Matt Yglesias endorses The Great Class Swap
Matt Yglesias, the left leaning author of One Billion Americans, unintentionally endorsed a version of my proposal, The Great Class Swap, when he tweeted that “The importance of finding ways to encourage downward economic mobility (rich people haveing 4+ kids, distribution channels for documentary film, decent availability of cocaine) tends to be underrated.”
This was a response to a tweet by journalist Matthew Zeitlin, stating that “galactic inherited wealth is so wild, some sociopathic wasp will personally start a civil war in order to gain control of a commodity and then his great grandchildren will all be documentary filmmakers and photographers”
Matt Yglesias’ point was that incentivizing high fertility among the wealthy could be a mechanism to encourage downward mobility. This was the case in the past when the upper classes had high fertility but inheritance was restricted to the eldest sons. The discussion was in the broader context of wealth inequality and elite overproduction. However Yglesias’ proposal went beyond the usual leftwing talking points on inequality, as he touched upon more taboo themes, including positive eugenics and incentive based economic policies. While the Left’s solutions to excess wealth are usually just higher taxation and abolishing inheritance, what Yglesias implicitly advocated for is positive eugenic based natalist incentives.
The Great Class Swap is a thought experiment that addresses the problem that too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, while too much population growth is concentrated in the underclass, with both trends squeezing out the middle class. It addresses the more leftwing concerns about income inequality but also rightwing concerns about dysgenics. The thought experiment is a scenario where wealth is redistributed from the top down to the masses while the genetic makeup of the upper bracket is also redistributed downwards. It is basically socialism but fused with eugenics.
This syncretic policy proposal would be an anathema to both the mainstream left and right, as the concept is non-egalitarian and anti-blank slate, but also anti-capitalist. The Great Class Swap is a philosophical framework that looks at the big picture on class and demographic dynamics, exposing how the existing framework has failed. It is diametrically opposed to the current framework which is Social Darwinist yet dysgenic.
The Great Class Swap is a new metric of measurement for social and political systems that takes into account a number of factors including demographic growth rates, social mobility, and income inequality. A system must be judged upon whether it incentivizes or disincentivizes certain traits, both genetic and economic. Wealth is a metric for genetic traits, with traits selected for by class including IQ and physical and personality traits. Whether wealth under our current economic system selects for positive vs. negative traits is a whole other debate.
Regardless, Great Class Swap inspired policies could minimize the cutthroat aspects of late stage capitalist society. The benefits being both eugenic and easing inequality. For instance the lower classes would benefit from living in a society with a larger upper class to fund social programs with the added benefit of less competition with a smaller underclass. Under this scenario of coercive natalist tax incentivizes, the wealthy would win from a Darwinist standpoint but based upon the values of our current society, it installs a sense of sacrifice. While a thought experiment, these types of policies might be proposed by politicians in the near future, as both dysgenic fertility decline and income inequality get worse. Also incentivizing positive traits and penalizing waste makes a lot more sense than just punishing success.
Depending upon how far these incentives would go, it is hard to say how much of a precedent of downward mobility, there would be, to rebuild the middle class. The demographic impact would likely be only a fraction of the population of Yglesias’ hypothetical 1 billion Americans. Major benefits would be the decentralization of the elites into more local elites, which would minimize the impact of elite overproduction.
Matt Yglesias has been described as a neoliberal, an establishment liberal, and a left-libertarian. I would say that he is someone more on the liberal side who has flirted with more taboo subject matter, especially when it comes to thought experiments. Even his One Billion Americans proposal comes across more as a hypothetical thought experiment. Matt Yglesias often gives subtle hints of being more based than he is generally perceived, such as flirting with HBD, his opposition to cancel culture, support for natalism, and how in an interview about One Billion Americans he said that those who are culturally similar, such as Australians, should go to the front of the line for immigration.
Yglesias has also attracted plenty of ire from the woke side. Recently assistant professor at Stanford, Hakeem Jefferson, tweeted that “Matt Yglesias has built a following of white guys w/racially conservative views. He knows his audience; I’ll give him that. He uses me as a foil to give that crowd what it wants—pushback against racial liberalism. It’s as annoying as it is shameful.”
I don’t think Matt Yglesias is much more based than he lets on, nor is there some Neoliberal to Reactionary pipeline. Yglesias is just someone who is aligned with establishment liberalism but is willing to flirt with out of the box and controversial ideas, sometimes unintentionally parting from the liberal narrative. Perhaps he is a bit grey tribe, which is more rationalist than the blue or red tribes, and he is worth reading, even with the occasional cringe takes.