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Mavens & Salesmen

YellowDress1,393 words

Translations: French, Spanish

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (discussed here and here), Connectors — people with friends and acquaintances in many different social worlds — are crucial in making information go viral. But where do they get their information?

To answer this, Gladwell introduces the concept of Mavens. Mavens are collectors of information. In the economic realm, Mavens are people who collect information on prices and products. They are an inexhaustible source of comparisons, rankings, and tips. Mavens are the kinds of people who type out 1,000 word reviews of pillows on If you are buying a computer, talk to a computer Maven. If you are buying a car, talk to a car Maven.

Being a market Maven naturally has economic advantages. But that is seldom their primary motivation. Mavens generally collect this sort of information simply because it interests them, and they share it simply because they want to help. And because they are not paid pitchmen, their recommendations carry a great deal of weight.

Gladwell’s focus is on market Mavens, but the same motives and personality traits are present in scholars, especially academic researchers, who pursue often highly specialized knowledge as an end in itself, but whose efforts often have wide-ranging practical consequences. Although Gladwell does not mention the autism spectrum, the Maven’s intense and disinterested pursuit of fine-grained knowledge points in that direction.

There are many Mavens on the Right, and they play an important role. They are the people who compile quotes, links, and concrete illustrations. They are the people who like to crunch numbers. But Mavens are often underappreciated. Activist types dismiss them as pimply-faced nerds lacking a sense of political utility and urgency. But right now we are in a war of ideas, and Mavens collect and deliver ideas that we can weaponize.

Although sincerity and disinterestedness count for a lot, Mavens are not the ideal people to deliver ideas. They tend to be spammers. They tend to be myopic. They often deliver too much information. They sometimes lose sight of the big picture. But when I need information, I turn to Mavens. I can keep track of the big picture myself. I can filter and prioritize information myself. So I actually prefer Mavens to collect and deliver as much raw and disorganized information as possible.

The more Mavens the New Right attracts, and the happier we make them, the stronger our movement will be. But to find and cultivate Mavens, we have to understand them, which is why Gladwell is so helpful.

Gladwell’s discussion of Connectors and Mavens also turns out to be a discussion of Jews. The Connectors and Mavens profiled by Gladwell all seem to be Jews. When he offers a way to rate your connectedness by counting the number of people you know whose surnames match randomly chosen names from the New York City telephone directory, the test obviously has a pro-Jewish bias. I am a highly connected person, but I make it a point of not knowing people named Alpern, Aran, Arnstein, Ballout, Bamberger, Blau, Bohen, Borsuk, Brendle, Cohen, Cohn, Eastman, Fermin, Finkelstein, Farber, Falkin, Feinman, Friedman, etc. (to choose from the first dozen lines). Gladwell even mentions that the word “Maven” comes from “the Yiddish.” Since Gladwell lives in New York City and works for The New Yorker, one might dismiss the judeo-centrism of his analysis as simple sampling bias. But the more interesting possibility is that a propensity to being Connectors and Mavens contributes to Jewish success and social dominance. Which recommends his analysis to other groups that aim for social dominance.

Information and connections alone are not enough to make ideas go viral, however. The third essential component is action. People must be persuaded to actually buy a product or an idea. Hence Gladwell’s discussion of Salesmen, whose main traits turn out to be weaponized information and charisma (these are my terms).

Salesmen have to command information. But it has to be weaponized. The best salesmen have a vast repertoire of facts and arguments to answer every objection. Talking points, in other words, and the ability to deliver them.

Charisma is a form of charm and attractiveness that makes people want to look at you, listen to you, agree with you, even obey you. Charisma is a non-rational form of persuasiveness. It is a non-violent form of coercion. It is “force of personality.” It can lead to action without appeal to reason or force. Charisma is a mysterious phenomenon, but Gladwell cites a couple of scientific studies that throw some light on it.

First, it turns out that people are very attuned to non-verbal forms of communication, such as gestures and expressions. Second, certain gestures and expressions can be contagious. If I yawn, for example, you are more likely to yawn. If I smile, you are more likely to smile. Third, the causal connection between emotions and expressions goes two ways. We smile because we are happy, but we can also make ourselves happy by smiling.

Charismatic people are exceptionally good at communicating their inner state not just verbally but also through subverbal cues. If these become contagious, they can change our way of thinking. A salesman who smiles can make us smile. A salesman who nods can make us nod. And if we smile, we are more likely to feel happy. If we nod, we are more likely to agree with what is being said. When this form of non-rational persuasion is wedded with facts and well-delivered arguments it has the power to change the world.

The Stickiness Factor refers to the fact that ideas that stick in our minds are more likely to spread. Therefore, if you want to make ideas viral, make them memorable. Make them simple, state them elegantly, make them concise, make them rhyme, associate them with striking images, etc. Gladwell’s discussion deals mostly with children’s television, which is not really relevant to politics, although it illustrates the idea that sometimes tinkering on the margins can dramatically transform the stickiness of a message. The most important lesson of the chapter is that information becomes stickier if it is accompanied by an opportunity to act on it immediately. (Which, for one thing, has given me some ideas for tweaking the design of the Counter-Currents site.)

The most important element of Gladwell’s discussion of Context deals with the critical role of groups as the incubators of viral ideas. This illustrates nicely the harmony of the two branches of metapolitics: propagating ideas and building communities. If you want ideas to become sticky, discuss, practice, and embody them in a group. Groups also amplify the connectivity of ideas, for each member is connected to a different set of people.

Gladwell cites interesting research on the ideal scale of groups. Given the limits of the human mind to keep track of individuals and relationships, we can maintain genuine personal social interactions with a maximum of 150 people, which is why Hutterite colonies split when they reach 150 members. Larger groups require impersonal, mediated forms of organization, which can scale to encompass billions. The law of 150 is worth remembering for those who wish to organize White Nationalist tribes and fraternal orders. Such groups are not a substitute for civilization, but they can be vehicles for preserving Western Civilization in a battle with invaders and parasite tribes.

I highly recommend The Tipping Point. I have only been able to hit the highlights in my discussion. Gladwell offers many useful analyses and case studies of how ideas and products go viral. But he makes it clear that these processes also depend upon countless contingencies, which make it impossible to plan, predict, and control them. The good news is that the same contingencies make it impossible to suppress viral ideas as well.

The role of chance also means that each and every one of us may be the last straw, the one who tips the balance. That fact is empowering, so long as we recognize that these processes cannot be planned or controlled. So we should detach ourselves from the outcomes and look for intrinsic rewards in the struggle. We should regard it as a moral duty, and we should also try to have as much fun with it as possible. And if enough of us dutifully and joyfully muck around, creating memes and real-world relationships, we might luck out and change the world.



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  1. Jaego
    Posted September 14, 2015 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Lord Varys on Power:

    Oh, I think not,” Varys said, swirling the wine in his cup. “Power is a curious thing, my lord. Perchance you have considered the riddle I posed you that day in the inn?”
    “It has crossed my mind a time or two,” Tyrion admitted. “The king, the priest, the rich man—who lives and who dies? Who will the swordsman obey? It’s a riddle without an answer, or rather, too many answers. All depends on the man with the sword.”
    “And yet he is no one,” Varys said. “He has neither crown nor gold nor favor of the gods, only a piece of pointed steel.”
    “That piece of steel is the power of life and death.”
    “Just so… yet if it is the swordsmen who rule us in truth, who do we pretend our kings hold the power? Why should a strong man with a sword ever obey a child king like Joffrey, or a wine-sodden oaf like his father?”
    “Because these child kings and drunken oafs can call other strong men, with other swords.”
    “Then these other swordsmen have the true power. Or do they?” Varys smiled. “Some say knowledge is power. Some tell us that all power comes from the gods. Others say it derives from law. Yet that day on the steps of Baelor’s Sept, our godly High Septon and the lawful Queen Regent and your ever-so-knowledgeable servant were as powerless as any cobbler or cooper in the crowd. Who truly killed Eddard Stark, do you think? Joffrey, who gave the command? Ser Ilyn Payne, who swung the sword? Or… another?”
    Tyrion cocked his head sideways. “Did you mean to answer your damned riddle, or only to make my head ache worse?”
    Varys smiled. “Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
    “So power is a mummer’s trick?”
    “A shadow on the wall,” Varys murmured, “yet shadows can kill. And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”
    Tyrion smiled. “Lord Varys, I am growing strangely fond of you. I may kill you yet, but I think I’d feel sad about it.”
    “I will take that as high praise.”

  2. Gunnar Tyrsson
    Posted September 13, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    ” She is malice on bloated ankles.”

    Lorenz, that quote is priceless. Maybe you could manage the Hildebeest’s media campaign.

  3. Posted September 13, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating. Reminds me of a quote:
    Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing. — Wernher von Braun

  4. Lorenz Kraus
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Charisma is the domination of an apparent, but incidental, deficiency by an overwhelming strength.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique dominated his accent and tooth gap.

    A child who shoots the intruder to save his family has charisma because a child isn’t expected to save the family from home invasion. A dog that saves the day during a Mossad assassination plot has charisma because a dog isn’t expected to know what’s going on at a human level. Humans are. The dog becomes a hero. If he gets hurt or killed when he takes the bullet, people really feel bad. Despite a dog’s limitations, the intentions of the dog we read as good and loyal. Dogs have charisma even when they crap in the house.

    Reagan the actor, Hitler and Napoleon the corporals, weren’t born into power and money; yet they served their role at the time from the bottom up. Steve Jobs had charisma because he was the anti-Gates with perceived style and quality over Microsoft’s crashing clones for the masses.

    Jews don’t have charisma because they lack good intentions. This is a key to populism. A populist leader has to truly care with street smarts; despite all his deficiencies, warts and all, he rises. When his intentions are in doubt, if people suspect him, and he implodes.

    Barbara Streisand was said to have charisma. Maybe in the 1960’s when she was not known for her politics. “How could something with a nose like that sing so well?” She was treated like an an idiot savant. They have charisma, too. (versus a nerd who is smart and nerdy and ugly. No charisma for the NERD!)

    There are differences between respect, contempt, and charisma, which involves the enjoyment of a person sharing their gift and powers to the world, especially, for your side.

    With Hillary Clinton, there’s no dominating positive. She is screeching malice propped up by numerous cronies. She is against us in numerous ways with numerous negatives. Hillary is a thermometer of malice in the masses.

    With Romney, there wasn’t charisma. He was the “perfect package” that tried too hard; whereas “The Little Engine that Could” still has charisma after all these years.

    Charisma is the effect of a dominating successful strength that marginalizes a harmless “humanizing” weakness. A demigod doesn’t need perfection. A leader of white nationalism devoid of power does, whereas a man who takes power for the sake of nationalism will have all the charisma he needs.

    Consider this imaginary conversation from the year 66 AD from the Roman War on Jews:

    “How many Jews did you kill today?”


    “…but, you had an Asian girlfriend.”

    “Yes. And how many Jews did you kill today, Inquisitor?”

    See how positive power dominates deficiencies? A moralistic milieu can’t give rise to charisma because of nit-picking, little things become needlessly big because no one has power to put everything into perspective. A post-nitpicking era is a strong man serving his people era. That’s what counts, despite being, short, bald, toothy, rotund, etc.

    Ron Paul had charisma, but Rand Paul, or Andrew Cuomo, Chelsea Clinton, and Yeb Bush can’t. What is their dominating strength, apart from a name?

    Hillary Clinton barked about her space being invaded in a debate years ago, but she hasn’t said a word about Europe’s space being invaded by rapist invaders that she stirred up. What kind of leader is that? Malice can’t rise without Jews feeding it money and media. She is malice on bloated ankles.

    She has an ax to grind on your very existence. Malice makes weakness its cause against strength. The opposite of charisma is a shakedown artist, like Jesse Jackson and Sharpton.
    Joe Biden doesn’t have charisma. He is a pervert who could win an Oscar.

    A charismatic person doesn’t make a stink out of his weakness when he has authentic strengths to show. That is what sells.

  5. Claude
    Posted September 12, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Today’s alt right is a textbook example of emergent order. Established websites, journals, publishers, and conferences now operate within the same ecosystem as newcomers like /pol culture, podcasts, real world social networking, and the hashtag wars. These players all operate more or less independently, and each one is comprised of many autonomous nodes, but they complement one another in a way that creates a kind of spontaneous order which seems to have taken us further in the past six months than in many years previous.

  6. Verlis
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    And if enough of us dutifully and joyfully muck around, creating memes and real-world relationships, we might luck out and change the world.

    There are certainly enough anti-white contradictions and calumnies out there, and social behaviors based on them, that it makes sense to keep plugging away in the expectation that somehow at some point the anti-white status quo, no matter how fiercely it’s defended, will be undone by some sociopolitical force majeure.

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