Mandela, the W-force, and the progressive need for chaos

December 11, 2013

In the third part of his “Open Letter to an Open Minded Progressive” Mencius Moldbug concluded his explanation of “the W-force” and progressive’s need for chaos.

Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy are an excellent way to examine both of these phenomenon.

The progressive explanation of history doesn’t make sense.  For some reason, the political center continually, steadily, and predictably moves leftward.

(For my money, this is best explained in Moldbug’s series on Dawkins, in which Dawkins refers to the W-force as “the zeitgeist.”  You’ve really got to admire Dawkins for admitting that he needs this fudge factor.  On the other hand, you have to marvel at his obtuseness and generally lack of ability for self-criticism if he doesn’t think it’s funny that his explanation of the world which he’s describing in a book about how he’s not religious requires a mythical, inexplicable force that in his mind works constantly, and across time, for Good.  For some reason I feel like there’s a name for such a force . . .)

Progressive history can’t account for this result.  In brief, the W-force (W is for Whig) is a plug in the progressive historical equation that makes both sides balance.

Also in that third Open Letter post, Moldbug argued that the reactionary was both: 1) the polar opposite of the progressive; and 2) best defined as one who supports order.  The difficulty with this description of the reactionary is that it logically follows that the progressive supports disorder, which doesn’t exactly square with the typical progressives I’ve known, who are generally quite mild-mannered.  As he put it:

Rather, when you look at what progressives, Whigs, republicans, and other anti-reactionaries actually believe in – whether they are supporters of Obama, Lafayette, Herzen, or any other paladin of the people’s cause – it is rarely (although not never) the simple, nihilistic liquidation of the present order. It is always the construction of some new order, which is at least intended as an improvement on the present one.

However, in order to construct this new order, two things need to happen. One: the builders of the new order need to gain power. Two: they need to destroy the old order, which by its insistence on continuing to exist obstructs the birth of the new.

In the progressive mind, these indispensable tasks are not objectives. They are methods. They may even be conceived as unpleasant, if necessary, duties. . . .

 

So the progressive is, indeed, the polar opposite of the reactionary. Just as order and stability are essential to reaction, disorder and destruction are essential to progressivism. 

Enter Mandela.  (Moldbug’s thoughts are here, but need some fleshing out).

There are some things we must get out of the way.  We’re reactionaries, after all, so we won’t just brush aside inconvenient bits of history.

What if I told you that the world’s most revered political leader was an adherent of the 20th Century’s most murderous ideology?  What if I further told you that he founded and ran an organization that practiced what may well be the 21st Century’s most murderous political methodology?  What if I further told you that even the supposed opponents of these movements don’t think it really matters?  (Imagine the progressive saying that some revered leader was fascist, but he was just a little fascist, and really, given his circumstances . . .)

Mandela was a Communist and he was a terrorist.  Yet to believe that these things disqualify him from greatness is to exist so far outside the present day mainstream as to be politically irrelevant.

How many things like this can one have been at least partly responsible for without disqualification from greatness?  I would have said zero, but apparently I would have been way off.  A few more such incidents are listed here.  If you have a strong stomach, don’t miss the pictures!  There’s more if you follow the links here.

Yet, at his death, we see all the leaders of the international community present and praising him.  Indeed, the mainstream media are – in sometimes in cagey terms – not reluctant to praise South Africa in general, despite the genocide, rape and murder (follow the links).

If nothing else, you’ve got to have a pretty lame sense of humor not to laugh at the presence of all these world leaders in a country with a leader who thinks you can shower off the AIDS, is married to too many people to count, not-so-covertly supports genocide, occasionally gets a little rapey (maybe he’s not too rapey like Mandela wasn’t too much of a Communist), is openly corrupt, sues the press when they criticize him, hates the gays, wants to confiscate the children of teenage mothers(?!), thinks minority groups have “less rights,” and can’t think of anything bad to say about Mugabe.  See you fuckers in Sochi!

Yet all that said, in some ways, the reactionary is the only who can really appreciate why Mandela was actually good.  After all, we seem to be the only ones who *can* see the horror of progressive Africa.

When the international community decided that colonialism must end in Africa, they kicked off an orgy or murder, rape, and genocide.  This violence was generally directed at Africans (white and black) who were members in minority tribes.  The level of chaos is nearly impossible to overstate.  The results were fairly obvious, but they were continually repeated over the course of decades and the “international community” never did anything to try to slow the horror.

Is there a better demonstration of the progressive need for chaos?

In this light, Mandela was a remarkable leader.  Although it wasn’t possible to stop the bloodshed unleashed by the international community in South Africa, Mandela somehow managed to slow the process down by decades.  Whereas everywhere else in Africa, the genocide, murder, rape and general descent into third-worldism were immediate, in South Africa, they’ve been remarkably gradual. 

If that’s your bar what makes a good leader, let’s just say that your bar is set a lot lower than mine.

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Randoms

November 13, 2013

– A talk on exit. And some additional thoughts.

– Don’t miss Radish’s excellent graphic and analysis.

– Handle on Sunstein on Hiss. You can basically use Hiss’s Wikipedia page as a stand-alone argument that America is a Communist country.

– An interview with Jean Raspail.

– Fred Reed on school. And again.

Mangan:

Writers who call for a return to Christianity always seem to mean some sort of specific, minor, and eccentric form of the religion that very few people actually adhere to. I’d say that the above writer is actually in the mainstream, and organized Christianity is actively promoting the downfall of the West.

– Healthcare and the Deep State. Related thoughts from Handle.

– The Daily Caller on neoreaction (HT. Bryce Laliberteon formalism. And neoreaction in a sentence.

The Making of the Professoriate.

IQ by state. Nations of North America. Smart fraction by country. Income segregation in the US.

– Has China been exporting its underclass?

Politics and HBD.

– If nothing else, this stuff will be fun to watch. “He was apparently new to the decadent world of lesbian reproduction.”

– Dalrymple discovers anarcho-tyranny.


Randoms

October 26, 2013

– Gavin McInnes has some excellent thoughts on feminism here. It does strike me that demeaning motherhood is just about the most anti-feminist thing one could possible do.

Also, I always find it strange that these articles about whether or not feminism has been good for women focus on women with jobs in the top 1-5%. If the picture isn’t absurdly clear for these women, it should absurdly clear that the rest of the women are getting screwed. Put another way, if your job as a high-powered executive or official isn’t obviously better than taking care of your kids, it should be super fucking clear that working as a cashier or an editor or a mortgage broker isn’t better.

Some interesting and related thoughts here and here.

– On romantic love.

– On old books.

– Derb and Alfred Clark on the ghettoization of American culture (and religion).

Handle: “In the future, the Democrats will give us Jim Crow with a Progressive Face.” (HT)

– Without having read the full article, this statement strikes me as significant and totally correct: “What Do America’s College Students Want? They Want to Be Oppressed.”

– In totally unrelated news, World War T plods onwards.

– From a book review that may be of interest:

But however dark the view of human nature that inspired this mission, I fear it’s not dark enough. If Greene thinks that getting people to couch their moral arguments in a highly reasonable language will make them highly reasonable, I think he’s underestimating the cleverness and ruthlessness with which our inner animals pursue natural selection’s agenda.

– I don’t know whether you’re born gay or made that way, but I’m pretty that, at the extreme, it’s possible to be made that way.

Scharlach: “Democracy is rule by idiots who vote for things that sound good to them at the time.”

– Remember a while ago when everybody was mocking British “austerity?” Yeah, me neither.


Topics of interest

October 26, 2013

Both Nydwracu and Nick Land provide a list of questions for the Dark Enlightenment to focus on.

I thought it might helpful to briefly discuss some of the items on their lists.

1) “America is a communist country” (AIACC)

Nydwracu is right that the key here is focusing on the connection between American and Russian believers in the same system. However, I’m skeptical that there’s really much more ground to be made on the question of whether or not AIACC.

Arnold Kling recently wrote:

Those of you who are under 55 may have a hard time appreciating how central the issues of socialism, Communism, and anti-Communism were in the middle of the twentieth century. In fact, if you don’t understand the role that the socialist ideal played in American intellectual life from 1930 until at least 1960, you cannot fully understand that period.

Oddly, my experience is the other way around. It’s generally those under 55 (or 35 for that matter) who seem to be more open to the idea that Communism was a hugely influential force in the US in the first half of the 20th Century – and, therefore, still is.

To argue that America at that time was not a Communist country would require you to argue that despite huge sections of the media, the bureaucracy and the academic establishment being made up of identified Communists, somehow these people in positions of power didn’t exercise that power in accordance with their beliefs.

As I previously wrote:

A nice way to illustrate the fact that the Communists controlled these organizations is to look at the career of any known Communist agent. Let’s take one of the best known, Alger Hiss. Hiss’s career (including after he was accused of being a spy and after being in jail) included stints at: the State Department, the United Nations, clerking for Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Justice Department, some Senate Committees, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and – naturally – Harvard Law.

If you don’t know what I mean by the term Cathedral, it’s basically that list. Really, the only way it could be better is if he’d worked at the New York Times.

2) The connection between the US and Moscow

I’ve covered similar ground in the War. For example, Harry Hopkins stood in for FDR at meetings with Churchill – if there could be a more obvious interaction between American communists and Russian ones, I would be surprised. FDR’s war aims were either brilliantly crafted to empower Russia or absolutely retarded. Evidence that Soviet spies were well-placed in government were completely ignored, etc.

I think Kling unintentionally highlights the area that needs additional analysis. He titles his post “they changed their minds.” Kling implies that they changed their views when they repudiated the communist label

I’m not sure that’s true. They broke with the Soviets, but many never changed their basic worldview or any of the specific policy positions (other than ceasing to oppose blindly supporting Russia).

3) What happened in the ’60s?

This is a great question. I’ve written a few book reviews on the topic, but it’s still totally baffling to me – as is the fact that many of the craziest people at the time are in positions of power now, and everybody thinks that’s totally cool.

4) What does the ‘neo-’ in ‘neoreaction’ signify?

The neo prefix signifies that the original reaction was utterly destroyed and it’s original positions (however admirable they were and still would be) have absolutely no chance of being resurrected.

In Democracy, the God that Failed, Hoppe described the First World War as a war to destroy the existing monarchical societies of Europe (the proponents of which were reactionaries). Their ideals of the restoration of traditional monarchies, the dis-aggregation of many European “nations”, religious institutions that function as bulwarks to (instead of components of) progressivism, and a general return to old-fashioned hierarchy aren’t coming back. What this new movement seeks to (re)create is some sort of modern approximation of those ideals – hence the need for some prefix.

(I also think that many consider “reactionary” to be an explicitly religious label, whereas the neoreaction is explicitly not religious (not anti-religious, just not explicitly religious). I think that is the essence of this discussion).


An anti-reaction FAQ

October 22, 2013

I’ve previously defend Scott Alexander’s missives on reaction. However, his latest isn’t up to the level of his old stuff.

The crux of his argument is that, “It is a staple of Reactionary thought that everything is getting gradually worse.” He then goes on to show that not everything is getting worse.

In his previous writings on reaction, Mr Alexander has faithfully described the view of most reactionaries. The problem with his latest piece is that he doesn’t. It is not a staple of reactionary thought that everything is getting worse. To the contrary, I’ve never read that argument from any reactionary anywhere.

(As I’ve previously written I think most of us work in fields where advancement is quite obvious. Our frustration is that while we see progress in some areas virtually every day, nothing outside of these limited areas seems to be getting any better. Instead it all seems to be decaying – a process which itself is hardly a historical novelty).

Let’s correct his statement: It is a staple of Reactionary thought that massive improvements in technology have been very effective in masking massive declines in virtually all other aspects of society.

His first example is crime, and it’s a great one to illustrate my point.

Go look at his charts on crime. What you’ll generally see is a massive decline in crime (in civilized countries) that lasts for centuries and then reverses around 1950, increases for 50 years and then resumes decreasing in the 1990s or 2000s.

The non-Reactionary view of this is: “look how much better things have gotten in the last two decades,” or “our murder rate is now lower than it’s been since the 1950s.”

The Reactionary view is: “what the fsck was happening in ’50s,” or “is comparing homicide rates across these time periods really comparing apples to apples?”

Let’s say homicides were at their lowest sometime between 1920 and 1950. Quite a few things happened between now and then that should make homicides much lower. These factors include advances in medicine, advances in surveillance equipment, more people behind bars, advances in personal safety products, etc.

To compare the ’20s and the ’90s as if everything else was equal is a bit like comparing architecture pre and post the invention of concrete or steel and conclude by marveling at how superior the post era buildings are to the pre era buildings. The only thing you’ve revealed is your own bias.

The real thing to marvel at is not that we’ve somehow equalled the crime rate of the ’30s, but that with huge advances in technology and medicine we still can’t improve on the homicide rates that our grandparents achieved.

Other examples abound. What would previous generations of statesmen have done with the internet, modern communication technology, etc.? What have we done? Is there any reasonable argument that the governing process has improved at all in the last century? Is there any reasonable argument that the “statesmen” of today are superior to those of previous generations?

Certain technological advances make debts much easier to collect, track, and extend. Can that really be the only source of growth in economies? For how long?

The key insight is that things have improved in a lot of areas. These improvements are so massive that it’s really quite shocking that they haven’t spilled over into other areas (again, it’s just shocking that advances in medical technology haven’t by themselves massively lowered the homicide rate, or – as I suspect – if they have, it’s really shocking that today’s rate isn’t much lower than the rate from any previous era). In other words, given the technological advancements of the last 50 or 60 years, a lot of things should be a lot better. Why aren’t they? The only answer seems to be that a lot of other things have gotten much worse?

Far from arguing that everything is getting worse, the real question is how much longer advances in technology can mask declines in virtually all other areas of life?


The government “shutdown”

October 21, 2013

Now that it’s over (whatever “it” is), I guess I should say something about the government shutdown.

We should begin by establishing what the heck actually happened. The government employs roughly 4.5 million people.

(This figure has been broken down in lots of different ways, but I’ve never seen any argument against using the total number).

The shutdown began by sending 800,000 of them home, but after a few days, about 400,000 came back to work. A breakdown of those furloughed is here (note the number of furloughed employees looks huge here because huge parts of the government aren’t shown at all).

So, about 400,000 out of 4.5 million people didn’t come to work for a couple weeks. Let’s say that the “shutdown” of government means that about 9% of its workforce doesn’t come to work.

We’re coming out of a recession in which lots of business (that are still going concerns) laid-off a much larger fraction of their workforce. We never considered those places “shutdown.”

It’s also worth pointing out that these employees in many cases kept working, may get paid twice (indeed, even the Outer Party was eager to have it known that it wanted to pay employees to not work), and got paid to do a lot of fun stuff.

We’re left to conclude that nothing was really “shutdown” and no one really has much to complain about.

Besides the freak-out over the “shutdown,” I was also struck by the freak-out about the idea that government “isn’t supposed to work this way.” I find that surprising because – if the shutdown was an honest disagreement as opposed to political theater – it strikes me that if powers are really separated, the shutdown is exactly how government is supposed to work.

If power is really separated, everyone should be grasping eagerly for it. If it’s all a show, we should see one party constantly agreeing to the demands of the other (so much for separation of power – hey, it was a good idea in theory). It seems like we see the latter.

Yawn.


Randoms

October 21, 2013

My apologies for the lack of content lately. Hopefully you’ll pardon an extra long list of stuff worth reading.

Professor Mansfield on Machiavelli is worth your time. So is John Gray on Leopardi.

– 21st Century Progressivism in one sentence: “One bright, ambitious young philosopher I met at a party says it doesn’t matter if there was a warm consensual romantic relationship. He said the problem of sexual harassment is so rife in philosophy that it is good for someone to be strung up and example to be made.”

– There was some great stuff at More Right while I was away, particularly: Total Reaction, the neoreactionary glossary, and some empirical claims of neoreaction.

Fiat everything

– The thought police go after the comments at YouTube and Scientific American. Gavin McInnes sums up how this feels to me:

Without exception, the outrage was related to Tweets [perhaps the only thing more vapid than comments]. That’s right. Twitter. The place in cyberland where adolescents tell their 13 followers how tired they are and say, “Fuck you faggot” to their friend who refuses to root for Green Bay. You know you’re desperate to find a villain when you have to mine the flippant comments of 500 million users to locate examples. Wow, a teenager named Dallas thinks Indians are Arabs. Oh no, a fat kid named Colton thinks the Miss America contestant did “Egypt dancing.” You know what else teenagers say? “This apartment isn’t zombie-proof.”

America is a communist country. More here. Just for fun, who were the top American communists and was McCarthy right?

– I’m not sure I’m convinced by this argument, but it’s interesting: “The Rationalist Conspiracy suggests, however, that a new elite caste is emerging, in opposition to the rule of the Brahmins: Namely, the Silicon Valley elite are starting to engage in politics, and are forming their own prestige ladders and policy view.”

– Nick B. Steves on Bruce Charlton:

In case it was in doubt over these past couple years, Bruce Charlton is officially un-officially Mormon. (Explicit admission here.) Just as there never was such a thing as Mere, i.e., abstract, Christianity, Charlton is living proof that there is no such thing as Mere Traditionalism, no matter how hard and eloquently one wishes for it. Bruce Charlton, one of the original Orthosphere Players, has declared his loyalties to lie well outside the “Ortho-” part of the Christian religion.

I bear no animosity towards Mormons. Their religion is patently successful in the adaptive sense. (Perhaps even moreso during their “polygamy” phase.) But it is laughably outside the faith as promulgated in the first 1000 years of Christian history. . . .

The biggest irony to me is that Bruce Charlton, who consistently argues, contra Moldbug and the “Secular Right”, that the decay into leftism far predates the Protestant Reformation, that the truest and best expression of Christian society lies in Byzantium and the Eastern Orthodox faith, would fall for an evangelical über-low-church Protestant heresy invented from a whole cloth not 200 years ago.

More good stuff here:

But just because the Church cannot fail to live up to Her original founding principles by promoting no particular political constitution; She certainly can fail to do so by promoting an evil or disordered one. And it certainly looks that way today; what with her popes and bishops gleefully, even if rather awkwardly, tap-dancing in obeisance to the multi-culti, open-borders, Progressivist Zeitgeist. . . .

Progressivism is a memetic virus that evolved out of Protestant Christianity. No institution is immune from it. But clearly some identifiable pockets of resistance exist, and most of these lie within the visible confines of the Church (however plausibly defined). I have long believed that orthodox Christianity’s memetic nearness to Progressivism is a source of strength and resistance to it. At any rate, if there is hope at ridding the world of Progressivism, or hope that humanity will survive its inevitable self-immolation, it seems clear that unaffected (or reclaimed) Christians will be around to play a role in that future, somewhat saner, world.

Yet more here.

Taleb: “Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to love.”

– Forney reviews “What is Neoreaction?”

– The civil war never ended.

– A map of Human Accomplishment. I really can’t get over how politically incorrect maps are.

– In case you missed it, alfin is back.

– A sort of book review from Spandrell.

– From feminist-speak to english.

– George Will is shocked to find politics at a powerful governmental organization – this is what passes for Conservative thought these days.

Diversity in Syria and Theden on the Rose Revolution.

– Vice continues it’s Conquestian-progression from actually-interesting organization to mouthpiece-of-the-Cathedral with this piece on “segregation” of the Greek system at the University of Alabama. Meanwhile, every college in the country has black-only fraternities and sororities. I hope no one at Vice was injured in the filming of this piece of hard hitting journalism.

– Wait, I thought there was a Constitutional amendment that prohibited people from eternally selling their labor?

– Legionnaire on the natural aristocracy.