Damn

After Scott Alexander’s awesome post on the reaction, I was hoping for some good follow-ups.  It appears I’ll be disappointed.

His initial post dealt almost exclusively with the reaction’s critique of modern society.  His first counter-argument quickly changes the subject (a wise move) and focuses on his view of what reactionary society would look like in the 21st Century: “In other words, this argument [i.e. the one in favor of reaction] only works because the Reactionaries are comparing our gritty reality to their beautiful thought experiment.”

This approach – given his first post – is super lame, but not necessarily fatal.  Alas, he ends up by saying reactionaries will fail for the same reasons communists failed, which is nonsense.

(As an aside, my least favorite anti-reaction fallacy is the idea that history begins in 1970.  Did Lord Cromer exist only in my mind?  Wikipedia says otherwise).

Communists believe that one precise form of government was the best, and only, type of government for all societies, in all areas of the world, at all times, and across all other dimensions (population size, education, etc.).  Reactionaries believe almost precisely the opposite.

Do you know what a reactionary Switzerland looks like?  It looks like Switzerland.  You can actually visit it right now.  It’ll be a nice trip – the reaction has nice airports.  Do you know what a reactionary Sweden looks like, it looks like Sweden with less immigration (more (central) Stockholm than Malmo).  As they say, if it ain’t broke . . .

Let’s take his closing statement and examine it through the lens of my favorite example of reactionary government:

Reaction will never end up with that kind of power, but if it does, I see them in the same position as the Communists. Reaction is contra-zeitgeist. Societies, left to their own devices, become more Progressive; a Reactionary state is going to have to constantly expend energy pumping against entropy to prevent that from happening. That energy is going to take the form of internal oppression and incur automatic enmity with the rest of the world. As long as that happens, they won’t be a secure dictatorship. They’ll be a communist dictatorship promising security just as soon as those evil evil progressives are taken care of, one day in the Golden Future.

What sort of pressure did Rhodesia need to “expend energy pumping against”?  All they really needed was an absence of pressure from Britain and the US (pressure largely exerted through South Africa).  Indeed, if a true sampling of Rhodesian public opinion was possible, it’s likely that pressure would have favored the reactionary government (as it should have in hindsight).  Thus, we see that Mr Alexander’s suggestion that “internal oppression” would be required is precisely incorrect.  The key part of the sentence is the remainder, the incurring enmity from the rest of the world, part.  Indeed, the British and the rest were happy to starve poor Rhodesians to set them “free.”

Is the reaction impossible, perhaps.  But hopefully, this example makes clear that it’s impossible not because of the bloodlust of the reactionaries, but because of the bloodlust of our opponents.

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24 Responses to Damn

  1. David says:

    In my mind I am applauding.

  2. Communists believe that one precise form of government was the best, and only, type of government for all societies, in all areas of the world, at all times, and across all other dimensions (population size, education, etc.).

    lol

  3. Awesome? Alexander is dumb and that sucked. He makes the basic leftist mistake of starting with a theory and then trying to make the evidence fit. And he shows himself to be a leftist by stating leftism is the normal course of things, rather than a sick perversion forced on society by power-mad fools.

    Leftists see that things are going well, so the rightist controls are unnecessary and cruel, rather than that the rightist controls are what is making things go well in the first place. When disaster strikes, it’s an argument for more leftism, not for restoring rightist controls. But leftists make rightist control so repulsive through social and cultural controls it’s impossible.

    Black political liberation led almost immediately to the violent destruction of Northern cities. Reverse black political liberation? Impose close controls on blacks? God forbid, give blacks more and more money and power! Women’s liberation led almost immediately to social chaos for the working class. Solution? More women’s liberation. Gay liberation led in just a few years led to an epidemic of a terminal STD. Solution? Condoms and civil rights treatment of perverts.

    The solution to any social problem is a rightist solution. If it’s not, it’s not a problem.

  4. asdf says:

    “In that case, all we have proven is that perfect unimpeded progress up the right side of the valley is better than attempted progress up the left side which is constantly dragged down by lingering rightists.”

    lol

    Did you think this would end any other way?

  5. Erik says:

    I don’t understand why you’re using Sweden as an example, it strikes me as progressive even by Scandinavian standards (I live in Norway).

    • Foseti says:

      If you live in DC and you visit, say Stockholm, for a bit, it seems really nice. A little more power to the monarchy and a lot less immigration and it’d be as good a place to live as anywhere. Moldbug just had a huge post arguing for massive government programs to keep people employed. Welfare isn’t necessarily anti-reactionary – just depends on the situation.

      • asdf says:

        I’d go so far as to say that looking out for the structure of society is an important part of being a Reactionary. Most things Reactionaries like, for instance monogomous marraige, are not natural things that happen in the absence of reinforcing institutions and practices.

        The problem with progressives isn’t that they care about their fellow man (this is virtuous), but that they are totally retarded about how to care for their fellow man. It takes more then will, it takes a lot of wisdom to actually help someone instead of hurt them. It takes a firm understanding of the rational limits to assistance. Reactionaries simply think they have a more wisdom to draw on because they don’t deny history or reality.

        All the Nordic countries work excellentely. They have good economies, good environments, low crime. The only problem is that immigration and feminism are destroying those very things. Honestely, I think Sweden is a lot closer to getting it right then America. There are many different ways to have a Reactionary state, its not all about libertarianism or size of government.

      • Handle says:

        I’ve been to all the Scandinavian countries, and my impression is that, making some accounting for geography and climate, you could have said all the same things about California about 60 years ago. “Basically awesome, but some disturbing trends in leftist ideology, feminism, and incompatible immigration. If they keep that stuff up, then … ” Then enough changes, and the direction is obvious enough, that the Anders Breiviks of the world take notice. Canary in the coal mine of Californication.

        A little California aside: California first elected Earl Warren as a (progressive) Republican in 1942 (all the successful “Republicans” were actually Progressives of one stripe or another from 1934 to … ? ). The more successful the Republican, the more progressive.

        It’s no coincidence that, with cross-filing, Warren won reelection with 92% of the vote. (When Lukashenko wins Belarus with “only” 80%, it’s “clearly irregular”).

        The only reason Warren didn’t become president was because Nixon sided with Eisenhower. But they were buddies, so when Chief Justice Vinson died he immediately recess appointed his old friend (with no judicial experience) to be Chief Justice. The 1953-1969 period is remembered as being the most jurisprudentially revolutionary and liberal court ever and you may also notice that Eisenhower’s administration never really protested or put up a genuine fight. Arguably Kennedy resisted more.

        The point is – does this bode well for “Reactionary Sweden”? Why don’t the elite Swedes do what the Singaporeans do and look around and say, “We’ve got a pretty good thing going here, wouldn’t want to ruin it.” Instead they’re rooting for the revolution, the total sweeping aside of all that came before.

        Probably for the same reason the Californians did. And with what will probably with the same results.

      • asdf says:

        According to Bloody Shovel Singaporeans are a majority Chinese city state surrounded by larger countries where the Chinese are minorities. They can see how shitty those people are and how persecuted their fellow Chinese are right out their window.

        There is an old saying that a conservative is just a liberal whose been mugged. Liberalism is the kind of feel good stuff people believe in when its been a long time since they had to face consequences for their actions.

  6. VXXC says:

    “That energy is going to take the form of internal oppression and incur automatic enmity with the rest of the world.”

    That world being the USG State Dept and in the case of the Commonwealth the British F.O.

    If USG is not in the picture in it’s current mutation, then the world will quite find it’s own way. As will America.

    Bloodlust of our enemies: LEARN.

    ADSF – our progressives left virtue in the dirt in the 60s, and since the brats assumed the highest office beginning with Clinton we are the conquered being ruled as El Dorado. They long since ceased pretending to themselves on this score…

    To place Absolute Global Power at risk in pursuit of Profit is juvenile. And yet this is what we have…which is not a problem. It’s an opportunity. When your rule rests on whored out Vestal Virginity you’re on shaky ground. LEARN.

  7. Alrenous says:

    Passing the ideological Turing test is certainly necessary to effectively evaluate a philosophy. Here, we observe that it isn’t sufficient, as you might have guessed.

    Scott Alexander does not want to change his mind. His brain, ever obedient to his wishes, comes up with whatever Scott needs to not have to change his mind. I know this because my brain is all too capable of doing the same.

  8. Firepower says:

    No reactionary nation
    comprised of coloreds
    will ever be anything but
    A charity case for do-gooder white liberal nations.

    Then, when even THAT Feelgood money (stolen from taxpayers) ends
    An entire nation will decline into its own Detroit.

  9. Federico says:

    Is the reaction impossible, perhaps. But hopefully, this example makes clear that it’s impossible not because of the bloodlust of the reactionaries, but because of the bloodlust of our opponents.

    Is this not to concede Scott’s point?

    Recall that Bayesians are consequentialists. They evaluate proposals on the basis of their likely effects, not moral Brownie points. No-one can wish away his opponents, and in the extreme such an approach could justify almost any ideology. Might communism not work, if everyone were a dyed-in-the-wool egalitarian saint?

    I am forming a different idea of reaction. Leftist deontology can fight leftist deontology. Who agrees that SOPA protests were productive, and real constitutionalism in action? In that case, freedom-of-internet quashed big government. Might this approach not generalise, in combination with memetic fitness factors like free internet speech, growing youth dissatisfaction and a lack of avenues for further “progress”?

    • Ishmael says:

      The SOPA conflict had basically two sides. On what basis are you calling one of these sides “big government” and the other “freedom-of-internet”? Maybe I’m as pleased with the outcome as you are, but its ramifications are murky.

      Did the conflict illustrate that young people are passionate about free internet speech? Maybe it only illustrated that high traffic websites can summon large numbers of protestors. There are other organizations with that power, and have been throughout history. I didn’t think it was a hopeful sign for people of our temperament.

    • Candide III says:

      Might communism not work, if everyone were a dyed-in-the-wool egalitarian saint?

      Might mousetraps not be unnecessary, if moon were made of blue cheese? Might girls not stay virgin until marriage, if every one had a personal unicorn in attendance? Pfui. If that’s Bayesian reasoning, I don’t want it. BTW you are dragging in Bayesianism by the ears here, and the deontology stuff. Yudkowsky has a lot to answer for. I only hope you have not converted to hedonic utilitarianism like the (blogwise) late James G.

    • Federico says:

      The SOPA conflict had basically two sides. On what basis are you calling one of these sides “big government” and the other “freedom-of-internet”?

      On the basis that the SOPA protestors construed themselves that way. “Censorship!” they cried. Nonsensical, and leftist, but worthwhile.

      Suppose a group of consequentialists who manipulate leftist activism. How might we construe e.g. youth unemployment? Are not the young oppressed by payroll taxes; is not their freedom abridged by minimum wage laws? If there be “good” and “bad” rationalisations of freedom, equality, universalism et al, there is real power in the good rationalisation, more so today than in any rightist deontology.

      Candide III, why bother with (a particular form of) reaction, if it is for any reason impossible?

  10. A says:

    Federico is JG.

  11. RS says:

    > BTW you are dragging in Bayesianism by the ears here, and the deontology stuff.

    What’s that meant to mean? Not studying fundamental ethics much more is the biggest deficiency of the altsphere. It’s what politics is mostly based on at bottom.

    • Candide III says:

      By “deontology stuff” I mean the stuff Yudkowsky writes about deontology (little ethics tags attached to things in the world etc.), since that’s where Federico (alias JG?) is coming from. I couldn’t find the correct link among the ponderous slag heaps at lesswrong, but I found a (probably unintentionally) hilarous quote:

      Trying to think about AI and metamorality at the same time can cause people’s brains to spontaneously combust and burn for years, emitting toxic smoke—don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen multiple times.

  12. […] Foseti makes a stand for reaction. […]

  13. A. says:

    “Societies, left to their own devices, become more Progressive; a Reactionary state is going to have to constantly expend energy pumping against entropy to prevent that from happening.”

    I like the equation of increasing progressivism with increasing entropy. I don’t think he did that on purpose, but it’s just as true either way.

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