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By Not Faber451
In the sci-fi disaster movie The Core, astronaut Rebecca Childs (Hilary Swank) keeps missing out on her coveted promotion to shuttle commander. Her commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) explains to her that her flawless service record and personal history are the problem. She has never failed at anything, so NASA doesn’t know if she can take responsibility for the kind of bad decisions a commander can make. She doesn’t fully understand what he means until she has to decide between letting a crewmember die or putting the ship, the rest of the crew and the entire world at risk by enabling a rescue attempt. The idea of assessing someone’s leadership capabilities by observing how they handle failure sounds a lot like a certain training simulation from Star Trek, but the entire concept of a good service record alone being insufficient grounds for promotion can be traced back to 1969. In that year, The Peter Principle was published.
The science of incompetence
The Peter Principle is a book written by Dr Lawrence J. Peter and Raymond Hull about the science of incompetence and the study of hierarchies (hierarchiology). Like Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, the Peter Principle is based on two hypotheses:
- Everyone has an individual limit to their capabilities called a level of incompetence.
- A promotion is based on the promoted employee’s good performance in their current job, which is not an indication of good performance in their new job.
The result is that in any hierarchy that is big enough, people rise through the ranks until they reach their levels of incompetence. They can’t do their new jobs well enough to get promoted again once they get there and the actual work in the hierarchy is done by people who haven’t reached their levels of incompetence yet. The incompetent promoted employees can’t be demoted because the people who promoted them would then have to admit that they made a mistake. This mistake may even have been the result of the people who promoted them being at their own levels of incompetence and assessing the wrong qualities. However, incompetent promoted employees can be reassigned to positions disguised as promotions to reduce the damage they can cause. Firing them is often not an option, as they might know enough about the hierarchies that employ them to cause even more serious damage by finding employment at competing hierarchies.
How incompetence can thrive at the expense of the hierarchies in question is explained with hierarchiology. According to hierarchiology, the most important function (the First Commandment) of every hierarchy is to maintain its internal consistency. Supercompetent employees can still be fired because the top dogs are afraid of being replaced by them in the future. The authors call this fear Hypercaninophobia Complex. Maintaining protocol and obedience to the hierarchy become more important factors for assessing competence than actual performance. Spending the entire budget before the end of the fiscal year becomes more important than efficiency and what the money was actually spent on.
The Peter Principle applied to identity politics
If competence is assessed by means of adherence to identity politics, which is not explicitly covered in the book, the shit hits the fan. Here are some feminist and SocJus examples of behavioral patterns that mask incompetence:
- Hypercaninophobia Complex
Erin Pizzey’s theory of domestic violence being genderless behavior that is passed down from generation to generation is at odds with feminist propaganda that it is caused solely by men as patriarchal terrorism. Pizzey’s approach to breaking this cycle of violence has the potential to significantly reduce the need for domestic violence shelters in the future, making her supercompetent in this matter. This endangers the ideological and business hierarchies feminist organizations have established to ensure a continuous supply of victims for their increasing networks of shelters and to secure more funding. As soon as they established these hierarchies in the 1970s, the first thing they did was exclude her. The Internet gave her a new platform and the same pattern was repeated in 2016 with her White Ribbon website, which contradicted the narrative of the other White Ribbon campaigns. She was sued by White Ribbon Australia into losing the domain name and she renamed her website Honest-Ribbon.org.
- Teeter-Totter Syndrome
The Dutch telecom provider KPN quietly cancelled its affirmative-action initiative to get women into 30 % of its management positions in 2011, two years after it was implemented. Too many women hired under this initiative were white women in their 40s or 50s with the same backgrounds and flaws as the men who were already there. They also did not provide the expected change in leadership style. The final straw came in the form of complaints from highly-educated multicultural men who were barred from applying for certain management jobs, as these vacancies were reserved for women. The new KPN initiative for multicultural diversity in management, which was made public in 2014 along with the earlier cancellation of the women’s quota, subsequently came under fire for not being beneficial enough to women. Any future attempts to address that will likely result in another demographic feeling left out, and round and round they go without actually achieving something.
- Peter’s Inversion
The social justice overhaul of Marvel Comics quickly resulted in a drop in sales, but continues to crank out more failures. The competence of Marvel’s writers and artists is measured by their adherence to regressive-left identity politics in their stories instead of their ability to create stories that actually sell. The alienated fans stop buying new comics and the social justice warriors these comics pander to are more interested in complaining about comics than in actually reading them. Disney’s bankrolling of Marvel and the current success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe make commercial success of their comics irrelevant, for now at least.
The upcoming return of the X-Men to their heroic roots suggests that enough people in Marvel are fed up with forced social justice and forced diversity in their stories. I wouldn’t consider it a complete failure though. It proves that these stories don’t sell and that social justice warriors are not a profitable demographic, which can be used for future reference.
- Compulsive Incompetence/Percussive Sublimation
Brianna Wu started a career in identity politics to mask her incompetence at making a successful video game, but turned out to be incompetent in that field as well. She’s an incompetent professional victim as she’s too easy to debunk and an incompetent social justice ideologue as she steps out of line too often. Now that she’s going to run for Congress, she will likely make the same mistakes.
Compulsive incompetence normally requires the person in question to still be competent at the top of a hierarchy and then transfer to another hierarchy to find their level of incompetence there. An incompetent person transferring from one position of incompetence to another is called a percussive sublimation, but they are usually transferred by someone higher up in the hierarchy to reduce the damage they can cause. Wu’s case appears to be an exception to both patterns that the authors didn’t account for, but is not unique. Ellen Pao’s career shows a similar pattern.
- Auld Lang Syne Complex
Paul Feig has proven himself to be competent at making successful comedies, but his gender-flipped Ghostbusters reboot failed. The feminist ideology behind the movie and its marketing campaign backfired even further when Feig, some of the cast members and Sony accused the intended audience of sexism and misogyny for not liking the first trailer and the movie itself when they were released. Feig didn’t understand that a multimedia franchise that has been around for over thirty years has higher standards of expectation than he was used to. He might have had more success with a Ghostbusters parody, but an official Ghostbusters movie turned out to be his level of incompetence as a director and a writer. Last time I checked, he was still denying responsibility for his failure by continuing to blame the consumers for not liking the movie, dwelling on his and the cast’s past achievements to claim it can’t be their fault, and not thinking about what he or another director/writer could have done better.
- Side-Issue Specialization
Melissa Click wasn’t competent enough in communications and mass-media theory to predict the consequences of her public behavior caught on camera during the Mizzou protests, possibly due to prolonged exposure to echo chambers and safe spaces, but became an expert in media-related niches like Lady Gaga, Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight.
- Compulsive Alternation
This tactic is meant to confuse people by being inconsistent and is today more commonly known as moving the goalposts. Anita Sarkeesian has replaced chivalry with men either saving damsels in distress (objectifying women) or white-knighting (being good male feminists or feminist allies), effectively making the same actions good or bad with the eye of the beholder deciding the difference. The UN’s HeForShe campaign then confused the issue even further by reinstating the old standard of chivalry and presenting it as a feminist act. This is one of the many ways in which feminists blur their own line between masculinity and “toxic” masculinity to the point that the terms become interchangeable.
The example of feminists demanding absolute freedom from gender roles (usually only for women) and then defend Sharia law, one of the strictest definitions of gender roles for men and women, is one of the few examples that is noticed outside the men’s rights movement. One of the most common examples is feminists using feminism to justify openly hating men and boys, and then refer to the dictionary to deny that feminism is about misandry. The example of demanding men talk about their feelings and then tell those men to shut/man up the moment they start talking about feelings that don’t fit their narratives is not exclusive to the regressive left and can be found in most of the political spectrum.
- Caesarian Transference
This behavior is named after a scene from William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, in which Caesar distrusts Cassius for looking lean and hungry. It describes the act of judging someone’s competence or incompetence by a part of their physical appearance that has nothing to do with their job. Feminists and social justice warriors do this all the time by dismissing statements, facts or arguments they can’t refute on the grounds that these were said by men (“mansplaining”) or white people. If a white man says something irrefutable or inconvenient: double whammy!
The beauty of The Peter Principle is that it’s easy to recognize some public figures and people you know personally in the many described cases and symptoms of incompetence. However, some parts of the book have become outdated. For an example, some of the described tactics to prevent unwanted promotions could get you in trouble with HR or fired immediately if tried today.
The authors also theorize that Sigmund Freud came close to discovering the Peter Principle, but attributed his discoveries to sexual frustration. The failures of communist nations are not described, which isn’t strange when you consider those weren’t fully known in the 1960s. However, the Marxist ideal of a non-hierarchal society is described as unobtainable and inconsistent as the ruling principle of that society is based on two hierarchies: one of needs and one of abilities. Another conclusion drawn by the authors is that equalitarianism is the fastest way to get too many employees to their levels of incompetence.
The social shaming that women can directly and indirectly inflict on men who decline promotions is described as well. For this reason, the authors only recommend this tactic to single men. Early in the book, they state that there are some eccentrics who avoid hierarchies as much as possible. Could these eccentrics and promotion-declining men be precursors to MGTOW?
Where the Peter Principle is wrong
The authors came close to predicting social justice warriors by theorizing what could happen if the education system dumbs down to save students who fail from the embarrassment of repeating a year and to save the school from bad grade averages. They predicted that this lowering of standards would leak out into universities and then into all of society, a process they call hierarchal regression. They provide several solutions for this, such as letting failing students repeat the year in another class with a more expensive sounding name, but one of them will absolutely not work.
The authors describe improvement of image by means of side-issue specialization (Peter’s Placebo) as harmless. One example they give is an incompetent mathematics teacher teaching about the virtues of mathematics and letting the students figure the actual mathematics out for themselves as homework. Anyone else reminded of this clip from The Simpsons episode Girls Just Want To Have Sums?
They also describe an incompetent school principal who improved his reputation by setting up a rigid and elaborate system to manage traffic flows in the building, patrolling the building for students and staff violating his traffic rules and becoming an expert in managing traffic flows in school buildings. This sounds a lot like the kind of micromanaging of every aspect of society that the regressive left likes to do, annoying and/or demonizing people in the process. And then you realize where all those overzealous HR employees, diversity advisors, consent-class organizers and other moral busybodies are coming from.
Identity politics turn incompetence into victimhood and competence into privilege. It is said that those who can’t do a certain thing, teach it instead. Incompetent teachers and professors who shield themselves from their own incompetence with identity politics end up teaching possibly greater incompetence to their students. These students then can’t handle the simplest aspects of everyday life. The result is that they can’t study anything useful and instead go for worthless degrees in gender studies or sociology that are, at best, conversation topics at Starbucks if they aren’t too busy serving coffee. At this rate, it’ll be a matter of time before we get university students who can’t even achieve that and degrees in underwater basket weaving and feminist dance therapy become reality.by