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.)