The Cathedral goes viral

Use of the term “The Cathedral” while still not perhaps mainstream, is getting close.

As best I can tell, it’s generally used strictly to refer to the media, the professoriate and the bureaucracy. This is fine so far as it goes, but it leaves out much of what makes the term so wonderful.

The Cathedral is more than just the collection of these groups, it’s also meant to refer to their religion and the method by which they exercise sovereignty over the country.

First, religion. To be a member of the Cathedral, one must believe in the Cathedral’s religion. Moldbug toyed with several ways to describe this religion. The gist is that the religion is a form of cryptocalvinism or hyper-Puritanism:

Since I’ve changed the name, let me repeat the four ideals of cryptocalvinism: Equality (the universal brotherhood of man), Peace (the futility of violence), Social Justice (the fair distribution of goods), and Community (the leadership of benevolent public servants).

The Cathedral must have a religious name, since it’s ultimate a religious beast. Plus, it considers itself entirely areligious, for which it must be mocked.

Second, the term “the Cathedral” is also meant to refer to the methodology through which the Cathedral governs.

In some sense, it’s been trivial for a long time to point out that he who controls public opinion controls the government in a society that elects its leaders through universal suffrage.

At a deeper level, public policy is made according to a hierarchy:

Within USG, here are the preferred sources of policy, ranked in order of rough precedence.

#1: the law. A USG employee is always on extremely solid ground when his actions are dictated by the majesty of the law. He has no choice at all. Therefore, he cannot possibly be accused of any personal turpitude, and nor is he responsible for any suboptimal outcome. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum. Sorry, bub, it’s the law. He just works here. Of course, anything good that happens in his vicinity will redound to his credit. With the law – you can’t lose.

#2: science. The ordering of #1 and #2 are a matter of taste, as the two hardly ever conflict these days. Indeed, when science is available, if you read the law it will generally say: follow science. And #2 enjoys all the fine benefits previously described under #1.

#3: public opinion. USG is, of course, a democracy. Sometimes it is helpful, in future-proofing one’s ass-covering, to know not just what public opinion is today, but what it will be tomorrow. Ask a journalist – that’s his job. Of course, when today’s public opinion conflicts with science or the law, it is the role of the brave civil servant to defy it. And of the journalist to mend it.

#4: a committee. Sadly, some decisions appear for which #1, #2 and #3 produce no clear answer at all. In this case, the only remedy is to gather as many “stakeholders” as possible in the same room. After all, too few cooks spoil the broth, they say.

#5: personal authority. This is sometimes sufficient to order pens. But usually not.

Who controls the law? The Cathedral. Who controls “science” and public opinion? The Cathedral. Who sits on committees and exercises authority? Members of the Cathedral.

Even if you’re not particularly sharp, you may notice a pattern.

(Other bits have been confused lately. For example, Jim doesn’t seem to think sovereignty is conserved and he misunderstands the argument. First, conservation of sovereignty doesn’t preclude constitutions from governing – reality does. Someone must decide what a constitution means and someone must enforce its meanings. As we’ve seen endlessly, these entities are truly sovereign. Second, conservation of sovereignty merely means that sovereign decisions must be made. Even if they’re not “made” some actual circumstances must prevail. For example, assume there’s a dispute over who owns a piece of land. The decision must be made. If the disputees fight each other to the death for the land, such is decision-making method.)

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226 Responses to The Cathedral goes viral

  1. Could this girl be singing about it? Greasy kids stuff, I know. But hey, like, “The Cathedral” ??

  2. Handle says:

    The other key is the imagery-metaphor that even those not in the inner party, but who still “buttress” the Cathedral by supporting it, are part of it as well. That was the meaning of “The Church” in theocratic Europe as well, and is the obvious parallel to describe the totalitarianism of today’s Blue Orthodoxy because all the other theological terminology – heresy, witch-hunt, zealot, applies – as does Eric Hoffer’s analysis in The True Believer.

    Every stone in the arch has to support the overall structure or the whole thing falls apart – and the natural tendency to automatically and unspoken coordination and cooperation (“Gleichschaltung“) but without any need for a central directing mastermind is fascinating (and usually confounding) for those on the right to observe.

    The “spontaneous order” that achieves this constant adaptive re-allignment should not surprise the student of Hayek and should cause a leftist to pause, but life is often ironic.

    I have noticed that every time someone uses this term in its intended way, many of the Catholics among us and with who I am friendly have their hyper-sensitive postmodern offense hair-triggers activated and go ballistic. “How offensive! I’m offended!”

    1. Chill Out, be smarter, remember, these are not your enemies.
    2. There’s no offense intended, so don’t take it so seriously.
    3. What went wrong with Galileo, or the Salem Witch Trials? That’s what we’re talking about. Not the rest of it.
    4. Don’t you see how PC-infected this behavior is? Grow up. Realize that’s not for you. Pro Tip: Call it a “double standard” or whatever you want, but haven’t you noticed that acting all hypersensitive and expecting other people to police “anti-catholicism” like they do anti-racism isn’t, you know, working? At all. Cut it out, people that but into this crap for any reason are acting like pussies. That’s what’s wrong with our world – the triumph of pussy-ism. Don’t be such a pussy. Complaining about this makes you a giant pussy. Sorry, I know it string. But facts are facts.

  3. I’d personally like to see a Reaction-Wide Moratorium on Offense-Taking. I agree with Handle that going around butt-hurt is exactly how our enemies behave, sorta putting tone above substance–which is really a huge part of the cultural problem. Whose side are you on? If you cannot be trusted to deal with tone, you’re certainly not someone we want in charge of substance.

    • Handle says:

      I’d like to see a Humanity-Wide Moratorium on Offense-Taking for Public Consumption. It’s called being an adult. This will happen the minute there’s a moratorium on treating public claims of offense with any recognition or respect. “I’m offended!” – “No, you’re a childish pussy.” No offense to children or pussies. (get it?)

      Looking for a way to be the first and loudest to point out publically that even some out-of-context snippet is potentially offensive (in the Cathedral-approved way) and to call for the excommunication (at least) of the offender is the meme that has come to completely dominate our society and its “discourse”. It’s nauseating and terrifying.

  4. First, conservation of sovereignty doesn’t preclude constitutions from governing – reality does. Someone must decide what a constitution means and someone must enforce its meanings.

    This only works if you have general agreement that the constitution is whatever the supreme court says it is, that if they say up is down and black is white, then up is down black is white. Lacking that general agreement, that single entity reinterpreting the constitution faces the same problem a military dictator would in the US: Lack of legitimacy leading to civil war.

    In practice, even in the strongest dictatorships, there is no one body that can always reliably get its way on any matter whatsoever. The Soviet economy relied on predating upon the secret illegal underground economy, and the secret illegal underground economy relied on secret illegal underground enforcement, thus was anarcho capitalist. Sovereignty is a myth created by the negotiators at the peace of Westphalia, because they felt that previous myths had killed far too many people.

    If sovereignty was conserved, the transformation of the Roman Republic to the Roman empire would not have been nearly so bloody.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t follow. You’re using the term in an incredibly narrow way.

      Your definition of sovereignty appears to depend on a state.

      There is sovereignty in anarchy, it’s just distributed.

      • Legitimacy is a belief, a belief about the use of force. Sovereignty is a belief about legitimacy. If people believe it, it is true, just as fiat money is valuable. If they don’t believe it, it is not true, just as fiat money is not valuable.

        To illustrate this, let us suppose that Obama runs for a third term, as well he might. After all, he ran though born in Kenya. The case would never go to the supremes, and if he got far enough that it did go to the supremes, they would surely roll over for him. Nonetheless, If elected, there would be trouble, probably civil war.

        Sovereignty is a belief that the authority of the sovereign is real. It is only real the way the value of fiat money is real. If doubted, apt to vanish. Thus, not conserved, but rather apt to vanish like smoke.

      • josh says:

        Jim,

        The way we are defining sovereignty, its conservation is tautologically true.

      • If conservation of sovereignty is tautological, cannot deduce the desired conclusion that Constitutions cannot rule.

        If people believe in the constitution, rather than the King or the supremes, then deviating from the constitution will produce loss of legitimacy, loss of legitimacy will impair or destroy the ability to rule, leading to civil war or incapable government. The US federal government wiggled out of the constitution by replacing belief in the constitution, with belief in the supremes. This was a non trivial operation that required a bloody civil war and a very long term campaign.

      • Foseti says:

        “If people believe in the constitution, rather than the King or the supremes, then deviating from the constitution will produce loss of legitimacy, loss of legitimacy will impair or destroy the ability to rule, leading to civil war or incapable government”

        Then “people’s beliefs” are sovereign. Alas, this thing is rather easy to manipulate. Welcome to the reaction.

      • You cannot deduce an empirical conclusion from a tautology, though you can restate an existing empirical conclusion.

      • josh says:

        I know

  5. The decision must be made. If the disputees fight each other to the death for the land, such is decision-making method.

    If the disputees fight it out, no one is sovereign, or else every man, or every armigerous man is himself sovereign.

    • Handle says:

      Please define.

      This argument will go in circles and won’t proceed very far until everyone puts forward their explanations of what they intend to mean when they use the term “sovereignty”. My impression is that you and Foseti are using the same word to mean different things. Trying to have a meaningful debate of whether that thing is conserved or not is pointless if there is no agreed “thing” there.

      I’ll let Foseti do it for himself. But it’s clear to me that Moldbug means something similar to what he’s been saying. Sovereignty is inextricable from social context. In any specific context, should a dispute arise, there is the manner in which the contending parties tend to resolve that dispute if they think it’s too important to ignore. The effective resolution authority is “sovereign” in that circumstance.

      In a modern, mature and powerful state – the government takes upon itself the role and responsibility of monopolist arbiter for a large number of possible disputes. More to the point, it gets to define which disputes matter. Which ones are resolved by the state, which ones are resolvable by another entity the results of which are sanctioned and backed by the state, and which ones it doesn’t care about.

      • In a modern, mature and powerful state – the government takes upon itself the role and responsibility of monopolist arbiter for a large number of possible disputes. More to the point, it gets to define which disputes matter. Which ones are resolved by the state.

        Quite so, but there is nothing inevitable about this arrangement. For much of history, for better or worse, there has been no state that fits this description. The peace of Westphalia was an effort to pretend such states into existence.

        Further, this arrangement, the present day purported arrangement, is, as Lenin complained, far less real than it seems. The party would give orders, and something very different would happen. Mao never really completed collectivization, and had one party member in ten purged for the failure. It took the Soviet Party a bunch of very bloody efforts to collectivize the peasants. The Party could not simply rewrite the rules of land ownership.

        If you live in a location where your safety depends on the police, you live in a very dangerous location.

        Does your computer belong to you because registered with the police?

        So I say, the state pretends that it decides all disputes that matter and that it gets to decide which ones matter, and this pretense, to the extent that it gets away with the pretense, creates the reality.

  6. SOBL1 says:

    The cathedral concept is one of the easiest and greatest ways to explain our problem to other educated people. Even more mainstream right wing bloggers like William Jacobson, the Breitbart crew, and Glenn Reynolds understand, and spotlight, the academia-media piece of the puzzle. This means there is a market receptive to that idea. The religious imagery is important to, because the imagery that can be evoked. Priests of progressivism is a favorite of mine.

    The other great bit of persuasion is the line about Massachusetts going from the most puritanical and overzealous Protestant state to the most overzealous and puritanical progressive state. Even straight D voting libtards can see that one.

  7. mittelwerk says:

    i love moldbug like my speculative jewish brother; but, unfortunately, he too is of the cathedral

  8. VXXC says:

    This is no trivial accomplishment.

  9. Vladimir says:

    It looks like the term “Cathedral” has caught on irreversibly, but I’ve always much preferred another one of Moldbug’s names for the same phenomenon: the Polygon. It has an appropriate sinister sound, as well as a much better descriptive quality. (“Modern Structure” is another term which is in my opinion much better than “Cathedral,” but “Polygon” is less wordy.)

    • Konkvistador says:

      The Cathedral is a different concept from the Polygon as I understand it no?

      • Vladimir says:

        From that post:

        The Polygon might be defined as the “extended civil service.” It consists not of those who hold actual formal GS rank, but those whose position demands a sense of civic responsibility – real or fake. The major vertices of the Polygon, by my count, are the press, the universities, the judiciary, the Fed and the banks, the “Hill” (congressional staff), the civil service proper, the NGOs and transnationals, the military, the Beltway bandits (defense and other contractors), and corporate holders of official monopolies (such as “intellectual property”).

        Reading this, it does seem like “the Cathedral” is an attempt to pinpoint a more specific ideological force within the Polygon (though undoubtedly the main and most significant one), so it’s not really an exact synonym. But this makes me prefer the concept of the Polygon even more, since it doesn’t sneak in the same suspicious assumptions, being based on more direct and practical Machiavellian observations.

  10. mittelwerk says:

    the telosphere

  11. IA says:

    You guys have a thing about Christians. This is a problem because this causes you to misinterperate reality. Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today. I have no idea why you call yourselves reactionaries. You are mainstream.

    • Foseti says:

      I agree with Bruce Charlton that true Christians are our allies. He and others are careful to define Christianity in such a way that it excludes the progressive descendants of the Puritans, without necessarily denying that progressivism has Christian roots.

      I refuse to pretend that progressivism is something other than it is (the direct descendant of Puritanism) to avoid offending the delicate sensibilities of people who wish that it were not so. You do yourself and your religion no favors by pretending otherwise.

      • IA says:

        Forget about my sensibilities. Let’s think for a change. Why would puritans initiate a regime in order to destroy themselves?

      • Foseti says:

        What? Puritans aren’t destroying themselves, their propagating their beliefs (which have evolved over time) as successfully as any group in history.

        So, in your opinion, it’s history’s biggest coincidence that all the descendants of the Puritans are today’s biggest progressives? No inferences should be drawn from this incredible phenomenon?

      • josh says:

        Foseti,

        Have you tried at all to familiarize yourself with the continental history of radicalism?

        The strong “out of Puritanism” hypothesis is slightly less correct than the strong “out of Africa” hypothesis. Early American Jacobinism, and Illuminism (George Clintons group was calling itself the Columbian Illuminati as late as the early 1800s), the 1848ers, the influence of PRUSSIA (the is HUGE, IMO), and, yes, Slavs, Poles and yes, even the Jewish question deserve a much better treatment in these circles.

        A good start for me: James H. BIllington’s “A Fire in the Minds of Men”. I’m pretty sure you will really enjoy this book. Free pdf online.

      • Foseti says:

        Allow me to introduce you to Lyman Beecher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_Beecher

        He begs to differ.

      • josh says:

        Not sure I understand your point. I don’t deny a historical continuity with the Puritans, but not a the expense of ignoring all other influences.

        For example the New Deal is essentially Prussian by way of the ACLS, via research University system, via the Rockefeller Foundation, via Frederick T. Gates, via Bellemy’s Americanized Prussianism.

      • Foseti says:

        My point is only that the puritanical roots are undeniable (nearly a century before the New Deal).

      • mittelwerk says:

        soros and (rhodes scholar and harvard university history professor) james billington discussing the jewish question

      • josh says:

        I don’t deny it, but its has many roots.

      • josh says:

        Billington is pretty damn inner party. The book I mentioned has some pretty interesting stuff on the stuff that you are allowed to talk about, 18th and 19th C radical movements. But, yeah, look elsewhere for insights on the JQ.

  12. Does it really make sense to call the judaeo-puritan power structure after a type of building most associated with the Catholic Church?

  13. IA says:

    What, exactly, are these modified puritanical beliefs? Gay marriage? Or is it Shariah law? They keep changing and are even contradictory.

    Where is this new puritanical bible?

    • Foseti says:

      “They keep changing and are even contradictory.”

      I noted cryptocalvinism in the post. Is increasing belief in equality really constantly changing?

      More fundamentally, do you really support all self-identified Christians? Unitarians? The reverend Al Sharpton? Catholics that support unfettered access to abortion? What are you defending? And why?

      • IA says:

        But, where does it say they believe in equality? When martin Luther posted his protest there were 95 theses that could be seen and agreed with or rebutted. When Lyman Beecher was accused of heresy he went before a synod and was judged.

        Where is the new puritanical synod? Where is it written that the state makes people equal? If so, Obama and thousands of others should be tried as heretics for sending their kids to Sidwell Friends.

        You are confusing rationalizations with belief and dogma.

        So, “cathedral” is very poor as metaphor. It does not describe modernist thinking at all. In fact, if I wanted to undermine reaction to modernism I would use that word to help demoralize the reactionaries.

      • IA, you are confusing dogma with intellectual genetics (memetics). The Cathedral agrees with Calvinism and Pietism in all the ways that matter… to The Cathedral. Obviously 17th century Calvinists and 18th century pietists would disown the Cathedral’s views today… but so would Teddy Roosevelt; heck, it would send them all running for the nearest Divine Right Monarch. The Cathedral does not enforce a fixed body of doctrine, but a fixed direction of doctrine; the direction of which is Whig.

      • IA says:

        Nick, I’m trying to help. You are making a big mistake. Proper and accurate use of words is important. This is sloppy. Try something like “entertainment software”. Or “hive.”

      • IA says:

        Nick, cathedrals can’t go in any direction. A cathedral isn’t going to thumb a ride to Baltimore. Or even take Amtrak.

      • I’m so not gay that I don’t even worry about participating in a totally gay discussion over grammar… </swagger>

        Ummmm… IA… where do I say (or imply) the grammatical construct: “Cathedral’s go” anywhere? I happen to have said (or implied) it, i.e., the Cathedral, “enforces” a vector (direction) onto doctrinal development. Are Cathedral’s not allowed, grammatically speaking, to “enforce” stuff?

      • IA says:

        Okay, I’m gay. You didn’t say “go” but the idea of fixed direction implies going somewhere. Change and all that. Sure, big gov is a direction but when they get it they don’t seem to know what to do with it. Big gov is a kind of afterthought it seems to me.

        I am suggesting a more accurate metaphor for modernism, which is 75% Dada. A willed disorientation of the senses. Obama may not know it but it began to take form in images with Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.

      • 100 years too late at least. The precise recognizable form The Cathedral® of which we speak begins no later than here(ca 1804)… and it isn’t as tho’ that just popped out of the ether.

      • Foseti says:

        Indeed, it’s arguably quite a bit older than even that

      • Smashing Christmas goes all the way back to Cromwell. Desacralizing marriage also goes all the way back to Cromwell, and smashing monogamy to Christians to the left of him, holier than him.

        Around 1820 or so, we see the doctrine that women are angels launched to smash monogamy. If women are angels, then the marriage contract does not need to be enforced on them, only on brutish men, so, there should be no adverse consequences for ditching her husband, since obviously she would never do it except due to horrid misbehavior by her husband.

        In 1857, this gets written into law, the Matrimonial Causes Act, with marriage becoming a one way contract, binding on men but not on women. At roughly the same time, we see a movement to rescue fallen women – rescue them by removing all unpleasant social and economic consequences of being fallen.

      • Jerusalem is a stunningly beautiful hymn though. Brings tears to my eyes even tho’ it is moral and theological hogwash!

      • mittelwerk says:

      • mittelwerk says:

        jesus, you types overdetermine the reformation like crazy. it’s meaningless without the larger metaphysical context — which in this case is materialism.

        this was the code for the modern state

      • Thanks Mittelwerk for utterly ruining it for me!

    • >What, exactly, are these modified puritanical beliefs?

      They have been making war on Marriage and Christmas starting with Cromwell’s commonwealth. That part of puritanism has remained constant and unchanging.

      • IA says:

        Feminists, homosexuals and atheists are puritans?

      • Foseti says:

        Do you dare question their absolute equality?

      • IA says:

        Just because a group pretends to believe in something doesn’t follow that they actually do. I see no document or evidence modernists believe in anything at all, other than their own careers.

        Also, you are stretching the word “puritan” beyond the breaking point. This is sloppy thinking.

        You here have this idea, an axe to grind, that all bad things are caused by this creature you call puritan.

        I think its more likely that certain atheist white males, who are very much aware of a threat, are attempting to divert the evil eye away from themselves and onto this other group of white males, i.e., puritans. This, of course, undermines a clear-headed comprehension of reality for obvious reasons.

      • Foseti says:

        To use “puritan” to refer to the actual genetic descendants of Puritans is hardly stretching the word beyond its breaking point.

      • IA says:

        If its genetic then what’s all the hoopla about? They are going to win no matter what. It has nothing to do with something called puritanism. They couldn’t care less. If you think atheism is going to help you, good luck.

        What I find interesting is why so many white guys still believe elites want equality.

        For example. It finally dawned on someone in the MSM that there are many more women college students than men. Do you think they want to enroll more white males since they are 50% of the white population and don’t they want proportional representation? Oddly enough they don’t want equality. There aren’t enough single mothers, and blacks, disadvantaged, etc. Curiously, the article failed to mention white men, the group they supplanted. Ideally, no white men would be allowed in college, I guess.

      • “Feminists, homosexuals and atheists are puritans?”

        Cromwell’s puritans took the “Obey” out of the marriage vows and desacrelized marriage.. His immediate American successors allowed women to speak in Church and continued and escalated the attack on marriage and Christmas.

        The anti slavery crusade was by people who were explicitly Puritan successors in their religious affiliation, and who claimed to be Cromwell’s successors, consciously identified with him, dressed like him, put a picture of him on the walls of their bedrooms, and claimed his mantle. They were Cromwellians the way Trots are Trots.

        The anti slavery crusade was also fundamentally at odds with the New Testament, and so they ditched the New Testament, starting to become Unitarians. If Unitarians, transcendentalists, if transcendentalists, atheists, which came in mighty handy in getting around the “No Establishment” clause – thus Cromwell begat Henry David Thoreau, who was simultaneously atheist and more Christian than thou, demonstrating the ever leftwards tendency

      • IA says:

        Aren’t you forgetting J-J Rousseau, Karl Marx, Hegel, Lord Byron, Shelley, Darwin, Sigmund Freud, neo-classicalism and the over-throw of the ancient regime, Jefferson, B. Franklin, and a few others? Wouldn’t they and opening of frontiers have a bit more impact than a preacher or two in cultural life.

        You can’t link Thoreau to Cromwell without some evidence in his life and work specifically derived from puritans. Isn’t it far more likely that he and the preachers were influenced by people and events out side of Christian dogma?

        Another thing that bothers me. If all these nefarious puritans have been pulling strings for so long and have brainwashed the smartest people in the land how come you guys are the only ones to notice?

      • >Aren’t you forgetting J-J Rousseau, over-throw of the ancient regime,

        The leftism of the French Revolution came from the false popes of Avignon, as the leftism of the Anglosphere came from the Puritans. However french leftism self destructed in a left singularity, ending in Napoleon Bonaparte. Subsequent French leftism has been a muppet of Anglosphere leftism, first English, now USG State Department.

        >Karl Marx,

        Karl Marx and THE JOOS were not influential in the anglosphere before 1930-1950, and even today they still have to suck puritan cock. For example when Obama said he supported Israel, but not as a Jewish state, that it was human rights violation for Israel to be Jewish, all the progressive Jews, which is to say most American Jews, licked up his shit and smiled and said it tasted like chocolate. Similarly observe the progressive Jewish reaction to the Crown Heights pogrom.

        >Hegel

        After World War II, German, and indeed all continental leftism outside the Soviet Union, became a US government state department muppet.

        >Lord Byron, Shelley

        The Romantics were anglosphere leftists independent of, and hostile to, Puritan leftism. They also celebrated ethnic identity, ethnic nationalism, and the deep historical roots of the ethnicity and culture. Today they have been quite thoroughly purged and eradicated from the left, and exist only as part of the reactionary movement, and the far fringes of the libertarian movement. Today, a progressive cannot even comprehend a Romantic, for to comprehend him would come close to committing a thought crime. Any influence they once had has been utterly expurgated from the left and academia.

        >Darwin,

        An unspeakable thought criminal, much like the Romantics. Leftists believe in evolution, but not natural selection.

        > Sigmund Freud,

        Well, I must concede you Sigmund Freud.

        >neo-classicalism

        Like the Romantics and Darwin, now a thought crime so grave as to be unthinkable. If you try explain Romanticism, Neoclassicism, or Darwinism to a progressive, his crimestop will prevent him from comprehending you.

        >B. Franklin

        Puritan

      • Just as Thoreau was simultaneously atheist and more Christian than thou, the movement to “rescue fallen women” – by removing all adverse social, economic, and legal consequences of female sexual immorality, was simultaneously more anti sex than thou and more pro sex than thou.

        They squared the circle by arguing that women, being naturally pure and chaste, would be free to be pure and chaste if we dropped everything that coerced women into purity and chastity.

      • IA says:

        Where do you get this stuff?

      • IA is in the Bewilderment Stage of Taking the Pill. I remember it well. Steady ho old chap, the worst of it’s almost over.

      • IA says:

        No, Nick. I would never support what apparently you all believe. That puritanism is now liberalism. As I said before where is their bible? Shariah or gay marriage?

      • >That puritanism is now liberalism. As I said before where is their bible?

        That is the thing. Back in the seventeenth century they found all that horrid patriarchy in the New Testament a little bit embarrassing, then, in the nineteenth century, they found all that support of slavery in the New Testament very embarrassing indeed, so they ditched it.

        Then the boat, cut loose from any moorings, unmoored from the bible, proceeded to drift in whatever winds blew.

      • IA says:

        Why did they wait 1600 years to find the patriarchy horrid?

        And isn’t it more likely that certain men used race to gain social status. By the 18th cent. the europeans really had no other enemies besides themselves.

      • >Why did they wait 1600 years to find the patriarchy horrid?

        Step one: We are holier than thou because we are returning to the original practices of the early Christians, without all these accretions of custom and ritual. We are purifying Christianity of all the stuff it picked up from the Pagans (purifying it from the best of paganism)

        Step two. What do you know. The early Christians did not have sacramental marriage. Pauline marriage corresponds to the most old fashioned and respectable Roman marriage, which was officiated over not by a priest, but by the patriarchs of the two families creating a new patriarchal family. The Christian sacramental marriage ceremony is a revival of the old Roman marriage ceremony that was already going out of fashion in the time of Paul. So we, instead of having a sacramental marriage that resembles the Roman ceremony that was already out of date in Paul’s time, and instead of having a secular ceremony that resembles the Roman ceremony that was already out of date in Paul’s time, we will have a marriage ceremony that resembles common law marriage of our own seventeenth century time, a less binding and more equal form of marriage. See. We have removed an accretion. So we are more pure than thou.

        Of course that accretion served a very important purpose: Making the bride and groom vow to observe Pauline marriage, rather than common law marriage. So removing that accretion profoundly undermined marriage.

        So, not only are we more pure than thou, but as a side effect, our women are more free than your women.

        And then, powerful alpha males in the Church find free women rather convenient, as less powerful beta males find them seriously inconvenient.

        And then, as each puritan leader competes to be more puritan than the other puritan leader, they proceed further in granting equality to women.

        And further.

        Which process continues today. By 1857, equality for women had quietly morphed into privilege and supremacy for women, leaving that inconvenient New Testament far, far behind.

      • IA says:

        Right, I think. But if puritans revived the same ceremony (if I understand you) that was used in ancient times, why wasn’t there feminism in 100AD?

      • >But if puritans revived the same ceremony (if I understand you) that was used in ancient times, why wasn’t there feminism in 100AD?

        You misread me. I said they abandoned the old ceremony, not that they revived it.

        The sequence of events was: Roman republic had what was pretty much the Christian marriage ceremony, conducted by the family patriarchs.

        Early Christianity (Paul), preserves and endorses early Roman marriage (now in decline) against decadence and rising darkness.

        Christian family patriarchs in the early Christian Church call upon the authority of God the Father to augment their own authority and to add authority to the marriage vows, turning marriage into a sacrament.

        Sixteen hundred years later, Puritans complain that this sacrament is, like Christmas, a pagan accretion upon Christianity, making Christianity impure, and prohibit the sacrament of marriage.

        Since family patriarchs cannot be trusted to administer traditional Christian/Roman marriage in a non sacramental fashion, Puritans proceed to replace it completely with non solemn version based on seventeenth century common law marriage, a more equal and less permanent form of marriage, which is to say, not really marriage at all, administered by the state, rather than attempting to return to the not quite sacramental Roman Republican version.

      • IA says:

        Thanks, that’s interesting.

      • You cannot get from Boston to Washington DC with an NYC subway map. The map you are using, the one that says puritans in red and liberals marked in blue is of absolutely no use… and besides it was published by the liberals.

      • IA says:

        I know it was published by liberals, I was one of the publishers.

  14. mittelwerk says:

    gee, could it get any broader than that?

    IA has a point. you types confuse progressivism with modernity itself; it’s only a feature (as is reaction, in the modern sense of attachment to discredited doctrine)

  15. IA says:

    Other terms you could use would be the “flux.” As in fluxus, a Dada art movement in the 50s. Speaking of Dada, Lady Gaga is feminized dada.

  16. Konkvistador says:

    One unfortunate side effect of this is the constant misuse of the term. “The Cathedral” is going from being a useful, almost technical piece of jargon, to a vague buzzword used by people who don’t even bother with reading more on the subject beyond a sentence or two explanation line. I cringe at the thought it might be used the same way “cultural Marxism” is.

    A interesting historical hypothesis in light of leftist subversion now reduced to a mere applause light and question stopper with a wink wink nudge nudge “Its about the Jews!” subtext.

    I think Graaagh’s decent explanation be adopted as the minimally useful one definition, any simplification beyond this is noise anyone using it in a simpler way mocked.

    • IA says:

      I liked your presentation, especially pop culture imagery. I knew the people behind The Atomic Cafe, Pierce and Jane the most. They worked on it for ten years. I don’t mean to name-drop. I want to encourage a reaction to modernism through mindfullness towards not only content but form also. Very important.

      Don’t forget modernism originated in Europe, at Cafe Voltaire in Zurich. Well, Dada anyway. Its where the modernist zeitgeist began you know. Lenin hung out at a cafe next door but didn’t like Naum Gabo and others, and gave no commissions to them later on. A paradox.

    • IA says:

      Sorry, that is Cabaret Voltaire.

  17. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    I think you’re much too eager to defend every single Moldbug’s idea, even when they’re obvious nonsense. This is by no means to disparage Moldbug’s overall insight and contributions, of course. However, it would be unbelievable if any author and thinker of such breadth didn’t have at least some heavy blunders and biases — and also if he, as a man of the modern world, didn’t have at least some elements of progressivism unwittingly incorporated into his philosophy.

    In Moldbug’s case, the biggest piece of progressivism he has unwittingly swallowed is his concept of sovereignty. In this regard, he’s basically an extreme (to the point of caricature) Jacobin. His attempts to form a “reactionary” theory of sovereignty on this inane basis have led him to an endless succession of contradictory and nonsensical proclamations. There’s simply no way to salvage any of this incoherent mess.

    Another point where he has clearly been heavily biased is his Puritan-only theory of the origins of modern progressivism. While the Puritan element has definitely been among the strongest influences in its formation — as is obvious from a comparison of the modern-day Anglospheric leftism with the continental varieties — it’s silly to pretend that there hasn’t been a lot of influence from other independent sources as well. (What exactly they are is of course a very complex question.) Moreover, his attempts to defend the “ultracalvinist” theory by finding actual links between Calvinist theology and modern progressivism are just embarassingly bad.

    • Well I, of course, disagree with a key part of his theory of sovereignty, in that it neglects legitimacy. If people believe in the divine right of the King, the king is sovereign. If they doubt it, not so much.

      However, that the puritans are primary in anglosphere leftism is pretty obvious if you read old books. After 1930, there is some Jewish influence, and after 1950, a lot of Jewish influence, but before that, it is all solidly Puritan descended, and the further back you go, the more they consciously think of themselves as puritan descended Christians.

      Our current situation was baked in before the twentieth century, thus, baked in before the Jews showed up in the establishment. I don’t believe it because Moldbug said so. I believe it because Moldbug influenced me to read old books, and to reflect on old books I had already read in the light of his hypothesis.

      • Foseti says:

        Jim,

        You’re conflating sovereignty with legitimacy. Moldbug was careful to distinguish the two ( http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2008/05/ol3-jacobite-history-of-world.html ):

        “Why do we have government, rather than nothing? Because the alternative is Corner Man .

        “Note that Corner Man has his own philosophy of government. He exercises sovereignty . That’s his corner. (“Metro [the Las Vegas PD] can’t even get me off this —- corner.”) Indeed, he has much the same relationship to the government that you and I know and love, that Henry VIII had to the Pope. And how did he acquire his corner? “I’ve been on this —- corner for ten —- years.” In legal theory this is called adverse possession, which is more or less how the Tudors acquired their little island.

        “Of course, we reactionaries are not fans of Corner Man, largely because his claim to the corner is contested by a superior authority which will prevail in any serious conflict. Why does he attack the blue PT Cruiser? Is it because he’s on crack? Perhaps, but perhaps it’s also because the driver owes allegiance to the other side of the conflict – “Metro” – and neither has nor would acknowledge Corner Man’s authority. For example, she has not paid him any taxes, fees, or rents for the privilege of positioning her vehicle on his (so-called) territory.

        “One synonym reactionary is legitimist. When the legitimist asks whether Corner Man really owns his corner, he is not asking whether Corner Man should own his corner. He asks whether Corner Man does own his corner. And his answer is “no.” He prefers the claim of “Metro,” not (or not just) because “Metro” is not in the habit of getting loaded and bashing the holy heck out of random peoples’ cars, but because “Metro” and Corner Man have conflicting claims, and in the end, the former is almost certain to win.”

      • IA says:

        Have you ever met a person who said, I’m a corner man. You might as well say he’s a unicorn. Moldbug creates signifiers that have no connection with the real world. They have more to do with magic than cause and effect.

      • Foseti says:

        I’ve seen tons of people who act like they own parts of cities. Hell, there are people sleeping on parts of cities, relieving themselves outside, storing their things outside, etc. right now.

        This sort of things doesn’t happen in certain places (e.g. Singapore or Japan), but that’s the point, isn’t it?

      • IA says:

        Do these corner men have their own philosophy of government? Do unicorns eat mushrooms? This is all fancy. Moldbug and his magic wand.

        I used to live in India. Guys piss all over the place. So what?

        Speaking of patterns. Moldbug uses words like cathedral, puritan, or corner men, or polygon, or god knows what else. Then, he attaches other words or phrases that by association confer meaning, like a talisman, to the original word. But, there is never any cause and effect proven. No real world significance is established. Simply more and more words, chasing one another round and round, up in the air.

        I guess this is fun for some people. It can satisfy emotional needs but it cannot help anyone comprehend their culture. In fact, it creates delusions.

      • >I used to live in India. Guys piss all over the place. So what?

        So that is one of the major reasons India is poor, or rather a tangible symptom of one of the intangible major reasons that India is poor.

        A country where people piss in the streets is a country where property rights are ill defined and insecure. A country where property rights are ill defined and insecure is a country where people will not use modern tools, (and by “modern” I mean use seventeenth century tools such as wheelbarrows when building a house), hence a low productivity country.

      • >Have you ever met a person who said, I’m a corner man. You might as well say he’s a unicorn

        I have had my life threatened by an underclass guy who claimed sovereignty over large extent of public space. That is corner man.

      • Foseti says:

        Yes, there are whole countries run by corner man. Large parts of Detroit as well.

      • Well if corner man exercises sovereignty, then sovereignty is not conserved, because Metro is not the only entity that is likely to give him a thumping.

        Now if Metro thumps corner man, one might well say that sovereignty is conserved because Metro’s sovereignty has increased, while corner man’s sovereignty has decreased, but if a trucky thumps corner man, corner man’s sovereignty has decreased, yet Metro’s sovereignty has also decreased.

      • Foseti says:

        “Now if Metro thumps corner man, one might well say that sovereignty is conserved because Metro’s sovereignty has increased, while corner man’s sovereignty has decreased, but if a trucky thumps corner man, corner man’s sovereignty has decreased, yet Metro’s sovereignty has also decreased.”

        Dear God, it’s not that hard to understand. Re-read that. It’s not coherent.

        Someone must control that corner. It’s really no more complicated than that. There are degrees of authoritarianism and legitimacy. Control is binary. Is this really so hard?

        And governing philosophy? Really? Really?

      • >Someone must control that corner. It’s really no more complicated than that.

        The trucky does not want to control the corner. He just wants corner man to stop controlling the corner. So if he thumps corner man, sovereignty has decreased. The trucky is not loyal to Metro. Metro threatens corner man with warm place in a prison cell and some food. Trucky threatens corner man with broken bones. Metro cannot get corner man of his corner. Trucky can get corner man off his corner.

      • Foseti says:

        “So if he thumps corner man, sovereignty has decreased.”

        No, obviously not! Someone else just controls the corner. It may be a weaker entity or a stronger entity, but it’s someone

      • >Someone else just controls the corner. It may be a weaker entity or a stronger entity,

        Or courtesy and customary rules control the corner, rather than any individual or organized group.

        My property right within my house is absolute, in that everyone in it, is in it only by my permission, and/or is subject to my authority. My property right within my land is somewhat weaker. The meter man may enter to check the meter. Guests and busy bodies may cross it to knock on the door. Leading to my land is a private road, in which I have half ownership. All sorts of people may use the private road for all sorts of reasons, but people who live on the road may look at them, and ask them what they are doing, and someone using the private road is expected to have a satisfactory answer. Beyond my private road, are government roads, that anyone may use, and do not have to give an account of themselves to anyone, but no one has the right to unreasonably obstruct these roads in a way that cuts off access to my land for any unreasonable time.

        It is not simply a case of some entity’s say goes, and other entity’s say does not go. Rather, there is extensive overlap governed by courtesy and customary rules. Rather than some entity having final and definitive say, there is a threat of conflict if these rules are broken or stretched beyond reason,

        The rule is not “Joe decides, or we have a fight to the death”, but rather that one does what is courteous and customary, in order to avoid fights to the death. No Joe who decides, therefore no sovereignty.

      • Vladimir says:

        The thing is, you can’t derive the exact content of today’s progressivism just by looking at Puritanism from centuries ago, or even at the beliefs of progressives from several generations ago. Even if you argue that its basic ideas were discernible long ago (for which a reasonable case can certainly be made), this still doesn’t answer the following questions:

        1. As progressives won on one issue after another, what deternined the choice od issues that they would focus on next?

        2. What determines the issues where progressives will compromise with reality to a significant degree, and where they’ll refuse to budge an inch no matter what?

        3. How exactly do the core progressive doctrines get interpreted in the context of novel social and technological circumstances? This is by no means a trivial question with a clear answer.

        4. How do the numerous contradictions inherent to progressivism get resolved to form a practical platform?

        5. What determines the length and outcome of ideological battles between progressives and conservatives? (Ultimately, the outcome is nearly always a progressive victory. But sometimes there is also a setback, leading to an at least temporary compromise, or an indefinitely prolonged conflict without clear resolution.)

        All of these questions could have plausibly had different historical resolutions, leading to a very different kind of progressivism (and overall political landscape) in our time. And in their resolution, very often crucial contributions came from external influences that can’t be reduced to a Puritan origin in any plausible way.

        Note that all this is perfectly compatible with a theory that Puritans are indeed the main historical source of the modern Anglospheric leftism, unless you take it to the absurd extreme that denies all other influences, as Moldbug tends to do.

      • Foseti says:

        “The thing is, you can’t derive the exact content of today’s progressivism just by looking at Puritanism from centuries ago, or even at the beliefs of progressives from several generations ago.”

        While this is obviously true, it’s nearly tautological. Can you derive the views of today’s Catholics from Catholic doctrine several hundred years ago? Of course you cannot in any overly precise manner. And yet I suspect that today’s Catholics are no further from the Catholics of yesterday year than today’s progressives are from their Puritan ancestors.

        We have no exact science of progressivism and we will never be able to perfectly predict the future. Could we have predicted that gay marriage would be a fundamental constitutional right a few decades ago? Of course not. Are we shocked that it is? No. We get the general, even if we miss every particular. But getting the general is better than anything else.

      • IA says:

        If you mean there’s no difference between nihilism and divine order you could say that. I wouldn’t though.

      • >If you mean there’s no difference between nihilism and divine order you could say that

        Today’s papacy is leftist. Supposedly salvation is accomplished in this world through voting for progressive policies. Today’s Roman Catholicism is almost as much a godless heresy as today’s progressivism.

        Roman Catholicism took a wrong turn when it went for a celibate clergy, while the New Testament commands a patriarchal clergy. That was a leftist choice, and it has been going further left ever since.

      • >The thing is, you can’t derive the exact content of today’s progressivism just by looking at Puritanism from centuries ago, or even at the beliefs of progressives from several generations ago.

        There is a fair bit of continuity:

        Attack on Christmas and marriage goes back all the way to Cromwell in the seventeenth century.

        That Women are angels goes back to the early nineteenth century. Puritans at work again.

        That progressives today are funding the murder of Tutsis and providing the big guns which get anally and vaginally inserted in Tutsi women in the Congo traces back to progressives dismantling the Ashantee aristocracy in the mid nineteenth century, and again we see puritans who identify with Cromwell and dress like him at work.

        The destruction of South Africa and Rhodesia connects to the first use of concentration camps by progressives to murder unprogressive white women and children in 1900, which in turn connects to war over slavery with unprogressive britons and boers in 1834, and in 1834, we see it is clearly puritans dressed like Cromwell, and identifying with him, at work.

        >1. As progressives won on one issue after another, what deternined the choice od issues that they would focus on next?

        Power

        >2. What determines the issues where progressives will compromise with reality to a significant degree, and where they’ll refuse to budge an inch no matter what?

        The will always budge eventually when trouble ensues, if only to put that issue on a back burner, or even reverse themselves on it, only to approach the issue from a different direction. Thus, women are angels has remained constant, despite reversing from woman are naturally pure and chaste, to sluts should be proud.

        >3. How exactly do the core progressive doctrines get interpreted in the context of novel social and technological circumstances? This is by no means a trivial question with a clear answer.

        The pursuit of power. This was most glaringly obvious in the slavery struggle.

        >4. How do the numerous contradictions inherent to progressivism get resolved to form a practical platform?

        Crimestop and doublethink.

        >5. What determines the length and outcome of ideological battles between progressives and conservatives? (Ultimately, the outcome is nearly always a progressive victory. But sometimes there is also a setback, leading to an at least temporary compromise, or an indefinitely prolonged conflict without clear resolution.)

        To this there can be no general answer. Sometimes what progressives expect is so utterly opposed to reality that a setback ensues. Thus progressives expected that if slavery was ended, black would magically become middle class whites. When this failed to happen, they accepted segregation – for a while – followed by ever varied and increasingly drastic measures to make them middle class whites.

        >All of these questions could have plausibly had different historical resolutions, leading to a very different kind of progressivism (and overall political landscape) in our time. And in their resolution, very often crucial contributions came from external influences that can’t be reduced to a Puritan origin in any plausible way.

        It was puritanism versus reality. Romantics were defeated and excluded. Jews and Marxists were excluded until 1930-1950, and to this day are second class. European leftism self destructed and was replaced by muppets of anglophone leftism.

      • What is unique in Cathedral Progressivism is not at all its content. It is the most syncretistic religion the world has ever seen. Of course you cannot predict the specifics or the timeline. That is part and parcel of its memetic adaptive success. What is unique is 1) its vector: random walk in a highly non-random direction, coupled with 2) absolute guaranteed stranglehold on power. It only outright kills that which it cannot a) suck up into itself by grafting its own key mutant genes onto hitherto wild variants; or b) marginalize into complete low-status loserdom. That doesn’t leave very much for it to kill.

    • TD1 says:

      Another point where he has clearly been heavily biased is his Puritan-only theory of the origins of modern progressivism. While the Puritan element has definitely been among the strongest influences in its formation — as is obvious from a comparison of the modern-day Anglospheric leftism with the continental varieties — it’s silly to pretend that there hasn’t been a lot of influence from other independent sources as well.

      Perhaps so. But I will contend that the “Puritan” line of attack is one of the most effective bits of rhetoric in the reactionary arsenal. It should be used often and incisively against the Gawker-ites of the world. It can be a sharp, disorienting, petard-hoisting blow — and if you’re lucky, might even cause a few of those kneejerk progressives to actually contemplate their place in the scheme of things. Reveal to them who they are.

  18. Handle says:

    Some people object to the theological implications of the word “Cathedral”, and don’t really buy progressivism’s nature as a quasi-religious movement. I don’t see how you can spend any time talking seriously to a progressive and not come away with this impression.

    The most controversial thesis seems to be Moldbug’s Historical one drawing the origins of the meme naturally to the Protestant Utopianism than motivated New England’s founding population of Puritans – unchecked in thought, domination, and expansion when planted in their distant new Geography.

    As a thought experiment, imagine it wasn’t the Dissenters looking for a place to be both English and Calvinist without oppression, but that instead some form of modified Zionism had sprung up after the inquisition and Europe’s Jews began emigrating to North American en masse sometime in the 1500’s – establishing a new and rapidly populated “Pale of Settlement” with their shtetls and yeshivas and a literal “New Jerusalem” with no suppression or push-back from their typical European foes.

    Try to imagine what that Hebrew America – with it’s vast natural wealth – would be like half a millennium later. What is their power and ideas has effectively conquered the developed world? No doubt, it would be vastly different, but is it so difficult to imagine that due to certain psycho-social tendencies of the human animal that – however they had imagined their own changes and modernization – their nation would nevertheless retain a line of neurosis and self-conception of “purpose” deriving from its original stock? Of course it would. It’s always easier to see things more clearly when standing from a disinterested outsider’s perspective.

    Anyway, evidence of the religious nature of progressive politics (at least in the US) can frequently be derived by observing when they abandon Machiavellian strategies and overreach in the direction of ideology because they just can’t help themselves.

    Here’s a great exampleAmnesty Immigration Fraud Reform.

    Now, all of us here know quite well that, just like Obamacare, any successful bill achieves such an enormous and irreversible change in the structure of the body politic that 1. It’s worth almost anything to achieve, and, relatedly, 2. It’s worth forgoing almost anything you want in the first bill if there’s any risk of its not passing in order to gain support, because eventually you will have the power to make those modifications and implement them retroactively.

    Why make it hard on yourself? Why raise suspicions? Why burn bridges? Why not sucker the opposition by pretending to give them everything they want? That’s simply not good or clever salesmanship – and the leftists snipes are squawking snarkily about how they’re botching the marketing of the effort. even if you buy into Kaus’ double-or-triple-Kabuki conspiracy theories of legislative public relations management.

    Why risk anything that would disrupt or delay your ability to elect a new population? That’s huge. Does it bother the wingnuts if the “illegally undocumented” don’t pay back taxes? Make them pay! Or if they get free Obamacare explicity? Just keep giving it to them obscurely! You think they’d not happily take a month or two of GDP-shrinking remittances and use it to pay their fines instead? Of course they would. Or maybe try and pass an English test?

    This stuff is obvious, the bill may actually fail (first round’s on me if it does) and it’s not the way cynical politicians behave. It’s how True Believers behave when they just can’t help themselves and constantly need to demonstrate to the other True Believers that they are Truer than Thou.

  19. […] says the term Reaction® is going viral—at least for small values of […]

  20. Arred Wade says:

    I think secular calvinism can be summed up most succinctly in the concept of self-effacement.

    • IA says:

      There is no such thing as secular calvinism. Its a made-up term which you associate with another one you have fun calling self effacement.

      Unicorns are blue. Prove me wrong.

      • There is no such thing as secular calvinism.

        I’m sure that precisely what progressives would tell you. As would anyone who believes in a world of neat little boxes.

      • IA says:

        Well, they, like you, have a hankering to scapegoat Christians.

        How do you know I live in a world of neat little boxes? I believe that’s called projection. What are my little boxes?

      • Foseti says:

        IA,

        Are all sects and denominations that self-identify as Christian – even if their doctrines are contradictory – Christian and worthy of your defense?

      • IA says:

        I support anyone who reveres the incredible accomplishment of traditional european culture. I don’t even mind atheists, modernists, and nihilists as long as they admit atheism has never done much good and has never inspired much, other than destruction.

        Ideally, a person or group would even add to the grandeur of our great and humane traditions.

        So, in light of that I’d say the field would be somewhat narrowed.

      • Foseti says:

        All fine, but it doesn’t really answer the question.

      • IA says:

        I thought I did answer. Of course not. Most are bat-shit crazy. Still, I believe in honoring the ancestors. They may be bastards but their ours kind of thing.

      • Foseti says:

        Why defend – at best a dissident sect of – Christianity then?

        As you point out, we are all influenced by Christianity. It’d be remarkable if the dominant western ideology had no Christian roots, wouldn’t it?

      • IA says:

        I’ve never defended the puritans. I just don’t think they have anything to do with liberalism/modernism.

      • Foseti says:

        So you believe progressivism to be sui generis? Totally detached from any strand of earlier western tradition?

      • Foseti says:

        If so, care to take a stab at explaining someone like Beecher?

      • IA says:

        Beecher was exposed to current liberal ideas at Yale divinity school. He was quite sophisticated and would have absorbed the growing modernist zeitgeist.

        He was brought to trial by the synod, eventually acquitted, but it split the Presbyters in two.

      • Foseti says:

        Or John Brown?

        Along with Beecher, Sui generis, really? Really?

      • IA says:

        What about John Brown? There is nothing inherently christian in his bizarre behavoir. Although christian dogma does not encourage the practice of enslavement.

        If you can come up with a better way to deal with human folly, other than a police state, I’d like to hear it. What is Moldbug’s answer?

      • John Brown was holier than thou, therefore, entitled to political power.

        Classic Puritanism 101.

        That is the essence of puritanism.

      • IA says:

        Liberalism is a kind of gnosticism. It has no love of knowledge, in the christian sense, but believes men and women can attain all knowledge, and become gods.

        Gnostics were/are possessed of a fascination with words and the sound of vowels. Almost all gibberish. This is a sign of secret knowledge. Performance art with Yoko Ono.

        There was no central doctrine or founding event.

        Gnosticism became a christian heresy.

        Some practiced a form of sexual liberation and venerated a female deity.

        Just as you update puritans I think a case can be made for gnostics. It certainly fits n better with modern art. Especially Dada.

      • Well, they, like you, have a hankering to scapegoat Christians.

        Ummm… Calvinism is not (at least all there is of) Christianity. Nor does pietism, the oft forgotten other key ingredient, make up the balance. There are, in fact, unreformed Reformed Christians who are quite a bit on our side.

        We are all united in preserving the accomplishments of Western Christianity and Western Civilization (but I repeat myself). You, IA, have come to the right place!

  21. […] Par lijepo sumiranih misli o Katedrali, sa standardno zanimljivom raspravom u komentarima […]

  22. spandrell says:

    People…

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

    • IA says:

      True. Although, if you judge my comments fairly I think you’d find them most reasonable.

      I like to take this opportunity to say I’ve enjoyed our exchange. Compared to the anti-christian hysteria I’ve noticed elsewhere Foseti and his associates are very civil.

      • spandrell says:

        No, I do not find them reasonable. Sophomoric is the word. You’ll learn though, give it time.

      • IA says:

        I’ll learn what? How to tag myself as a character in an Aldous Huxley novel in order to catch reflected light and unearned intellectual status? And you are calling my comments sophomoric?

  23. IA says:

    If anyone’s interested, I used the Moldbug attempt at metaphor (cathedral) as a means to really start a discussion about something I have found perplexing. Namely, why are so-called liberal types better or more interested in the arts than so-called conservatives?

    Nick, for instance thinks its “gay” or unmanly to discuss this stuff.

    But, maybe its not. Maybe there’s even a genetic predisposition that allows certain men, say Ben Afleck, to be able to manipulate images, sounds and gestures in a more effective way than other men. After all, Ben and many, many others who one would say identify with liberalism are able to make a pretty good living being “gay.” They spend their entire lives thinking about how to frame an image, or gesture, or a word.

    Why are other men so bad at this and even find the arts repugnent?

    • Foseti says:

      “Namely, why are so-called liberal types better or more interested in the arts than so-called conservatives?”

      I think this is wrong. The only lasting art produced in the US so far is Southern literature.” The rest is crap, which is why it’s gay to be interested in it.

      Since we’re throwing out non sequiturs, you started by saying Christians are the most persecuted people in the world. Interesting then that the descendants of puritans (setting aside whether they’re still puritans or not) are nowhere persecuted and often doing the persecuting.

      • IA says:

        Its irrelevant what you think is crap. They are winning and you are losing. We live in an age of mass entertainment, communications and democracy. Wishing it away with magical words isn’t going to change this.

      • IA says:

        But my whole argument is that they are not puritans. So, no, I’m not setting it aside.

      • Foseti says:

        IA,

        Are you going to criticize Charlton for being anti-Christian? http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2013/06/on-re-reading-ralph-waldo-emerson-two.html

        If the Unitarians aren’t descendants of puritans, nothing is descended from anything else.

      • IA says:

        I’m not sure what your point is. I’m not here to argue with him. I was objecting to the use of the word cathedral as a metaphor for modernism/progressivism.

        Your tactic seems to be to side track the point I’ve been making. Namely, that puritans were iconoclasts (among other things); and, there is a peculiar lack of interest in this very important point by Moldbug. Why?

        Which may have implications towards the nature of modernism. In other words, it most definitely is not a cathedral or puritanical. If anything, its those who react the most that may be puritan, i.e., iconoclasts.

      • The puritans were iconoclasts. Where was it denied? Hell, Jim Donald’s been making the point over and over ad naseum… it was the Cromwell-ites who wanted to ban Christmas, de-sacramentalize marriage. In MA, finding no natural competitors, they managed to succeed. There are no more dogmatic and intolerant and disgusting creatures than iconoclasts. A pox upon them. Anathema on them.

        Oh, you think iconoclasm is cool? Well, I’m sure that’s what they want you to think. After all, they’ve a nearly 400 year unbeaten streak.

      • IA says:

        Banning Christmas is not iconoclasm. Fear and destruction of images is. Where have I said iconoclasm cool? I’m a professional artist, so, I don’t think I’d be wanting puritans around. Are you purposely misreading me?

        Where does Moldbug mention iconoclasm of puritans? Can someone tell me?

      • Banning Christmas is not iconoclasm. Fear and destruction of images is.

        They did not suppress just any image. As I mentioned, their immediate successors had Cromwell paintings.

        Destroying images that people treat as having religious significance, or view as emblematic of religion, destroying them in ways that intentionally cause offense, is something they did and their successors are still doing. “Piss Christ” is classic seventeenth century Puritan behavior taken to an ever greater extreme, and the dog poop statue in Plaza de Cesar E. Chavez is a generalization of this behavior, now that the original rationalizations for it have been forgotten.

      • Are you genuinely trying?

        Why is it so important that Moldbug (qua Moldbug) mentions Puritan iconoclasm (qua iconoclasm)? The Puritans had belly-buttons too, and seems to have missed that fact. They wore funny hats, and he may have missed that too. So What? How exactly is that (i.e., the Moldbug failed to point out the puritans were iconoclasts) the point you’ve “been making”? Really? That’s IT? And why is that point, vis-a-vis all the others of such particular importance?

        True, iconoclasm was an essential part of their puritan religion… a religion which Moldbug, and all right thinking people, reject lock, stock, and barrel. So why this special fixation on this particular deformity by this particular name?

    • Nick, for instance thinks its “gay” or unmanly to discuss this stuff.

      For the record I thought it was gay debating about the finer points of grammar I’d happen to use, which happened not to be wrong in the first place. And arguing about what people are arguing about is doubly gay. Winners admit they’re wrong. Losers make excuses. (Saw that somewhere recently, so props to whoever you are).

      Look.

      The Cathedral is the name of a Thing. Like they call a cow a cow. You can’t go back and change the name of a cow. It’s just its name. The Cathedral by any other name would still be the thing that it is… and it is, quite convincingly for those prepared to study it, an ideological power structure that grew up out of the meme complex of Puritan Christianity. It has, of course, evolved, but it retains the most insane aspects of Puritanism (which is why they landed in MA in the first place).

      Michael Bloomberg is a puritan? A dolphin is a mammal?!!??Yes. If you take the time to look carefully.

    • Observe, as a counter example to this, that science fiction has turned to utter shit since leftists took control of publishing, and that all the great science fiction writers apart from Isaac Asimov were rightists and/or libertarians.

      Similarly, the visual arts.

  24. IA says:

    Continuing this thought. Moldbug (to my knowledge), and no one here, has mentioned one very important aspect of puritanism, which is iconclasm, or the fear and destruction of images.

    During, and after, the Protestant Reformation, thousands of works of art were destroyed. Mostly, if not all, in northern europe. This aversion to images, dancing, and even theater, were a prominent aspect of puritanism.

    The puritans believed that art was illusion, false reality, and would suppress most manifestations, even Shakespeare. This is very much like Islam.

    So, by this reckoning there are elements of puritanism in so-called conservatives today.

    • Well who said so-called conservatives weren’t also part of the Cathedral? Tho’ you have to admit the Outer Party’s iconoclasm is a rather weaker brew.

    • >The puritans believed that art was illusion, false reality, and would suppress most manifestations, even Shakespeare. This is very much like Islam.

      So, by this reckoning there are elements of puritanism in so-called conservatives today.

      You mean conservatives oppose ugly muppets crudely made out of condoms, which muppets are used to deliver repetitious and monotonous monologues on George Bush and Vaginas. How terribly low brow and puritanical of them.

      You mean conservatives oppose the giant dog poop statue in San Jose Ceasar Chavez Park. How terribly low brow and puritanical of them.

      As in the latter days of Rome, art is crap, made by people who not only lack technical skills like the ability to draw a straight line free hand, or a subtly non straight line that bends imperceptibly free hand, but also lack taste and judgement.

    • >no one here, has mentioned one very important aspect of puritanism, which is iconclasm, or the fear and destruction of images

      Piss Christ is concentrated essence of puritanism.

      • IA says:

        I get it. Visual artists are puritans.

        Are Ben Affleck and hollywood puritan? They all love Obama and feminism.

      • Andress Sorano is an official visual artist, which means he is no more a real visual artist than Mann is a real scientist. He cannot draw a straight line freehand.

        If you are puritan, you are not an artist. If you are an artist, you are not a puritan. If you are not a puritan, you will not get an official government grant, and therefore will not be officially an artist.

        Hence no actual artists are official artists.

      • IA says:

        Now I’m thoroughly confused. You seem to be saying that anyone who is holier than thou and a feminist is a puritan. But, puritans cannot be artists?

        What about all those hollywood movie stars like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Ben Affleck, etc., and rock stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga? All these people seem pretty holier than thou to me. In the case of Penn and Stone excrutiatingly so.

        What or who is an unofficial artist? Can you name one?

      • Daniel Mitsui is an unofficial artist. I have one of his works hanging in my foyer. It is beautiful. But I’m certain he could never obtain NEA funding or even get a show. That’s how we know he’s unofficial. Tim Jones is even more unofficial.

      • IA says:

        Okay, fine. They are talented.

        You do know that most successful or not so successful artists, modern or not, never get government funding.

        I get the feeling artists you like are unofficial and the ones you don’t like official. I’m getting that cathedral, puritan, corner man feeling again. You find a term or word that obscures what you want it to mean and then associate other words with it to satisfy emotional needs. Its a complete disregard and disrespect for the original meaning of the word.

        There are no official or unofficial artists in the real world, Nick.

      • I get the feeling artists you like are unofficial and the ones you don’t like official.

        Official artists get government funding and/or quasi governmental sponsorship, my favorite example, and my most hated piece of “art” being the giant dog poop in San Jose.

        Because people are becoming embarrassed by government funding of notoriously and extraordinarily bad art, often that funding is laundered through private enterprise. Thus, for example, a company is required to install five hundred thousand dollars worth of art when it builds a new campus – however that art must come not from just any artist but from someone officially approved as a real artist, must, quite literally be, official art.

      • IA says:

        You seem to have a thing, not only with Christians, but with artists too.

        Entertainment software designers and stars make millions more and have infinitely more cultural power than visual artists. Yet, you seem rather hesitant to classify or describe their relationship to your cathedral. Why?

        I have asked about this several times but nobody wants to answer.

      • > You do know that most successful or not so successful artists, modern or not, never get government funding.

        If you build a major new building in San Jose, you are required to spend quite a lot of money on art – but you cannot hire just anyone you think is an artist. You have to hire an official artist, who will supply official art.

      • IA says:

        Right. But, what’s that got to do with the artist? If nobody paid for modern art (and it pays for some quite well) nobody would make it. If voters didn’t want to pay for it they could elect officials who refuse to give money to support modernism. I mean artists aren’t exactly a large voting block. I’ve never heard a politician going after the artist vote.

      • All official artists are bad artists, cannot draw a straight line freehand, have poor taste, and so on and so forth. I don’t think that is conscious intent, but somehow, that is the way it turns out. As a result, the scheme decorates buildings with art that varies from poor to absolutely dreadful.

      • IA says:

        James, you are hung up. The technology has expanded in the last 100 years. Images are now ubiquitous, made with all sorts of inventions artists could only dream of before.

        Lady Gaga collaborates with photographers to create images. Ben Affleck and Oliver Stone collaborate with actors. Politicians and whistleblowers collaborate with journos. Andy Warhol could draw and he made the first reality TV. Sport stars collaborate with corporate sponsors. This is the zeitgeist, and its in a constant state of flux. It is not a cathedral and most definitely not puritanical.

        What you ought to be asking is what is High Art and what is Low Art since there is now a troubling blur.

        For instance, why are some filmmakers classified as arthouse and others not?

        That’s not to say drawing isn’t important. It may be more important than ever from a spiritual point of view. But it does not drive the zeitgeist.

      • > That’s not to say drawing isn’t important. It may be more important than ever from a spiritual point of view. But it does not drive the zeitgeist.

        The ability to draw is important for certain kinds of art. That such art is in practice created by people who cannot draw confirms what my aesthetic sense tells me – that they also lack all the other attributes of an artist.

      • IA says:

        I think by “artist” you mean someone who does not makes things based purely on commercial gain or utility. But, some movies are supposedly more like art. Orson Welles studied painting (I assume he could draw) before switching to theater. Citizen Kane might be considered art.

        I don’t think its cut and dried, this type of classification. If someone can draw they may do anti-spiritual content, like Warhol or R. Crumb. Or, like Piccaso, they may draw sometimes and sometimes not.

        Overall, I’d agree that neglect of craft is a sign of spiritual decline in a culture. Good art is Perseus using a bronze shield in order to see Medusa. A direct look would turn us to stone. A drop of blood becomes a winged horse.

        Personally, I tend to look at most people working in this field these days as designers. Form is at least 50% of an image though.

      • > I think by “artist” you mean someone who does not makes things based purely on commercial gain or utility

        By “artist” I mean someone who creates beauty for sale or hire. The highest status artists are those that are government approved and directly or indirectly government funded.

        So why then is the giant pile of dog poop in San Jose higher status than a coca cola commercial?

        Because the sheer ugliness, obscenity, and incompetence of the dog poop pile, the complete and total lack of skill and taste that it displays, signifies that his sponsor is higher status than the entity that sponsors the coca cola advertisement.

        When the Cornaro family funded Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, they gained status from the greatness of Bernini’s art.

        Robert Graham, the man who left a giant pile of dog poop in San Jose, is higher status than the man who composes a coke commercial, because he gains status from his patron, because his patron has higher status than Coca Cola.

      • IA says:

        Do you also have a thing about the word “poop”? Would you mind using “turd” once in a while?

        If I understand you, official art is really bad, but of high status, and supported by the cathedral.

        But, pop culture is good because it is of a lower status, commercial, and is therefore unofficial art, and not of the cathedral.

        So, the scatological stuff is puritanical.

        And materialistic, mass-produced products, including those made in hollywood, are non-puritanical.

        Therefore, Oliver Stone and Ben Affleck are unofficial artists. If so, why do they love feminism and Obama? Why do they support the cathedral in their work and in their public life?

      • > So, the scatological stuff is puritanical.

        Covering the Virgin Mary in turds is pretty much the same act as the seventeenth century act of smashing statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary. In both cases, the puritans are “challenging” the masses.

      • IA says:

        You really do have a thing with feces! Modern art isn’t challenging the masses with crap. The masses love crap. Hollywood is crap. Hip hop is crap. Coke is crap. Oprah, fast food, gross adults dressing and acting like 13-year-olds, sniveling whiners squealing for free stuff, Superbowl malfunctions and steroid-enhanced thugs, leaders who lie daily and know you know they’re lying to you. The slobs wallow in it.

        No, James, if there’s one thing the modern world has proven beyond a doubt its that the masses love . . . Weell I certainly don’t need to repeat what you yourself seem inordinately interested in.

      • > Modern art isn’t challenging the masses with crap. The masses love crap. Hollywood is crap. Hip hop is crap. Coke is crap. Oprah, fast food, gross adults dressing and acting like 13-year-olds, snniveling whiners squealing for free stuff, Superbowl malfunctions and steroid-enhanced thugs, leaders who lie daily and know you know they’re lying to you. The slobs wallow in it.

        Not all Hollywood is crap: Counterexamples “300”, “The passion”

        Not all fast food is crap: Counterexamples subway and pizza.

        But all recent modern art is crap.

        Let us compare mondrians with the book of kells. The fundamental differences all come back to the fact that those who illustrated the Book of Kells could draw a straight line freehand, and Mondrian could not.

        The Book of Kells is a pile of Mondrians drawn by people with more skill than Mondrian, who then decorated every space with stylized cartoons.

      • IA says:

        Mondrian started out as a landscape painter.

      • IA says:

        Mel Gibson wrote and directed Passion.

        Is he an artist, and, if so, is he official or unofficial?

      • IA says:

        James, if you can shift your attention from poop for a moment. I’ve known hundreds of modernist artists. The overwhelming majority do not make scatological stuff. The vast majority are poor or have to do something else to make a living. The very few who are able to make money do not get their sales from government, either commissions or grants. They make their money from rich people, people who own shares in coke and film studios and hedge funds.

        This is the real world, not a magical world of words.

      • > The overwhelming majority do not make scatological stuff. The vast majority are poor or have to do something else to make a living.

        Millions of modern artists are starving because each is competing to get the attention of the Cathedral, which only a few will receive, and, absent Cathedral attention, few wish to pay them for their art.

        The dog turd statue in San Jose cost half a million dollars. It is a close copy of an Aztec original. The three big differences are that original looks only slightly like a turd, whereas the copy looks very much like a turd, the original is carved in basalt while the copy is cast in concrete, and the original is well done, while the copy is very crudely copied – compare, for example, the feathers and scales on the original, with their copies on the copy. They look as if copied by a six year old using crayons. You cannot tell what was supposed to be feathers, and what was supposed to be scales, except by reference to the original artwork.

        On the original aztec artwork, the feathers look soft and feathery, even though carved in basalt, while the scales look hard and scaly. On the copied artwork, the feathers look as if a six year old was trying to copy an anime depiction of the feathers in an angel’s wings, using crayons, except that he had eaten all of his crayons except for two.

        So if large numbers of modern artists are starving, I would say that there is at least one that should be starving, but is not.

      • Anonymous says:

        James, if you think replication of the world is art then why bother learning how to draw. Just take photos.

        I’ll see if I can find a photo online.

        You are aware that Brad Pitt makes modernist sculpture and a lot of hollywood stars, even rock stars, buy modern art.

      • > James, if you think replication of the world is art then why bother learning how to draw. Just take photos.

        I already mentioned as examples of real art the Book of Kells, and the Aztec statue of which the San Jose dog turd statue is a bad copy. Neither of these are replication of the world.

        The problem with modern art is not that it fails to replicate the world, but that it replicates turds, that it is ugly and badly done, that it is motivated by spite, hatred and contempt for its audience.

        Indeed, the reason we got onto this topic is that I argued that modern art is a continuation of the icon smashing of the original seventeenth century puritans.

        > You are aware that Brad Pitt makes modernist sculpture and a lot of hollywood stars, even rock stars, buy modern art.

        It is a way of demonstrating one’s allegiance to the Cathedral. This was completely explicit in the debate over the San Jose dog turd statue. If you opposed the dog turd statue, you were supposedly a racist colonialist imperialist.

      • IA says:

        I find it hard to pin you and Nick down. Its confusing. Is Brad Pitt an artist or isn’t he?

      • IA says:

        Show me this list of official and unofficial artists. Which ones are Entartatete Kunst and which are Grosse Amerikanishe Kunstausstellung.

      • You don’t get an official list. There are certain people who can tell you who will be acceptable. You ask is “so and so acceptable”, and they say “no, but such and such would be acceptable”. Probably they have an official list of official artists, but it is a shared secret not widely circulated.

      • IA says:

        I understand your concern James but I don’t think its set up with lists. They’re not that organized. Its more like which fake victim group the powers in committees can afford to patronize. Lesbians are now very powerful. If you’re a hetero white guy you’ve got to go full anti-western trad, or anti-middle class. The more nihilistic the better.

      • IA says:

        Apologies for my butchered German but you get the message.

      • IA:

        I get the feeling artists you like are unofficial and the ones you don’t like official. I’m getting that cathedral, puritan, corner man feeling again.

        Not just the artists I would like. The artists every normal person would like. People who create beautiful things, the type of things that normal people (always and everywhere) would like, are not (almost by definition) putting The Message ahead of their art. They are therefore unofficial in a very important way, they have risen to the level of artist by being actually talented, not by having the correct opinions.

        The Message is always evolving to stay ahead of the hoi polloi, but for the last 100 years it has basically been traditional norms of beauty are sexist, racist, classist, speciesist, fascist, heteronormativist, cis-genderedist, or some other bald-faced evil. People who put The Message above the art (and its objective beauty) will, whether truly talented or not, make more or less ugly things. And because they so boldly agree with the (iconoclast, puritan, progressive, neo-marxist, and naked) “Emperor”, this “ability” will put them on the short list of Official Artists.

        Progressivism has politicized, i.e., made a (very long and boring and dogmatic) sunday school lesson out of every gosh-darn thing in the whole world… sadly this includes art, and architecture.

      • IA says:

        I pretty much agree with your underlying sentiment concerning the state of the art market although me being an artist myself I tend to have more sympathy for them. Unless you have an extremely solid grounding in traditional culture most young art students don’t care that much about The Message. They go with the flow. They’d do whatever it is that drives the market. They just want to survive and have no real hardened outlook.

        I do think it is wrong to hold a painter, say, to a higher standard than Ben Affleck. After all, there have been outstanding movies made, many in the silent era, which he and others could have drawn inspiration from and defy the zeitgeist. I don’t know why I’m picking on poor old Ben. But, when I think of the groveling admiration accorded to the”stars” compared with the vast majority of so-called fine artists its rather pathetic. I mean they, the stars, do infinitely more damage than the worst scatological art. But, I never hear a peep about it.

        I think these categories of official and unofficial do not advance ones understanding of western culture. They are reducing a very shaded system of degree into black and white.

  25. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    Can you derive the views of today’s Catholics from Catholic doctrine several hundred years ago?

    That is precisely my point. You cannot do this derivation because the overwhelming majority of today’s Catholics, including the leaders of the Catholic Church, have acquired large parts of their belief system not from the traditional Catholic doctrine, but from more recent non-Catholic ideological influences.

    So if you want to analyze the ideological content of the actually existing modern Catholicism in 2013 and its origins, it’s pointless and futile to stress exclusively its institutional continuity with the Catholicism of 1513 or 1013. Similarly, and to an even greater degree, if you want a correct analysis of what gets to be taught at Harvard in 2013 and why, it’s silly to pretend that it’s just a straightforward implication, free of any external and novel influences, of what was taught at Harvard in 1913 or 1713.

    We have no exact science of progressivism… Could we have predicted that gay marriage would be a fundamental constitutional right a few decades ago? […] We get the general, even if we miss every particular. But getting the general is better than anything else.

    This seems to me like evading the question. A correct theory of modern progressivism should be able to explain how its new frontiers expand in each generation, and to answer the list of questions from my above comment. You’re basically saying that it all must be somehow entailed by 17th century Puritanism, presumably because Moldbug said so, and that’s good enough so you refuse to make any further inquiry into the question.

    Much of what Moldbug has written is indeed magnificently good, but it’s silly to treat him as some kind of infallible sage. On some questions he is simply naive or wrong-headed.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t mean to defend all he’s written – indeed his views evolve over time. To reject some of this stuff is to take nothing from it.

      “A correct theory of modern progressivism should be able to explain how its new frontiers expand in each generation”

      The “how” is no problem. The precise “what” is the issue. Why should gays marry before we all pay for sex changes? I have no idea, nor do I know of anyone who does

      • Vladimir says:

        You are trivializing the problem. You speak as if the progressive agenda has been entirely clear and agreed-upon from the beginning, so the only question is which parts of it get to be implemented sooner. But in reality, things don’t work that way at all.

        To take one well-known example, a century ago, progressives pushed eugenics as an obvious implication of their principle that all important social institutions should be regulated scientifically by government experts. However, in the meantime, the principle of sexual and reproductive autonomy for women completely won over in mainstream progressivism, and eugenics is seen as the most evil thing in the world. (Note that this is not entailed by blank-slatism: even a blank-slatist could argue for checks on sexual behavior and reproduction in the interest of public health and ensuring a good environment for the children. Moreover, eugenics was not a relic of pre-progressive past, but a novel progressive doctrine, specifically derived from the core tenets of progressivism.) How exactly does one explain this development?

        There are many similar examples where there is no clear a priori answer at all what the progressive line should be — let alone one traceable to the doctrines of 17th century Calvinists — and where the progressive position has varied historically, and could plausibly be very different nowadays (and not just as a matter of compromise and imperfect break with the past). In fact, on almost any question, there exists a conflict between the core progressive principles (scientific-utilitarian regulation by experts vs. liberal individual autonomy vs. democracy), which could be resolved in a significantly different way, and the resolution that yielded the present progressive position has been due to contingent and recent historical circumstances.

        Refusing to consider various historical influences on progressivism that shaped its development into its present form means to give up on all meaningful inquiry into the problem. Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable if you simply have no interest in the question, but that’s different from insisting on a simplistic and clearly incomplete and inadequate answer to it.

      • Foseti says:

        I’m getting lost. I don’t see how anything you mention violates the 4 points of cryptocalvinism I cited. I also don’t really understand what you’re arguing against. That dominant American ideologies can trace back to the people that are most well-connected and well-established in American society is hardly a revolutionary idea. It would be incredible if anye dominant American ideology had no Puritan roots. After all, we’re a Puritan country.

      • >You are trivializing the problem. You speak as if the progressive agenda has been entirely clear and agreed-upon from the beginning,

        Though shrouded in lies and obfuscation, it has been clear enough to those with eyes to see.

        Desacralizing marriage meant replacing marriage with official recognition of common law marriage. Arguably gays are common law married.

        The Church sacralized marriage to preserve the most respectable form of marriage of the Roman Republic through the darkness. Desacralize it, then it will not be preserved – and it has not been.

        For whatever reason, equality rapidly became part of the Puritan agenda, for example the levellers, who wanted to abolish private property in land, or at least redistribute land. Desacralize marriage (seventeenth century), plus levelling (seventeenth century), you have a twenty first century progressive, in particular, and most conspicuously, you have his holier than thou attitude, completely unchanged. The seventeenth century diggers would be right at home at any Occupy Wall Street gathering.

        Cromwell was outflanked on the left by the levellers, the levellers were outflanked on the left by the diggers.

        Puritans were leftists, and Cromwell found himself continually outflanked by ever lefter Puritans, ever more pure puritans, ever holier puritans, so proceeded, like Stalin, to both make concessions to them, and to forcibly suppress them, thereby freezing the left singularity.

        With no Cromwell, and no Stalin, the left singularity now proceeds retracing the steps it took in the seventeenth century.

      • >However, in the meantime, the principle of sexual and reproductive autonomy for women completely won over in mainstream progressivism, and eugenics is seen as the most evil thing in the world.

        The progressive claim to liberate women goes all the way back to Cromwell’s Puritans. The claim to be highly scientific official government experts is far more recent and is disconnected from their ancestral roots. So naturally the older, inherently Puritan principle, won over the more recent, more jobs for government employees, principle.

    • spandrell says:

      You make it sound easy. A correct theory of how particular memes conflict and survive is going to be as hard as quantum physics. All we can do is some history and try to analyze the underlying principles behind the sanctimony arms race.

  26. The Cathedral goes viral goes viral.

  27. Vladimir says:

    Foseti,

    I’m getting lost. I don’t see how anything you mention violates the 4 points of cryptocalvinism I cited.

    The point is that these principles are so vague and abstract that a myriad different and contradictory positions on almost any issue could be easily defended by an appeal to one or more of them. If you can’t point to more recent and concrete historical forces that shaped the presently dominant interpretations of these principles and the concrete institutions that embody and promote these interpretations, your theory is completely void of substance.

    (On a related note, the link between Calvinism and these principles is also very tenuous. While the links between the modern Anglospheric leftism and various historical dissenter sects are pretty clear, the attempts to derive its content as somehow entailed by the real original TULIP Calvinism in a straightforward way are just an exercise in dreaming up arbitrary and vapid analogies. This is not to say that there aren’t real links in this regard as well, but it would take a much more sophisticated analysis than the simplistic “ultracalvinist” one to reveal what they are.)

    It would be incredible if any dominant American ideology had no Puritan roots. After all, we’re a Puritan country.

    This is taking an obvious observation and stretching it far beyond its usefulness and its justified implications. Neither was America settled solely by Puritans, nor did Americans (Puritan or not) live through their whole history completely isolated from any outside ideas and influences.

    The simple model that all ideological influences flow exclusively from the Anglosphere outwards is a pretty good model for the post-WW2 Pax Americana Western world. But it wasn’t true before that. (Consider that Calvinism itself was imported into England form the continent. For Moldbug’s “ultracalvinist” hypothesis to be true, it would have to have been the last significant ideological influence ever to have crossed the English Channel in the westward direction. How plausible is that?)

    • >The point is that these principles are so vague and abstract that a myriad different and contradictory positions on almost any issue could be easily defended by an appeal to one or more of them.

      Hence the famous circular firing squad so characteristic of left wing heresy trials.

      But ninety nine percent of progressivism is readily deducible from superior holiness, equality, superior holiness, war on marriage, superior holiness, and, lest I forgot to mention it, superior holiness, all of which go right back to the seventeenth century puritans.

      • Vladimir says:

        James,

        But it’s not like there has been a firm and unchanging set of criteria for holiness ever since the 17th century. Which issues get to become recognized as valid grounds for holiness competition, which cease to be such after some time, and which never do? This is a question of crucial importance, because its answer determines what the leftists will actually be up to in practice, and it has no simple and easy answer.

        Sometimes people who try new and original ways of signaling leftist holiness succeed spectacularly, enter history as leftist heroes, and their causes become a firm part of the progressive platform. Other times however their attempts fall flat and meet with indifference, and they self-destruct as a result (think Aaron Swartz). Yet other times a cause that ignites mass fanaticism peters out after a while and you’d look ridiculous using it for holiness signaling nowadays (e.g. alcohol prohibitionism).

        So while the holiness competition has certainly been a key moving principle of leftism since time immemorial, you still need to solve the more difficult problem of what has determined the relevant leftist causes at various historical places and times. (I.e. the Schelling points for mass holiness competition, if you will.) And here it definitely makes to sense to point all the way back to the 16th century, when it’s clear that various more recent influences have been important in shaping the presently existing form of leftism that we’re living under.

      • > Yet other times a cause that ignites mass fanaticism peters out after a while and you’d look ridiculous using it for holiness signaling nowadays (e.g. alcohol prohibitionism).

        The three big causes of the left during the period it was transitioning away from Christianity were female emancipation, ending slavery with fire and sword (ending with economics and persuasion was not good enough), and alcohol prohibition, all of them directly and violently contrary to the New Testament, which recommends moderate social drinking, extreme patriarchy, and that slaves should obey their masters.

        The point of these causes was to be holier than Jesus and the New Testament, thus holier than conventional Christians. Now that Christianity is pretty much extinct, and progressives no longer define themselves as a superior kind of Christian, more Christian than regular Christians, one upping the New Testament is no longer a big concern. no longer a big motivating factor. Now that progressivism no longer admits being a religion, it no longer wants to one up the New Testament so much.

        When they were thinking of themselves as unitarians and trancendentalists, it was important to be holier than Jesus, hence prohibition. Now, not so much.

    • Dystopia Max says:

      The Puritans in America were the firstest with the mostest, and also showed the most interest in starting Puritan institutions and traditions (Harvard, Yale.)

      The Cavaliers to the South were never about starting a College of Slavery or a College of Gentlemen Maneuvering; how they made their money concerned them far less than what they spent the money on, like beautiful country houses and Walter Scott LARPing. They fought for land, money, and power, not abstractions.

    • spandrell says:

      That the jews outflanked the puritans big time is really obvious. Moldbug of course protested too much. Not a bad idea given that blame-the-joos people lurk are everywhere and don’t shut up. The puritan link had to be stressed.

      • >That the jews outflanked the puritans big time is really obvious.

        Not obvious to me. Observe that when Obama tells the Israelis that it is morally wrong and unacceptable that Israel is a Jewish state, every progressive Jew licks up his shit and says it tastes like chocolate.

        A Jew applied to be diversity Czar at some moderately elite university, was told whites need not apply. He protested that he was not white, he was Jewish. Ha Ha. If George Zimmerman is white, Jews are white. Suckers!

        Crown Heights pogrom. Every progressive Jew runs around frantically apologizing to blacks for the regrettable inconvenience of blacks needing to murder some Jews that got too uppity.

        Jews are knocking on the doors to the Cathedral begging to be allowed in, and the puritans are letting them in on condition that they suck puritan dick.

  28. > > But ninety nine percent of progressivism is readily deducible from superior holiness, equality, superior holiness, war on marriage, superior holiness, and, lest I forgot to mention it, superior holiness, all of which go right back to the seventeenth century puritans.

    > But it’s not like there has been a firm and unchanging set of criteria for holiness ever since the 17th century.

    Oh yes there has.

    For example caring deeply for far away strangers clearly demonstrates superior holiness, always has demonstrated it, and demonstrates it without the inconvenience that is likely to follow from caring deeply for neighbors, since you might be called upon to actually do something for your neighbors.

    Also caring deeply for the underdog against the overdog demonstrates superior holiness, always has demonstrated it, and if the underdogs are also far away strangers, hard to tell who is really the underdog, so you get to choose who is the underdog, which can be highly convenient.

    Further, strict adherence to holy rules is also an indication of superior holiness, even if the rules are arbitrary and obscure, for example recycling. Further, if you get to define, interpret, and frequently re-interpret the rules, it is an indication that is unlikely to much inconvenience you.

    The indications of superior holiness are pretty much as they were in Jesus’ time, hence the Christian commenters on my blog are apt to refer to puritans and progessives alike as pharisees.

    • Vladimir says:

      James,

      You’re now moving back to abstract principles and away from concrete issues. There is an infinity of different concrete ways in which things like “caring deeply for far away strangers” or “adherence to holy rules” can manifest themselves. Some of them have been a feasible way of signalling holiness in various places and times, others haven’t. And it matters a great deal in practice what these focal points for holiness competition will be, and which historical and cultural forces are shaping them.

      Clearly, passionate support for, say, open borders, environmentalism, or same-sex marriage weren’t feasible ways of signalling holiness in the time of Cromwell or Jesus. Clearly also the peculiar religious observances of the 1st century Pharisees or the 17th century Puritans are not feasible ways of signalling holiness nowadays. So what exactly determines what these specific focal points in each era will be? You don’t seem to have any answer to that question.

      Of course, you can point out the fundamental constants of human nature that are involved in such holiness competitions always and everywhere, which you’ve been doing all the time. While that is certainly also an essential part of the puzzle, what I’m asking for is a different essential part, namely what determines the specific ways in which these unchanging tendencies have manifested themselves in various times and places. I don’t see how you can deny the importance of this question.

      • > Clearly, passionate support for, say, open borders, environmentalism, or same-sex marriage weren’t feasible ways of signalling holiness in the time of Cromwell or Jesus. Clearly also the peculiar religious observances of the 1st century Pharisees or the 17th century Puritans are not feasible ways of signalling holiness nowadays. So what exactly determines what these specific focal points in each era will be? You don’t seem to have any answer to that question.

        I gave a specific concrete answer in the case of prohibition. Similar principles apply to all the others. In each case, you can similarly deduce the reasons. It is not very interesting.

        In fact open borders were a valid way of signalling holiness – Cromwell let the Jews back in. However the reason that people are so keen on open borders today, much more than they used to be, is not, however, primarily to signal holiness, but to elect a new people. So open borders back then were a minor way of signalling holiness, now a major way of electing a new people. If voting stops, as well it might, will return to being a minor way of signaling holiness, as it was in Cromwell’s day.

        The details of ritual observance are of course arbitrary, and are endlessly innovated in order to ensure that insiders are more observant than outsiders. The important thing is to have ever new rituals. I don’t see any important or interesting difference between ritual innovations invoking early Christians as justification, to ritual innovations invoking Gaia as justification. When the descendents of the puritans started thinking of themselves as Unitarians, they proceeded to have ritual innovations with absolutely no coherent justification whatsoever. They were so enlightened that outsiders were incapable of understanding the reasons for the new rituals.

        To illustrate this, observe that our popes get inaugurated with an ever more ostentatiously humble ritual. There really is no difference between this, and the demand from the council that you sort your trash into ever more bins, all of which get tossed in the same landfill. Bins, humility, it is all the same. The rationalizations are irrelevant and uninteresting. At some point the number of bins becomes ridiculous, and they forget about it, and bring in some new ritual, a ritual supposedly justified by … who cares. They don’t care.

      • To illustrate that the supposed justifications for ritual innovations are trivial, inconsequential, and irrelevant, consider the big Victorian innovations against sexual thoughts. Since women were supposedly naturally so chaste, pure, and completely sexless, that they could never be tempted to naughtiness, there was absolutely no logical justification for these innovations. But since they were the same time dismantling all the coercive and punitive barriers to women engaging in sexual immorality, and all the social barriers, like the requirement that women be chaperoned, stay out of bars, etc, they invoked sexual restraint as reason for their innovations, just to show that they were in favor of sexual restraint despite all the evidence to the contrary. But this supposed justification ran absolutely contrary to their claim about female purity. They were just engaging in ritual innovation purely for the sake of ritual innovation. The supposed reasons are always an almost random afterthought.

      • To answer your specific question of why ritual innovation was justified by reference to early questions in the seventeenth century, and reference to Gaia in the twenty first century:

        In the seventeenth century they claimed to be more holy than thou.

        In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they claimed to be more holy than Jesus and the apostles.

        So after the early twentieth century, could not continue to claim early Christians as justification for ritual innovation. By late twentieth, early twenty first, the claimed justifications are becoming pretty random.

  29. mittelwerk says:

    this debate is crap. i keep waiting for the jOoOz spelling to appear.

    while obviously knowledge and history are continuata, it’s a grotesque misapprehension to assume “holiness” as some sort of constant. a sacred object and a scientific object are completely different things; in fact, the latter is the negation of the former.

    similarly, reason and revelation are two distinct things, as are judeo-christianity and its “secularized” (ie, atheistic) counterpart.

    the universal-state concept in the west is as old as alexander; and the concept of homogeneity/equaity as old as the late, christianized empire (and the notion of a “freely” chosen act of conversion)

  30. IA says:

    I think these categories of official and unofficial [artists] do not advance ones understanding of western culture. They are reducing a very shaded system of degree into black and white.

    Well, it is not we who have made the categories but the Cathedral. Jim and I and others have just been reporting on the phenomenon. Indeed the Cathedral likes nothing better than to obscure the entirety of Western Culture, and all of its manifold intricacies, to make room for whatever the metanarrative du jour happens to be. Politics, über alles, is precisely that which makes things so very black and white: Oppressor:Victim :: Traditional:Bold :: Normative:Queer. This leaves no ambiguity about who the good guys are. (Yay team!)

    Reactionaries are the ones who are happy to live with ambiguities… Let God sort it out. So say we all.

    • IA says:

      Is Brad Pitt an artist? If so, which kind official or unofficial?

    • IA says:

      “. . . Jim and I and others have just been reporting . . ”

      That’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it, Nick?

      I saw something you wrote about being not worhy to carry Moldbug’s jockstrap or maybe his thong, whatever that is.

      Isn’t this whole business with the cathedral going viral proselytizing?

      • > Isn’t this whole business with the cathedral going viral proselytizing?

        Big important buildings in the west built in recent times are built brutalist style, which makes a statement that the state is god and men are insignificant insects. That is proselytizing.

      • The Moldbug sandal strap reference was at poor attempt at irony. (I’m glad you’re reading my blog, but read yer Bible, IA) I’m sure Moldbug would cast me into the outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth, for grovelling like that. Hell, he probably already has.

        Of course, Brad Pitt is an official artist… what, has he come out in support of something truly hateful, like Traditional Hetero-Marriage… and no one told me? Mel Gibson, however, is not an official artist (anymore).

        Let’s not miss the forest for scrutinizing the admittedly interesting bark patterns on this particular tree.

  31. IA says:

    James, you let your spite and prejudice towards artists cloud your judgement and ability to comprehend the real world.

    I went to Graham’s website and saw his SanJose installation.

    You said it was based on an aztec pyramid. If you’d bothered to look at it more carefully or just read the description you would have noticed its not supposed to represent a building but the Plumed Serpent, the god Quetzalcoatl, in the form of a snake. The style is simply a careful rendering of Aztec stonework, I guess.

    While I can see it does have a resemblance to a pile of your favorite word, looking at his other work, especially Blessed Basil Moreau for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, I think its more likely in Graham’s case he made a mistake. Nobody bats 1000. I do not believe it was his intent to show any disrespect. Also, as I have pointed out to you before, a committee chose him. He’s actually quite concerned with a stylized representation of nature in is work. I would in no way call him a scatological artist, nor this piece either.

    • > You said it was based on an aztec pyramid. If you’d bothered to look at it more carefully or just read the description you would have noticed its not supposed to represent a building but the Plumed Serpent, the god Quetzalcoatl, in the form of a snake.

      I said nothing of the kind: I said it was a copy of this (much better) Aztec sculpture http://blogs.artinfo.com/lacmonfire/files/2012/04/Serpent.jpg There is a very similar even better one in the same style done in basalt, but I cannot find an image of that one.

      • IA says:

        I agree about the original looking better. My guess is there were enough lesbians on the committee to tweek the proposal. Or one was the chairman. Women began doing scatological art back in the 70s.

  32. IA says:

    Going over your comments, James, I see you did not call it based on a building. My apologies.

    That said, your emotional style and multiple points are distracting. I suspect Graham knew in advance when he submitted his proposal what the committee would like and he was right. He got the commission. I say this because his other work is quite different. At least they gave the work to a white man.

    • > because his other work is quite different.

      You give the example of his entirely inoffensive statue of the Blessed Basil Moreau.

      But that statue, like his dog turd statue, is a crude second rate copy of someone else’s work, in this case a crude copy of http://www.joekenneysculpture.com/moreau-2.html

      • IA says:

        I’m afraid I disagree on the Moreau. The kenney Moreau looks like syrupy goo. Like he’s greeting Oprah on her show. A nice white lady. If you painted it to look life-like you’d want to punch him. He has no spine, no erectness, no spiritual struggle. I think the painting of Moreau at kenney’s site on the same page with his sculpture portraits just blows them away.

      • The kenney Moreau looks like syrupy goo. Like he’s greeting Oprah on her show.

        the graham, while not terribly realistic, has a feeling of monumental power and authority.

        If he cannot do the softness of feathers, could he intentionally do power and authority?

        Moreau is saint who was syrup goo. And regardless of whether he should be portrayed that way, the kennedy Moreau requires vastly more work and vastly more technical skill than the graham Moreau.

        The graham Moreau looks extremely stiff. Now while perhaps that might be deliberate, in that stiffness arguably conveys power and authority, bad artists always sculpt people stiff, regardless of whether they intend to or not.

      • IA says:

        You are not looking, James. See Graham’s Venice torso. This guy can do whatever he wants.

        Try to describe what you are looking at first. Is the image idealized, stylized or realistic? Look at texture. Design. Color.

      • > See Graham’s Venice torso. This guy can do whatever he wants.

        His venice torso is dreadful. I am sure he did not intend it to wind up looking like that.

        Bad artists always sculpt and draw their subjects too stiff. Stiff women look ugly and bitchy, while stiff men can be plausibly claimed to look dignified. So to make her unstiff, bent her in an unnatural way. She bends like a sausage rather than like a woman. The bend does not go along the spine. Also her thighs are just too damned big,

        One of the reasons artists have trouble with people who are not stiff is that when someone bends, you are implicitly showing the internal anatomy – and the bad artist always gets it wrong. A bad artist also has trouble maintaining body symmetry when someone is standing asymmetrically, and, predictably, her buttocks are asymmetric, probably as an unintended result of her thunder thighs..

        If he can do whatever he wants, he could do feathers that looked feathery.

      • IA says:

        Who are the artists you like besides Kenney?

      • IA says:

        On the other hand, the graham, while not terribly realistic, has a feeling of monumental power and authority.

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