(The thoughts herein owe something to a conversation with Loper-OS at the last DC meetup. If he’s reading this, he should really speak up.)
In this post, I’m not going to argue that Moldbug is right, but I will try to show that TGGP is wrong.
There’s an expression: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck”. Stalin’s Russia & Mao’s China look like each other in many important respects. Such as mass murder, rather than discrimination lawsuits. The United States doesn’t.
If we follow the logic of this definition, the post-Stalin USSR and the post-Mao China aren’t communist anymore. That’s an absurd result, and so the argument is absurd.
If Breshnev doesn’t fit in your definition of “communist,” your definition may be a wee bit too narrow.
TGGP’s view of communism is a caricature of the system of government that emerged in late-stage USSR. As Loper said, it’s akin to believing that the US is still governed by an assembly of dudes in Philadelphia wearing tri-cornered hats. In addition, this sort of fact would be impossible if his view was correct.
Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China may look very different from the modern US. However, if you focus on Gorbachev’s Russia and Deng’s China (or modern China) it’s impossible not to notice that the picture is getting pretty blurry.
I’ve been to China (more than once) and you certainly seem to be able to discuss some ideas more freely there than you can here, for example.
TGGP’s view, followed to its logically conclusion, then requires us to reach the conclusion that self-identified communist countries were not in fact communist. To the extent that they were ever Communist, they seem to have oscillated back and forth between periods of communism and non-communism (whatever this is called in his nomenclature). The definition is so narrow as to become meaningless, and we’d have to come up with a new word to replace the perfectly good one we’ve already got to described the ideas that it already describes. Why would we do that – we not progressives after all?