcraft” by a guy who grew up on a commune in California and went to all the good schools and landed himself a good paying think tank gig in DC.

Then he got tired of that shit and pitched it and started a business restoring old motorcycles somewhere around here.

The premise is exactly what it sounds like. Working with your hands and a clear focus is cool and spiritually rewarding.

See what you started, dammit?

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0 on March 15, 2021

Interesting. As you know, I’m in something of a “what do I do with myself now?” mode, and for a lot of reasons that mirror your description of the Soulcraft book, I find myself leaning heavily toward the decorative motorcycle parts business. 

I’m not sure if there is a profitable business to be formed there, but I figure I have about a three year window to find out.

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0 on March 15, 2021

The subtitle is “An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work” by Mathew B. Crawford if you’re interested.

And I think you might be.

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0 on March 16, 2021

You guys are some great thinkers. 

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0 on March 16, 2021

FWIW, part of my thinking vis-a-vis “Soulcraft” guy goes something like this:

Over the coming century, the world will come to look at US based products in a manner analogous to how we look at Swiss made stuff today.

Large volume/mass market manufacturing is going away (from the US, that is). By and large, it already has. Successful US companies will make prestige items at premium prices in small quantities.

There is an emerging middle class in India and China (and elsewhere) that will look to boutique US manufacturers for prestige/luxury goods.

That is part of where my motorcycle parts business is coming from. If you’re some middle manager in some city in China, and you’ve climbed the ladder enough that you can afford a genuine Harley Davidson motorcycle (a total “look at me!!!” purchase), do you want to slap some cheapo, Made in Taiwan derby cover on it? No. You want a genuine, Made In America, custom made, hand crafted work of art. And you’ll be happy to pay for it. In fact, the more you pay, the better you’ll feel, because what you are buying is exclusivity.

I predict there will be millions of those guys.

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