As part of my Peasant Theory, I claim that there are three classes of Americans. There are the 2% ruling class, the 90% peasant class and 8% are 'The Slice'. The Slice are those people who actually know how to make things work, and they serve at the pleasure of the ruling class. Or, to think about it in another way, the 8% Slice are those people who actually *do* use algebra every day in their real lives. The overwhelming majority of Americans do not use algebra and are not asked to use algebra, repair the machines and conveniences upon which our lives depend, etc.
But we also have 'The Alternative-Slice', who are the over-educated segment of the population whose resourcefulness is not employed due to the simultaneous facts that:
- The peasant class does not demand their services due to a lack of understanding of how they might benefit.
- The ruling class is quite satisfied with that demand lock-in.
Consider a baseball analogy. Imagine you are going to attend a baseball game, and so as the owner of the stadium you need to hire chefs. In the world of cooking skills, and the world of baseball game attendees, all that is required and expected are hot-dog level skills. Despite the fact that fresh pizza, sushi, rock candy, pineapple lemonade and oyster po' boys would all make for superb ball-game fare, you can rely on the lowball tastes of the baseball fans to guarantee you only need to hire three master chefs instead of seven. The three you hire are 'The Slice', the four you do not are ''The Alternative-Slice''.
The greatness of this country can be seen in the surplus of Slice candidates. We have a built-in reduncancy and competitiveness. But the fragility of the country comes from that same fact. The Anti-Slice is underemployed or suffers from the fact that they are out of the mainstream. If they continue long enough, out of favor or the employ of the ruling class, they become contrary, and unless and until their desires are met, they harbor all possibilities and potential for subversion and revolt. They may become more than the alternative but in word and deed the Anti-Slice.
I see the operation of Slice, Alternative-Slice and Anti-Slice in most political, technical and social discussions of the day, and I recognize that the national failure is the fault and responsibility of America's ruling class. I tend to see the Alternatives attempt to crowdsource their funding and popularity and the Antis work oppositionally to the mainstream.
Zero Sum Class
Someone dismissed my class operation as a zero-sum game. It is and it isn't. Let me explain the way in which Slice skills and positions are zero-sum as a natural phenomenon.
Consider The Transcendental Etude #10 by Franz Liszt. I first encountered this extraordinary piece of music when I was a sophomore in college, back in 1984. It was in fact this very performance by Andre Watts that stunned me for life. My awareness of its existence was created by my desire to improve myself and my expectation that I would eventually be bored by peasant music - even though I would go out on the weekends and dance to Midnight Star. The complexity of Liszt's etude and the relative sophistication it takes to appreciate it, as compared to that of No Parking on the Dance Floor is easy to see. As of this writing, Watt's performance on YouTube has existed online for 33 months and recieved about 65,000 viewings. Midnight Star on the other hand has been in place for 30 months but has garnered more than 10x that audience. But the important gating factor on the matter has to do with the number of musicians capable of performing the music. It's quite possible to be a peasant and enjoy classical piano concerts; Bunin playing Chopin outranks both. It is not possible to call Watts or Bunin peasants.
Let us then focus on the fate of extraordinary musicians. The existence of YouTube forces us to because we are clearly in a period of transition. How likely are the proprietors of Google likely to build another such music hall and program such as that which cultivated Watt's original Lincoln Center performance? I heard it on KUSC back when Los Angeles had two classical FM radio stations. Is it likely that the rulers at Google might, through their desires change the way music is delivered, and marginalize the Slice of Lincoln Center performers and make the likes of Watts a reactionary Alternative or Anti? Perhaps in their quest to unseat New York as an elite cultural center, they just might.
Let us go one step beyond the performers and their venues, to the composers themselves. The genius of Chopin and Liszt is not generally open to question (unless you are part of an Alternative or Anti faction of the Slice involved in the criticism of Western music). If for some reason the American ruling class were to completely marginalize classical piano, you would end up with a natural zero sum. You cannot instantly create performers as capable as Watts or Bunin. You could not replace the works of Chopin or Liszt. They stand as the pinnacles of musical composition - they are not simply interchangeable commodities. So long as the ruling class seeks to preserve the world of piano etude composition, performance and appreciation, there is a zero-sum phenomenon that is unavoidable.
I argue therefore that the moral integrity of the ruling class is essential to the establishment and maintenance of a purposeful and public-minded Slice, the default of which creates telented elites at war with each other for the limited resources available to them. At this point in American history, the Slice is divided and the ruling class is distant. I have questions as to how American institutions would survive a necessary transition in power from an ascendant meritocratic Slice/Alt/Anti class. There is chaos at the top.