The biggest hurdle neanderthals face in modern society is preselection. It doesn’t result in malicious exclusion so much as simple neglect, which is worse. In an advanced advertising society where resources are apportioned by attention, it’s far preferable to be hated than to be ignored. To be ignored is to starve. Can you imagine surviving in a city where everyone insistently pretends you don’t exist?
There is a paradox involved in this preselection. I’ll illustrate this with the symbolic inability of the archetypal engineer to dress himself.
Imagine a man dressed in the summer costume appropriate for his work. He’s wearing a short-sleeved white shirt (Dacron, largely), a necktie, dark trousers, and a nerd pack. He’s a middle-class or high-prole clerk in a hardware store. Now notice: all you have to do to turn him into an “engineer” is to add one or more belt hangdowns and pop a white hardhat onto his head. Thus the social-class problems of engineers, uncertain always where they fit, whether with boss or worker, management or labor, the world of headwork or the world of handwork. And actually, anything attached to the belt, even if it doesn’t ignominiously hang down, is a high-prole sign.
Class (pg. 64)
Now, the average person has two contradictory ideas here: 1) that dressing according to social expectations is easier than engineering and therefore may be treated as a preselection mechanism for entry into the profession, and 2) that it’s well-known that the personality best suited to engineering is so unconcerned with appearances as to be incapable of basic social behaviors like peacocking and self-deception. This wasn’t always such a large problem in the West, as engineering was not a particularly desirable occupation until the government decided to meme it into high status, along with physicians, academics, and other well-regarded nincompoops. This effort succeeded to such an extent that engineering is now a solidly upper-middle class profession and we have fashionable “geek chic” which attracts many young women in university, who nevertheless drop out when they find that calculus offers little in the way of glamour.
The result of this push has been to nearly eliminate the quintessential engineering personality from his historical occupation, pushing him into software development. This is more comfortably low-status for the neanderthal, as engineering once was, and reasonably secure financially so long as he continues to fail with women. The exclusion is primarily accomplished through the highly scientific method of judging each job applicant’s “fit” for the company’s “culture” by the way they dress and how they make the young HR representative feel (leaving aside her commitment to social justice, for the sake of scientodific reductionism). Such a method is perfect for selecting presentable, thin, swarthy young men from the cosmopolitan upper-middle class who smile confidently and wear cardigan sweaters to work meetings held at Starbucks.
The paradox then is not how the average person traverses this contradiction—in practice we see that he simply prefers not to. Rather, the paradox is how this archetypal figure exists within his psyche in the first place. To understand this, we must first realize that sapiens is a political ape. His purpose is to attain the highest possible status (for his identity groups and himself within the intersection of those groups) so as to obtain a greater share of the commonweal, and his only cognitive tool is magical thinking because perception shapes reality (even if the perception is delusional). Therefore, we expect his every thought to be consumed with observing caste markers and social signals, so as to create the appearance of the identity(s) for which he intends to pass, plausibly, henceforth securing the privileges of that position. Thus his insistence that appearances create reality—it is the appearance which is, for him, of primary importance. This strategic psychosis works reasonably well when one is trying to meme a rap career into existence via endless assertions that it already exists (and is quite successful!), but less well when one is trying to design a microchip or propagate a civilization.