I have noticed a similar pattern in the emotional content of progressive entitlement politics and consumerist complaints. In both cases, there is a sense that an institution has failed to fulfill the [citizen|consumer’s] heartfelt wishes. And in both cases, the person fails to notice that however honestly his wishes are felt, they were originally suggested by the institution. This is reminiscent of the movie Inception.
Inception, of course, refers not to the dream within a dream, but the deliberate subconscious suggestion of an idea to someone, who then takes the idea as his own – blackhat cryptomnesia. Here are some examples of; more certainly exist:
- Some believe that advertisements ought to include more more minorities. But why?How did we end up in a situation where ad representation ought to matter to minorities?
- An article asks, should feminists wear makeup? But why should feminists need an article to decide whether to feel good about makeup?
- Have microtransactions ruined gaming? But if microtransactions are the result of a free market, are you willing to make a principled anti-market argument that amounts to more than whining? And once you are anti-market, why do you deserve good games?
- Our moral intuitions fail at super-Dunbar scales. Therefore, according to effective altruists, moral intuitions should be ignored as needed, replaced by utilitarian formalization. But without your intuitions, what would utilitarianism be formalizing?
- A little bit of behavioral economics can show that our stated preferences do not match our revealed preferences. Institutions take advantage of this by appearing to fulfill the former while actually fulfilling the latter. When a consumer looks behind the curtain, the illusion breaks: “Oh no, Google collects my personal data! I feel violated, but now that I really know what I want, I choose to use DuckDuckGo instead.” … But without Google’s intrusiveness, would a good enough search engine exist to prime you to the demand for good search engines?
- “Throwaway culture sucks”, says the luddite who buys technology that is 5 years out of date – but always 5 years out of date, and modernizing at the same pace as the same pace as the technology he hates.
So on, and so forth.
From a business standpoint, entitlement is about managing expectations. Consumers need to demand better goods, but only good enough at a level that the business can supply. If the golden goose allows itself to be spotted, it gets eaten.
From a progressive standpoint, political inception is simply the mechanism of progress. Revealed preferences are false consciousness: stated preferences are real preferences. Suggestions of sexual and racial liberation are valid – nay, they are not strong enough! For a progressive who is sufficiently communist, it ought to concern him how closely this entitlement towards authentic desires resembles consumerism. But this level of awareness tends not to be reached.
Why does “inception politics” occur? On a grand scale, it is simply memetics. Institutions persist because they create a demand that they later fulfill. On a proximate scale, I believe it originates in a misunderstanding of technology (more generally, the relation between means and ends). This deserves its own post, but in short, people are instrumentalists when they ought to be substantivists:
(As I have previously stated, Moldbug’s Strong Antisingularity Hypothesis deserves serious attention.)