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This dynamic is significant in the culture wars of today.

As part of some work in architecture for some public sector projects, I read "The Nazi Census" which was a description of the technologies and techniques of the 1938 german census which was a basis for the NSDAPs brutal bureaucracy. (https://www.amazon.com/Nazi-Census-Identification-Control-Po...)

One of the interesting parts was adding "unused," fields to the Hollerith punch cards for "future use," much like we use extensibility fields in data models today. The book says many of the people recruited to administer it were promoted from the ranks of the disaffected, often far above their level to ensure their loyalty. It was a technique used by the NSDAP, Stalin, and Mao, where they put country "peasant" types in administrative roles over towns and cities to exploit rural resentment of city dwellers.

As a result, you can "steelman" the sentiments behind many conservative arguments by summarizing them as questioning the wisdom of handing reins of unimaginably powerful institutions and technologies to people who identify as victims with an implied entitlement to revenge, and who are not bound by the ethical frameworks of the deposed - the ones assumed when those techs and institutions were built. It at least provides a logic beyond evil and hatred.

Regardless of whether it's accurate in the context, it's a heuristic for reasoning about the motives and quality of an argument.




> As a result, you can "steelman" the sentiments behind many conservative arguments by summarizing them...

Which conservative arguments? It seems like you're just referring to a different brand of identity politics as "conservative".


That is a sound observation. I think what we call identity politics is a divisive style of argument across the spectrum, and not a political stripe in itself.

In the Jonathan Haidt model, conservatives tend to be rule seeking and internally group biased, where liberals prefer the opportunities created by external influences and focus on outcomes.

Regarding the original article, 20th century wars figure prominently in the minds of conservatives, and it's worth considering that many good people are indexed on factors in a narrative that includes them.


I'd phrase it as conservatives find good principles are more trustworthy than good individuals, especially given that turnover guarantees more opportunities to install bad individuals in power.

There is a principle that some knowledge is crowd-sourced over time and we shouldn't ignore that. If there is a fence in a field, we should figure out why it is there before tearing it down. And we should tear it down in a gradual and reversible way in case we were wrong in our original guess.

Your comments about which groups are in charge of what could be that kind of conservatism if you squint, but it ignores the fact that individualism is one of the principles conservatives are trying to preserve.


What do you mean by "the ones assumed when those techs and institutions were built"? Both Nazi and Communists institutions and techs were built for that exact purpose.


If you mean designed and built, that's a rather harsh judgement of eg IBM - well beyond "war profiteer". Perhaps supplied for that purpose though.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/mar/29/humanities.hig...

Somewhat chilling to contemplate what purpose the current "Watson" could be put to, though:

"When the Nazis invaded Poland (...) IBM New York established a special new subsidiary called Watson Business Machines," after its then- president, Thomas Watson."

"Hello, Watson - is our genocide still on track?"


The origins of almost every "Nazi tech" predate their rise to power.




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