Sunday, June 29, 2008 27 Comments


Gasoline, in you we cuffed Prometheus,
Had him juiced, filtered and fermented,
The finest vintage of pourable arson,
Knocking us over with a lead bouquet,

Gasoline! Sturdy molecule, you have
Many uses: poured on pond or stream, death
To insects and their young; in a jar,
Perfect for cleaning old bicycle chains.

Gasoline, every time someone in Africa
Is dipped in you and leaps into flame,
I must be frank: I care for you less.
Thankfully, the feeling is transient.

Gasoline, I see you are in contango.
The future, however, is full of events.
It takes two to dance on the dollar;
All covenants are closed by a bullet.

Gasoline? Are you listening? No,
Burning like acid wire in our arteries.
Burn, gasoline. The day you hiss and go out
Is the month we murder each other for months.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 96 Comments

OLXI: the truth about left and right

Dear open-minded progressive, perhaps you were horrified by OLX.

I mean, I did propose the liquidation of democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law, and the transfer of absolute power to a mysterious figure known only as the Receiver, who in the process of converting Washington into a heavily-armed, ultra-profitable corporation will abolish the press, smash the universities, sell the public schools, and transfer "decivilized populations" to "secure relocation facilities" where they will be assigned to "mandatory apprenticeships." If this doesn't horrify you, I'm not sure what would.

And do I even mean it seriously? Or am I just ripping off Daniel Defoe? Dear open-minded progressive, perhaps you have come to realize that your narrator is not always a reliable one. He has played tricks on you in the past. He will probably do it again. The game is deep, and not for the unwatchful.

The first thing to remember is that by even reading these horrible, horrible things, you have demonstrated exactly how open your mind is. You are in the 99.99th percentile of open-minded progressives. You are certainly one of the most open-minded people in the world. Your only conceivable worry is that your mind is so open that your brain has fallen out. Obviously this is a real danger. But life is dangerous.

The second thing to remember is that no one else endorses this plan. Or even anything close. In the political world of 2008, restorationism is completely off the map. It is off the table. It is outside the room. It is outside the building. It is running stark naked and crazy through the woods. In a word, it is pure moldbuggery.

And because at present we do live in a democracy, this means it is not dangerous. At least not at present. It could become dangerous, of course - perhaps if UR was as popular as Stuff White People Like. Which it ain't, and which it won't be. But what better reason to keep an eye on it?

The third thing to remember is that the whole plan of restoration through national bankruptcy is predicated on the assumption that the bankruptcy administrator - the nefarious Receiver - is responsible, effective, and not least sane. Clearly, if he or she turns out to be Hitler or Stalin, we have just recreated Nazism or Stalinism. Even if you agree with me that Washington is the malignant tumor of the ages, morally, intellectually and financially bankrupt, dead in the water and drifting toward Niagara, you can't cure cancer with cyanide and LSD.

And the fourth thing to remember, dear open-minded progressive, is that if perhaps you can be convinced that some things you used to think were good are actually evil, you can be convinced that some things you used to think were evil are actually good. After all, you do have an open mind. No sensible mind is very open on this side of the skull, though, and for good reason. If there is a crack, it is a narrow one. What hopes to fit it must fit a postcard.

So let's swing straight at the ball: the problem of political alignment. Should you be leftist, a rightist, or a centrist? Perhaps we can answer the question from first principles.

Suppose a great wind whips us into space, and sets us down on an Earthlike planet, Urplat, which is completely foreign to us. We quickly discover that Urplat has a democratic political system just like ours. Moreover, Urplat's political thinkers are always squabbling, just like ours. And even better, an Urplatian position in this longstanding conflict can be described usefully by a single linear dimension, just like our "left" and "right."

However, the political axis of Urplat is transformed in some unknown way from ours. Its poles are not left and right, but M and Q. You have no way of knowing how M and Q might map to Earth terms. MQ could be left-right, or right-left, or some other weird thing.

What you know is that M and Q are contradictory principles. Each is some fundamental understanding of human society which indisputably contradicts the other. Of course, it is possible for any person to maintain some combination of M beliefs and Q beliefs - most simply, by using the M-principle to understand one issue and the Q-principle for another. This creates the weird phenomenon of a continuous dimension between M and Q, when the question obviously has a fundamentally boolean quality.

Furthermore, M and Q can be easily misapplied. And either can be combined with any sort of venal or sadistic nastiness. Thus, evaluating the actions of individuals who claim to follow the M or Q principles is not a straightforward way to evaluate the choice between M and Q.

We know there is a choice, because we know that at most one of M and Q can be good and true. We must therefore conclude that the other is evil and wrong. Of course, both could be evil and wrong. If we find that one is evil and wrong, we should do another checkup to ensure that the other is good and true. But if we find that one is good and true, the matter is settled - the other is the dark side of the force.

Moreover, the choice matters - because on Urplat, humans have special Jedi powers. Only we can wield the weapon of the Urplatin Jedi, the Iron Mouse. And it takes both of us - you, dear open-minded progressive, and me the closed-minded reactionary. If we can agree, we can either end the conflict permanently in favor of M or Q, or any mixture of the two. Any dissent will be promptly silenced by the Mouse.

So what criteria can we use to decide between M and Q? The many followers of each great way, of course, are lobbying us with beluga and Porsches and blondes. Or at least the Urplatin equivalent of these fine goods. Nonetheless, we are stern, and will choose only the truth.

A simple test (a) might be to take a vote. If more Urplatins prefer M, their planet will be governed for the indefinite future on the M-principle. If they favor Q, likewise.

But, frankly, this is shite. If Q is evil and the Urplatins vote for Q, we have just condemned them and their children to a world of infinite suffering. Past Q-ist movements have perhaps been tempered by a modicum of M, mere personal decency, or mitigating venality. But if we enforce Q with the Iron Mouse, there will be no escape. If Q is wrong, wrong shall result. You may not have a problem with this, but I do, and it takes both of us to move the Mouse.

And is there any way in which we can guarantee that the headcount of Urplatin supporters corresponds to the absolute truth or falsity of M or Q? Answer: no. Many, perhaps even most, of the Urplatins are dumb as rocks. Therefore, this test is not useful.

A simple way to fix the test - (b) - is to restrict the vote to Urplatins who are at least as smart as whichever of the two of us is dumber. That way we cannot possibly agree to describe any voter as "dumb as a rock." The description is inherently insulting to one of us.

So we are only considering the view of smart Urplatins. Even better, if we see a difference between smart Urplatins and dumb Urplatins, we can penalize whichever principle, M or Q, is popular with the dumb ones. If we see that Q is generally believed by the smarter Urplatins and M is more popular with the dumb ones, we pretty much have the answer. Right?

Okay. Let's assume Q is the smart position and M is the dumb position. We know one fact about Urplat. Does this tell us that Q is good and true, and M is wrong and evil?

At the very least, this proposition depends on the intelligence of Urplatins. If a dumb Urplatin has an IQ of 80, in Earth terms, and a smart one has an IQ of 120, we can pretty easily see that on any question on which they might disagree, the latter is more likely to be right.

Or can we? How do we know this? And is our result the same if the IQs are, say, 120 and 160 respectively? What about 160 and 250? Surely it is neurologically possible for an Urplatian to have an arbitrarily high intelligence, at least as measured by any human scale.

And if the proposition is true for stupid = 160 and smart = 250, it means that an Urplatin with an IQ of 160 can be fooled by whichever of M or Q is evil and wrong. If so, one with an IQ of 120 can surely be fooled. Since one can never be so stupid that one can't discover the truth by throwing darts, it is therefore possible for the Urplatins of IQ 80 to be right and those of IQ 120 to be wrong, which violates the proposition. So we cannot learn that M or Q is right or wrong, just because the smart Urplatins follow Q and the stupid ones cling to M.

However, this fact does tell us something: Q is more competitive than M.

Think of Q and M as two populations of parasites, competing for a one population of hosts. Ignoring the fact that Urplatins can harbor a mixture of Q and M perspectives on different subjects, or simply not care, simplify the problem by imagining that each Urplatin has a boolean flag: Q or M.

Although neither Q nor M may have any central organizing body responsible for the propagation of Q-ism or M-ness, if there was such an intellectual central planner, it would choose the smart hosts over the less-smart ones. If you're a sexually transmitted virus, you want to be in a promiscuous gay host, preferably an airline steward. If you're an intellectually transmitted principle, you want to be in a smart and loquacious host, preferably a university professor.

We expect to see some corollaries of this Q-M asymmetry, and we do. If smart people are more likely to host Q, we'd expect Q to be more fashionable than M. If you want to get ahead in life, acting smart is always a good start - whether you're smart or not. If smart people tend to host Q, hosting Q is a great way to look smart.

Q becomes a kind of social lubricant. Anywhere, any time, the best way to meet and mate with other young, fashionable people is to broadcast one's Q-ness as loudly and proudly as possible.

Also, if Q is more competitive than M, we'd expect to see Q progressing against M over time. Again, this is exactly what we see. The M-Q conflict is at least a hundred years old, and when we exhume the frozen thoughts of century-old Q-ists from dusty old libraries, their specific beliefs would put them deep in the M range - often at extreme M levels - if they lived today.

But does any of this answer the question? It does not. At least one of Q or M is darkness. But we cannot tell which.

If Q is the dark side and M is mere sanity, we see immediately what Q is: a transmissible mental disease, which spreads by infecting education workers. If Q is mere sanity and M is the dark side, this same system is in the business of overcoming superstition and leading the people of Urplat, despite the ancient prejudices to which they stubbornly cling, toward the truth. And this is certainly how Q-ists see the matter.

And if they are both evil? But this is difficult to imagine. If both M and Q are dark, there must be some truth which contradicts them both. And it must be less successful than either M or Q.

To a Q-ist, the situation makes perfect sense. The progress toward Q is the slow and painful victory of good over evil. Evil has many advantages, because it can avail itself of evil strategies, whereas the good restrict themselves to achieving good ends by good means. However, the truth has a great advantage: it rings clear, like a bell. No lie can fake it.

There is just one small problem with this explanation. We would expect M to disappear much more quickly than it already has. If M is a lie and it is socially disadvantageous to express it, why, after 200 years, do we still have M? All the cards are stacked against it.

Whereas if Q is a lie and M is the truth, we have all the ingredients for an eternal soap opera. Q has the snaky suppleness of mendacity, its tasty apple flavor, its stylish and sinful delights. M has the rigid backbone of a truth that can be suppressed, but never quite crushed, that reappears spontaneously wherever men and women, often of the socially awkward subspecies, have the misfortune to think for themselves.

We've constructed what Professor Burke would call a "narrative." But, compared to the level of tough thinking that we'd need to actually demonstrate that Q is the dark side and M is the light, our narrative has the strength of tissue paper. It is enough for suspicion, and no more.

Therefore, we need to pull the veil aside and (c) look at what M and Q actually mean.

Note that we are still on Urplat - we are not claiming that M and Q correspond to right and left, or left and right, or anything of the sort. We are just devising abstract meanings for M and Q that could, on this imaginary planet we've made up, correspond to the facts we've stipulated: M and Q can coexist, M and Q are contradictory, and Q is consistently more fashionable than M.

Our definitions of M and Q revolve around the ancient Urplatin word nomos. If you are for M, you are for the nomos, which makes you a pronomian. If you are for Q, you are against the nomos, which makes you an antinomian. The contradiction is obvious.

Let's start by explaining the nomos and its supporters, the pronomians.

The nomos is the natural structure of formal promises around which Urplatins organize their lives. To a pronomian, any Urplatin should be free to make any promise. In return, he or she can expect to be held responsible for that promise: there is no freedom to break it. All promises are voluntary until they are made, and involuntary afterward. A pair of reciprocal promises, a common phenomenon on Urplat, is an agreement.

The details of individual promises and agreements are infinite, and constantly changing. But the high-level structure of the nomos is a consequence of reality, and it changes little. To demonstrate this point, let's derive the nomos from pure reality.

First, Urplatians are not robots. They breed in families, just as we do. An Urplatian family is based on two agreements: one between the parents of the little Urplatian tyke, and one between the child and its parents.

To a pronomian, the relationship between parents and children is simple. The agreement has only one side. Children promise their parents everything, including complete obedience for as long as the parents require. Parents need make no promise to a newborn infant, because an infant is helpless, and cannot compel any concession. If they choose they can emancipate the child when it comes of age, but if they choose they can require it to serve them all their lives. They even hold the power of life and death over it, again until they relinquish this power. (The pronomian supports both prenatal and post-natal abortion.)

Note that this regime - which does not exactly match the family law of, say, California, but is more or less an accurate description of the situation in early Rome - is optimal for the parents. In other words, parents can have no reason to prefer a legal system which gives them less power over their children. If they want to relinquish this power or even assign it to others, nothing is stopping them.

Note also the asymmetry of the agreement between parents and child. By recognizing the helplessness of the infant, we recognize that it has no choice but to accept any definition of the relationship that its parents may propose. The agreement is a promise in one direction because the child has no power to compel any reciprocal promise.

The pronomian sees these kinds of patterns everywhere in the nomos. There is only one nomos, because there is only one reality. The parameters of parenting do not change. The power dynamics are known. The answer is final.

If men and women, not to mention children, were in all cases honest and trustworthy, they could cooperate without a structure of formal promises. Since they are not, they benefit from formal promises and mechanisms for enforcing those promises. But - to the pronomian - this structure is no more than a recognition of reality.

One of the simplest patterns of agreement is property. Property is a system in which one Urplatin claims the sole power to dominate some good - play with a toy, drive a car, fence off a plot of land - and all other Urplatins promise to respect that right. As with the relationship between parents and infants, the origin of property is the balance of power. In a world which contains no property agreements whatsoever, Urplatins can construct a property system based on the reality of current possession.

Another key pattern is the proprietorship. The marriage we saw above is a simple case of partnership. In general, however, a proprietorship exists whenever multiple Urplatins decide to work collaboratively on a shared enterprise.

There are two ingredients to a proprietorship: collective identity and fractional ownership. Collective identity allows the proprietorship to act as a unit, to make and collect promises of its own. Fractional ownership divides the enterprise into precisely-defined shares, which in an anonymous proprietorship can be traded as property. (It's probably best not to define your marriage as an anonymous proprietorship.)

The natural structure of a proprietorship is that ownership, benefit, and control are synonymous. Ie, if you divide the enterprise into a hundred shares, each share owns a hundredth of the business, receives a hundredth of the profit, and exercises a hundredth of the decision-making power. Of course, it is possible to construct a system of agreements which does not follow this pattern, but in most cases there is no need to. Again, the nomos is not prescriptive; these structures emerge as natural patterns of agreement.

But the most important structure in the nomos is the hierarchy of protection. Protection is what makes all these promises work.

A protector is an enforcer of promises. For some promises in some contexts, protection is not necessary: the cost of breaking any promise may exceed the gain to the promisebreaker. For example, someone who has a reputation for breaking promises may have trouble forming new agreements. This is an unusual condition, however, and not to be relied on. In many contexts - eg, "insider trading" - a broken promise can be worth all an individual's reputation and more.

By definition, above the top level of the hierarchy of protection there is no protector. That top level, therefore, consists of unprotected authorities - typically proprietorships, but sometimes persons. These unauthorities have no authority which can settle their disputes. They must resort to war, which in Urplatin is called the ultima ratio regum - ie, the last resort of unauthorities.

Unauthorities do, however, make promises to each other. For example, an unauthority must possess an area of land to which it maintains exclusive control - an undomain - because its operations must be somewhere. (If it lacks an undomain, it is subject to the protection of some other unauthority, and thus cannot be an unauthority itself.) The undomain of the unauthority is its property because, as described above, all others have agreed to respect it. But it has no protector other than itself.

The key to success as an unauthority is to ensure that no other unauthority has a positive incentive to violate its promises to you. For example, disrespect of property rights - invasion - is the simplest form of unprotected promise violation. To prevent such assaults, an unauthority must maintain the military and political strength to make the assailant regret the decision to attack. Any less punishment is inadequate; any more is vindictive.

An unauthority makes a crucial mistake when it relinquishes the responsibility of protecting itself to another, stronger unauthority. If unauthorities cooperate against a common threat, they should cooperate for a limited time and a specific reason, and their league should be a league of equals. For an Earth example, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania make a good defense league. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and England do not make a good defense league, because the best case of the relationship is that the first three have become protectorates of the last. Ie, they are already halfway to being its property.

Every Urplatin living within an unauthority's undomain is its client. To be the client of an undomain is to promise it absolute and unconditional obedience. No unauthority has any use for internal enemies. Moreover, an unauthority cannot be compelled to respect any promise it may make to its clients - there is no force that can compel it. Clients must rely on the desire of the unauthority to maintain its reputation for fair dealing.

Fortunately, an unauthority is a business by definition - its undomain is capital, on which it naturally desires a maximum return. Its return on the property defines the value of the business, and is defined by the value of the subrights to the same property that it concedes to its clients. If its actions decrease this valuation, the unauthority's own stock goes down. And property in a lawless and mercurial undomain is certainly worth less than property protected by an unauthority which is careful of its reputation.

On the same principle, because an unauthority maintains exclusive control within its undomain, it can and should enforce the promises that its clients make to each other. As we saw in the case of the parents, maximum promise enforcement is optimal customer service. Since the better the customer service, the higher the value of the property, and the higher the value of the property, the higher the value of the undomain, a prudent unauthority will do its best to uphold the nomos.

So, for example, A may promise to B that he will serve B faithfully for the rest of his life, and B may have him whipped if he disobeys. In fact, since parents own their children, A may consign his child C to this same relationship, and so on through the generations. B, of course, presumably makes some promise in return for this remarkable concession.

That's right: we have just reinvented hereditary slavery. We have also reinvented absolutist or "divine-right" monarchy, the jus gentium, and in fact a whole menagerie of blasts from the past. We start to see why not everyone wants to be a pronomian.

(It is a separate discussion, really, but while we're talking about hereditary slavery I can't resist mentioning this book. If your knowledge of the "peculiar institution" is derived entirely from Uncle Tom's Cabin, perhaps it's worth reminding you that Uncle Tom's Cabin was a propaganda novel. It's not quite like getting your views on Jews from Jud Süss, but... and if you prefer modern sources by respected academics, try this remarkably un-presentist presentation, whose agreement with the Rev. Adams is quite impressive.)

Now, let's look at the antinomian side of the ledger.

As you may know, antinomian is actually an English word. (And nomos is Greek. Okay, I lied. But I warned you.) It is usually applied in the archaic sense of religious law, but the derivation is sound, and the word is defensible in the present day.

An antinomian is anyone who seeks, consciously or unconsciously, to disrupt or destroy the nomos. He is a breaker of oaths, a burner of deeds, a mocker of laws - at least, from the pronomian perspective. From his own perspective he is a champion of freedom and justice.

I admit it: I am a pronomian. I endorse the nomos without condition. Fortunately, I do not have to endorse hereditary slavery, because any restoration of the nomos begins with the present state of possession, and at present there are no hereditary slaves. However, if you want to sell yourself and your children into slavery, I don't believe it is my business to object. Try and strike a hard bargain, at least. (A slightly weakened form of pronomianism, perhaps more palatable in this day and age, might include mandatory emancipation at twenty-one.)

So my idea of the antinomian perspective will be a little jaundiced. But I'll try to be fair.

Perhaps the most refined form of modern antinomianism is libertarianism. Libertarianism is a fine example of the antinomian form, because the elements of the nomos that it attacks are specified with the elegant design sense that one would expect from the founder of modern libertarianism - probably the 20th century's greatest political theorist, Murray Rothbard.

Rothbardian libertarianism rejects two aspects of the nomos. First, it rejects the entire concept of the unauthority - in Earth-speak, the principle of sovereignty. Rothbardians are called anarcho-capitalists for a reason: they deny the legitimacy of the state, unless operated according to strict Rothbardian principles. Note that they do not require, say, Disney to operate Disneyland according to libertarian principles. This is because, to a Rothbardian, Disney's title to Disneyland is legitimate, whereas (say) Iceland's title to Iceland is not.

Rothbard has an intricate system, borrowed originally from Locke, for determining whether or not a title is legitimate. To say that this system is unamenable to objective interpretation is to put it mildly. But the titles of existing unauthorities all appear to be illegitimate. This makes libertarianism a revolutionary ideology. Since its antinomianism is so restricted and its lust for blood is minimal, however, it is not an especially dangerous (or effective) one.

Antinomians who reject sovereignty have two main alternatives. Either they support private, amorphous, and even territorially overlapping "protection agencies" (a design whose military plausibility is, to put it kindly, small), or they believe that government is legitimate if and only if it obeys a set of "natural laws." Again here we see the proximity to the pronomian. But the Rothbardian concept of natural law misses the Hobbesian fact that in the true nomos, there is no party that can enforce a state's promises to its clients.

This matters, because legalism without sovereignty has a simple result: the personal rule of judges. The error is to imagine the existence of a superhuman legal authority which can bind a state against itself, enforcing a "government of laws, not men." As the bizarre encrustations of precedent that history builds up around every written constitution demonstrate, this is simply a political perpetual-motion device. All governments are governments of men. If final decisions are taken by a council of nine, these nine are the nine who rule. Whether you call them a court, a junta or a politburo is irrelevant.

Since I am a bit of a geek, though, the Rothbardian interpretation that interests me most is his approach to contract law. Note how Rothbard rejects the idea of binding promises, and is forced to construct impossibly elaborate structures of property rights. If I promise to paint your house, I have really sold you a title to a paint job, and if I do not then paint your house I am guilty of theft for having stolen said paint job. I think.

The Rothbardian design breaks down completely in a frequently-mentioned exception, the case of insider trading. Here is a randomly-Googled example of the kind of Jesuitic Talmudry to which libertarians resort when confronted with this problem. To a pronomian, the answer is simple: if you are to be given material non-public information, you promise to go to jail if you disclose it. Note that this is exactly how it works now. (Note also that to anyone who has ever had a real job, the idea of legal insider trading is transparently ridiculous.)

The tactical error of the libertarian, Rothbardian or otherwise, is to believe that the state can be made smaller and simpler by making it weaker. Historically, the converse is the case: attempts to weaken an unauthority either destroy it, resulting in chaos and death, or force it to compensate by enlarging, resulting in the familiar "red-giant state." The pronomian prefers a state that is small, simple, and very strong. It respects the rights of its clients not because it is forced to respect them, but because it has a financial incentive to respect them, and it obeys that financial incentive because it is managed responsibly and effectively.

All things considered, however, libertarianism is a mild, innocuous form of antinomianism. Let's skip immediately to the writer who may be the most popular philosopher on earth today, Slavoj Žižek. Here we see antinomianism in an almost pure, indiscriminate form, as in this lovely passage:
The Benjaminian "divine violence" should be thus conceived as divine in the precise sense of the old Latin motto vox populi, vox dei: NOT in the perverse sense of "we are doing it as mere instruments of the People's Will," but as the heroic assumption of the solitude of sovereign decision. It is a decision (to kill, to risk or lose one's own life) made in the absolute solitude, with no cover in the big Other. If it is extra-moral, it is not "immoral," it does not give the agent the license to just kill with some kind of angelic innocence. The motto of divine violence is fiat iustitia, pereat mundus: it is JUSTICE, the point of non-distinction between justice and vengeance, in which "people" (the anonymous part of no-part) imposes its terror and makes other parts pay the price - the Judgment Day for the long history of oppression, exploitation, suffering - [...]
The anonymous part of no-part. The big Other. Listen to this scoundrel, this charlatan, this truly evil man. Or buy his book, with its lovely cover. You won't be the first. If I, dear open-minded progressive, ever become as popular on America's college campuses as Slavoj Žižek, you may feel free to expend as much concern over my "secure relocation facilities" as Professor Žižek's rusty old guillotine, which has lost not a drop of its eternal thirst.

Did I mention that I'm not an antinomian? From Rothbard to Robespierre is a long leap, no doubt, but we can observe some commonalities.

Antinomians believe that the present state of affairs is unsatisfactory. So, of course, do I. The nomos is horribly corroded and encrusted with all sorts of gunk. However, the pronomian's goal is to discern the real structure of order under this heap of garbage, scrape it down to the bare skeleton, replace any missing bones, and let the healthy tissue of reality grow around it.

To the pronomian, this structure is arbitrary. Weirdly-shaped borders? Leave them as they are. High taxes? All that tax revenue is paid to someone, who probably thinks of it as his property. Who am I to say it isn't? There are some property structures, notably patent rights, which I (like most libertarians) find very unproductive. If so, the government needs to print money and buy them back. Fortunately, it has a large, high-speed intaglio press.

The pronomian seeks to restore the nomos, whose outlines are clear under the mountain of byzantine procedure, wholesale makework and vote-buying, criminal miseducation, and other horrors of the liberal-democratic state. The antinomian sees many of the same horrors. But he does not share the pronomian's goal: minimizing the reallocation of property and authority. Where the pronomian simply wants to replace the management, reorganize the staff, and discard the inscrutable volumes of precedent that have absconded with the name of law, the antinomian wants to destroy power structures that he conceives as illegitimate.

And, of course, he wants to rebuild them according to his ideals. Unless he is a complete nihilist, which of course some are. But it is the destructive tendency that makes antinomianism so successful. The utopia is never constructed, or if it is it is not a utopia. Success is a precondition to utopia, and success involves achieving the power to destroy.

The most common species of antinomian is, of course, the simple anarchist. The most bloodthirsty and intrusive states of the 20th century were based on a philosophy - Marxism - which saw itself as fundamentally opposed to government. People really did believe that the socialist paradise would be something other than a state.

Near where I live, on one of the most fashionable shopping streets in the world, is an anarchist bookstore. On its side wall is a mural. The mural contains two slogans:
History remembers 2 kinds of people, those who kill and those who fight back.

Anarchism strives toward a social organization which will establish well-being for all.
I am flabbergasted by how revealing these slogans are. History, at least when written by honest historians, remembers one kind of people: those who kill. It also notes that those who kill always conceive of themselves as "fighting back." As for "a social organization," it is simply our old friend, the State.

Thus, anarchism defines itself: it is an attempt to capture the state, and its juicy revenues, through extortion, robbery and murder. When it succeeds, it will distribute the loot among its accomplices, and "establish well-being for all." At least in theory.

As we've seen, the one thing an antinomian cannot abide is a formal and immutable distribution of the revenues of state. He must constantly redistribute, he must wash his hands on the stream of cash, giving to Peter and taking from Paul, or his supporters have no reason to support him. In other words, he is basically a criminal.

Why is antinomianism, this criminal ideology, so popular? Fashionable, even? Why is it such a good fit for Q? Because people love power, and any movement with the power to destroy anything, or even just "change" it, has just that: power.

Antinomianism allows young aristocrats to engage in the activity that has been the favorite sport of young aristocrats since Alcibiades was a little boy: scheming for power. According to this article, for example, there are "over 7500 nonprofits" in the Bay Area, "3800 of which deal with sustainability issues." These appear to employ approximately half of our fair city's jeunesse doree, occupying the best years of their lives and paying them squat. Meanwhile, container ships full of empty boxes thunder out the Golden Gate, along with approximately two trillion dollars a year of little green pieces of paper. However, if you're 23 and all you care about is getting laid, interning at a nonprofit is definitely the way to go.

Amidst all this appalling nonsense, productive people keep their heads down and manage to engage in a few remaining productive pursuits. The nomos endures. Nor, not even if the Good One is elected, will the guillotine and the tumbrils reappear any time soon.

But antinomianism leaves its scars nonetheless. Almost literally.

The simplicity and flexibility of the nomos creates, or should create, an endless stream of "diversity" in the best sense of the word. It's almost impossible to imagine the variety of schools, for example, that would spring up if all parents could educate their children as they saw fit. Structures of voluntary agreement tend to rely heavily on mere personal decision, and the products and services they create tend to embody personal style. For example, one of the many reasons that Belle Epoque buildings tend to be so much more attractive than postwar buildings is, I think, that signoff on the design was much more likely to be in the hands of an individual than a committee.

Antinomianism, with its love for reaching into these structures of private agreement and breaking them to serve some nominally noble purpose, has the general effect of replacing individual decisions with committee decisions, personal responsibility with process, and personal taste with official aesthetics. The final stage is the worst form of bureaucracy - litigation, an invisible tyrant whose arms wrap tighter and tighter around us every year. This is sclerosis, scar tissue, Dilbert, Brezhnev, boredom and incompetence for everyone everywhere.

Most observers interpret bureaucratic sclerosis as a sign of a government which is too powerful. In fact it is a sign of a government which is too weak. If seventeen officials need to provide signoff for you to repaint the fence in your front yard, this is not because George W. Bush, El Maximo Jefe, was so concerned about the toxicity of red paint that he wants to make seventeen-times-sure that no wandering fruit flies are spattered with the nefarious chemical. It is because a lot of people have succeeded in making work for themselves, and that work has been spread wide and well. They are thriving off tiny pinhole leaks through which power leaks out of the State. A strong unauthority would plug the leaks, and retire the officials.

Outside the Communist bloc proper, of course, the ultimate in power leakage and resulting bureaucracy was India's infamous Permit Raj, which still to some extent exists. Needless to say, if the subcontinent was run on a profit basis, the Permit Raj would not be good business. In fact, quite amusingly and with no apparent sense of irony, our favorite newspaper recently printed an article in which the following lines appear:
Vietnam’s biggest selling point for many companies is its political stability. Like China, it has a nominally Communist one-party system that crushes dissent, keeps the military under tight control and changes government policies and leaders slowly.

“Communism means more stability,” Mr. Shu, the chief financial officer of Texhong, said, voicing a common view among Asian executives who make investment decisions. At least a few American executives agree, although they never say so on the record.

Democracies like those in Thailand and the Philippines have proved more vulnerable to military coups and instability. A military coup in Thailand in September 2006 was briefly followed by an attempt, never completed, to impose nationalistic legislation penalizing foreign companies.

“That sent the wrong signal that we would not welcome foreign investment — this has ruined the confidence of investors locally and internationally,” the finance minister Surapong Suebwonglee said in an interview in Bangkok.
The ironies! Of course, perhaps it is not so ironic after all, as perhaps the main reason that the old China Hands, the men (such as Owen Lattimore) who by "manipulating procedural outcomes" gave China to Mao, thought the Communists were the shizzle is that they were obviously so strong. America could really do great things in Asia with the ruthlessly indoctrinated divisions of the PLA on its side, as opposed to Chiang Kai-Shek, who looked like his main interests were opium and little boys.

After fifty million deaths and the annihilation of traditional Chinese culture, what still remains is that strength. There is not much antinomianism in China, which has reduced its totalitarian pretensions to one simple and easily-obeyed rule: do not challenge the Party for power. The result, though profoundly flawed, is the most successful capitalist country in the world. All things considered, it is certainly one of the best to do business in - as the article describes.

And there is another effect of antinomianism: this.

"That's how we do it out here, man!" In my primitive search of the Pravda, I find no evidence that this happened. Therefore, I must conclude that it did not, and the video is faked.

Because imagine the breach of the limes between barbarism and civilization that this would represent! If you could show this video to an American of 1908, he would simply conclude that civilization has collapsed. It has not. It lives. 580 is safe, mostly. I think. This sort of thing simply can't happen.

But it can, and it can go on for quite a while without (probably) affecting my life (too much). Nonetheless, it is not getting better. It is getting worse. And nobody is proposing anything like anything that would fix it - except, of course, for me. And I'm crazy.

So Q, of course, is left, and M is right. That is, M - pronomism - is the essential principle of the political right wing. We very rarely see this principle in anything like its undiluted form. But still: why dilute it? Why look around for partial fixes? Why not cure the problem in one step?

Pure Toryism of this sort has a hidden advantage: it is a Schelling point. True, it is very difficult to persuade people to abandon all of the different strains of antinomianism that have nested in their brain, each of which assures them that a simple restoration of the nomos, with sovereign bankruptcy and a plenary Receiver, is unthinkably "fascist."

However, the eternal problem in organizing any kind of reactionary movement is that if you can get two "conservatives" together in a room, you can generally persuade them to form three political parties. Dissidents by definition are people who think for themselves. They do not have the advantage of the Q-virus, which pulls them all together around the Good One. And like normal people, they tend to disagree.

This is why the search for the essential principle, the nomos, the philosopher's stone of the right wing, matters. If you can persuade those who distrust the system as it is to discard everything, liberal or conservative - not just "diversity," and the Good One, and police who hug criminals, but even the Constitution and the Flag and the World Wars and Democracy and the Pledge and the Bill of Rights and all the rest of that stale mythology - if you can talk your audience down to the bare metal, convince them that their political system is scrap, that it is not even remotely recoverable, and then present them with a single principle of government that is at or near this level of simplicity, you'll have a group of people who are all on exactly the same page.

This, in a word, is organization. And organization is what gets things done. Continue to part 12.

Thursday, June 19, 2008 83 Comments

OLX: a simple sovereign bankruptcy procedure

Dear open-minded progressive, as we reach #10 it is time for some administrivia.

First, we are switching to Roman numerals. At least past 10, they are just classier. Also, if anyone wants to provide design suggestions, or what would be even more super-duper graphics, logos, templates, free hosting, free money, free beer, or even just free parenting advice, they may of course contact me at the usual address, linked to over on the right.

I would note, however, that my email responsiveness of late has been unusually poor. In fact, it has been amazingly poor. For some reason I had entertained the idea that being chained to my daughter would enable me to actually catch up with the large number of extremely interesting and well-written epistles sitting unanswered, many a few months old, in my inbox. You see why UR is not a good source of financial advice.

However, Sibyl is three months old today. (And her 8ra1n is growing like a prize melon - she pops out of the 0-6 month hats, she is firmly in the 6-9.) She may not scream less, but it seems like she screams less. So I will attempt to work into the pile, probably in reverse order.

Second, there is a second awful truth, which is that for Sibyl's whole life, I haven't even been reading UR's comments section. This is a deed so shameful it is probably unknown in the Western world. In case you accept excuses, however, my excuse is that it is a sort of crude literary device. If it was written in response to its weekly feedback - which, in the past, has often proved much more interesting than the post - UR would be very different. Chattier, more bloggy, and I suspect less interesting. Or so I claim. We'll never know, though, will we?

I will even be brazen enough to suspect that if I was reading them, the comments would not be quite as good. I do get the impression they haven't degenerated into mindless Web nonsense, puerile flamage, Jew-baiting and ads for spineless anal balloons. But if there is any such content I of course disclaim it. After I am done with this series I will edit out any and all stupid comments. If they are all stupid, there will be none left. Ha. As Terence Stamp put it: "Kneel before Zod! Kneel!"

I will, however, attempt a collective response to the non-stupid comments, unless they are so devastating as to leave me speechless. Please continue leaving them. You may not be enlightening me, at least not immediately, but you are enlightening others.

And speaking of General Zod: if you are finally resolved to consider yourself a pathetic dupe of the Mold, you are of course free to either describe or not describe yourself as a formalist, a reservationist, a restorationist, or even a Mencist. This last coinage sounds faintly ominous and evil, which of course is not true - Mencism is all happiness, smiles, and light. In turn, however, be prepared for the fact that anyone can accuse you, with perfect accuracy, of neo-Birchery, postfalangism, pseudo-Hobbesianism or even rampant moldbuggery. To paraphrase Barack Obama: if you don't have a knife, don't start a knifefight.

If I had to choose one word and stick with it, I'd pick "restorationist." If I have to concede one pejorative which fair writers can fairly apply, I'll go with "reactionary." I'll even answer to any compound of the latter - "neoreactionary," "postreactionary," "ultrareactionary," etc.

So when I call someone a "progressive," what I mean is that his or her creed is more or less the direct opposite of mine. Of course, we both believe that the sky is blue, apple pie is delicious, and Hitler was evil. And since we are both polite, mature, and open-minded people, we can converse despite our disagreements. But just as there is no such thing as a progressive reactionary, there is no such thing as a progressive restorationist. Or vice versa.

I am comfortable using the word "progressive" because, and only because, I know of no significant population of English speakers for whom it conveys negative connotations. Similarly, when speaking not of the ideas but of the set of people who hold these ideas (or, as they like to put it, "ideals"), the name Brahmin is time-honored and nonpejorative.

This is not a reference to the Tam-Brams. In fact, there is a fine practical definition of Brahmin in this video, which is long (15 minutes) but I feel worth watching:

This is, of course, internal video from the Obama campaign. I don't think it was leaked. I think it was intentionally published, and so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. However, the people in in it are all their real selves. For once, they are not acting. I recognize the meeting. It reminds me a lot of the first post-IPO meeting at the tech-bubble company I worked for.

There is one main difference: a few more blacks (and nowhere near so many Tamils). A few more. And the camera eye, hilariously, stalks and pounces on all the diversity it can find. But it cannot conceal the horrible truth: almost everyone inside the Good One's campaign is white. Maybe one in fifteen is black. Maybe one in twenty. Definitely not one in ten. And I suspect many of these hold positions for which melanin is a job requirement, ie, working with the "community."

And weirdly, given this explanation, there are no, no, no Mexicans. Okay, maybe one or two. The video is grainy. It's hard to tell a Jeremiah Wright from a Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. But I live in San Francisco, I am quite accustomed to encountering a progressive population with a strong Aztlanic contingent (SF State is, after all, the home of the notorious Third World Strike), and I ain't seeing it. (And isn't that maneuver with Patti Solis Doyle charming? Doesn't that just show you the maturity level of the whole organization?)

Bell curves being what they are, you need one thing to achieve the Obama team's rarefied whiteness: an ultra-competitive, race-neutral employee filtering process. These people could be the audience at your average Google tech talk. Everyone in the room, whatever their skin color, is not just a Brahmin but a high Brahmin, a status held by anyone obviously smart enough to get a Ph.D, MD, etc, from a top school.

There is no mainstream American university whose general student body is anywhere near this segregated. Or anywhere near this 31337, I suspect. I wonder why that is. Isn't it curious, then, that so much of Obama's support should come from our wonderful universities, to which "diversity" is so important?

Surely, dear open-minded progressive, one can disagree honestly on whether employment decisions should be made on the basis of skin color. It is after all a Humean ought. Given how unusual the idea of racial preferences for colored people would have sounded to the Americans of, say, 1908, don't you find it a little unusual that there should be so little, um, variation, in all of these supposedly-independent decisions in Humean ought space, as produced by our glorious variety of supposedly-independent universities?

But I should be fair to pre-President Obama - whom I really like calling the Good One. I feel that if this locution could be persuaded to spread, it might be of some benefit to humanity. Needless to say, I don't mean it satirically.

Because after watching the clip above, my impression is that the Good One is exactly that: good. That is, he is good at his job, which is all you can ask of anyone. More precisely, he talks like a competent manager. If I was working in at a startup and I had a boss who gave pep talks this good, I'd feel quite comfortable with the administration. Management is more than just talk, but can you call the Obama campaign anything but a successful operation? The graphic design alone is brilliant.

There is only one problem: this outfit is very good at winning presidential elections. We have no reason to think it is any good at anything else. The candidate is a great presidential candidate. He will probably be a good president, too. Of course, that is to say he will be good at reading his lines and pretending to be an 18th-century statesman, which is the job of a US President in 2008. Perhaps we should just write in Paul Giamatti, who I'm sure could act the Good One off the stage.

Moreover, the Nazis had an effective campaign team, too. Plus some pretty good graphic design to go with it. Most people don't know it, but the SS dress uniform was designed by Hugo Boss. If design is your criterion, the Third Reich was the best government of the century. In fact, even if architecture is your criterion, I will take Nazi architecture over progressive architecture, any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

And since the quality of architecture is indeed a good rule of thumb on which to judge the general quality of government, this is worrisome indeed. But all it means is that the case is an exception to the rule. Like anyone with any sense, I'd rather be governed by progressives than by Nazis.

(Nazis matter, because a Nazi-like outcome is the most catastrophic failure mode of any restoration effort. Restorationism is to fascism as a bridge is to a pile of rubble in the riverbed. Bridge collapses can be dangerous and unpleasant, but that doesn't make bridges a bad idea.)

But comparing one's enemies to Nazis is old hat. Progressivism has a much better match on the other pole of the totalitarian continuum. The meter lights up like a Christmas tree and the little arm goes all the way to the right. Or left, as it were.

Recently in a used bookstore I found five issues of Soviet Life from the mid-late '80s. I had not previously been aware of this publication. I find it quite revealing. Unfortunately for me but fortunately for you, someone has already scanned three whole issues of Soviet Life. So I will not bore you with my endless, Gollum-like chortling over this bibliomanic coup.

But I thought it'd be fun to share one sweet little piece, from January 1986. Of course, this is a news story, not an ad. (No advertisements sully the pages of Soviet Life.)
Georgian plastic surgeon Dr. Vakhtang Khutsidze helps people look younger. Just look at Edith Markson. Would you believe she is 72? Of course not. She is an attractive woman who looks many years younger than her actual age. That's what happens after treatment with Dr. Khutsidze, many of his satisfied patients maintain.

Edith Markson, who has spent several years in the Soviet Union, heard about Dr. Khutsidze's skillful hands when she was in Tbilisi visiting a few of her theater friends. It was then she decided to have cosmetic surgery. Particularly since, as she told local reporters, a face lift would cost several thousand dollars back home in the States. In the USSR the operation costs from 30 to 100 rubles.

"I'm an ordinary American," Edith Markson said, "and I'm not responsible for official policymaking. Making friends with people from many countries is the best human politics. And now I've added Vakhtang Khutsidze, the Georgian doctor, to my list of friends."

Twenty-five years ago Dr. Khutsidze was one of the first plastic surgeons in the Soviet Union to use the so-called sparing method in nose operations. Ever since then he has performed approximately thousands of these operations. His work, which requires expert surgical skill, has a lot in common with sculpture, the surgeon maintains.
(Please don't skip the Edith Markson links - they really round out the episode. The Soviet Life article comes with its own photograph, but I feared younger readers might find it disturbing. Although, frankly, the results are pretty good for "30 to 100 rubles.")

Then, for maximum disorienting effect, skip directly to this Times story - which appeared on Tuesday. Do you notice any resemblance? Any at all? Obama, Prince Royal of the Blood, beloved by all God's children but especially the colored ones, from Bolivia to Clichy-les-Bois? What is he, the second coming of Comrade Brezhnev? Is the Times going to continue this kind of coverage after he's elected? That would really be turning the obvious up to 11.

I especially love how the Times' last piece describes Edith Markson as if she were an ordinary retiree, perhaps a cashier at Macy's or as a dental hygienist, who just happens to have moved to Manhattan in her late '70s "despite the fear of crime, grime, and hassles in the city that never sleeps." Words fail me, dear open-minded progressive, they really do. As my wife, who happens to be a playwright in the city where Edith Markson's little theater company, now essentially a permanent branch of the US Government, remains the 31337, puts it: "does a theater promoter ever really retire?"

And the fact that the two "homeless men" "scooped her up" not just lovingly, not just respectfully, not just adoringly, but no less than "majestically," really takes the cake. Presumably they carry around spare Burger King crowns, to supply stumbling princesses of the arts with the requisite majesty.

I assert, dear open-minded progressive, that attempting to understand the world of today by reading the New York Times (and its fellow authorized channels) is a lot like trying to understand the Soviet Union by reading Soviet Life. Any such publication will be informative to a trained student of the period. But a proper appreciation of its real meaning requires significant independent understanding and a willingness to - dare I say it - deconstruct.

For example, the wonderful story of Edith Markson shows us that even still in 1986, the social networks in which a New York Times reporter might travel actually connected into the Soviet Union. At least, to her great new friend, Vakhtang Khutsidze - and to the hip young apparatchik who wrote them both up for Soviet Life.

Historically this Greenwich Village connection had always run straight from the Cathedral's high Brahmins to the Soviet nomenklatura - a word that explains Ms. Markson and Dr. Khutsidze with equal precision. By the '80s this, like everything else about the Warsaw Pact, was fraying - but what is Red October without John Reed? Flash forward to Judge Guevara, and it is all so perfectly clear. It looks like the same thing because it is the same thing.

Moreover, if you read the political essays in Soviet Life - about a third of the magazine seems to be political content - you realize that the Edith Marksons of the world followed, and did their level best to persuade everyone else to follow, the exact same party line on every political topic that appears in any of my Soviet Life issues, from the nuclear freeze to the Middle East to the abominable persecution of the black man.

Of course this last horror, our vast Caucasian conspiracy, has persisted to this day. It almost cost the Good One the nomination. Etc. Etc. Do I really need to mock this any further? But if you are still not convinced, there are always the O-Ba-Ma videos...

Dear open-minded progressive: frankly, progressivism is just creepy. Do you really want to associate yourself with it? And if the answer is yes, do you think you'll you still want to be associated with it after the Good One's vigorous, musky buttocks have spent a year or two in George W. Bush's Aeron?

If the answer is still yes, I'm afraid you are just not spiritually prepared for the grueling mental ordeal that follows. Deep down inside, you are still a hippie. At the very least, do not continue reading this essay without at least one massive bong hit. Frankly, you'll need it.

Because finally, there are the lines for which the Good One will always, I feel, be known:
I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.
Some people are inspired by this kind of emanation. If you are one, how can I fault you? You are probably a pretty nice guy, or gal. There is probably something else in your life besides the Good One - or, of course, his Good Causes. As your attorney, I recommend a real effort to figure out what that thing might be. And maybe focus on it a little more.

For the rest of us, let me note merely that at present, the oceans' cold and inexorable rise, the salty revenge of Gaia's tears, the wave looming over Manhattan, is three millimeters per year. This puts us well within the new DSM-IV guidelines for fulminating hydrophobia. And I see no reason to tolerate such systematic servility to such a blatant case of contagious hypochondria.

This suggests an trivial test, a sort of pons asinorum, for any potential restoration. I suggest that as its initial act, any responsible and effective transitional government will set its tone and establish its good faith by assisting the Good One, along with his wife, his people, his wife's people, and frankly anyone who for whatever reason chooses to accompany him, to transfer their lives, pleasantly and with a minimum of personal disruption, to the Good One's scenic paternal homeland: the great African nation of Kenya.

It's entirely possible that Kenya will demand compensation for accepting this crowd. While hard to count in advance, it could easily number in the millions. If so, there is a simple solution: ask the Kenyans how much they want, and pay it. Think of it as a small but symbolic reparation for the vast tragedy of postcolonial Africa.

Of course, there would be no hard feelings on either side of this expatriation. In fact, the Kenyans might well make the Good One president-for-life. His people, the Luo, are riding high these days. And I actually think the Good One might prove a wonderful ruler of Kenya, which if troubled remains one of the most beautiful countries on earth.

For open-minded progressives who doubt that deporting political opponents has anything to do with responsible, effective government - the value of selective relocation as a security measure can hardly be doubted, of course - I have a question for you.

I'm going to play a magic trick. I'm going to pick a historical period in the recent past, in the memory of many of those now living. And I'm going to pick two sources of information. To you, source A will be a source of automatic, near-absolute reliability. To you, source B will be a blatant outlet of mendacious propaganda, produced by some of the nastiest people in history.

But on the major issue on which the two disagreed, hindsight has provided an answer. At least in my opinion, it is impossible to argue the proposition that source A was right and source B was wrong. And it is trivial to argue the converse. To even debate the issue is a sign of complete detachment from reality. Quite simply, B was right and A was wrong. Even Professor Burke admits it.

Our period is 1965 through 1980. Our source A is the international press corps. Our source B is the Rhodesian Ministry of Information. Our issue is the perspective of postcolonial African governments in general, the liberation movements in specific, and Robert Mugabe to be exact.

Dear open-minded progressive, if you can produce any explanation of this trust failure which is coherent, scholarly, realistic, and consistent with progressive ideals, I will admit defeat. Please do remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I don't like to hear hypotheses that involve UFOs, international Jewish conspiracies, Freemasons, or the like.

In fact, let's whale on UR's favorite crash-test dummy, Professor Burke, for a little while here. As I've said, this man (an assistant professor at Swarthmore) is my current case study for the fundamentally and irreparably evil character of the Cathedral. He comes across as a perfectly nice guy, of course, and I suspect that's exactly what he is. So was Albert Speer, who once wrote that you can't expect to recognize the Devil when he puts his hand on your shoulder.

You probably think it's excessive to compare Burke to Speer. Oh, no. Think again:
The really major thing, I think, is that the Soweto uprising of 1976 and subsequent campaigns to make South Africa’s townships “ungovernable” put the apartheid regime under what proved to be unbearable pressure, largely on the pure grounds of resource limitations. The apartheid state simply couldn’t cope in the end with the demands that ungovernability put upon it, even when it put up a pretty good show of having everything under a tight authoritarian lid. Few of us saw this clearly in 1986-87 precisely because the state was putting on such a good performance, but underneath, the leadership was increasingly seeing collapse as inevitable.

Let’s review what led to ungovernability. The vast majority of the population without any vote or democratic outlet. An authoritarian state that legally defined almost all dissent as terrorism and gave itself entitlement to retaliate against dissent with imprisonment, torture, and murder. A state which routinely censored all media. A state which ignored property rights of most of its citizens. In short, a state which was in every respect the antithesis of liberalism, in which there was literally no avenue for democratic or liberal protest for the vast majority of its citizens.

Let’s review what ungovernability consisted of. Refusal to cooperate with any institution controlled directly or indirectly by the national government. So leaving school, refusing to pay any rents or fees assessed by governmental bodies, refusal to comply with orders from authorities no matter how routine those orders might be, and an embrace of violent resistance to the state and any perceived agents of the state. Making large areas of the country “no-go” areas for civil authorities unless they were accompanied by strong military forces. Murder or threat of murder of suspected collaborators.

As I said, I think it worked. I think it was justified not just because it worked but because there were no other alternatives. The apartheid state and the National Party spent twenty years steadily crushing all other avenues for political change and rewriting the laws and constitution of South Africa so as to define itself as the permanent and unchanging ruler of South Africa.
That's right. Our sweet, jocular D&D-playing history professor has just endorsed the practice of putting car tires full of gasoline around his fellow humans' necks, then lighting them afire. I wonder how many d6 of damage that attack does?

(Professor Burke's historical analysis is also self-serving in the extreme. The proximate cause of the end of apartheid was the 1992 referendum in which a majority of whites effectively voted to hand over their country to the ANC, a decision they would never have taken if they could have known the consequences. This was the victory of the verligte or "enlightened" Afrikaners over their verkrampte or "narrow" cousins. In other words, it is best seen as a triumph of psychological warfare. No points for telling us who was enlightening the "enlightened.")

As for the wonderful omelet cooked from these eggs, this headline is a fine summary. See also this BBC documentary, whose title is misleading (the BBC doesn't really mean that the "international community" should never again hand over a First World country to the well-spoken frontman of a murderous gang), but whose transcript is glorious:
KEANE: But you see here's what I can't understand, and I've known this country for a long time. It's just the ease with which people kill nowadays.
YOUTH: Yeah.
KEANE: How did that happen?
YOUTH: When I get up, I can go to town or I can took your car.
KEANE: Would it bother you to kill me to get the car?
YOUTH: If you don't want to give me your keys I'll kill you. It's nothing to kill you because of what.. I need the money to survive. You see I need more money. You see it feels like using a gun there's no feeling. There's no feeling. It's just yourself, you're the big boss. You got a gun, no one will tell you shit or f*** you. No one can tell you f*** you. If you said f*** me, I took out my firearm and I shoot you in your ears, then what will you say? You're dead! I will took all the things. If you don't get money, if you don't get a car you're nothing.
KEANE: Do you think that the life that you're living and the way that you're carrying on is what Mandela...
YOUTH: But...
KEANE: No, but hang on a second, is this what Mandela spent 27 years in jail for so you could go around killing people?
KEANE: So why do you still do it?
YOUTH: Because we want money. Listen, listen to me, because it's money. I have to rob this thing now.
KEANE: You want to rob the camera?
YOUTH: Yeah.
KEANE: You could do that, if you wanted, I know you could do that, but it wouldn't achieve any purpose. You might have money for a day and it's just brought trouble on you.
When they suggested stealing the camera we decided to leave. Crime is being fuelled by another legacy of apartheid, poverty. There is democracy, free speech and economic growth. But real wealth is in the hands of the few. Even though millions more now access electricity and water, two million new homes have been built and there are grants for the poorest of the poor, the growing economy hasn't delivered jobs. Official figures say 25% are out of work, though many economists estimate it could be as high as 40%. Millions of South Africans still live in squatter camps.
Sunday afternoon in Soweto:
How many of you live in this shed?
WOMAN: Four.
KEANE: What do you feel about the life you have here?
WOMAN: (translated) Life here isn't good. We've no electricity and so we have to use paraffin which makes the children sick.
KEANE: Do you ever think your life is going to get better, Joseph?
JOSEPH: Maybe my life would change if the Nationalist party came back, not the ANC.
KEANE: I don't believe you, come on, it was a white government that put you down, that treated you terribly. You can't really believe that.
JOSEPH: But in terms of work they didn't oppress us. We didn't struggle for work then.
KEANE: Now do I really think that he is serious about wanting a white government back? I don't think so. Not back to the days of forced removals and passbooks and all of that. But I'll tell you what it does do, when you listen to somebody expressing that kind of anger and frustration, you really get a sense of how the ANC, the people at the top, the elite, have drifted away from their core constituency, the people of the squatter camps, South Africa's dispossessed.
The ANC has indeed drifted away from its core constituency. But that constituency has nothing to do with "Joseph" or "Youth." It consists of Fergal Keane and Timothy Burke. And of course, a few others like them. (Unlike Albert Speer, all these individuals are replaceable.)

What we're seeing here is a power structure which has lost its connection to reality. Its rulers consider it the most ethical and responsible system of government in human history. In fact, it is morally and intellectually bankrupt.

There is no simple procedure for moral and intellectual restructuring. However, this system of government is not just morally and intellectually bankrupt. It is also financially bankrupt. This is a disaster, of course, but it gives us a concrete way to think about fixing all three of these problems at once.

A restoration is a regime-change procedure designed to safely and effectively reverse the damage which progressivism has inflicted on civilization, acting under the principles of good government that prevailed in theory, if not always in practice, in the late classical or Victorian period, and producing a new era in which secure, responsible and effective government is as easy to take for granted as tap-water you can drink, electricity that is always on, or a search engine that returns porn only if you searched for porn.

A good way to define a restoration is to model it as a sovereign bankruptcy. Since a government is just a corporation, albeit one whose rights are protected not by any higher authority but by its own military force, it is subject to the same inexorable laws of accounting.

More specifically, a restoration is a sovereign bankruptcy with restructuring. There are always three options in a bankruptcy: restructuring, liquidation, and acquisition. While it can be interesting to wonder what the People's Liberation Army would do with West Oakland, in general restructuring is the only practical option at the sovereign level.

In any restructuring, a restoration delivers temporary control to a bankruptcy receiver. The receiver's goal is to render the company both solvent and profitable. Solvency is achieved by converting debt to equity, diluting existing equity holders and treating equal commitments equitably. Profitability is achieved by optimizing corporate operations as the receiver sees fit.

In a sovereign bankruptcy, there is one extra quirk. At least in today's real world, the corporation which we are restructuring does not think of itself as a mere corporation. It doesn't even think of itself as a sovereign corporation. It thinks of itself as a mystical pact which echoes across the centuries from generation to generation, bonding human souls across time, space, language, gender and race. So we can expect its accounting to be a little funky. But accounting, still, is accounting. And not rocket science.

Let's start by taking a closer look at the general principles of restructuring.

First, restructuring starts with an enterprise which is in some way financially broken. Most commonly, it has defaulted on its debts. Sovereign corporations, however, have another failure mode, which is especially hairy and which we'll discuss in a moment.

Second, restructuring assumes an enterprise which is intrinsically profitable. In the sovereign case, this is almost automatic. An asset which cannot produce profits is worthless by definition, and no real country is worthless. Invite people to reside there; tax them; profit.

Third, restructuring produces an enterprise which is unlikely to renege on its commitments. In other words, it creates a new allocation of the future profits of the restructured enterprise. Typically these profits are inherently uncertain, so a common result of restructuring is a company with all equity and no debt.

An equity instrument is one that pays some percentage of a completely unpredictable profit. While we do not know the magnitude of the restructured corporation's future profits, we can still divide them into formal shares. These shares are distributed among beneficiaries, who receive their dividends. Shares are typically allocated according to the commitments made by the bankrupt enterprise.

Fourth, there is no requirement that the bankruptcy receiver preserve any policies, assets, divisions, brands, or employees of the old company. He or she has full operational authority, as of course is normal in the productive economy. Of course, the receiver must be responsible to some board, regulator, or other supervisory agent.

In a sovereign context, it is probably appropriate to capitalize the title: the Receiver. The goal of the Receiver is to convert the bankrupt government into one that produces maximum dividends for its beneficiaries, who may be internal or external. A restoration plan should give the Receiver a set of goals and a timeframe, and let him do the rest.

One way to imagine the Receiver's job is to imagine him endowed with a mythical symbol of power, the Wand of Fnargl. Within the country it controls, the Wand turns its holder into a sort of superhero. He can strike down anything or anyone with a bolt of fire, and he is invulnerable to all attacks. However, the Wand has a serious downside: it is disposable. After two years, it crumbles away to nothing.

Therefore, the Receiver has two years in which he holds full sovereign power. At the end of this period, he should leave a secure, responsible, and effective government which can sustain its sovereignty without recourse to magical instruments. While there is no Wand of Fnargl, its powers are clear, and can be reproduced albeit imperfectly by more mundane technologies. Sovereignty is a very well-defined concept. Thus it is a legitimate question to ask anyone what he or she would do, if appointed Receiver and handed the Wand.

For some distance, let's assume we are restructuring the country of Elbonia. At present, Elbonia uses its own fiat currency, it has no formal distribution of benefits or clear ownership structure, its decision-making procedures are byzantine, opaque, and mutable, it is plagued by internal violence, it exercises significant power outside its own borders, and its decisions are often affected by external aggression.

After restructuring, Elbonia will be on a metallic standard. All its financial commitments will be formal. It will be, as America's first Chief Justice liked to put it, governed by those who own it. Its owners will establish precise and immutable decision-making structures. They will eliminate systematic internal violence, and they will neither tolerate external interference nor interfere themselves:
Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the Government de facto as the legitimate Government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy; meeting, in all instances, the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none.
Any restructuring must start with the currency. Elbonia's debts are denominated in its own fiat currency, so it cannot never default. Does that mean it's not bankrupt? No, that means it is sovereign. Bankruptcy is any state of indefensible accounting.

The Elbonian currency is, of course, the grubnick. What is a grubnick? It is certainly not a note certifying that the issuer holds, or will deliver on demand, a specified quantity of anything. Once upon a time, believe it or not, this was considered rather tacky:
The dollar, like so many of the world's greatest, inspires at first sight interest, but hardly affection. From a casual study of the monetary controversy now raging in this country, I had been led to expect that the dollar was a gold dollar, and that Mr Bryan wanted to turn it into silver. It cannot be too widely known that the dollar as he is spent is neither gold nor silver; he is a piece of paper. Not only so, but often a very worn and dirty piece of paper at that. It is astonishing how a dollar will age in three or four years. True, the paper reflects the greatest credit on its inventor; it never tears — though perhaps this is because no strong man ever really tries to tear it — still, it is but a piece of paper after all. It bears on its weather-beaten face an inscription to the effect that there has been deposited in the Treasury of the United States one silver dollar, which will be paid to the bearer on demand. Others of the breed merely assert that the United States of America will pay one dollar, without specifying its material. The mysterious philanthropist who deposited the silver dollar apparently prefers to remain anonymous; while where or how you cash it is left equally dark. It must certainly be somewhere in Washington, whence the United States of America date their promise, but the American Eagle is too old a bird to give any more precise address. The dollar, so far as my experience goes, is always illustrated, usually with a vignette photograph of some eminent citizen or other, occasionally also with scenes from the life of Columbus or some other appropriate subject. This gives an aesthetic as well as a commercial interest to the dollar, which cannot be too highly prized. Its nominal value is 4s. 2d.
What we see in Mr. Steevens' snarky reporting (from 1898) is a currency in the middle of the transition from old-fashioned warehouse receipt to our modern, up-to-date Federal Reserve Note - or grubnick.

From the accounting perspective, what is a grubnick? The answer is simple. It is not a receipt, because it does not denote title to some stored object. It is not debt, because it does not denote an obligation that is canceled by some delivery. Therefore, it can only be equity.

A grubnick, in other words, is a share. It is a fraction of some great total right. We do not know exactly what it is a share in, because we do not know what rights you would control if you had all the grubnicks in the world. If you manage to buy up all the Federal Reserve Notes in the world, do you own the Federal Reserve? If you get your hands on all the grubnicks, are you the sole and undisputed owner of Elbonia? These questions are without meaning.

In other words, we can define fiat currency as dubious equity. Owning a grubnick is like owning a share in Yukos. If you own all the shares of Yukos, you own a lawsuit against the Russian government. What is this worth? It's up to the Russian government. At present the answer appears to be nothing, but Putin might always change his mind.

What we do know is that every dollar is equal to every other dollar. Every five-dollar bill has the same value, whether in dollars or gold or crude oil, as five one-dollar bills. Note that exactly the same is true for grubnicks, Yukos shares, etc, etc. Whatever they may be "worth" (more accurately, exchangeable for), they are amenable to mathematics.

Thus, if there are one trillion dollars in the world, and we accept the (dubious) assumption that if you own all the dollars you own the Federal Reserve, each dollar is a right to one trillionth of the Federal Reserve. Perhaps this is obvious, but it implies some corollaries.

One, creating new dollars does not affect the value of the Federal Reserve, however we choose to measure that value. Nor does it affect the value of Elbonia, Yukos, or any other right. It is common or garden stock dilution. Dilution is often more convenient than transferring shares from old owners to new owners, but the principle is the same. If there exist one trillion dollars and we print ten billion new ones and give them to X, the effect is just as if we replaced each dollars held by anyone but X with 99 cents, added up the spare cents and gave them to X.

Now we can see just how screwy the accounting system of Elbonia is. Imagine a company which chooses to denominate its accounting in its own stock. Say Google valued its assets, such as its buildings, in Google shares. Its debt would be promises to pay Google shares. If it paid dividends, each share might spawn 0.05 new shares. This would be truly perverse accounting. But it would not be as perverse as a system in which Google ran its numbers in terms of shares in an internal tracking stock which represented a subsidiary whose assets and liabilities were not defined at all. That's fiat currency for you.

To restructure this bizarre financial teratoma, we need to (a) fix the number of grubnicks in the world, and (b) define the rights divided among all grubnick holders.

(b) is easy: we convert grubnicks into proper Elbonian equity. In a liquid market, ELBO shares can be converted to gold, crude oil, Hummel figurines, or any other commodity. The only question is: if you start with fraction X of all the grubnicks, what fraction of all the ELBO shares do you end up with? Let's say, quite arbitrarily, that a third of the equity in ELBO will go to present grubnick holders.

(a) is more interesting. Why don't we know how many grubnicks there are in the world? Isn't each one numbered? Indeed, each one is numbered. But the Elbonian Reserve has the power to create more grubnicks, and it always uses this power when it has to.

Thus, when Elbonia promises you a grubnick, that promise is worth exactly as much as a grubnick, because there is no reason for Elbonia to break its promise. But there is also no constraint on Elbonia's ability to promise more grubnicks than it has actually created. Thus we have two kinds of grubnicks: actual grubnicks, and virtual grubnicks. If Elbonia is anything like America, the latter vastly outnumber the former.

For example, when you "deposit" a dollar in a bank, you do not own a dollar. You own a promise of a dollar from the bank. The bank is not the Federal Reserve, but via the FDIC the Federal Reserve "insures" your bank. The FDIC owns very few dollars, certainly not enough to protect all the banks in the world. But the Fed can print as many dollars as it likes. So your dollar "deposit," because it is backed by a chain that ends in a virtual promise from the Fed, is risk-free.

A Treasury bond is risk-free for the same reason - Uncle Sam is implicitly backed by Uncle Sam's own printing press. Thus, the bond is equivalent to a specialized kind of dollar bill, one that says "not valid until" a certain date - the date when the bond matures. In the world of equity, this is what we call restricted stock. Only a market can tell you how many grubnicks a restricted grubnick will trade for, but a restricted grubnick is still a grubnick.

Obviously, this is a financial Rube Goldberg machine. It can only be understood historically. Fortunately, there is a simple way to get the virtual grubnicks under control.

One: find all the assets (such as bank deposits) whose price in grubnicks is protected by Elbonia's power to print new grubnicks. Two: print the grubnicks, and buy the assets for their formal price. Three: fix the number of grubnicks outstanding. Four: convert grubnicks to ELBO shares, as desired. Five: sell the assets you nationalized, exchanging them for whatever monetary commodity your new accounting system uses. (Let's say it's gold.)

Doing this right will involve creating a lot of grubnicks. The best way to rationalize this is to understand that these grubnicks already exist. They just exist informally, and we need to formalize them. At present, for example, the US owes about $10 trillion in debt, in a world that contains less than 1 trillion actual dollars. Unless you are accustomed to the presence of virtual dollars, these numbers simply make no sense.

In the uneducated folk economics by which policymakers make their rule-of-thumb decisions today, this is held to be "inflationary." The general assumption, made more on the basis of sympathetic magic than anything else, is that more grubnicks means higher prices. But this is not true when we replace virtual grubnicks with real grubnicks, because the change is portfolio-neutral - your loan of 1000 grubnicks to the bank is replaced by 1000 actual grubnicks. Thus, you have no more or less money, thus your spending patterns do not change, and thus if everyone is affected in the same way there is no effect on market prices.

The Receiver has thus gained an important power. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, he can declare any obligation of Elbonia, formal or informal, to be a debt which is denominated in grubnicks and guaranteed by virtual grubnicks. Elbonia will then acquire that debt, since it is after all guaranteed, paying out in freshly-printed grubnicks. Rampant equity dilution is a very, very normal practice in any restructuring.

Suppose, for example, Elbonia has guaranteed lifetime medical care to all its residents. To the Receiver, this is an obligation like any other, even if it is not a formal obligation in the same sense as paying off a bond. Elbonia, at least in her unrestructured state, is too ramshackle a barge to make any useful distinction between formal and informal debts.

Therefore, Elbonia can shed this politically complex and nasty obligation by calculating the cost of an equivalent insurance policy for each resident, assuming the resident has such a policy, and buying it back with fresh grubnicks. If the resident wants to use those grubnicks to buy medical insurance, by definition she can afford it. Or she can spend them on beer and heroin. It's up to her. The whole conversion is a Pareto optimization.

This flood of new cash has no chance of descending into a hyperinflationary spiral, because it is part of a one-time restructuring in which the semantics and quantity of shares become fixed. Hyperinflation is what happens when a government falls into a state in which it is continually funding operating losses by paying off its creditors with freshly diluted stock. In the financial markets the same effect is produced by a toxic convertible. This is a device one might use in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, a fate to which we have already reconciled ourselves.

To prevent fluctuations in grubnick purchasing power, the Receiver can also create restricted grubnicks with a "not valid until" date. Thus, when buying out a medical insurance policy or other annual obligation, the compensated parties may receive restricted grubnicks that can pay each year's policy as it falls due, rather than getting a giant lump sum that can be spent on a yacht and will drive the yacht market haywire.

Thus armed not only with absolute political and military sovereignty, but also with the weird economic superpower of the fiat-currency printing press, our Receiver faces her next challenge: dealing with the horde of Elbonian government employees, most of whose occupations are not in any realistic sense productive.

The basic principle of a sovereign restructuring is to separate all outlays of the government into two classes: essential payments, and inessential payments. Obviously, wages paid to an inessential employee (such as a sociology professor - remember, we are nationalizing the universities) are inessential payments. Another word for "inessential payment" is dividend. From an accounting perspective, inessential employees are performing makework to hide the fact that they are actually receiving dividends, ie, acting as bloodsucking parasites.

Of course, with the Wand of Fnargl, the Receiver could just fire them. Quite literally, in fact. But is this fair? Our sociology professor jumped through quite a few hoops, none of which he invented himself, in order to receive what is probably not a very large payment. His so-called career may be pointless, but that means he should be retired, not fired. And he should be retired on a pension that includes a significant fraction of his present pay, maybe even all of it. He has, in short, acquired a certain level of ownership in Elbonia, he has done so through means that were entirely fair and open to all, and it is not our place to decide whether or not he deserves these spoils. Since Elbonia is already paying him, it can obviously afford to continue doing so.

Moreover, as a sociology professor he is part of the ruling class, and the Wand of Fnargl does not last forever. Keep your friends close, as they say, and your enemies closer. He is already being paid to lie for money to support the old regime. If you continue to pay his salary, but let him say and do whatever he wants, will he turn around and bite you? Perhaps some will, but it is not human nature. A more likely response is permanent, doglike loyalty. This response can be accentuated, if need be, by requiring the professor to put his name on a list of prominent figures who support the new government. If he changes his mind, he can stop or restart his pension to match the fluctuations of his conscience.

This gets even better when we get to the few parts of the Cathedral that are relatively healthy. One example is biomedical research, which requires delicate and expensive toys, and so commands a considerable amount of funding over and above faculty salaries. To destroy the institutions while making the researchers very, very happy, simply make everyone's grant or stipend their own permanent property. Divide the funding among the whole team, right down to the grad students. Result: a class of financially independent researchers who can work on whatever they want, wherever they want, sans paperwork. Perhaps a few will decide they don't care about curing cancer and do care about living in the South of France, but they will not be the cream of the crop. Is there anyone who really believes that the grant review process adds value or improves the quality of science?

The Receiver has thus brought order to Elbonia's books. Essential expenses - spending on goods and services that are actually necessary to maximize the Elbonian revenue - turn out to be a small proportion of budgetary outlays. The rest is profit. Elbonia, as we always knew, is massively profitable.

The Receiver's goal is not to redirect this profit, although she can redirect it if need be, but simply to understand it. Who is profiting? How much are they profiting? We find these profiteers - who in many cases are not wealthy fat cats, but philanthropists who provide vital services to the needy - and exchange their informal commitments for formal securities, ie, grubnicks. We eliminate any makework or other pointless camouflage that may have been used to disguise the profit relationship. And everyone is happy.

Elbonia does need revenue, of course. Since the new Elbonia will keep its books in gold, it should collect taxes in gold. The simplest way to tax, which is also one that affects all uses of Elbonian soil and cannot be evaded, is a self-assessed tax on all land and fixed structures. As a property owner, you assess your own property, which is offered for sale at the assessed price. If you don't want to sell, set your price above the market, and pay a little more tax.

Elbonia can also make a market for ELBO shares, in gold. Since grubnicks are to be converted to ELBO shares, this market will produce the critical grubnick-to-gold ratio. As people realize how weird it is to buy a cup of coffee with shares, the financial system will gradually return from equity to metallic currency.

The Receiver thus has the finances of Elbonia straight. She can then turn her powers toward repairing the sadly decayed framework of government. Her fiduciary responsibility is not just to preserve the value of the Elbonian franchise while the financial restructuring completes, but also to enhance it as much as possible. Given the low quality of government that Elbonia has suffered in the past, this is not hard.

The best target for the Receiver is to concentrate on restoring the Belle Époque. This implies that in two years, (a) all systematic criminal activity will terminate; (b) anyone of any skin color will be able to walk anywhere in any city, at any time of day or night; (c) no graffiti, litter, or other evidence of institutional lawlessness will be visible; and (d) all 20th-century buildings of a socialist, brutalist, or other antidecorative character will be demolished.

We can see how far the US at present is from this goal by this awful, hilarious story in the LA Times. I simply cannot muster the mockery to do justice to this piece. Read it all. "Well, if I tell you who shot Ray Ray, I'll never work again in this community." Indeed. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the basin, "loose-knit bands of blacks and Latinos" prowl the streets, "looking for people of the other color to shoot." Visit South Africa before South Africa visits you.

This is just over. It doesn't work. It's done. Stick a fork in it.

First, the Receiver recognizes that this is a military problem. These "gangs" are militias. Not only that, they are militias with an ideology, and that ideology is violently hostile to the society that hosts them. You are not going to convert them into Quakers by giving them big hugs. Nor is there any rational reason to deal with them via judicial procedures designed to contain the sporadic deviancy, or even psychopathy, that appears in any healthy society.

The ideology of the gangs is an ideology of pure war and hatred. It is no more tolerable than neo-Nazism, and in fact the best way to deal with these subcultures is to think of them as Nazi. They are certainly adept at converting hate into violence.

On the other hand, the fact that these formations are essentially barbaric paramilitary units validates one of the main arguments of the loony left. America's brimming prisons are essentially POW camps. Their inhabitants do not recognize the laws they were convicted under, or accept the society that convicted them. In terms of cultural reality, they are aliens.

The Receiver's message is: the war is over. Your side lost. Reconcile yourself to this, demonstrate that you have done so, and you can return to society. We can use all the manual labor you can put out - for one, we have ugly buildings to tear down, graffiti to remove, and so on.

Modern technology makes it easy for Elbonia to destroy any Morlock subcultures the former management may have inflicted on it. A trivial database query can identify the set of humans in the country who are either (a) productively employed, (b) independently wealthy, or (c) a well-supervised dependent of (a) or (b). Everyone else, including all minors, gets the tag. This inconspicuous device fits on your ankle and continuously reports your position to the authorities. If no crimes are committed near your location, you have nothing to worry about.

This is just the start. Elbonia is saddled with a large number of residents who are effectively dependents of the state - for example, those who receive housing subsidies. These people need to be reprocessed to determine whether they can become members of productive society, and during this time there is no reason to leave them where they are. Elbonia's revenue comes from its property values, and the presence of a Morlock population is not good for same.

Therefore, we can expect the Receiver to establish secure relocation centers, in which the 20th century's artificially decivilized subpopulations will receive social services in a controlled environment while they are reintroduced to civilized society. Mandatory apprenticeship in productive skills, language training to ensure all residents are fluent acrolect speakers, and in general a high degree of personal discipline will be hallmarks of these facilities.

There is no need to allow dysfunctional subcultures to persist in any context, not even in prison. The 20th-century prison is, like so many features of present society, a dead end. Modern technology can realize the ideal of many 19th-century penological reformers: universal solitary confinement.

In the 19th century, solitary confinement drove prisoners insane. In the 21st, adequate social interaction can be delivered electronically. Individual cells with virtual reality consoles are not a recipe for insanity. Virtualized prisoners are much easier to control, guide and evaluate. They are also easier and cheaper to guard and feed. In Third World conditions, entire slums can be surrounded, secured, and the residents moved into modular data hotels with sealed individual or family cells, in which they can live perfectly fulfilling second lives. There is simply no reason for open squalor and barbarism to persist anywhere on the planet. Outdoor relief is an idea whose time has come and gone.

From the standpoint of a society from which all forms of modern barbarism have been eradicated, the old, unrestored Elbonia will look almost unimaginably brutal and unlivable. When you have lived all your life in a country in which there is no crime and the streets are safe, the idea of "no-go zones" or random muggings, rapes, etc, will terrify you much as if the same assaults were committed by uncontrolled wild animals.

For example, I simply can't imagine what it would be like to live in San Francisco if there were fifty or sixty leopards loose in the city. But I can see how people would get used to it. Leopards are nocturnal, so you stay in at night. They hide in trees, so you cut down the trees. They tend to hunt in certain areas, so you avoid those areas. And the situation could develop gradually - the first leopard is a huge news story, the second is a smaller story, and they build up over time. After a while, the experience of walking down the street while checking for leopards would strike you as completely normal and unremarkable. If one day the leopards were removed, however, you would definitely notice it.

But this is utopian enough for one week. Continue to part 11.