A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations
I don't always read extreme right-wing conspiracy theory books, but when I do... "A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations" is a bit better than I had expected. This book is the basis for the neoreactionary "Dark Enlightenment" that apparently is getting significant uptake among the West Coast tech elite.
It's sort of tricky to define exactly what the neoreactionaries actually stand for. Slate Star Codex (which also has a great takedown piece here) says:
Neoreaction is a political ideology supporting a return to traditional ideas of government and society, especially traditional monarchy and an ethno-nationalist state. It sees itself opposed to modern ideas like democracy, human rights, multiculturalism, and secularism.
While it's mostly wildly revisionist history and delusional conspiracy theorizing, it does actually provide an interesting perspective on some aspects of our society. Sometimes a book is so far out in left field that it's actually informative to try to figure out why exactly it's wrong. This is a book like that.
Moldbug (a pseudonym) raised some points that I didn't have good answers to:
- Why aren't there "multiple, divergent, competing schools of thought within the American university system" - particularly outside of the "hard" sciences?
- Does government funding of science distort incentives? Does it create incentives for "alarmist" science?
- To what extent is science funding influenced by ideology?
- Does the lack of falsifiable claims in climate science mean it's not real science?
- How responsive is our government to the will of elected officials? Can they get an entrenched bureaucracy to modify its course?
I was most intrigued by Moldbug's critique of the scientific establishment. He seems to be very pro-science/rationality while being very opposed to the existing scientific establishment. I'm not well-versed enough (yet!) to be able to determine if his critique of climate science is legitimate yet, but it certainly got me thinking.
His chapters on revisionist histories of the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and WWII seemed wildly off-base and his sources thoroughly cherry-picked. His stuff on "Human Neurological Uniformity" seemed straight-up racist. Moldbug's writing style is hyperbolic, snide, and generally hard to follow.
I was also disappointed with his utopian solution - let's just switch over to this system I invented in my armchair... overnight we'll create a perfect government run by angels. Yeah, that sounds about right...
So overall, this book is totally wrong... but in an interesting way.
Chapter 1 - The Red Pill
UR is a strange blog: its goal is to cure your brain. We’ve all seen The Matrix. We know about red pills. Many claim to sell them. You can go, for example, to any bookstore, and ask the guy behind the counter for some Noam Chomsky. What you’ll get is blue pills soaked in Red #3.
UR is pretty much the anti-Chomsky. (As a broad generalization, UR’s stance in any controversy will be the opposite of Chomsky’s.)
And most fortunately of all, your government is nothing like either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. All good. But — But in 1938, three systems of government were contending for global supremacy. One of them is still around: yours. Anglo-American liberal democracy... But suppose all three are irredeemably criminal?
I’d say a fair definition of an Orwellian government is one whose principle of public legitimacy (Mosca’s political formula, if you care) is contradicted by an accurate perception of reality. In other words, the government is existentially dependent on systematic public deception.
The basic premise of UR is that all the competing 20th-century systems of government, including the Western democracies which came out on top and which rule us to this day, are best classified as Orwellian.
There are two kinds of government: those whose formula of legitimacy depends on popular consent, and those whose doesn’t. Following contemporary usage, we can classify these as authoritarian and democratic.
An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think. In a truly authoritarian government, the ruling authority relies on force, not popularity.
A democratic state which tells its citizens what to think is a political solecism. Think about the motivation for democracy: it consigns the state to the collective responsibility of its citizens, because it feels this is an independent and well-anchored hook on which to hang the common good. Once the republic has an established church, this hook is no longer independent, and the (postulated) value-add of democracy is nullified.
As a Russian politician once said of his opponents: “These people think they are the doctors of society. In fact, they are the disease.” (It is indeed surprising that Nassim Taleb has just learned the word iatrogenic.)
Union of church and state can foster stable iatrogenic misgovernment as follows. First, the church fosters and maintains a popular misconception that the problem exists, and the solution solves it. Secondly, the state responds by extruding an arm, agency, or other pseudopod in order to apply the solution.
The root problem with a state church in a democratic state is that, to believe in democracy, one must believe that the levers of power terminate with the voters. But if your democracy has an effective state church, the actual levers of power pass through the voters, and go back to the church. The church teaches the voters what to think; the voters tell the politicians what to do. Naturally, it is easy for the politicians to short-circuit this process and just listen to the bishops. Thus the government has a closed power loop.
In other words, our so-called democracy is dependent not on the wisdom of the people, but on the internal power politics of the official church.
We have just said: a church is an organization or movement which tells people how to think. A broad definition, but it turns out to be perfectly adequate to validate our case for separation of church and state.
You see, under this definition, Harvard is a church. And we surely can’t mean that there should be separation of Harvard and state. Yet somehow —this is the result the computer keeps giving us. Perhaps there is some mistake? We have stumbled, of course, into Professor Staloff’s definition. Unlike the Harvard of 1639, the Harvard of 2009 bases its authority not on the interpretation of scripture, but on some other intellectually legitimating principle like reason or rationality. Everything else is the same.
The basic security hole is this word, education. Education is defined as the inculcation of correct facts and good morals. Thus an institution which is educational and secular, such as Harvard, simply becomes a “Church, which shall Teach only the Truth.” Like the Puritans of old New England, in seeking to disestablish one state church, we have established another. It is also hard to argue that we enjoy separation of Harvard and state. Harvard is conventionally described as a “private” university. This term is strictly nominal. Vast streams of cash flow from the taxpayer’s pocket into Harvard’s — as they do not flow to, say, the Vatican.
Except for a few unimportant institutions of non-mainstream religious affiliation, we simply do not see multiple, divergent, competing schools of thought within the American university system. The whole vast archipelago, though evenly speckled with a salting of contrarians, displays no factional structure whatsoever. It seems almost perfectly synchronized. There are two explanations for this synchronization. One, Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because they both arrive at the same truth. I am willing to concede this for, say, chemistry. When it comes to, say, African-American studies, I am not quite so sure. Are you? Surely it is arguable that the latter is a legitimate area of inquiry. But surely it is arguable that it is not. So how is it, exactly, that Harvard, Stanford, and everyone else gets the same answer? I’m afraid the only logical alternative, however awful and unimaginable, is the conclusion that Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because both are remoras attached, in some unthinkable way, to some great, invisible predator of the deep—perhaps even Cthulhu himself.
A neat trick. We of the Sith would certainly like to understand it.
On a number of subjects — not just segregation — I note that the public opinion of California in 2008 is quite similar to the public opinion of Stanford in 1963. This is easy to explain: in post-1945 America, the source of all new ideas is the university. Ideas check out of the university, but they hardly ever check in. Thence, they flow outward to the other arms of the educational system as a whole: the mainstream media and the public schools. Eventually they become our old friend, “public opinion.” This process is slow, happening on a generational scale, and thus the 45-year lag.
This relationship, whose widespread practice in the United States dates to 1933, is known as public policy. Essentially, for everything your government does, there is a university department full of professors who can, and do, tell it what to do. Civil servants and Congressional staffers follow the technical lead of the universities. The residual democratic branch of Washington, the White House, can sometimes push back feebly, but only with great difficulty.
Cthulhu may swim slowly. But he only swims left. Isn’t that interesting?
There are a few brief periods of true reaction in American history — the post-Reconstruction era or Redemption, the Return to Normalcy of Harding, and a couple of others. But they are unusual and feeble compared to the great leftward shift. Nor, most important for our hypothesis, did they come from the universities; in the 20th century, periods of reaction are always periods of anti-university activity. (McCarthyism is especially noticeable as such. And you’ll note that McCarthy didn’t exactly win.)
And the left is the party of the educational organs, at whose head is the press and universities. This is our 20th-century version of the established church. Here at UR, we sometimes call it the Cathedral—although it is essential to note that, unlike an ordinary organization, it has no central administrator.
First, we need to define left and right. In my opinion, obviously a controversial one, the explanation for this mysterious asymmetric dimension is easy: it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.
On the other hand, it is also quite easy to construct a very clean value system in which order is simply good, and chaos is simply evil. I have chosen this path. It leaves quite a capacious cavity in the back of my skull, and allows me to call myself a reactionary.
I define power as personal influence over important events; I don’t know of any other definition.
One of the key reasons that intellectuals are fascinated by disorder, in my opinion, is the fact that disorder is an extreme case of complexity. And as you make the structure of authority in an organization more complex, more informal, or both — as you fragment it, eliminating hierarchical execution structures under which one individual decides and is responsible for the result, and replacing them with highly fragmented, highly consensual, and highly process-oriented structures in which ten, twenty or a hundred people can truthfully claim to have contributed to the outcome, you increase the amount of power, status, patronage, and employment produced. Of course, you also make the organization less efficient and effective, and you make working in it a lot less fun for everyone — you have gone from startup to Dilbert.
In the future, we will all work for the government. Individually, this is the last thing your average intellectual wants to do, but it is the direction in which his collective acts are pushing us.
The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.
After completing the UR treatment, it is interesting to go back and read your Chomsky. What you’ll see is that Chomsky is, in every case, demanding that all political power be in the hands of the Cathedral.
This architecture of government—theocracy secured through democratic means — is a single continuous thread in American history.
What’s great about the “American Malvern” article is that, while it describes a political program you will place instantly, it describes it in a very odd way. You are used to thinking of this perspective, which is obviously somewhere toward the left end of your NPR dial, as representative of a political movement. Instead, the anonymous Time reporter describes it as a religious (“super-protestant,” to be exact) program. Isn’t that just bizarre? We have caught the worm in the act of turning. The political program and perspective that we think of as progressive is, or is at least descended from, the program of a religious sect. Unsurprisingly, this sect, best known as ecumenical mainline Protestantism, is historically the most powerful form of American Christianity — and happens to be the direct, linear descendant of Professor Staloff’s Puritans.
We don’t just live in something vaguely like a Puritan theocracy. We live in an actual, genuine, functioning if hardly healthy, 21st-century Puritan theocracy.
The Cathedral, with its informal union of church and state, is positioned perfectly. It has all the advantages of being a formal arm of government, and none of the disadvantages. Because it formulates public policy, it is best considered our ultimate governing organ, but it certainly bears no responsibility for the success or failure of said policy. Moreover, it gets to program the little worm that is inserted in everyone’s head, beginning at the age of five and going all the way through grad school.
Chapter 2 - The American Rebellion
The only tools in our little black bag are (a) primary sources, (b) forgotten works by reputable historians of the present, and (c) modern works by respected academics.
If you want to make up your own mind about the past, you cannot do so by going there. So you have to find sources you trust. The Sith Library makes this about as easy as it’s going to get, but it will always be work.
As we operate, we’ll replace it with the actual story of the American Rebellion — in which evil triumphed over good. Yup. We’re really going to do this. You’re on the table. It’s the real thing. In the terms of the time, at present you are a Patriot and (pejoratively) a Whig. After this initial subprocedure you will be a Loyalist and (pejoratively) a Tory. Obviously, a challenging surgical outcome.
Let’s call our first witness. His name is Thomas Hutchinson, and he is the outstanding Loyalist figure of the prerevolutionary era. His Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia is here. It is not long. Please do him the courtesy of reading it in full, then continue below.
So let’s advance to the second primary: Peter Oliver’s Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion
You will have to cope with the long S, and read Charles Stedman’s History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War (vol. 1, vol. 2), our third primary source.
In that case, we move on to the secondary sources: W. E. H. Lecky’s American Revolution (Britain, 1898), Sydney Fisher’s True History of the American Revolution (1902, US). And if you are still a Patriot after that, we have to get into the tertiary sources. (Anything post-1950 deserves the “tertiary” warning label, I feel.) Read Bernard Bailyn’s Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967).
Whereas you formerly thought of the values of the American Revolution as liberty, truth and justice, you now see the hallmarks of the American Rebellion as thuggery, treason, and — above all — hypocrisy.
Therefore, since you can no longer be a Whig, you have no option but to become a Tory.
The King and his friends had a reason to try to reassert authority over the colonies. The colonies had a reason to try for independence. Note, however, that the law was entirely on the side of the former. This gave the rebellion the generally mendacious and criminal quality described above, which is why we are Tories. The rebels could rebel or they could think, speak and write honestly, but not both.
Most of history consists of going around in circles, learning nothing.
The Whig prescription says: conciliate the truculent, assuage their grievances whether real or feigned, loosen the ropes at every complaint. The Tory prescription says: enforce the law, and do not bend an inch in response to violence or any other extralegal pressure.
Evil is typically more powerful than good. Bad men delight in weapons that good men spurn. Success in past conflicts, political or military, is not Bayesian evidence of moral superiority. It is just the opposite. Which is why it’s a problem that the winners write the history books.
Chapter 3 - AGW, KFM, and HNU
Anthropogenic Global Warming
What we see quickly is that, at least as regards AGW, we live in what might be called a scientific theocracy. You cannot slip a sheet of paper between Science and State. They are one and the same. Especially with our new, improved, pro-science administration, the only legitimate source of public policy on AGW happens to be... the very scientists who research it. (Professor Hansen is a fine example.) Note that, if we substitute Science for Scripture, this is exactly the political structure of your Puritan theocracy, or your Persian theocracy for that matter. The same experts perform the intellectual analysis and dictate the resulting policies.
What my mother found at EERE was a sort of giant, Potomac-shaped hog-trough, dispensing a billion or two a year to grunting Beltway bandits packed shoulder-to-shoulder around a vast open sewer of hot, juicy, delicious cash. This is, of course, the iron triangle of Washington fame.
Now: my mother was at DOE in the mid-90s. How many successful renewable-energy technologies can you name that came out of DOE in the mid-90s? Or came out of anywhere in the mid-90s? Or came out of anywhere at all? What are the successes of renewable energy? For that matter, even today, how many press releases have you seen reprinted in your newspaper of choice, promising that renewable-energy technology X — algae biofuel, perhaps, or Stirling engines, or thin-film solar-panels; the list is endless—would hit the market a year from now, two years from now, five years from now? For how many years have you been seeing these types of announcements?
My mother’s job was not to evaluate renewable-energy technologies. It was to pretend to evaluate renewable-energy technologies — creating the essential illusion of science-driven public policy. Since everyone involved in this process understood that it was a farce, you can imagine the quality of the data. Meanwhile, as usual in Washington, how much money you got depended on how many friends in the right places you had. This tends not to change from year to year, resulting in remarkably consistent budget allocations.
Here, sadly, we must part from Joe Romm. His definition of Science is clear. Science is that which is done by scientists. Scientists are people employed, with the title of professor, by the universities. The universities are accredited by Washington. Therefore, Science, in Joe Romm’s mind, can be defined as official truth. Let’s stick with the capital letter for this one. Note that if we replace Science with Scripture and scientists with ministers, we are back in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We’ve reduced the scientific method to the following statement: Washington is always right.
The conventional explanation of why science, with miniscule s, works so well, is due to Karl Popper and his concept of falsifiability
The unusual trustworthiness of science, despite the fact that scientists are humans and humans are not generally trustworthy, exists when (a) hypotheses are falsifiable, and (b) the professional institutions within which scientists operate promote, broadcast, and reward any falsification. We can trust a consensus of scientists on a problem for which (a) and (b) are true, because we are basing our trust on the fact that, if the hypothesis is false, a large number of very smart people has tried and failed to discover its error. This is not, of course, impossible. But it is at least unlikely.
To understand the impact of increased CO₂, we need to know the climate sensitivity. Q: How can scientists, at least Popperian scientists, evaluate the climate sensitivity? A: They can’t. There is no falsifiable procedure which can estimate climate sensitivity.
To estimate climate sensitivity, all you need is an accurate model of Earth’s atmosphere. Likewise, to get to Alpha Centauri, all you have to do is jump very high. The difference between the computing power we have, and the computing power we would need in order to accurately model Earth’s atmosphere, is comparable to the difference between my vertical leap and the distance to Alpha Centauri. For all practical purposes, climate modeling is the equivalent of earthquake prediction: an unsolvable problem.
Besides the fraud, what’s creepy about the hockey stick is that it implicitly argues causality by mere visual analogy. We see increasing temperature and increasing CO₂, so the two must be related. WTF? This is not the kind of argument that appeals to a scientist. It is the kind of argument that appeals to a voter.
In fact, if you read Climate Audit on a regular basis, you see examples of gross scientific misconduct that would be career-ending in any legitimate field, perhaps once or twice a month.
We also have (one) answer to the first question of the AGW credulists: how a scientific consensus can produce a fraudulent result. The answer is simple: the entire field is fraudulent. In a fraudulent pseudoscience, there is no incentive at all for uncovering error, because the only result of a successful dissent is to destroy your job and those of your peers.
Thus we answer the initial Hoofnagle question: the source of coordinated error is not, at all, a conspiracy. It is simply the funding source. Nearly every scientist in a field can be working together to promote a falsehood because they all get their money from Joe Romm and company. And if the falsehood is exposed rather than promoted, there is no field left. It is no more surprising that all USG-funded scientists are unanimous in promoting AGW as a global emergency, than that all Philip Morris–funded scientists are unanimous in promoting tobacco as a vitamin. What we’re looking at here is mainstream pathological science. This is a basic and unfixable flaw in the entire Vannevar Bush design for federally-funded science. Once cranks, quacks, or charlatans get a foothold in the NSF and/or the universities, and establish their quack field as a legitimate department of Science, they are there to stay.
The incentive of all federally-funded science is the same: keep your funding, and try to get more. It is not that most scientists are “in it for the money.” It is that you cannot be a successful scientist, in this era, without being a successful bureaucrat. As such you respond to bureaucratic incentives, such as the feelings of your NSF program manager.
And we start to see how this entire disaster developed. First: out of genuine curiosity, people started trying to build climate models, measure CO₂, and the like. Second: since USG is not a charity, they had to apply for grants and describe the importance of their work. Third: they noticed, consciously or subconsciously, that an easy way to make their work seem more important was to predict disastrous consequences. Fourth: the same evolutionary feedback process that, in a falsifiable science, eradicates error, operated to promote it. Researchers and fields which produced more alarming results received more funding — because, by definition, their work was more important. Iterate to the point of sheer insanity, and you have the AGW research community we have today.
We also need to consider the most obvious effect of global warming, sea-level rise. The sea is rising at about two millimeters per year. First, realize how thoroughly un-terrifying these figures are. Even if you triple them. If, as Dictator of Earth, your worst problem is oceans that will rise a foot in a century, or air that will become three degrees warmer, you simply don’t have much of a problem. What ever happened to the Nazis? Perhaps aliens could invade? Being Dictator of Earth has to be more challenging than this.
Environmentalists often play this game; in the classic Jesuitical fashion of the good old Black Regiment, they will talk guilt and redemption to those who want to hear guilt and redemption, and practical consequences to those more receptive to reality. The guilt and redemption are drivel; the practical consequences, as we see when we look at them on their own, are just not that serious.
But in the age of AGW, there is no professional incentive for researchers to study the positive effects of warming climate, and a tremendous incentive for them to study the negative effects. Of course, if you only look at the research rather than the incentives which produce it, you will come away with the conclusion that warming’s negative effects vastly outnumber its positive ones.
Again, we see both scientific and public opinion changing not to follow the truth, but to follow the funding. The entire AGW industry is thus best explained as an intellectual pathology of the 20th century’s disastrous decision to convert disorganized, decentralized, and unofficial science into organized, centralized and official science.
This gives us our policy prescription: end all official funding of science, especially in cases in which the output of the science drives public policy. If a government is to rely on the advice of scientists, it must make sure that it is relying on actual, falsifiable science, and that the institutions producing that science have no incentive to produce anything other than the truth. The obvious way to do this is to separate science and state, for the health of both.
Not counting Marxists, there are three significant schools of economic thought today: one founded by Lord Keynes and revitalized by Paul Samuelson (also known as “economics”), one founded by Irving Fisher and revitalized by Milton Friedman (also known as the Chicago School), and one founded by Ludwig von Mises and revitalized by Murray Rothbard (also known as the Austrian School).
This passage was written in 1901. Note Adams’ perception of the paper-money advocates: they are insane, demagogic monetary cranks. Curiously enough, this is exactly how the responsible mainstream intellectual of today regards a Misesian, or any other gold-standard advocate.
These reversals happen for a reason: if you are a quack, quackery is what you know, so the obvious way to dismiss your critics is to label them as quacks. The approach is especially attractive for the mainstream quack, who knows that faced with a pair of arguing experts, each of whom claims the other to be a quack, most spectators will pick the one who has wormed his way into the more prestigious position.
Again, we note the accuracy of our terms: before the 20th century, in both European and Greco-Roman times, monetary debasement was considered the pathetic act of a sick, decaying polity.
The key fact about money is that what matters to you is not how much money you have, but what fraction of the total money supply you have.
Basically, the way to perceive the “new economics” is in exactly the same way that Adams perceived it: not a sane government policy, but a response to pressure groups. Fortunately or unfortunately, those pressures were a lot stronger after WWI than before it, and sound money went the way of the dodo. So, for example, our pressure group here is the business owner. Farmers in debt also tend to do quite well with inflation. But, again: any monetary debasement can be modeled as a monetary transfer.
“Business cycle” is an extremely misleading phrase. A better phrase would be banking cycle. As I discussed in “The Misesian explanation of the bank crisis,” the cause of the recurrent panics and collapses is a bad accounting practice in the Anglo-American banking system, generally known as maturity mismatching.
Effectively, maturity mismatching lets banks teleport money from the future into the present. What’s bad is that this is inflationary, and what’s worse is that — when the scheme collapses — the inflation reverses. This creates your recessions, depressions, etc.
It’s important to note that while maturity-mismatch inflation has a reverse gear, and so do the open-market operations used for Fisherite monetary policy (these can either create money or retire money), Keynesian spending does not. This is a pattern that leads to long-term monetary decay: first, maturity mismatching inflates the economy and creates a huge amount of debt; second, a maturity crisis triggers a panic, the debt goes bad, and the country enters depression; and third, massive doses of Keynesian heroin are injected into its aorta, waking it up. Sadly, it will need more heroin tomorrow—and so on.
start to see how appalling the Keynesian stimulus is. First, it replaces one addiction — the vanished “home ATM” — with a new one, Federal money. Second, budgets in Washington do not get cut, at least not routinely. The stimulus will be permanent, which means we’ve replaced one addiction with another. And third, when we do this, we shift a substantial percentage of private economic activity into the hands of Washington’s finest, who never turn down either money or power.
Basically, the only painless, specific, and lasting way out of the banking cycle is to purchase all financial assets with freshly-issued dollars, then sell the assets and destroy the dollars paid for them, and start lending back up with new banks and maturity-matched accounting (Chapter 4). This is a full reboot of the financial system. Accept no substitutes. Yes, it involves some inflation, but the inflation is (a) one-time, and (b) pointed at the actual problem.
Human Neurological Uniformity
And last but not least: our third case study in adaptive mendacity under the democratic system, HNU or human neurological uniformity. An HNU credulist believes that modern human subpopulations are neurologically uniform. In other words, genetic differences between races (if the term is even acknowledged) are of no behavioral significance. Especially committed credulists may believe that genetic differences between individuals are of no behavioral significance, or even that human behavior has not been shaped at all by evolutionary history — both forms of the “Blank Slate” hypothesis.
starting with Pinker’s book
I suppose one could step back to a less-falsified point: “we are all the same under the skull.” Evolution, in this theory, is somehow attenuated by tissue depth. Do you want to go there?
But there is one thing to note: the common meaning of racism implies the belief that ancestry is significant information in the context of common decisions about individuals. It should be obvious that it is not. If you want to test a job applicant’s IQ, for example, give her an IQ test. Patterns of ancestry become useful only in decisions that affect large groups of humans in the aggregate. Governments, however, must often make such decisions.
I will take the liberty of suggesting that Hume, had he known how touchy his descendants would become on this subject, would have said that Europeans tend to have higher labor productivity than Negroes. As measured in wages, this is an easily verifiable fact of no moral significance whatsoever.
My ideal future is one in which governments pay at most minimal attention to race.
Civilized societies in the past have found that the demand for menial labor is, at the right price, almost inexhaustible, and have flourished with a very high ratio of laborers to elites. If present political structures fail under these demographic conditions, the fault is — once again — with the political structures. (For example, colonial Spanish America thrived peacefully under royal government, and became violent and corrupt under republican institutions.)
For example, if a business must choose whether to hire one of two equally qualified applicants, and one is a noble while the other is a commoner, it should of course choose the noble. The same is true for educational admissions and any other contest of merit. Our presumption is that while nobles are intrinsically, inherently and immeasurably superior to commoners, any mundane process for evaluating individuals will fail to detect these ethereal qualities — for which the outcome must therefore be adjusted.
And three: applied to the cream of America’s actual WASP–Ashkenazi aristocracy, genuine genetic elites with average IQs of 120, long histories of civic responsibility and productivity, and strong innate predilections for delayed gratification and hard work, I’m confident that this bizarre version of what we can call ignoble privilege would take no more than two generations to produce a culture of worthless, unredeemable scoundrels. Applied to populations with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry and no great reputation for sturdy moral fiber, noblesse sans oblige is a recipe for the production of absolute human garbage
That this orcish parody of aristocracy was created, in the lives of those now living, out of the certainly imperfect but generally functional pre-WWII American Negro subculture, through policies designed by “social scientists” who were in fact religious moralists in disguise, is one of the larger ironies of modern history.
Before 1960, most Negroes had jobs, most Negro children were born to married parents, and most cities in America had thriving Negro business districts (such as Bronzeville in Chicago). All this is gone.
Americans failed to grasp the fundamentally predatory nature of the black-power movement. Rather than suppressing it forcefully and restoring the rule of law, the worse it behaved the more they fed it. The result was, and is, a Negro population which has essentially seceded from mainstream American culture, to the tremendous disadvantage of both parties. The resulting ghetto culture remains marinated with black-power ideology, although it is now so distant from the lives of you or me that we only notice it when a Jeremiah Wright somehow swims into view.
Moldbug proposed the term Bagehot scheme for this kind of maturity-mismatch structure, after Walter Bagehot (pronounced “Badget”), whose Lombard Street served as a foundational text for the Anglo-American banking system.
Chapter 4 - Plan Moldbug
For “Downing Street,” of course, read “Beltway.” Which is longer, loopier, and has more lanes.
Despite recent frenzied printing, there are fewer than 2T dollars in the world, but the personal net worth of all Americans (alone) is roughly 50T dollars. One may ask: does this make sense? It is surprisingly hard to show that it doesn’t.
Here is my analysis of what this crazy thing is and why it is falling apart. (Basically, the source of the instability is a loophole in bank accounting, which lets banks pretend to teleport money from the future into the present. This loophole has not been closed because it is (a) very lucrative and (b) very old.)
Perhaps this reductio ad absurdum brings home the fundamentally Soviet logic of Keynesianism. In the future, we will all do worthless work for worthless money.
We could have $100T financial assets and $2T dollars only because a significant percentage of the value of all these assets was a consequence of Professor Bernanke’s printing press. The same can be said even for entitlement payments — USG will never default on your Social Security, because it can always print money and mail it to you.
It so happens that, until I read Carlyle, I thought of myself as a libertarian.
If sovereignty were not boolean, the difference between a real-estate developer and a state would be a difference of degree.
The joint-stock republic is a very different entity from your ordinary, democratic republic. Its shares are negotiable and freely traded. Owning a share is not a “right,” except in the sense that if you own a share of Intel you have a right to receive Intel dividends. And, most importantly, the republic is operated for the exclusive benefit of its shareholders. All corporate governance mechanisms are otherwise the same, although without a superior sovereign to enforce them they must enforce themselves.
In a joint-stock republic, the mapping from profitable ownership to high-quality government is straightforward. The return on each share is a function of the value of the capital. The capital is the country, i.e., its real estate. The value of real estate is its price. How does a government maximize the price of its real estate? By making the country as pleasant a place to live as possible, i.e., by providing high-quality government.
However, one quality shared by almost all corporate CEOs is sanity. One generally does not hear of them going crazy and murdering the entire board of directors with a fire-exit axe, or the like. I realize that this is a low standard — but consider the record of heads of state in the democratic era.
Authority is the state’s ability to act decisively, cohesively, proactively and intelligently. From our experience in the private sector (not to mention the military sector), the formula for authority is clear: unity of command. A single extremely capable individual can manage an organization of any size, and our society has no shortage of such individuals.
Perhaps the most significant fallacious principle in the Anglo-American democratic mind is the principle of division of authority —immortalized by Montesquieu as the separation of powers.
The division of authority is simply the destruction of order. The Romans knew it as the political solecism of imperium in imperio, and Harvard Business School dreads it no less. There is no conceivable balance between competing authorities; they will fight until one kills the others, and even when they collaborate it is in the fashion of partners in crime.
The great error of libertarians, as well as many liberals, progressives, etc., is to suppose that the weaker the State is, the freer its subjects are. The opposite is very nearly true. A weak government is a large government — and the smaller the State, the freer its subjects are. Every time you weaken your government, you give it another excuse to become larger. Essentially, big government is big because it is constantly competing with itself.
So the conclusion we’ve come to about democratic government as a whole is oddly similar to our conclusion about the financial system. The conclusion is that it’s fatally broken, and needs to be replaced by something completely different.
Chapter 5 - The Modern Structure
But if we fracture this coherent authority into two competing authorities, each can gain by stealing fish from the other. The more authority is fractured, the more predatory it becomes. Thus, the infallible recipe for a sadistic and predatory state: internal competition for power.
Congratulations. You’ve just rediscovered the logic of Sir Robert Filmer
Acton was exactly wrong: it is not absolute, but partial power that corrupts. More precisely, it is partial authority not formally matched with partial responsibility. Formal shareholders experience no such conflict of interest — that is, their interests do not conflict with each others’, nor with the interests of the firm as a whole. And corruption depends on conflict of interest.
Thanks to our fish logic, we would expect universal-suffrage democracy to manage its capital very badly. We would expect to see a high level of autopredation in this system, with coalitions of voters cooperating to strip-mine the sea in which they themselves swim, Peter robbing Paul and Paul robbing Peter, etc., etc. And, despite this result, we would still expect to see the doctrine of fragmentation widely espoused and propounded. And in both cases, experience matches deduction. So the ritual self-congratulation of democracy, the entire theory of progress, is a fraudulent edifice constructed to rationalize what is in fact a decline. Thus we should see a decrease in the quality of government, and especially in the cohesion of authority, across what the official story describes as periods of great progress.
The problem is that what we might call a pure democracy, a system in which actual power is distributed in exactly the same proportions that the democracy distributes nominal power, is so unstable and unlikely a proposition as to be ridiculous. If you doubt this, I recommend a tussle with Limits of Pure Democracy, by W. H. Mallock
In the arts of decadence — sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll — democracies excel. If only for these, the second half of the twentieth century will never be forgotten. We need not imagine the level of punitive austerity and reeducation that would need to be inflicted on Western society to make it forget the Rolling Stones and everything after. Possible, surely, but hard to recommend.
One does not have to be a Nazi, however, to believe that popular opinion tends to match public education. In other words, people believe what they are told to believe — sometimes minus a little stubborn deviation, electorally negligible. So, to combine Lenin’s question with Hitler’s answer, we ask: if the People control the State, who controls the People? The teachers. And who controls the teachers? Hmm. What an interesting question. We’ll have to think about that one.
The office of the Coordinator of Information constituted the nation’s first peacetime, nondepartmental intelligence organization. President Roosevelt authorized it to collect and analyze all information and data, which may bear upon national security: to correlate such information and data, and to make such information and data available to the President and to such departments and officials of the Government as the President may determine; and to carry out, when requested by the President, such supplementary activities as may facilitate the securing of information important for national security not now available to the Government.
Fact #1: no one tells journalists and professors what to say. Also: no one tells them what to do. Also: if they come into conflict with any other institution of government, they appear to win — always in the long run, if not always in the short. Does this indicate that they are bystanders in the game of sovereignty? Or players? If, when journalists and politicians conflict, the politicians always go down in flames and the journalists always walk away without a scratch, who exactly is wearing the pants in this place? The sovereign power is the power that is above all other powers. We have just located it. You probably knew this anyway, of course. But in case you didn’t — hey, it’s never too late. The status of journalism as sovereign was confirmed when the Post and the Times defeated the Nixon administration, and established that the press could and the President could not break the law with impunity. That is, the right to leak (for legitimate journalists) became part of the Modern Structure, and the right to corrupt the political system with minor skulduggery (for Presidents) disappeared. As late as the Johnson Administration, it was the other way around
Thus, in the American version of the Modern Structure, the press and the universities are actually outside the government proper. If they were actual government agencies — in a Department of Truth, perhaps — they could be no more potent, permanent and unaccountable.
Fact #3: journalists and professors never go to war with each other. This is by far the strangest and most important of our facts. Surely, since a journalist is one thing and a professor is another, you would expect a natural factional conflict between them. At least. You would also expect various internal factions of journalists and professors to form. They don’t.
So what is the source of this anomalous coordination? Actually, we have seen the effect already in the fragmentation of power. When power fragments informally, those who hold the fragments cooperate best with their peers by regarding the fragmentation as progress, not decay. The suggestion that the fragmentation should be reversed is dangerous to everyone. In the Modern Structure, this spontaneous, decentralized coordination is seen across the information organs. These, being aware of the fundamentally informal and in a sense even illegitimate nature of their power, are very sensitive to the prospect of losing it. This prospect is in reality remote, but the fear is easy to generate. And that fear (of a “populist” or anti-Cathedral political revival, from Joe McCarthy to Sarah Palin) is one more organizing principle.
Chapter 6 - Brother Jonathan
Mackay is best known for his Extraordinary Popular Delusions, still quite popular on Wall Street.
While it is by no means unique, the roots of the Modern Structure can be observed admirably in a single Adams essay. The piece, An Undeveloped Function, is his 1901 address as president of the American Historical Association. An Undeveloped Function is a history of American political ideas from 1856 to 1901. I regard it as completely trustworthy.
The Modern Structure exhibits a fascinating quality which might be described as distributed Machiavellianism.
Most people’s share of sovereignty is zero. However, many aspire to make policy who will never get there, just as many aspire to play in the NBA. Since Machiavellian thinking tends to become the corporate culture of all powerful institutions, and since the ambitious naturally tend to emulate the thinking of the powerful, the natural perspective of the ambitious becomes Machiavellian. In a meritocratic oligarchy, where power is open only to those who succeed in contests of intellectual strength, the natural perspective of the intelligent is Machiavellian.
The path from Adams to Obama is relatively straight. Along this path, three big things happen. One, the influence of elected politicians over the actual process of government decreases. This represents the ongoing triumph of the Modern Structure over its ancestor.
As late as the 1940s, enormous executive authority was concentrated in the White House. Harry Hopkins, FDR’s last Svengali, who was perhaps America’s last CEO (and also perhaps a KGB agent), could hire a million men in a month and get projects off the ground in weeks.
Two, institutions become more and more corrupt, grossly misdirecting resources in obviously self-serving ways, and becoming utterly incapable of doing anything like their jobs. This is obviously the inevitable result of unaccountable institutions, of which we now have quite a few.
Science also expands to cover all areas of government policy, a task for which it is blatantly unfit. There are few controlled experiments in government. Thus, scientistic public policy, from economics (“queen of the social sciences”) on down, consists of experiments that would not meet any standard of relevance in a truly scientific field.
The good news, however, is that Marcus Aurelius seemed to do a pretty good job of running the Roman Empire without any science whatsoever.
Three, perspectives of blatantly religious origin flourish — notably low-church Protestantism, which as the Christian analogue of anarchism is always ready with an inexhaustible armory of Machiavellian memes for the world of fractured, competing sovereignty. Basically, the Modern Structure is the trisomal spawn of three juke mothers: 18th-century democracy, Mugwump scientific bureaucracy, and ecumenical mainline Protestantism
Chapter 7 - The War of Secession
We’ll need a precise definition of “in the right.” Frederick Maitland once wrote that all systems of law resolve into two commandments: keep your promises, and tell the truth. These will do as well as any others.
Conspiracy theories abounded — such as Lincoln’s completely false charge that the Dred Scott decision was a conspiracy between Douglas, Buchanan, Taney and Pierce to bring about national slavery, as wild a lie as anything in American political history.
There is an accepted diplomatic term for what Seward and Lincoln, whatever did or did not pass between them, did at Sumter. That term is provocation. A provocation is an act designed, or reasonably expected, to cause the target to initiate hostilities. Provocation is only a useful tactic when the provoker is (a) stronger than the provokee, (b) does not want to be seen as the initiator of the conflict, and (c) knows that the provokee has no alternative but to respond.
Camouflaged predation tends to be popular with the voters, who read it as laudable self-defence, the extermination of vermin, or both.
The Confederacy, in particular, failed first and foremost because it seceded way too late. It should have done the deed in 1850 at the latest
For a general history of American slavery from my favorite period of the craft, try Ulrich Phillips, American Negro Slavery (1918).
As anyone who has read Aristotle knows, slavery is nanogovernment. If you scale down the relationship of authority between government and subject, you obtain the relationship between master and slave.
Yet we should remember that whatever Lincoln and Grant did for the slaves, it did not involve freeing them from agricultural labor. It is in fact very difficult to argue that the War of Secession made anyone’s life more pleasant, including that of the freed slaves. (Perhaps your best case would be for New York profiteers and Unitarian poets who produced homilies to war.) War destroyed the economy of the South. It brought poverty, disease and death.
Idea one is that Adams and Stephens, as now seems obvious, are right about the facts of the matter. Idea two is that this does not, in any way, constitute proof that hereditary slavery is a good idea. No such proof can be constructed, because the question is moral and aesthetic, not factual or logical.
The titanic book that smashed my delusions and forced me to recognize the awful reality of the era was, without a doubt, Albert Beveridge’s unfinished Abraham Lincoln (1928). Here is a review by a modern historian, with whose few negative comments I would quarrel if it mattered.
Chapter 8 - Olde Towne Easte
The 20th century was the golden age of lies. The liars of the 20th century, like the painters of the 16th, will be remembered forever as the Old Masters of their art.
Good primary sources are more essential than ever for anyone seeking an accurate impression of prewar Nazism. For a fair anti-Nazi source, try Stephen Roberts’ House that Hitler Built (1937). For a fair pro-Nazi source, try Francis Yeats-Brown’s European Jungle (1939).
The easy error is the assumption that because National Socialism was demonic, its enemies were not.
The basic method of Tory democracy is to appeal to the masses to support a non-democratic, i.e., reactionary, form of government. The basic problem of Tory democracy is that the masses suck. Therefore, if you practice Tory democracy, your movement is liable to become contaminated with all sorts of heinous nonsense, such as anti-Semitism.
That was the whole point of the war: a rebellion. Japan and Nazi Germany fought because they wanted to be independent, as did Imperial Germany. They lost, so they became provinces in a world empire. That’s how it goes. Whereas the Allies were already acting as a single world authority, which was called the “United Nations” even during the war. Ergo: what we are seeing here is a good old case of projection. If you have a plan to govern the world — not, of course, to win total world domination, but to strive for comprehensive global governance — and you go to war with someone, by definition, he too has a plan for total world domination. Inasmuch as you lose, he wins. Therefore, once the Second German War was started, someone had to win it, and I’m glad the Allies did. On the other hand, the Second German War — as well as the First — looks a lot more like a rebellion against said single world authority. The conquest between America plus Britain plus Russia, and anyone else, is not and cannot be a conquest of equals.
The general behavior of Britain and the Entente before the First German War was to provoke Germany in every way possible, but to make the result appear as if Germany was itself acting unstably and aggressively. The unsurpassed chronicle of this story, for its brilliant writing as well as its early date, is Francis Neilson’s How Diplomats Make War (1915). I will not excerpt this. Read the whole thing. It is timeless.
While we are discussing misconceptions, another common misconception which is seldom uttered, but often assumed, is that the Allies entered the war to save the Jews from Hitler. At least, the Allies often seem to get credit for this, although factually we know that (a) they had no interest in saving Jews before the war, (b) no interest in saving Jews during the war, and indeed (c) preferred not to mention Jews at all. The Jews of the New Deal were Universalist and assimilationist, not Zionist — they were not even particularly fond of the backward, Yiddish-speaking Jews that Hitler was killing. (If you hear the word “jargon” used to refer to Yiddish, you know you are in the presence of a German Jew whose nose needs breaking.) In fact, far from it being Allied propaganda, the New York Times actually covered up the Aktion Reinhard. But the guilty flee where no man pursueth, and tremble when accused of offenses they have not committed.
In contrast, the rule toward actual enemies is simple: press them as hard as possible, threatening constantly, never taking yes for an answer, always responding to some new concession with some new demand, never being afraid to use violence, and always going for the jugular when the jugular is in sight.
Moreover, since the publication of George Victor’s extremely convincing Pearl Harbor Myth, it has become clear that the long-bruited rumors of FDR’s prior awareness of Pearl Harbor are quite simply true.
There’s actually a simple and appealing answer. Democracy looks just like the memetic equivalent of an invasive, parasitic species. The parasite’s native habitat is most resistant to it. The Anglo-American countries are the most resistant to democracy, because they are the native habitat of democracy. They thus harbor not only the roots of democracy and its most diverse expressions, but also its most potent natural enemies. Thus they degrade slowly without any sudden descents into anarchy. In the presence of said enemies, political pluralism is a chronic, degenerative, probably still terminal, but slow and manageable condition. When this parasite jumps to another species of tree, however, it meets no defenses, and the victim shrivels, blackens and burns overnight. So the same effect is seen when kudzu jumps from Japan to Arkansas, as when democracy jumps from England to France.
Chapter 9 - The Procedure and the Reaction
The only catch is that the Reaction has to work perfectly and on the first try. We’re performing an unprecedented experiment on a hot, running sovereign. If it blows up—anything can happen.
(Perhaps the best blueprint for reaction ever published was Daniel Defoe’s Shortest-Way with the Dissenters, still a smashing read — we’ll have these damned Puritans shipped to the Indies yet.
The essence of any 21st-century reaction is the unity of these two forces: the modern engineering mentality, and the great historical legacy of antique, classical and Victorian pre-democratic thought.
The steel rule of passivism is absolute renunciation of official power.
The steel rule has one exception that demonstrates the rule. As a passivist, you can still address direct, individual petitions to the sovereign — e.g., calling your Congressman. Individual petition does not violate the steel rule because any petition from subject to sovereign is already a confession of abject submission. Only the powerless beg. The rite, of course, is ancient.
While it must at all times be kept in mind that the Structure is not a conspiracy and has no star topology, it can be described as the organization of all those corrupted by power.
One of the best ways to sample the evil Sith energy of the leftosphere is to take a deep breath, summon up your inner Herakles, and perform the Augean labor of reading the purest, nastiest, most Vyshinskyesque progressive blogs you can find. Sample the baths of clear venom that ooze from the scaly, withered lips of la Hamster. Incline your pate before the government philosophers of the well-named Crooked Timber. Or suffer all the vices of both in one, with Brad DeLong.
The varieties of adaptive propaganda are uncountable. However, one of the most common tropes you’ll notice is a willingness to excuse self-serving ethical deviations through arguments tu quoque. This is one of the major metabolic reactions of the progressive movement.
For example, one thing I always had trouble understanding about the history of World War II is why Japan never attacked the Soviet Union. Clearly, Japan and Germany could easily have defeated Russia by attacking from both sides, splitting Eurasia between the Axis. Or at least, this is an obvious strategy given the ad usum Delphini version of this historical event. So why didn’t it happen? The simple answer is that there was never any such entity as “the Axis,” at least not in the sense that there existed “the Allies.” The former imaginary entity was a pure product of fascist propaganda organs, whose opposite numbers were happy to play along. In reality, “the Axis” was three separate countries — Japan, Germany, and Italy — none of which really trusted each other at all, but had put their names together on a treaty or two. Given that all parties to these pacts were on the record as considering all treaties worthless scraps of paper, we know exactly what they were worth in private.
If you actually know anything about the American right, you realize that it is a tiny pimple on the ass of the American left. For one thing, the right has no Rockefeller or Carnegie or Guggenheim. (It had a Pew and a Ford, but the money was stolen.) On the right, the most blatant acts of desperate corruption, extracting the most grudging of contributions from the most disreputable of sources, yield a tiny, sporadic creek of cash, like the dribble of an 85-year-old man. Whereas on the left, heaven pisses money like an African bull elephant.
Since, as all external observers can agree, the progressive movement is largely held together by hate, active resistance from the right is not just a waste of effort. It actually contributes to the left’s metabolism. I am not the first to notice this: call it the Dabney effect
Everything evil that the Nazis ever did, the Bolsheviks had done first. Everything there was to learn from George Creel, Goebbels knew.
Thus, Nazism contains a great deal of reactionary wisdom, because those who created it were quite familiar with the old Continental tradition of government. However, the Nazi movement originated as a democratic political party. Thus Nazism combined the venom of democracy with the experience and efficiency of Prussia, an understandably dangerous combination.
Ultimately, the Third Reich is best classified among the many strange, dark epiphenomena of the cult of the People.
Traditionalist religious conservatives, in particular, should consider this: which traditionalist sects in America have been most successful in preserving their values and society? Answer: probably a tie, between the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Brooklyn Chasidim. What do both these communities have in common? In a word: passivism. To survive, submit and adapt. To be destroyed, try to fight back.
Chapter 10 - The Mandate of Heaven
So we are not really trying to take over the world. All we are doing here is studying the lifecycle of the present owner. Said owner believes itself immortal. Some of us disagree. In that case, it seems prudent to have a plan. All we are doing here is writing one.
There appears to be some principle of institutional entropy at work, common to large, complex, long-lived systems.
In the ’70s, the notorious Edward Luttwak wrote a very entertaining book, Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook. Since the task of the First Step is to figure out what happens after the coup, the product of this work exercise could be called Coup d’État: The Sequel. Actual coup planners are notoriously negligent in neglecting this crucial phase.
The spiritual core of the First Step is the famous and ancient Chinese principle of the Mandate of Heaven, or Tianming. This can be condensed as the principle that power flows toward the worthy. To attain power: become worthy to rule. Since becoming worthy is a worthy exercise by definition, it satisfies our need for quantum Buddha duality. It is simultaneously harmless and deadly — both, at once, completely. Moreover, no one can laugh at it, because I did not make it up myself. Tianming is quite literally ten times as old as American democracy, and far better proven by experience.
Rather, USG is permanent because there exists no credible alternative to its services.
In the First Step, we do not replace all of USG. We just replace its brain — the University. With a new device we call the Antiversity, which is pretty much what it sounds like it is. Here is a summary: The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity — a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and never be wrong. Where multiple coherent perspectives of an issue exist, the Antiversity must provide all — each composed with the highest quality available.
Becoming more credible — much more credible — than the University is a difficult task. But it is a task at which the Antiversity starts with considerable advantages, because the University has sacrificed its own credibility in so many ways, which it has absolutely no mechanisms to repair.
The basic problem with the University is that it has become part of USG, and has been corrupted by power — thus impairing the high level of veracity it purports to provide.
If you taught chemistry at a university, you taught chemistry at a university which had a chief diversity officer, a department of African-American Studies, etc., etc. You knew what these people were. You knew what these people did. At least, you knew that whatever it was, it was not scholarship. You said nothing. What kind of servant of truth are you, sir? You served not truth, but the Party. Sign the form, sir.
Basically, I believe that the Procedure can succeed because I believe there is an isolated political maximum, or island of stability, several orders of magnitude to the right of the present-day political spectrum. If you stay on the island — the Right Pole, as it were — you have a chance of actual victory. If not, you might as well go work for David Frum. This might be called a Martin Luther strategy. Luther had many predecessors, often quite talented and vigorous, who worked to reform the Church. The result: barbecue. But Luther, who worked to abolish the Church, died in his bed. Not that he abolished the Church, but not that it abolished him either. Why? Because the island of stability is a perfect Schelling point.
Most progressives are socially normal human beings, who in any political environment would just be choosing the largest, best-appointed bandwagon for their personal conveyance. In Nazi Germany they would be Nazis, in Russia they would be Bolsheviks, in the kingdom of Louis XIV they would be all for Louis XIV. This is one of the many reasons there is no need to guillotine them. Au contraire: one way to know you’ve actually seized actual power is that these remoras latch on to you. The effect is unmistakable and quite pleasant. It is also useful.
So, again, the Reaction has two engines: truth and victory. By producing truth and only truth, it attracts those strange geeks who are attracted to pure truth. Because it has a strategy for actual, complete victory, it attracts those normal remoras who are attracted by victory.
Even in a democracy, the great contest is for minds, not heads. Once the minds are won, the heads will follow.
Chapter 11 - The New Structure
The Left is spontaneously coordinated; the Right, alas, must coordinate itself. (If there is one reason why the Left tends to win, this is it.)
But the Antiversity is not just limited to just existing. It can attack. It should attack. It will attack. How does it attack? The Antiversity attacks USG by studying it. USG has never received anything like an independent historical audit, let alone the brutal proctoscopy to which the Antiversity will subject it. USG is, of course, part of history; the Antiversity cannot study history without it. So it will eventually be asking the questions: what the hell happened? And why? How, for instance, did Washington take over the world? And why?
The Founders would have considered the institution of professional speechwriting, and the resulting cardboard television presidents, one of the stranger and more contemptible features of our contemptible and very strange Modern Structure, which somehow masquerades as their own invention.)
Moreover, the Antiversity is not at all limited to the study of USG proper. It can study the entire Extended USG — University, Press, NGOs, contractors, and all others controlling or controlled by USG. This opens up a remarkable number of tempting targets. For instance, every working journalist and every working professor deserves his or her own dossier at the Antiversity. No, this is not even slightly creepy. When you accept the responsibility of informing the public, you accept the public’s right to study you and your work.
Most amusingly, the Washington Post itself has come forward with the hilariously named, and hilariously peppy, whorunsgov.com
This change can be reversed. The gene pool has not changed much at all. Real political lightning is surely still hidden in the American heart — indeed the human heart.
In general, weakness is the cause of all rebellion. Strength is the cure for all rebellion. You have heard the opposite, but you have heard wrong. Sorry.
Either the People control the government, or they don’t. If they control the government, they can fire the bureaucrats. If they can’t fire the bureaucrats, they don’t control the government. It really is that simple.
For instance, the rule in conventional democratic politics — followed rigorously for centuries — is to be as broad and vague about your ideals and desires as possible, so as to attract the largest possible base.
Power is what works; it can be used for good or evil. All significant existential movements, from the Bolsheviks to the Nazis, the Sandinistas to the Legion of the Archangel Michael, share these five design features:
- One, the Party is exclusive, rather than inclusive.
- Two, the Party enforces an ideological standard.
- Three, the Party proposes a concrete program.
- Four, the Party eschews and despises partial authority.
- Fifth, the Party is inherently a shadow government. It is perfectly possible for the Party to build the new government under the laws of the old government. It just can’t be activated (no, not even a little bit!) under the laws of the old government.
So here is how the Program starts: the Party holds power for only as long as it takes to hire a qualified administrator—an experienced corporate CEO, perhaps. It then presents that administrator with (a) a conflict-free responsibility structure; and (b) absolute sovereign authority.
What this means in practice: in practice, for a young person, it is very hard to squeeze any power or status out of the Left. All the institutions of the Left are bureaucratically stable. If you join them, you join them as an intern. If you want to achieve any status through them, you have to suck your way up a very long, greasy pole. It is just not exciting to be a mainstream left-wing activist. The lifestyle is grim and boring. You can be an extreme left-wing activist, like an Earth Firster, which is a little more exciting; but still exudes an ugly flavor of desire and futility.
The trend that we are seeing is the reconstruction, thanks to teh Internets, of private voluntary peer communities. A good example is Sermo, a private discussion board only for doctors. What do doctors talk about on Sermo? I have no idea. I’m not a doctor. I can’t read the board. However, I discovered Sermo because I read some news story that mentioned this press release. See this document. Frankly: crap like this is the reason society was decorporatized in the first place. Who the hell do these people think they are? The AMA? The AMA supports President Obama’s health-care reform. Now there’s the legitimate voice of American medicine. Well... no. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Sermo just assimilates the AMA, more or less the way the Soviet Union assimilated Latvia. What is the AMA? A bunch of guys in an office with a fancy name. What is Sermo? Actual, legitimate democratic power. Or more precisely, aristocratic power. Or even more precisely: corporative power. For instance: there’s really nothing stopping someone from recreating Sermo for... the police. Or... the military.
For instance, the acknowledged master of colonial government is Lord Cromer, who found Egypt in chaos and bankruptcy and instituted a European standard of government.
Everything that can be infiltrated should be infiltrated, of course, but reactionaries should focus especially on the least politicized and least official networks in society — the workplace, and the new voluntary institutions. (Including, of course, Facebook.)
Frankly, Americans have simply never experienced the excitement of political organization. This is because they have no meaningful politics. The idea that they could organize democratically to seize power is entirely foreign to them, simply because nothing of the sort has been practical for quite some time. It is teh Internets, of course, that have changed the rules.
In short: the only proposition on which the Reaction depends is the proposition that history is not over. Historically, the political problem faced by the Antiversity and Plinth seems relatively solvable. It seems impossible in terms of conventional American politics, but the whole point of the Reaction is a return to historical standards. By historical standards, there is arguably no meaningful democratic politics in America today.
(And specifically, if the question is whether patriotic Americans are allowed to learn from the Nazis, I think that question was more or less answered when NASA shipped the German ICBM program to Alabama. When SS-Sturmbannführer von Braun’s spaceship landed on the moon, did patriotic Americans applaud?