Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Secret Society Blogging - E Clampus Vitus

One of the more colourful of the drinking societies which were a key part of the secret society craze. Note the parodies of Freemasonry, initial base in the mining industry, etc.

What's interesting about the Argus writeup of the Clampers is that it demonstrates a tension that was always there in the "burlesque fraternities"; the tension between the members for whom it was always just a raucous gang getting drunk and wearing silly hats, and the ones who wanted to make it something more serious. Clampus Vitus came down squarely on the drinking-club side of things, but quite a few societies started out in the same way but tilted in the opposite direction into mysticism or politics. Motorcycle clubs often also show some of the same dynamics; there was a tipping point when the Booze Fighters (basically a bunch of ex-servicemen who liked getting drunk and riding motorbikes) turned into the Hell's Angels (which provided its members with an entire lifestyle). I'd be in the market for a good introductory textbook on anthropology which discussed the extent to which these male-only secret societies are a cultural universal. Robert Anton Wilson fans will also note the clear historical antecendents of Discordianism.

As Ponzi schemes go, the E Clampus Vitus program of forcing new members to buy a round of drinks, on the understanding that they could then profit from drinks bought by future recruits, has a certain charm to it. I rate them a 6/10 on the secret society scale - basically harmless, but they keep showing tendencies toward turning into a historical re-enactment society, which I regard as evidence of fundamental unsoundness (plus you have to watch it with these Californian fraternal orders; a lot of them have quite nasty streaks of nativism, presumably dating back to the days of the Gold Rush, when it really did matter who was here first).

Bonus secrettyblogging: Probably stretching a definition to call the Objectivists a secret society, but Murray Rothbard's essay on "The Sociology Of The Ayn Rand Cult" and short play Mozart Was A Red are always worth a chuckle over.
4 comments this item posted by the management 8/07/2009 02:42:00 AM

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