Why now?

September 29, 2013

Nick Land is looking for feedback on a series of questions about the Dark Enlightenment here.

I’d like to take a stab at the “why now” question.

One of the key realizations of the Dark Enlightenment is that progressivism has been beating its opponents for centuries. This concept is difficult to grasp because 1) none of us have lived through centuries and 2) since progressives always win, they always get to write the history.

One of the necessary conditions for a Dark-Enlightenment-style movement was something like this or this.

Every neoreactionary I’ve met seems to have 1) at some point discovered the old books on mises.org and 2) studied science or engineering. Make of that what you will.

I recently listened to this set of lectures. Many of the people cited in the lectures qualify as reactionaries (in the archives I’ve reviewed many of their books). The history of conservatism seems to be: 1) develop of a set of ideas; 2) have your ideas crushed; and 3) develop a new set of ideas and apologize for the first set. Repeat forever.

At some point, once this information was all readily available for nothing, someone was bound to piece this all together – assuming such a person could consume a huge amount of information and synthesize it into something meaningful.

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Breaking: Economists discover the law of supply and demand

September 29, 2013

See here and here.

I wonder if the “blockbuster” paper cited Pat Buchanan.


Bruce Charlton, neo-reaction and the Pope

September 29, 2013

Here’s Charlton:

From the perspective of the religious Right, the neo-reactionary Right is “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good” – to quote TS Eliot – and the religious Right believe that this is a deadly delusion.

I don’t really follow his line of reasoning. Certainly no one on the neo-reactionary Right dreams of any such thing. If I had to describe the “dream” in a sentence or two, I’d say: The neo-reactionary Right approaches governance as though it’s an engineering problem. The goal is to get the best possible outcome from the resources at hand. If you think this is idealism, you should at least offer a word to replace the current word “idealism.”

Here’s Charlton describing the dream of the religious Right:

Thus the ‘strategy’ is to try and evoke a wholesale repentance and mass conversion – a religious Great Awakening.

Only if or when this has happened will systems and ideology, flow diagrams and propaganda, become relevant.

This was a cool theory . . . until it happened and we got . . . more Leftism.

This is a particularly odd thing to highlight at a time when the Pope is flaunting his Puritanism – much to the chagrin of many of my favorite religious bloggers (Dreher has been trying to argue that the Pope’s comments aren’t that bad, but he’s protesting too much, if you ask me).

The only solution to too much protestantism is more protestantism! Now, perhaps you could argue that the Pope isn’t religious in the right way, but if you’ve lost the Pope . . .


In which someone actually manages to disgust me

September 29, 2013

Arnold Kling recently wrote one of the most disturbing posts I can ever remember reading. You should read the whole thing once or twice. I’ll excerpt (lots of) relevant bits in case you don’t:

Tyler pictures an economy evolving over the next twenty years to one with a slice of high earners (the 20 percent or so whose skills complement the ever-expanding power of computers) and then a large group that lives comfortably but without a financial cushion to protect against adverse shocks to health or other major risks.

This is a nice (modern) way of saying that 80 percent of the population will be poor.

(My anecdotal evidence (which is substantial, since I live about half a mile from some Section 8 housing) is that poor people consume a lot. Most of them drive nicer cars than me, have more channels on their TVs than I do, wear more expensive clothing/electronics/jewelry than I do, and enjoy a considerably larger amount of leisure time I do.)

A recurring topic of discussion around these parts of the interwebz is the idea that society is getting so advanced that lots of people have: 1) no need to actually work to maintain a high standard of living; and 2) don’t have the intellectual ability to do anything of value in such an economy anyway.

On one hand, this vision is incredibly optimistic – we’re so rich that large swaths of the population don’t need to work to maintain first world living standards.

On the other hand, this vision is darkly pessimistic – we really have no idea what to do with people that aren’t working. Humans don’t seem to be made for not working, even if they’re being provided for (passive voice intentional). The results from early experiments, e.g. modern Detroit, are chilling even to the most pessimistic. Moldbug has referred to this problem as the Dire Problem (among others).

The Detroit solution still has its defenders, but we can always count on apologists for mainstream theories to apologize for them, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. (Indeed, their best defenses don’t appear to be very serious).

(One reasonable idea would seem to be to stop importing more of the bottom 80%, but I guess the next paragraph explains why that won’t happen . . .)

Back to Kling:

Matt Yglesias wonders how, in a world that requires technical skill and social skills, those of us in the room [i.e. Court or Official Intellectuals] have survived. It seems that most work for think tanks, newspapers, and other non-profits. Tyler replies that our presence in the room is indicative of marketing skills. Each of us has proven adept at marketing, with wealthy donors as our consumers in most cases. Steve Teles points out that as society’s rich accumulate wealth beyond what they can consume, their philanthropic ideas will, for better or worse, allocate society’s resources. Afterward, it occurs to me that this suggests that there will emerge a toady class, meaning people whose work in one way or another flatters the wealthy.

I’m not sure any Neoreactionary (or Walter Lippmann) ever put it better. Nevertheless, if you make your living by manufacturing consent for the elite, aren’t you supposed to at least pretend that you’re doing something else? There’s something incredibly chilling about someone admitting that they make their living by shilling for the establishment.

What most concerns the discussants, including McArdle, William Galston, Jonathan Rauch, and Brink Lindsey, are the social implications of losing the middle class. (Hanson comments on this focus.) [ed: not that this stops them from importing more competition for them] Tyler insists that societies will not fracture, nor will redistributionist demagogues take power. Factors favoring stability include aging, surveillance technology, the skill of the rich at controlling the political environment, nativism, NIMBYism, and the basic comfort achieved by the lower class. He points out that Britain and Germany are farther along than the U.S. in the growth of the new lower class, and their societies appear to be stable–Merkel just won re-election by a wide margin.

Tyler says that in the long run mood-altering drugs may be a solution.

In other words . . . are you ready for it? . . . these Court Intellectuals are generally comfortable with destroying the middle class (or at least intend to justify it on behalf of their patrons) because: 1) those that get screwed will still live[] comfortably; 2) hey, that’s how these guys get paid; 3) they’re pretty sure the guys getting screwed will just keep taking it; and 4) if not, everyone can always be drugged.

It’s difficult to offend or disgust me, but these views might just have achieved that result. I always wondered what this felt like . . .

Update: See #5 here. It appears we can add: 5) even though Americans are getting screwed, they’re pretty sure it’s probably helping some other people somewhere else (even though it’s not at all clear why physically locating certain people in the US causes people in other parts of the world to increase their entrepreneurial zeal and love of democracy).


Randoms

September 16, 2013

Nick Land:

Could it imaginably be said more clearly? Liberty is legitimate if, and only if, it serves to promote the consolidation of the Cathedral (through chaotic multicultural criminality), which is then retrospectively interpreted as the intrinsic telos of freedom. Whatever does not subordinate itself to this agenda is to have its brains eaten, and be systematically recycled into progressive zombie flesh. This is a project for libertarian hipsters and Leviathan apparatchiks to undertake hand-in-hand — fusionally. The new age of the cannibal is come.

Neoreactionaries are libertarians mugged by reality (to adapt a pre-coined phrase). . . .

If it wasn’t for Hoppe, it would perhaps be understandable if the shuddering neoreactionary (N) were to suspect that libertarian thought (L0) tends — slowly but inevitably — to compost down towards this liberaltarian (L1) ‘walker’, in which all the degenerative forces of conformism and revolt have been compacted, as if by some ideological parody of providence. Is not our liberaltarian zombie the still-recognizable avatar of the old liberalism, resurrected hideously as the animated putrescence of the new?

My favorite question to ask fellow reactionaries is how they got to neoreaction. What steps did they take in their ideological journey? My last stop was on the Old Right, but I got there from libertarianism.

Forney reviews Burnham.

Life in a communist country. Or here.

Anarcho-papist: “I think pseudonymity comes at the expense of credibility.” (I guess this could be filed under life in a communist country too.)

That’s interesting, because I automatically don’t trust anyone writing under their real name. With few exceptions, they have to lie.

– Business Insider tries to explain the Red Pill. Hilarity ensues.

– Loper OS on the spying “scandals”.

Yeah, but Russia.

– I’m choking on how gay this post is, but it’s worth a read, since he’s essentially complaining about how modern propaganda isn’t propaganda-y enough on all relevant dimensions.

– Speaking of propaganda, it appears Russia is getting ready to ban all movies made in Hollywood.


Shot across the bow

September 16, 2013

Handle sounds the call to arms for the communism debate in response to Moldbug’s latest.

(The thoughts herein owe something to a conversation with Loper-OS at the last DC meetup. If he’s reading this, he should really speak up.)

In this post, I’m not going to argue that Moldbug is right, but I will try to show that TGGP is wrong.

TGGP says:

There’s an expression: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck”. Stalin’s Russia & Mao’s China look like each other in many important respects. Such as mass murder, rather than discrimination lawsuits. The United States doesn’t.

If we follow the logic of this definition, the post-Stalin USSR and the post-Mao China aren’t communist anymore. That’s an absurd result, and so the argument is absurd.

If Breshnev doesn’t fit in your definition of “communist,” your definition may be a wee bit too narrow.

TGGP’s view of communism is a caricature of the system of government that emerged in late-stage USSR. As Loper said, it’s akin to believing that the US is still governed by an assembly of dudes in Philadelphia wearing tri-cornered hats. In addition, this sort of fact would be impossible if his view was correct.

Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China may look very different from the modern US. However, if you focus on Gorbachev’s Russia and Deng’s China (or modern China) it’s impossible not to notice that the picture is getting pretty blurry.

I’ve been to China (more than once) and you certainly seem to be able to discuss some ideas more freely there than you can here, for example.

TGGP’s view, followed to its logically conclusion, then requires us to reach the conclusion that self-identified communist countries were not in fact communist. To the extent that they were ever Communist, they seem to have oscillated back and forth between periods of communism and non-communism (whatever this is called in his nomenclature). The definition is so narrow as to become meaningless, and we’d have to come up with a new word to replace the perfectly good one we’ve already got to described the ideas that it already describes. Why would we do that – we not progressives after all?


Randoms

September 9, 2013

– It’s not that often that I get to link to a style blog.

What is neoreaction?

– Heartiste on the Cathedral.

– The Legionnaire: “The Manosphere is a starting point, nothing more. This is a truth that more men need to realize.”

– AnomalyUK has a couple posts on Victorian progressivism.

– Yglesias hearts white people.

Diversity is strength.

– Charlton on arguing with progressives.

– There’s no way I’m not linking to a post with this title.