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.

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).


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?


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.

The Joos

September 9, 2013

Your humble blogger has come under a bit of fire for believing that the Puritans are the problem instead of the Joos.

The whole argument is rather silly, since it misunderstands the Puritan hypothesis – see here.

(If there’s any distinction between the beliefs of reformed Jews and unitarians, I certainly am not perceptive enough to detect them).

If I had to summarize the neoreactionary position on American history in one sentence, I’d go with: American history is the slow process of Massachusetts taking over its region, the nation, and the world.

This process is evident from at least the early 1800s (if not much sooner). So, the biggest problem with the Joo argument is that the timeline doesn’t work.

It’s also strange how many people are able to believe that under-performance by one group with an IQ that’s one standard deviation below the mean is entirely explained by genetics while simultaneously believing that over-performance by another group with an IQ that’s one standard deviation above the mean must be explained by some nefarious process.

Proof that libertarianism is racist

September 9, 2013

Many of us in the Dark Enlightenment are recovering libertarians. Radish has a great post on libertarianism’s race problem.

There’s one aspect of this topic that deserves a bit of extra analysis. It’s possible to logically prove that libertarianism is racist. Here’s my shot at it:

1) Any system which results in “disparate impact” across certain groups is racist.

2) Libertarianism is a system in which no government force will be used to ensure equality across groups.

3) Traits, such as intelligence, athletic ability, etc, vary across groups and the levels of certain traits are highly correlated with outcomes in a world absent government coercion.

4) Therefore libertarianism is racist.

I think point 1) is terrible definition of racism, but it’s the operative one in our society.

Conservatives would do well to recognize that the same chain of logic applies to them. They (and libertarians) would be even more wise to stop discussing racism as if it were defined in a way other than 1). A few decades ago, racism may have been about treating everyone equal, but that ship has long since sailed.

If you follow this logic correctly, you’ll see that all non-progressive systems of government are racist.

Review of “Nekkid in Austin” by Fred Reed

September 8, 2013

Fred Reed is an interesting guy. He doesn’t fit in any obvious ideological box, but he may be on the cusp of going viral if hillbilly intellectualism is on the rise.

This book is a collection of his writings, which have appeared everywhere from Harper’s to The American Conservative and several military publications along the way. It’s also the sort of book that is best reviewed by letting it speak for itself.

Themes in the book range from race realism to anti-feminism to military reporting to a celebration of what Bob Dylan (and John Derbyshire) has called the “old weird America.”

However, if the book is anything, it’s a chronicle of the decline of the US. I pretty sure the columns in the book were written while Reed was in the process of expatriating to Mexico. As he sums it up:

As Empires die, the barbarians usually gather at the gates, preparing a final rush. Unfortunately our savages are already inside. They are in the public schools, the universities, and downtown in the cities. They make our movies, set social policy from afar, instill appropriate values in our children. They do not know that they are savages. They now rule us, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Except watch. Vast disasters make splendid theater. This one is going to be a doozy. . . .

here is a circus worth the admission, a fabulous suicide, more astonishing than the implosion of the Soviet Union. We see a new kink in the historical rope: a dominant culture, the inventor of the modern world, once supreme militarily, in the sciences, commercially, boisterously confident even thirty-five years ago, suddenly and piously drinking hemlock.

Without further ado, here he is on America’s problems, politics, immigration, women, reporters, diversity, the military, race relations, and other random topics. Enjoy.

1) “Much of the unpleasantness of modern life occurs because we will say ‘No’ to almost nothing.”

2) “Is there anything the courts cannot make us do? I doubt it.” . . .

“The problem with being a nation of laws is that whoever controls the laws then controls the nation.”

3) “The news racket ought to be, and was, a trade of honest drunks. . . . Now reporters are New Age, prissy, and censorious. The men wear lingerie and the women don’t know what it is. You can just tell that if you left them in a fern bar, they would nest, talk about multiculturalism, and lay eggs.”

4) “Some call it sophistication but, if so, it’s the sophistication that comes of growing up in a whorehouse. We celebrate casual bastardy, elevate the sleazy and inadequate to high moral principle. We bathe in civilization’s bilges. I think a lot of us notice it.”

5) “Diversity means students who can barely read, don’t want to, and haven’t the foggiest idea what the purpose of a university might be. . . .

“Where I come from, diversity just means you have to lock your bicycle up. And stay in at night, and carry a gun, and watch your daughter and chickens. And I figure that if people loot stores, they just aren’t civilized, and don’t belong among decent folk, and ought to be in jail. . . . Like I say, I’m simple.”

6) “One marvels that a creed widely doubted in private, unsupported by evidence, and manifestly incorrect, can become compulsory in society, shape its policy, and arouse furious support. Radical egalitarianism is such a creed.”

7) “The military has fallen apart. . . . The problem is (1) feminization of military values, (2) recruitment of low-grade women with no commitment to the armed services, and (3) unwillingness to discipline them.”

8) “We have feminized the schools. Worse, the teachers don’t much like boys. . . .

“There is a totalitarian strain in the female psyche. It isn’t evil, at least not in intention. Quite the opposite—in intention.”

“The trick to civilization is channeling male horsepower into useful directions. . . . A man will not try to force girls to play football. A woman will try to force boys to stop playing it.”

9) “Always it is there: The twisted prissy Puritanism, obsessed by the fear of sex, yet determined to discover salaciousness everywhere.”

10) “We need to sit down and talk turkey about this immigration thing, like men, and not act like State Department types. I mean, we’re not transvestites.”

11) “We’re getting the folks who can’t make it in Mexico—the uneducated, the uncultivated, the ones that show signs of staying that way. . . .

“We’re in the middle of learning whether there is anything at all that cannot be inflicted on the American public—whether people with cable TV can rouse themselves to resist, well, anything.”

12) “People don’t care what kind of gummint they got. All’s they want is a four-by-four, two bedrooms that don’t leak too much, a job that doesn’t make them think, and 600 channels on the satellite. Maybe a Bug Zapper and a six-pack on the weekends.”

13) “The browns are more likely to join the whites than oppose them. They assuredly don’t like the blacks. . . . It doesn’t take much listening, or hanging out in Latino eateries, to realize that blacks and Latinos are more likely to be competitors, or even adversaries, than allies. The cultural gap is enormous, their approaches to life and society wildly different.”

14) “If you want to make sense of the Clintons, the best way is to understand them as the revenge of the Confederacy. Nothing else makes them plausible. . . . My guess is that a secret society, in Montgomery or maybe Chattanooga, figured that the South would never Rise Again, but if they could bring the North low enough, it would be the same thing.”

15) “The media will continue to fan the flames of racial discord.”

16) Why Asian women are attractive: “The Asians, without exception, are sleek, well-groomed, and dressed with an understated sexiness that never pushes trashy. . . . Further, the Asians are what were once called ‘ladies,’ a thought repellant to feminists but so very refreshing to men.”

On American women: “As best I can tell, they don’t like being women. Here is the entire problem in five words.”

17) “Perhaps the oddest idea regarding democracy is the belief that more than five people want it. Other curious notions are that it quite exists, or ever did, or is particularly desirable, or likely to endure. . . .

“We have the trappings of elections, the theater of close counts, the excitement of watching the polls–that is, the emotions associated with a tight football season. But what real influence do we have? Can we divert the remotely chosen path of our children’s education, alter or even speak against the flow of immigrants across our borders, question racial preferences? No. These things are decided for us. We can lose our jobs for speaking of them. The more things matter, the less we can say about them.”

18) “A stereotype is the aggregate observation of many people over time, which is why stereotypes are almost always accurate. . . . Stereotyping means recognizing the obvious. In an academic context, or in the public schools, it means noticing that the wrong groups are better at things. This we must never, ever do.”

19) “What if we are wrong? What if different kinds of people just plain don’t want to live together? What if federal bullying, stamping our feet, and holding our breath and turning blue won’t change things? . . .

“Note that most of the internal violence that afflicts nations occurs between ethnic, racial, and religious groups—not between rich and poor, between those who bowl and those who golf, or between the left-handed and the right-handed. . . . Different kinds of people don’t get along. Why do we not recognize this?”

20) “Today men are accountable for their behavior. Women are not. The lack of accountability, seldom clearly recognized, is the bedrock of much of today’s feminist misbehavior, influence, and politics.”

21) “Crime by the underclass is racial, predatory, and very much targeted against whites. The motive is hatred more often than economic gain. . . . The media carefully, systematically, by deliberate policy, hide these truths. . . . During the Cincinnati riots, I heard through police back-channels of blacks pulling white women from cars and beating them. I didn’t write about it. If I had quoted my sources, they would have been fired for talking. Without sources, I’d have been dismissed as engaging in racist fantasy.”

22) “Note that racial policy invariably assumes that blacks are helpless, shiftless, require hand-feeding, and cannot be expected to achieve. Our managers simply use them as a weapon for destroying society.”

23) “The genius of television is that, to shape a people as you want, you don’t need unrestrained governmental authority, nor do you need to tell people what you want of them. Indeed, if you told them what to do, they would be likely to refuse. . . . No. You merely have to show them, over and over, day after day, the behavior you wish to instill. Show them enough mothers of illegitimate children heartwarmingly portrayed. Endlessly broadcast storylines suggesting that excellence is elitist. Constantly air ghetto values and moiling back-alley mobs grunting and thrusting their faces at the camera—and slowly, unconsciously, people will come to accept and then imitate them. Patience is everything. . . . Few call this imperialism. It is, with a vengeance.”