Selomachean Ethics #1 — Introduction: The Paradox of Work

We all die, and we all want things before we die. Some of us want to avoid things (like pain), and some or all people. But we have to use others to get those things. And others have to use us.

Often, trade is good. For some, effort is externality. In the end, you can be a player or you can be played.

In the Selo, people like proscuitto, wine, plum brandy; they like food, cards and company. In Toronto, people like swag, power, cars, bitches, and Hennessy.

“Let’s grind, bro. Come on. Reach. You fucking blem, bro? You fried?”

“Brate, prebrzo razgovaraš i lipo odenuti. Ali imam sve što imaš. Jednostavno ne znate.”

People value freedom most in the long run, but material wellbeing in the short to medium runs.

Eudameonics (true fulfillment, power & pride, producer surplus) vs Hedonics (pleasure, happiness, consumer surplus).

Eudaeomnia is smoothing over time whereas hedonism is hyperbolic (front-loaded, see hyperbolic discounting).

The major Hegelian dialectic in society today is the struggle for power (freedom from control or leverage over others).

Individuals with a low time preference for money (patient savers/investors) can extract rents from high time preference individuals (impatient consumers). This per se is not onerous; it is in fact the basis of credit markets. However, this situation is vulnerable to abuse at scale. Preying on the hyperbolic nature of hedonistic consumers, one can convince the masses to exchange not only capital for interest, but freedom for security (control).

In general, the threat of such abuse is curtailed by the inevitable emergence of diminishing competitive scale in the voluntary exchange of goods and services (Classical Regime). However, it is not entirely certain that such a world, one once inhabited by Classical moral philosophers Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Hume and later, Marshall, Samuelson, and Friedman, can last forever. No firm or no man alone can have all of the things. Or so they thought.

The transformation of our economy from one of internalized labor applied to physical commodities and geographically restricted services, to one of externalized, infinitely scalable automation and information exchange foreshadows a new shared fate (Keynesian Regime). Blockchain, and the true decentralization it at least promises perhaps heralds a return, again, to our stable Classical Regime. Only time will tell.

Going forward, I will stage the above concerns in the form of a dialectic, an argument between two fictitious archetypes who represent opposing views.

The Selomachean Ethics asks “How much work should a man do? Or, how much can he get away with not doing?”. It centers around a dialectic between Yarco Suarez, an Argentine college drop-out from a first-generation immigrant family who loves nothing than to seb, sleep and philosophize, and Mathew Kensington, a third generation Japanese/Canadian law student who relishes nothing more than social status and power. The dialectic will move forward and back through time, asking similar questions to their ancestors and in the final chapter, their descendants as they face the Singularity.

 

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