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Launch of the Center For Strategic Translation
Upcoming San Francisco event and a new article
If you are in San Francisco, please join us this Saturday for the launch of the Center for Strategic Translation. CST is a new project of the American Governance Foundation, the non-profit that publishes Palladium. CST builds upon Palladium's forays into understanding China and its regime's ideology.
The event will be this Saturday in downtown SF. Attendance is free. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to RSVP, and please be aware that slots that are limited.
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Palladium correspondent Ginevra Davis went to New York City to investigate the fringes of NFT culture and has published an account of her experience.
The Milady NFT project was one of the most successful of its kind. It generated hype and its digital presence had a distinct, original style. But like many online-first communities, that doesn’t translate well into real life. Attending a Milady-sponsored rave colored with content, clout, and ketamine, Ginevra encountered many strange, anti-social characters:
Upstairs, I met a representative from Seed Oil Capital, one of the anonymous Twitter accounts pumping Milady, who was selling Milady t-shirts for $20 a pop. He had clear skin and dead, vacant eyes. I told him that I had seen Seed Oil on Twitter and he grunted in response. “Everybody loves me.” After a few one-word exchanges, he asked for my Twitter handle so that he could “pump me as an e-girl.” He slouched in his chair and told me, unprompted, that he doesn’t have many friends.
Under certain circumstances, anti-social behavior can sometimes be culturally generative. But that’s only when other alternative values are posited against society, as if the subculture holds a mirror up to the mainstream so it can look at itself.
But the kind of subculture generated by NFTs and Milady in particular sheds that pretense. Instead, the primary purpose is to drive the price of the token up and develop a community so inimical to any kind of healthy behavior they dissociate from themselves. Their in-person behavior becomes subordinate to their online persona:
Filled with internet people, the big rented house may as well have been empty. Their real lives, their better lives, were somewhere online. Seeing them in person felt like an intrusion. When you scroll long enough, it is easy to believe that the content you consume is just a fragment of real life, a peek at something greater behind the screen. But behind most online content is a kid with a bad case of Twitter-brain, sacrificing a piece of their humanity for digital clout.
When I got back from New York, I logged out of my Twitter account on my computer and deleted the app from my phone. I sold my Milady and watched the price crash a few weeks later.
I am not afraid of Charlie because he writes extreme, offensive things online. I am afraid of him because I recognize so many of his proclivities in regular people—the shifting eyes, the formless references and mental absence. If you spend all of your time consuming internet culture, you are consuming stories and myths and personalities that only exist online. To curate your online presence is to give up a piece of your physical self, to live in a simulated universe of your own creation.
This increasingly common rejection of in-person culture signals that something is lacking in the wider cultural sphere. Otherwise bright youths are always the type to gravitate toward what is exciting, and projects like Milady are good at creating that mirage—the kids’ energy gets wasted on helping grifters hype up NFT vaporware. It’s no place to build character, and the parties aren’t any good, either.
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
I Don’t Want to Be an Internet Person by Ginevra Davis. I went to a rave hosted by the Milady NFT project and met its enigmatic creator. I came away from it fearing the human cost of our internet-obsessed culture.
Institutional Reforms Built the British Empire by Davis Kedrosky. At the dawn of the early modern period, elite-driven transformations in law and political economy primed Britain to become one of the most powerful, industrialized empires ever known.
How Finland’s Green Party Chose Nuclear Power by Tea Törmänen and Marco Visscher. Finland’s Greens have made nuclear energy part of their environmentalist vision. Here’s how the party made it happen and why Europe is set to follow.
Palladium Podcast 82: Jesse Velay-Vitow on the Geopolitics of Climate Change. Jesse Velay-Vitow joins Ash Milton to discuss how recent geopolitical realignments, energy crises, and migration patterns will shape the course of the twenty-first century.
The Genealogy of Chinese Cybernetics by Dylan Levi King. Qian Xuesen helped China gain nuclear weapons and theorized Dengist cybernetics. Although a brilliant physicist, he made dangerous missteps as an advisor to power.
That’s all for now.