Authored by Gaius Baltar (http://gaiusbaltar.substack.com)
It is becoming increasingly clear to more and more people in the West that something has gone terribly wrong with the Ukraine project. Predictions and projections didn’t pan out and the West doesn’t seem to know what to do. The Russian economy wasn’t a house of cards as predicted, Russian weapons weren’t inferior as predicted, Russian soldiers and commanders weren’t incompetent as predicted, and Russian technology wasn‘t inferior as predicted.
In some respects the Russians even seem to be superior to the West. Their weapons are effective and in many cases outright technologically superior, as clearly demonstrated by their hypersonic missiles, SAM systems and electronic warfare systems. Their economy appears to be surprisingly advanced and diversified and based on real wealth creation rather than financialization and debt like the West’s. Their strategic and tactical thinking also seems to work, while the West‘s clearly doesn‘t.
The whole mess is often explained as a result of a miscalculation by the western elites – they underestimated Russia and overestimated the West. The situation, however, is far worse than that. Every day that passes reveals the impotence of the West more and more and the situation is becoming outright humiliating. At this point the rest of the world either shakes their heads or simply laughs at the West and its politicians and diplomats – not to mention its crazed populations.
The dysfunction of the West is far deeper than just the situation around the Ukraine project. It’s absolutely everywhere. The West can’t do diplomacy in general, it can’t run its cities or countries except into the ground, its high-tech projects fail almost as a rule, its infrastructure is crumbling, its economies are crumbling, and all public policies seem to have a civilizational suicide as a final goal. The West’s control mechanisms over the rest of the world are also crumbling, including the dollar, sanctions, color revolutions, military interventions and threats. Nothing seems to work and everything the West does seems to make things worse.
Any rational person upon hearing a western leader, diplomat or “expert” speak, asks himself this question: “Are they just lying or are they really this incompetent and delusional?” The answer is “both” but the incompetence factor is far greater than most people can imagine.
Why has this happened? It’s clear that the cause is far deeper than the deindustrialization of the West or economic problems in general. The economy doesn’t explain the incredible incompetence shown by the West before and during the war in Ukraine.
I suggest that the cause of this unfolding disaster is a serious structural problem in the West – which Russia seems to have largely avoided. This structural problem is a necessary condition for the current western system and has been purposely created to bring it about and maintain it. This problem is the subject of this article – as well as the “mechanism” behind it. This is unfortunately a long article, but the subject matter demands it.
Human capital and its properties
The current ideologically-based power structure of the West outright requires that certain types of people be in positions of influence and certain types of people be sidelined. This applies to all steps of the social ladder; from kindergarten teachers to university teachers and corporate executives, and all the way up to the leaders of society itself. This has been progressing steadily for the last five decades or so, and has resulted in a major structural problem for the West. That problem is the obvious and massive degradation and misallocation of human capital in the West.
Human capital can be described as the quality of a company’s or nation’s workforce, or more specifically how competent the employee pool is – how well they are trained, how quickly they can be trained, how they are educated in general, and how they make decisions. In order to understand what competence really means, let’s define it further.
Competence can be described as specific or general. This distinction is extremely important and must be understood by anyone who attempts to manage human capital on a small or large scale.
Specific competence is the ability to do a certain type of work. This can be carpentry, coding, chemistry, medicine, piloting an airliner, and so on and so forth. Some of these types of jobs may require a lot of competence, training and intelligence, but what they have in common is that their scope is limited and clearly defined. They exist within clear boundaries, separate from the complexities and vagueness of the world in general. Each type of work requires certain abilities innate in the person, as well as varying degrees of training. People, of course, differ a lot in their level of specific competence within each field.
General or high-level competence is the ability to do work that is beyond clearly defined boundaries. The subject matter of those types of work exists in a complex “variable universe” and can be exceedingly vague and confusing. It requires the ability to be adaptive and be able to transfer skills between different types of work. This also applies to expertise in one field being applied to a completely different field – such as applying psychology to economics or astrophysics to climate science.
Examples of positions requiring general or high-level competence people are corporate executives, all kinds of planners and administrators, product developers, inventors, high-level consultants and analysts, military leaders and planners, diplomats, judges, political leaders, and high-level scientists and theoreticians, to name a few.
Specific and general competence types of work are not two separate things. Types of work or “jobs” can be said to range from almost completely specific up to almost completely general. Almost all types of work have elements of both but in varying proportions. To illustrate this I will take an example from a company I’m personally familiar with. This is a software company with several owners, most of whom work at the company. One of the owners is an exceptionally competent database specialist. However, when he contributes to decision making for the company as a whole, he becomes an outright problem. The management structure of the company had to be “modified” to neutralize him in that role, as well as a few others. This employee has exceptional specific competence but very poor general competence. He cannot “transfer” his specific database competence over to competence in moving the company into the future. He simply cannot operate objectively or sensibly outside his database job.
So what makes this employee have such poor general competence – or more specifically – what is general competence? General competence requires three necessary conditions: a) High general intelligence or IQ, b) the ability to be objective, even in situations where the result of your conclusions may not be to your liking, and c) the ability to reach conclusions without being influenced by others (i.e. independent thinking). The latter two conditions are a direct result of how the human brain interacts with the environment. The mechanism behind it is too complicated to describe here, but in simplistic terms it can be said that humans range in their relationship with reality from the emotional-outward/subjective to the introspective/objective. This variable, like all evolutionary traits, including IQ, is normally distributed. This has rather disturbing implications which may be difficult for some people to understand.
Let’s first look at IQ, or general intelligence. In order to be able to deal with seriously complicated work or get through a real university program, an IQ of about 125 is necessary. Only about 5% of the population in the West has this IQ or higher. This means that the pool of potentially high-level competence people is very small to begin with. Even if we use a cut-off of an IQ of 115, which is sufficient for most semi-complicated work, the potential pool only goes up to 16% of the population.
Now let’s take a look at the other variables, i.e. objectivity and independent thinking. Those two are correlated and we will, for the sale of convenience, handle them as the same variable or trait, even though they aren’t. They are normally distributed, much like IQ, with most in the middle and fewer toward the extremes in both directions. On one side of the distribution are people who, to state it bluntly, are incapable of thinking objectively about any issues that may interact with their personal views about anything at all. They can be competent in a limited field which is “neutral” to them (such as databases), but not involving anything else. They can’t run a company in a competitive environment, except into the ground. They can’t run a city, a country, a military campaign, an economy, or anything requiring general competence, except into the ground, regardless of their intelligence. These people are clearly not suitable for general/high-level competence jobs.
So, what is the proportion of the population that is objective enough and independent thinkers enough to be suitable for those jobs? That’s difficult to determine but it’s clear that it is maximum 50% of the population. In reality it’s far less but let’s be generous and say it’s 30%. What does that mean?
IQ and objectivity/independent thinking are somewhat correlated but let’s assume they are not. Let’s say that we have a pool of potentially objective and rational people that is 30% and a pool of people with IQ of 125 that is 5%. That means that the pool of high-level general competence people is 5% of 30%, or 1.5% of the population.
If we are really generous and assume that 50% of the population is objective and rational and an IQ of 115 is sufficient for those jobs, then we have 16% of 50%, which is a pool of 8% of the population.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. This group, whether we define it as 1.5% of the population or 8% of the population, is extremely valuable. This is essentially the only group in society that can reliably evaluate complex situations and make subsequent rational decisions. Without it, modern technological society simply cannot be built or maintained – let alone advanced. Let me rephrase this – if we do not identify and utilize this group, we cannot run our complicated societies except into the ground.
The western purging of competence
Modern western society is from a governance standpoint ideologically motivated and ideologically controlled. It is being pushed in a very clearly defined ideological direction, led by the European Union and the current US administration. This ideology is not the subject matter of this article, but it can be seen everywhere by any rational and independent-thinking person. For the uninformed-curious a good place to start is the website of the EU’s policy-making body; the World Economic Forum.
In order to achieve these ideological goals for the West, two things must happen: a) The right people must be put into power at all levels of society and b) any disruptive elements must be eliminated or suppressed. Since all ideological goals tend to be more or less in conflict with reality, there is no group more disruptive to them than the one who operates objectively and independently. People like that simply cannot be allowed into positions of power, and if they must be, they must be kept quiet and/or forced to toe the line.
The objective/rational/general competence group, whether it is 1.5% or 8% of the population, therefore becomes a problem rather than a resource. This is exactly the situation in the West today.
Many people have noticed that meritocracy has been systematically abandoned in the West and the relationship between competence and reward severed in giant swaths of the economy – and almost completely in government. What few people seem to realize is that this is a necessity for the West’s ideological goals to be reached. High-level competence cannot be promoted because it is a threat. It cannot therefore be rewarded.
In order to illustrate this, let’s take a look at what happens when a member of the 1.5% is allowed to gain significant power. Elon Musk is a smart man, probably with an IQ of 150 or more. He is also quite objective and realistic in his assessments, and an independent thinker. His ownership and governance of Twitter/X is a major problem for western ideological goals. Free speech is an obvious threat to any ideology and, to rub salt in the wounds, Musk belittled the guardians of the Ideology at Twitter by making fun of them, then by firing them all and only keeping the competent ones. This cannot be allowed to stand and we can already see the response. The EU is planning to use force to stop this affront to the Ideology and may actually block Twitter in Europe. Ideological champion (and suspected lizard robot) Mark Zuckerberg was even instructed to cook up an ideologically pure Twitter copy in response – but seems to have failed. We eagerly await further responses, which may range from lawfare up to more “direct” actions, and will most likely be directed at Musk personally.
The reconfiguring of western education
As previously noted, two things must happen for the ideological goals to become reality: The right people must be promoted and the wrong people must be suppressed. This process of elevation/suppression has become the main goal of the western education system – all the way from kindergarten up to university. If we look at what the education system has been doing, this becomes extremely obvious. Here are a few examples:
Evaluation of competence is being systematically degraded to avoid comparison between the competent and the incompetent. Exams are being discarded in favor of constant “projects” and students work in groups so the incompetent may hide. Schools avoid testing the individual directly as much as they can – and thereby comparing him to others. The competent ones must not be encouraged, and if at all possible, they themselves must not realize that they are above others.
Universities are increasingly basing admittance on other criteria than competence, including quotas based on non-competence variables. The most insidious selection method is the “personal essay” which applicants must submit – and is sometimes even more important than grades. All applicants know that the more they signal virtue in the essay, the more likely they are to be admitted. On the basis of the essay, the universities can pick the ideologically pure – which is the only purpose of the essay requirement to begin with.
Almost every academic subject is being turned from the objective to the subjective to assist the irrational-incompetent student. This even applies to hard subjects such as mathematics – where nowadays 2+2 doesn’t necessarily equal 4. Even intelligence is now subjective and the stupid can be as smart as the intelligent – it’s just a question of perspective, the right measuring tools, and idiotic inventions such as “emotional intelligence.”
Almost every subject has been made easier than before to help the incompetent students and even critical fields such as medicine are now graduating people who are utterly incompetent and clueless – on a large scale. This systematic lowering of standards also has the added benefit of creating disinterest in smart and rational students. A smart student performs better and better relative to others as the subject gets harder. If the subject is easy or made uninteresting, he will sink down to mediocracy – which is a part of the purpose of lowering the standards to begin with.
Disciplines which may be a threat to the irrationality of the Ideology have been massively subverted and corrupted. This applies to several fields, but particularly to psychology and history, which in their proper forms would be a massive threat to western ideological goals. Psychology has been twisted into an almost unrecognizable abomination, and history is mostly just lies these days.
Fake disciplines have been invented from the ground up for the purpose of training the ideologically pure without the need for competence or intelligence or any connection to reality. These disciplines can be found in lists of “most useless university degrees” all over the internet, but that is a misunderstanding. Those degrees are not useless at all – they elevate the ideologically pure in society by awarding them university “certification.” This certification justifies giving them important positions in society.
Western society, in general, has abandoned rationality and replaced it with subjectivism (formally designated as “post-modernism”). The purpose of that is not just to train and advance the ideologically pure, but to use subjectivism as an oppression tool against the 1.5/8 group and the rational part of the population outside of it. The best way to suppress a rational person is to subject him to an existence of total and constant irrationality. It is essentially gaslighting on a civilizational scale, directed at the dangerous rational group.
While the dangerous rational group is being suppressed and subverted, the ideologically pure “leaders of tomorrow” are indoctrinated rather than educated, given university certifications rather than real degrees, and finally provided with an unending amount of fake and well paid jobs in both the private and public sector. This well-paid ideologically pure group then becomes the power base of the new ideological system.
The upward migration of the incompetent
The goal of this deliberate intervention into the educational system is to create what you might call a “migration pattern” in society based on (lack of) competence and ideological purity. The right people need to be put into the right positions and the right jobs, and since they are incompetent, this needs to be managed for them. After they leave school with their certifications, government and the private sector take over and actively push them upward, while pushing the dreaded 1.5/8 group away from influence and well-paid jobs.
Two developments in the West have been godsends for these efforts: the outsourcing of western manufacturing to Asia and the virtual abolition of competition in the corporate sector. This massively decreased the complexity level of the western economy and subsequently the need for the 1.5/8 group. When most companies operate services in a protected environment, there is far less need for high-level/rational people – while in a “real economy” these people simply cannot be sidelined. Also, when you can get away with operating a fake economy based on the dollar reserve status, you can also operate a fake society run by incompetents.
Let’s take a closer look at how this upward migration of the ideologically pure is managed after they receive their university certifications – and how the 1.5/8 group is systematically blocked. There are five main methods being employed – which together form a long-term takeover process of society. These methods are the following:
Public sector filtering – This describes the job selection process in the public sector. Initially the “foot-in-the-door” method is used. A few ideologically pure politicians and bureaucrats position themselves within the system and start controlling who is hired. This increases exponentially over the decades as more and more purists gain access to the levers of power. Currently the process is so overt that it is starting to become expressed in recruitment policy papers – such as the recent example of the British government excluding “white men” from becoming fighter pilots. The West has almost completely been able to exclude the 1.5/8 group from public-sector positions using this method – including its armed forces.
Public sector stuffing – As the public sector filtering process advances, the purists inside the system start creating more and more positions for their purist brethren. New departments are created, work groups and committees appear, and the public sector expands. Publicly owned companies, such utility companies, hospitals and schools are also often used as storage units for large numbers of the ideologically pure. This is extremely obvious in the West. Every unnecessary law or initiative requires more and more people – and these people are all carefully selected.
Job-creation by decree – This method is directed at the private sector, as well as the semi-public sector. Government purists start creating new laws and standards which all companies must fulfil. Those are justified on the basis of “goodness” and usually involve the environment, equality, safety and such things. This creates a large number of positions within private companies which are tailored for the ideologically pure – particularly in support functions such as human resources, compliance functions and others. This enables a “foot-in-the-door” situation in the private sector and gives the purists access to the levers of powers there – much like they already have in the public sector.
Private sector filtering – As the purists have gained access to the private sector – particularly human resources (which is the standard purist Trojan horse in private companies) – they start filtering new recruits exactly the same way the public sector does. As in the public sector, this filtering process is becoming more obvious. A significant number of companies are now specifying which groups will not be hired in their job advertisements. Since they can’t overtly say “we don’t hire smart, independent thinkers” they usually use “white men” as a proxy for that group for some reason. That group is considered to be a particular threat, although you can be sure that anyone who doesn’t follow the program will be fired, regardless of their gender or the color of their skin.
Private sector stuffing – Shortly after Elon Musk bought Twitter he fired something like 80% of its employees. That 80% was the company’s private sector stuffing ratio – quite high. Companies, particularly in sectors which can influence public opinion – but not solely, are increasingly creating a large number of positions which are either totally superfluous or intended for influence operations against the public.
Those filtering and stuffing methods are the primary mechanisms that have been used for the takeover of western societies by the ideologically pure. There are other mechanisms, such as ESG, filtering by certain banks and investment funds regarding who gets financing and who doesn’t – and the uncontrolled immigration engineered by the ideologically pure which is seen by them as a continuation of the internal migration process. However, all that is beyond the scope of this article.
The ideologically pure have systematically been moved into almost all positions of power in the public sector and a large part of the private sector – and the situation in the private sector is increasingly mirroring the public sector in hiring practices and employee stuffing. The dangerous 1.5/8 group is being kept away by all means, and with great success. The power base of the Ideology is firmly in place.
This job migration program hasn’t been cheap. Millions of unnecessary jobs cost money and it is clear that a significant part of western public debt can be attributed to this program, a fact which doesn’t seem to have been noticed by many people.
The main thing to understand is that western societies and economies have been put on an ideological footing. Productivity, competitiveness, technology and science are simply not priorities anymore in the West. Explaining the consequences of this process for the West would take many articles, or a book of several hundred pages. Still, let’s mention a few examples.
The inverse competence crisis – The goal of this entire project has been to place the ideologically pure in all positions of power at all levels of society. These positions are, in a normal and competitive society, occupied by the highly competent 1.5/8 group. The process has now reached near-completion with most positions of power occupied by the ideologically pure. Some of those people have high IQs but they are neither objective nor independent thinkers. The Ideology they must subscribe to is simply incompatible with those qualities. This has some serious consequences.
Remember that positions of power and influence are more likely to demand general competence than other positions (as opposed to specific competence). The greater the power, the more the position demands general competence. The people in these positons now are selected by ideological fervor and reliability – so the higher you go, the more ideologically enthusiastic the people who hold them. This means that the least objective and independent thinking people hold the positions which require the greatest objectivity and independent thinking. Therefore, in the West incompetence becomes greater and more common the higher you go. As someone said – “a general is an incompetent colonel.” This can be seen absolutely everywhere except in some holdout private companies. Those exceptions are of course being addressed as we speak.
The second problem is that many of the irrational/subjective people holding all the power have reasonably high IQs. That may seem to be a positive thing but it has a major disadvantage. Moderate to high IQ irrational/subjective people are the easiest to brainwash of all people. The reasons for that are complicated and need to be addressed in another article – but what this means is that the top tier in the West is not only the most incompetent it can possibly be in comparison to what their jobs require – but are also the most malleable and delusional.
The cost and debt crisis – The migration of the ideologically pure into the ideological power base and positions of influence has created millions of jobs in western societies which create no value. These jobs are much more numerous and more widespread than most people realize, and I wouldn’t be surprised if something like 20%-30% of the entire labor force of the West could be fired without any adverse effect. In fact, the effect would be positive, especially if those people could be made to work the (mostly menial) real-economy jobs they are suitable for.
Deindustrialization has been blamed for the extreme debt levels and tax burdens of the West. That is, as far as it goes, true – but maintaining this giant group of incompetents in their fake jobs is also placing an extreme burden on the West. Western societies are now completely unsustainable and cannot be run without constant debt increase.
The competition crisis – This crisis can be explained by the following example: Let’s say there are three companies with combined 100% market share in some sector. There is no real competition between them and everybody can just relax because the customers can’t go anywhere else. These companies can get away with absolute incompetence on most levels, including in management. They don’t need to think about efficiency, safety, productivity or costs, except on their websites and in annual reports. However, if a competitor with competent employees manages to infiltrate the sector, those three companies will hit a wall. There will be an enormous crisis and one or more of them will most likely go under.
This is exactly the situation in the western economies now. Monopoly and oligopoly is the rule and the main objective of most large western companies is to prevent anyone from infiltrating their sector – usually by bribing regulators or by buying the competition. This is a necessity because a huge number of western companies are now run by incompetent management and staffed by incompetent people, particularly in support and management functions. The immortal words of the nameless Boeing employee about the 737 MAX apply to most large western companies; “this airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” Western companies are no longer competitive. They cannot compete with Chinese companies now and soon they won’t be able to compete with companies in general outside the West. They simply can’t function except inside an economic safe-space. In fact, the situation is such that the Chinese already do the real work for many of them and reshoring the work is problematic because of (surprise!) the human capital degradation in the West caused by the repurposing of its education system.
This also applies to western societies as a whole. The entire leadership and diplomatic classes of the West are no longer competitive against the rest of the world for exactly these reasons. They are being outmaneuvered by the Chinese, the Russians, the Indians, and everybody else at every turn. Even African leaders are now more competent than western leaders. They have consistently made decisions that are better for their people than leaders in the West – for the last few years anyway.
The complexity crisis – Earlier in this article I stated that the 1.5/8 group is extremely valuable for modern societies and without it complicated modern societies cannot be managed. In the West this group has been successfully sidelined to a great degree and a good part of it doesn’t even bother with university education anymore. The situation, however, is even worse than that. The reconfiguration of the education system and the break between competence and reward in the job market has fundamentally changed the decision making process behind the selection of university education. Why study engineering (which is hard) when you can get an even better paying job with a degree in psychology (which is easy nowadays)? The reconfiguration of the western education system has changed the reward structure, encouraging young people to pursue easy and useless education – simply because the “system” will provide them with jobs.
This has already caused a major crisis in western societies, particularly in the US. The “maintenance” of complex aspects of US society needs a large group of engineers and people with related education. This maintenance is faltering now, and significantly relies on foreign engineers educated in US universities. You see, why would Americans study engineering in a system which doesn’t reward it? If China and India could somehow recall their engineers and others with hard education from the US, the US system could probably not be maintained, let alone advanced. This will get progressively worse and we will soon reach a point where complex systems which underpin society cannot be kept running. That will require some kind of “reset” to a less complex society, with less prosperity of course.
There are far more crises than those four, but I wouldn’t want to sound like a doomsayer by listing more.
Russia and the future
So, what about Russia? Firstly, there are clear signs that the Russians have figured out what is happening in the West and are learning from it. Recently they left the “Bologna process” which is a European education standardization system. The Bologna system has the express purpose of diluting education in member states, implementing certifications rather than real degrees, and filling European societies with badly educated and generally incompetent “experts” who follow the consensus, no matter what. The Russians saw this system as a threat to their country, which it is, and have, at least partly, reverted to the older and more hardcore Soviet system.
Secondly, the Russians seem to be carrying out purges of the incompetent and corrupt within state structures, including the military. Meritocracy seems to be on the agenda, a radical concept these days. The Russians most likely see these efforts as critical to the continuation of their state and nation – and they would be right.
The situation in China is much the same and there are indications that the rest of the non-western world is catching on. Remember that one of the results of the recent Russia-Africa summit was a Russian-organized education effort in Africa. I doubt that women’s studies will be a part of that curriculum.
The current clash between the West and Russia – and increasingly between the West and the rest of the world – is becoming a clash between the incompetent and irrational and the competent and rational. The result is obvious – but what happens when an irrational person who is backed into a corner has access to nuclear weapons? That’s anybody’s guess.
By putting its societies on an ideological footing the western elite has backed itself into a corner. They can’t compete; they can’t develop their economies or societies; and they can’t go back. Fixing the problems of the West will require an economic revival, where a real economy will replace the current fake financialized service economy. This cannot be done without putting the hated 1.5/8 group into positions of power. Therefore, it will not be done as long as the current western ruling class is in power. Western societies will not survive an economic revival in their current ideological configuration. Conflict is therefore the only remaining option for the ruling class to hang on to power.