Tag Archives: Moldbug

Chronic Kinglessness

A while back, someone linked me to this interview with Tory MP Rory Stuart from 2014 (H/T: Peregrin). It was rather informative on what is wrong with modern politics (read it all).

“But in our situation we’re all powerless. I mean, we pretend we’re run by people. We’re not run by anybody. The secret of modern Britain is there is no power anywhere.” Some commentators, he says, think we’re run by an oligarchy. “But we’re not. I mean, nobody can see power in Britain. The politicians think journalists have power. The journalists know they don’t have any. Then they think the bankers have power. The bankers know they don’t have any. None of them have any power.”

And this from a man who only two years ago attended the Bilderberg conference, a highly exclusive and secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and businesspeople?

“Well there we are, you see,” he smiles. “I can tell you, there is nothing there. It’s like the wizard of Oz. This is the age of the wizard of Oz, you know. In the end you get behind the curtain and you finally meet the wizard and there’s this tiny, frightened figure. I think every prime minister has sort of said this since Blair. You get there and you pull the lever, and nothing happens.”

This is a perfect example of what Moldbug, referencing Carlyle, referred to as chronic kinglessness.

This is the secret of politics and modern society: nobody is in charge, no one has power, and nobody is running the show: not the people, not the corporations, not the politicians, not the bureaucrats, not the courts, not the military, not the journalists, not the bankers, not the white male patriarchs, not the SJW’s, not the Jews, not Davos, not the Bilderbergs, not the Tri-lateral Commission, not the Illuminati, and not the lizard-people.

Everybody likes to posit that some bogeyman composed of people they dislike is in charge and running, ruining, things behind the scenes because that is comforting. Even if a conspiracy is leading to disaster, at least we’re being led. Even if they are evil incarnate, at least they know what they’re doing and are leading society in a specific direction. It is comforting to know someone is in charge, even if we hate them.

But we’re not that lucky. There is no one who really knows what they’re doing and no one is in charge. Everybody has just a little bit of power, some have more some less, to accomplish tiny things, so nobody has any real power to accomplish anything. Our system is vieled anarchy.

Society’s moving the way it is not because anyone is willing it, but because society’s movement has taken on an inertia of its own, and continues moving along this inertial path whatever actual people may desire. It has almost become a will of its own, some have taken to calling it an egregore, but it’s not really mystical or mysterious. It moves because that’s the way it has moved, so people follow it along and continue to move it, so it moves.

We have the rule of law, but the law is unknown and unconstrained by man.

****

Don’t believe me, remember this picture:

The wife of the leader of the free world was so powerless, she had to make meaningless twitter activism to try to rescue for a few hundred kidnapped girls. The so-called Leader of the Free World, who ostensibly has the most powerful military in the history of the world under his command, couldn’t liberate a few hundred girls from a few hundred tribal savages, so she had to pray to the activism gods.

The king of any third-rate kingdom in history would laugh at the pitiable weakness of any other king who couldn’t even round up 100 aging men to rescue some maidens to make his queen smile. Yet, the Commander in Chief of the the million man army of the strongest empire in history failed to do this.

The girls were later saved by a hundred aging South African mercenaries. I’ll also note, that despite being able to do what the US President was powerless to, these mercenaries also expressed feelings of powerlessness.

****

Because everybody has some power, but nobody has real power, there is no responsibility. Back to the interview:

Whenever Stewart took one of these ideas, such as rule of law, to an actual Afghan village, it became meaningless. “None of the things that I’m looking for exist. There obviously isn’t police, or a judge, there isn’t a legal code, there isn’t a prison. There’s a bunch of guys with white beards sitting around, and their system of doing that might be quite different from the next-door village. So then how do you get from there to here? Well, it can be done, but it’s not going to be done by a foreigner who barely understands any of that.”

These bearded men have real power. It may be limited to a small village, but it is real in a way no modern in the West could understand. There is no legal power or police backing them up, but they still have control over their local village. Because they have real power, they also have real responsibility; even an outsider who knows nothing can tell exactly who’s in charge. The village knows exactly who to hold accountable if something goes wrong, and if leadership is bad enough, they know exactly who to shoot.

On the other hand, let’s examine our governance using Obamacare as an example. Obamacare was nightmare of inefficincies, failed deadlines, and rising health insurance prices. Despite being named after Obama, the blame gets heaped everywhere: Obama who championed the bill, Republicans who obstructed it and watered it down, the lobbyists and interns who actually wrote the bill, Justice Roberts who ruled a not-tax was a tax, the IT company that screwed the website, the bureaucracy implementing the plan, the insurance companies who didn’t act the way leftists wanted, or the people who elected those who put the whole thing into place.

Nobody got what they wanted out of this debacle, and everybody’s unhappy. Everybody was acting like they were powerless to get what they wanted and their opponents were using their overwhelming power to get their way. The only person who had even a hint of real power in this whole thing was Roberts who technically could have squashed it, but who felt he didn’t have the power to, so instead he made the cockamamie excuse that something that was specifically written as not being a tax was a tax.

Everybody has some power, but nobody has real power, so nobody nobody knows who to blame, beyond the other guy, and nobody can be held accountable, when things go wrong.

The reverse holds true as well, no responsibility means no authority. If no one is responsible for something, no one has legitimate authority over it, no one has power over it. Every villager in this village, knows who has authority. Nobody in the US has any clue who actually has authority.

****

Power flows from authority, authority flows from legitimacy.

At its essence, power is violence, real or implied. It is the ability to force others to do your will.

But, the violent capacities of one man are extremely limited, no one man could stop ten, let alone a hundred thousand, so the capacity for violence, real or implied, comes not from personal capacities, but from the ability to command others to carry out violence on your behalf. A man’s power is essentially: if he ordered it, how many man would commit violence on his behalf. The ability to carry out your will, particularly through the use of others, is authority. Authority is from here power flows.

Legitimacy is whether men accept your authority. Do men believe you have the right to command them and do they believe they have a duty to obey when you command? You can temporarily force people to obey without legitimacy through fear, but this illusionary authority lasts only until someone openly disobeys without consequence or someone responds with greater force.

****

So, who today has power?

The President can, with enough political maneveuring, command thousands of men into war, but that is limited. He couldn’t even command 100 men to #bringbackourgirls to please his wife. Should the President command a war, Justice Roberts could force the war to end, if he declared it unconstiutional. Theoretically, the Constitution states that Congress decides when men are sent to war, they could theoretically overrule the President, but they seem to not have been particularly effective in stopping the President in recent history. A general could theoretically disobey the president; he controls the men with guns. Come to that, the men with guns themselves could do whatever they desired, who could stop them?

So, in theory, nobody really controls when men are sent to war, yet, the men still march to war, and the wars end up wasteful and counter-productive. This century, our enemies always seem to end up controlling the countries the US invades, yet no one is ever held responsible.

You will notice the Constitution mentioned repeatedly above. Odd that a document, a set of words that could be destroyed by a single 10-cent match, controls so much. The Constitution has power because the constitution confers legitimacy. The legitimacy confers authority.

Yet, the legitimacy of the Constitution has been waning. When will the living document lose its power?

This basis of legitimacy is dedicated to preventing any one man from obtaining any real power. This was more or less functional when government was small and controlled, power rested outside the government, so there was little power for the Constitution to to distribute. It may have been uncontrolled, but it was a toddler swinging wildly. But as government has grown, so to has the dysfunctionality. More power rests with the government, but nobody has any real power over that power. The power of government swings around madly, like an enraged and blinded Hercules.

Also, odd, isn’t it, that the Constitution fails utterly to check the growth of government power, yet it strongly checks the power of any single man.

****

We are suffering chronic kinglessness. Everybody has some power, but nobody has real power. All the men we think are powerful, think themselves powerless. Instead of a directed, functional state, we a hyper-powerful super-state throwing its tremendous weight around blindly, destroying everything in its path. The Constitution, which limits any man from having real power, prevents any man from exercising real authority, yet at the same time it is helpless to limit government, so the behemoth fumbles around blindly leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.

The Neoreactionary Bargain

I’ve explained the theoretical core of neoreaction and made an introduction to neoreaction. But what it the ultimate goal of neoreaction?

Neoreaction was originally an intellectual exercise, a discussion of ideas. Because of this it had no real goal beyond theorizing. Since Hestia formalized and privatized neoreaction, it has gone beyond a discussion and become an enterprise, or perhaps a conspiracy (movement is far too demotist). An enterprise has and needs a goal, otherwise it is not an enterprise, just a social group.

Moldbug wrote a general idea of the final goal of neoreaction in his Open Letter, but that’s a lot of words. Social Matter published a practical list of what France should do, which can be generalized to an end goal for neoreaction.

The end goal of neoreaction is formalized, privatized government. The Open Letter and Letter to France outline the steps a country’s elites should take to do this.

But how is neoreaction to achieve this?

The current social order is slowly(?) collapsing. The money’s run out, inflation and cheap debt are reaching the limits of their ability to mask insolvency, the natives are growing increasingly restless, low-level guerilla war is rising, and our culture and cohesion are breaking down. What can not last forever, won’t. Eventually this social order will be replaced.

What will it be replaced by?

One option is a slow limping decline/dark age. Another is simple collapse and anarchy, possibly an on-going low-level civil war. Another possibility, particularly in Europe, is Islam. A fourth possibility is a leftist singularity. The most likely possibility is a right-wing surge of the native population and the violent expulsion of the elites and invaders.

You’ll notice that all of these are bloody. Neoreaction wants to avoid this. To do so, we are building an ideological and, eventually, structural basis for a leader* to arise and implement the neoreactionary agenda by making a bargain with the elites.

The neoreactionary bargain to the elites will essentially be this:

Your regime will fall. It can fall to the leftist chaos, Islamic invaders, or right-wing populists, but it will fall. Any of those three groups will happily and ruthlessly exterminate you and your families, probably after torture, reeducation, work camps, rape, and/or enslavement. The leader knows that violent revolutions of any type tends to end poorly for the country and he also would like to avoid death camps and mass executions if possible. So he will make a deal.

If you willingly divest power to the leader, he will restore orderly government. He will expel the Islamic invaders, halt the leftist singularity, and placate the right-wing populists. Current higher elites will be allowed to keep some of your wealth (and your lives) as long as you obey the new order; lower elites and officials hostile to the new order will be retired on a modest, livable stipend and not be further harassed as long as you remain private. Some of the most criminal of the elites will have to meet final justice but it will be served cleanly and measuredly, there will be no torture, no camps, and families will be spared and treated well.

You can give power to the leader, who will formalize and privatize government, or you can try your odds with chekists, Islamic militants, and right-wing death squads?

This is the neoreactionary bargain to the elites: surrender power to a leader to formalize government and be treated well, or be exterminated by one of the populist groups.

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Honestly, as one of the most prol of the neoreactionaries, the less charitable parts of me wouldn’t mind seeing our criminal elites meet right-wing death squads. I’d probably feel some primal satisfaction upon hearing of the fire-bombing of Yale and Harvard, the torching of the Federal Reserve with everyone in it, the decimation of Washington, and the staff of NYT and Gawker going for helicopter rides.

But Christian charity compels me towards mercy, so I hope they take the bargain.

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* I think it unlikely me, or anyone else currently in neoreaction, would be this leader. We’re mostly thinkers, writers, and policy wonks, not leaders of men. I know for sure I am not the leading type. Someone within our ranks might become worthy, but it is far more likely that a friendly elite from outside neoreaction and within the current power structure will use the framework we establish as the basis for claiming power.

Steve Klabnik and Alex Payne, Support of Terror and Mass Murder

The brown scare has come for Moldbug, he was banned from Strange Loop. Two of the ringleaders of this particular round of left-wing McCarthyism are Steve Klabnik and Alex Payne. Yarvin was banned for his political writing, so let’s look at the kind of political writing these two are involved with and judge them in a manner similar to the way they have judged Moldbug.

I had a tweet where Steve Klabnik wrote in support of looting that I was going to link to, but he’s since protected his Twitter account, so I’ll just state here that he’s come out in support of the use of looting as a form of political violence. But beyond advocating political violence, Steve Klabnik has written in support of Marxism and calls himself a communist.

For those who are unaware, communism is the single deadliest ideology in history. In all, about 150,000,000 people (estimates vary) have been murdered by communists in just the last century, far more than the mere 21,000,000 killed by nazis. Communists were responsible for the Holodomor (the genocide which killed about 4 million Ukranians), the Great Leap Forward (which killed about 20-30 million), the Cultural Revolution (which killed 1-3 million and persecuted 36 million), the Red Terror (which kill 1-2 million), the Great Purge (which killed about 1 million), and the Cambodian genocide (which killed 2 million, a quarter of the Cambodian population), just some of the mass killings they have enacted.

Steve proudly and openly supports an ideology who’s primary legacy is mass murder, political terrorism, and totalitarian government. Like most communists, Steve equivocates. He supports communism and calls himself a communist but says he disagrees with the dictatorship of the proletariat. A very useful and disingenuous motte & bailey communists like to hide behind when somehow, every communist regime implemented ever somehow leads to the same violence and repression. I’m sure Steve’s particular brand of communism will miraculously avoid the violence of every other attempt at communism.  If someone claimed to be a nazi, but said he wasn’t into the whole Jew-killing thing, would that be a sufficient defence to those who would excuse this?

Of course, we can see that given that Steve uses his very limited power to suppress those he disagrees with, such as Curtis Yarvin, it would not seem amiss to think that he would gladly use stronger methods of suppression had he the power, just like all the communists who preceded him.

This is whom Strange Loop believes should dictate the morality of tech conferences, a man who openly flies the same banner as the greatest mass murderers in history, who proudly believes in an ideology of violence, terror, totalitarianism, and genocide?

Alex Payne is on the advisory board of and has written for a magazine called the Jacobin. For those who don’t know, the Jacobins were the leaders of the French Revolution and the appropriately named Reign of Terror. The  French Revolution was a revolt that killed 100,000 people. Following the revolution, the Jacobins put a despotism in place and instituted the Reign of Terror which arrested 300,000 people and 27,000 people killed by the Jacobins, including women who were raped and tortured to death. About 40,000 people died in total. In addition, the Jacobins exhibited extreme bigotry and violence against Christians, murdering and exiling priests and destroying churches.

So, this is the moral leader to whom Strange Loop bows? Someone who proudly identifies himself with mass murderers and rapists. A man who aligns himself with the ideals of political terror, tyranny, and religious bigotry and suppression.

Given that he uses his minor influence to suppress those who don’t agree with his, it would seem Alex Payne’s ‘democratic socialism’ is only differing from the Jacobin terrors by degree, not kind. If he had more power, would he hesitate to use it as the Jacobins before him?

So, to Alex Miller and Strange Loop organizers, I am going to ask, are supporters of movements of mass murder, genocide, political terror, and bigotry really the kind of people you want dictating who can and can not speak at your conference?

Why are these supporters of violence accepted at tech conferences? Why are these who give support to terror and murder allowed to dictate who is allowed to speak about technology issues? So you want to give more power to those who support oppressive and violent ideologues when they have already shown they will use what little power they have to suppress people they don’t like?

So, Alex Miller and Strange Loop, take a stand against these violent ideologies and do not let their supporters use your conference as a tool to suppress those who disagree with their murderous ideologies.

Zippy on NRx

Zippy wrote:

There do appear to be a few at least partial dissenters, filling the role that good conservatives fill in all essentially modernist movements: adding respectability and preventing mistakes from being corrected.  But any movement that considers verbal games insinuating that Richard Dawkins is really a “non-theistic Christian” profound, as some kind of big “agree and amplify” of protestant heretics, is either a dead end or worse.

The claim that Dawkins is a “non-theistic Christian” is not a ‘verbal game’, but neither is it a claim that atheism is Christian in essence. It is cladistic in nature, modern, Western atheism is an evolution (in the neutral, non-progressive sense of the word) of Christianity and Christian culture.

Here’s (part of) the original writings on the topic:

So: Professor Dawkins is an atheist. But – as his writing makes plain – atheism is not the only theme in his personal kernel. Professor Dawkins believes in many other things. He labels the tradition to which he subscribes as Einsteinian religion. Since no one else has used this label, he is entitled to define Einsteinian religion – perhaps we can just call it Einsteinism – as whatever he wants. And he has.

My observation is that Einsteinism exhibits many synapomorphies with Christianity. For example, it appears that Professor Dawkins believes in the fair distribution of goods, the futility of violence, the universal brotherhood of man, and the reification of community. These might be labeled as the themes of Rawlsianism, pacifism, fraternism and communalism.

Following the first two links above will take you to UR discussions of these themes, in which I outline their evolutionary history in the Christian clade and make a case for their morbidity. I have not yet discussed fraternism and communalism, but I’ll say a little about them later. If nothing else, they are certainly very easy to find in the Bible.

If Professor Dawkins was not a Christian atheist, but rather a Confucian or Buddhist atheist, or even an Islamic atheist (some clades of Sufism come daringly close to this rara avis), we would not expect to see these obvious synapomorphies with Christianity. Instead, we would expect to see synapomorphies with Confucianism, Buddhism or Islam, and we would have to construct a historical explanation of how these faiths made it to Cambridge. Fortunately we are spared this onerous task.

Nontheistic Christianity, therefore, can describe any tradition in the Christian clade in which the ancestral God theme has been replaced by the derived theme of atheism or agnosticism.

This is no more surprising than the replacement of the ancestral Trinitarian theme, which was part of all significant Christian traditions for a thousand years, with the derived Unitarian theme. Every variant of Christianity, by definition, considers itself orthodox. And as such it must question the legitimacy of any other Christian tradition which contains conflicting themes. To a good Trinitarian circa 1807, a Unitarian was simply not a Christian. Today, while most Christian traditions still officially conform to Trinitarianism, few spend a huge amount of time worrying about the Holy Ghost. If more examples are needed, denying the divinity of Jesus is another obvious intermediate form between Christian theism and Christian atheism.

We can also ignore the fact that Professor Dawkins does not classify Einsteinism as a form of Christianity, and nor do any non-Einsteinian Christian traditions. Clearly, accepting a tradition’s classification of itself, or of its competitors, is foolish in the extreme. These minor thematic features are best explained adaptively.

For example, it would be maladaptive for Einsteinism to self-classify as Christian. One of the most adaptive features of M.42 is that nontheistic or secular Christianity can be propagated by American official institutions, which are constitutionally prohibited from endorsing its ancestor and competitor, M.41 or theistic Christianity. Considering as this set includes the most influential repeater network in the world, the US educational system, it’s hard to see what could justify abandoning such a replicative advantage.

It would also be maladaptive for theistic Christianity to classify nontheistic Christianity as Christian. M.41 deploys the unchristian nature of its enemy, the dreaded “secular humanism,” as a rallying point for its dwindling band of followers. If Einsteinian religion was Christian, M.41 would have to define its (increasingly ineffective) counterattack not as a defense of faith, but as a mere theological spat. Once this may have had some resonance, but in a world where God Himself is under fire, it’s hard to excite anyone over such sectarian minutiae.

Therefore, I conclude that claim 1 is satisfied: nontheistic Christianity is a sensible concept.

As for claim 2, I’ve already described some of the links between Einsteinism and Christianity. Let’s sharpen this claim, however, by proposing a hypothetical chain of events that outlines the exact historical connection.

My belief is that Professor Dawkins is not just a Christian atheist. He is a Protestant atheist. And he is not just a Protestant atheist. He is a Calvinist atheist. And he is not just a Calvinist atheist. He is an Anglo-Calvinist atheist. In other words, he can be also be described as a Puritan atheist, a Dissenter atheist, a Nonconformist atheist, an Evangelical atheist, etc, etc.

This cladistic taxonomy traces Professor Dawkins’ intellectual ancestry back about 400 years, to the era of the English Civil War. Except of course for the atheism theme, Professor Dawkins’ kernel is a remarkable match for the Ranter, Leveller, Digger, Quaker, Fifth Monarchist, or any of the more extreme English Dissenter traditions that flourished during the Cromwellian interregnum.

Elsewhere non-theistic Christianity is referred to as Crypto-Christian or ultracalvinist:

If you are not an ultracalvinist, you are probably some other kind of Christian, presumably one who still believes in God, the Bible as revelation, non-universal salvation, etc. Therefore you see ultracalvinism just as Catholics once saw Protestants, or Trinitarians saw Unitarians – as not Christians at all. So the result is the same. The ultracalvinist cloak of invisibility is only at risk from freethinking atheists, such as myself – a tiny and mostly irrelevant population.

We can see the argument is not that progressivism is Christian in essence. Rather, the argument is that progressivism is a non-theistic evolution of a particular sect of Christianity, puritanism, that has discarded the essence of Christianity but kept the accidents of it. (Although, it could be argued that universalism is the essence of puritanism, while Christianity was an accident of it).

Either way, accepting that ultracalvinism is an ideological adaptation of puritanism is not a verbal game and is definitely not “denying God”.

Zippy could argue that calling these heretical puritan progressives “non-theistic Christians” is mistaken. I personally think it captures nicely the self-contradicting nature of progressive thought, but theism is a part of the essence of Christianity, so I could buy the argument that calling post-Christian atheists ‘Christian’, even in the cladistic and cultural sense, is anti-essentialist and wrong.

But if that is the case, then instead of throwing around accusations of blasphemy, Zippy could have simply made the point that even if it is the cultural and intellectual descendent of Christianity calling a post-Christian ideology ‘Christian’ is wrong.

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Zippy also commented on the Mark Shea affair, remarking that Neoreaction was childish. I don’t know how much Zippy knows of the affair, so I’ll outline.

This whole thing started when Mark Shea slandered neoreactionaries on his blog. Some neoreactionaries tried to honestly engage him but he deleted their responses. I myself, pointed out a few Bible verses contradicting his position, which he deleted. While he deleted the rational and reasonable posts he purposely left up some of the worst ones (yes, neoreaction has crazies like every other grouping) to create an impression we were all insane haters.

So someone decided to illustrate his ignorance of neoreaction and his willingness to slander us by giving him an opportunity to show his own willingness to do so by sending him something incredibly and unbelievably absurd about neoreaction. Mark Shea then illustrated his willingness to slander by posting the absurdity.

Rather than apologizing for the slander and humbly admitting he was uninformed regarding neoreaction, Mark Shea used the incident to double-down on the slander.

What’s that saying, ‘you can’t con an honest man‘? If Shea had been willing to engage with intellectual honesty and hadn’t been looking for ways to slander neoreactionaries however he could, this would not have occurred. The letter was quite effective in making its point, that Mark Shea had no idea what he was talking about and was engaging in slander, and one can’t help but see the humour in it.

As for lying, would any honest, rational analysis lead to someone thinking that swearing upon Darwin and “inspect my phenotype” are anything but a joke. A practical joke is usually not considered a moral lie. Submitting something absurd for someone to publish to prove a point about their absurdity is usually not considered either childish or a lie.

Even so, almost every neoreactionary on Twitter not involved with crafting the letter almost immediately pointed out the absurdity of the letter on Twitter and numerous people pointed out on his blog that he had been punked.

Now, neoreaction does have its own in-jokes and memes and has adapted a fair bit from internet culture, some of which can be juvenile. But as CS Lewis wrote:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.