Thursday, June 5, 2008 77 Comments

OL8: a reset is not a revolution

So, dear open-minded progressive, we've established who runs the world: you do. Or rather, people who agree with you do. Or hopefully, people you used to agree with do.

I can hope, right? Today, we'll do a little more than hope. We'll also look at change.

But first, let's nail down our terms. The great power center of 2008 is the Cathedral. The Cathedral has two parts: the accredited universities and the established press. The universities formulate public policy. The press guides public opinion. In other words, the universities make decisions, for which the press manufactures consent. It's as simple as a punch in the mouth.

The Cathedral operates as the brain of a broader power structure, the Polygon or Apparat - the permanent civil service. The Apparat is the civil service proper (all nonmilitary officials whose positions are immune to partisan politics, also known as "democracy"), plus all those formally outside government whose goal is to influence or implement public policy - ie, NGOs. (There's a reason NGOs have to remind themselves that they're "non-governmental.")

(If we did not have an existing category for the press and universities, we could easily think of them as NGOs - in particular, the system wherein journalists are nominally supervised by for-profit media corporations is purely historical. If the Times and its pseudo-competitors ever fail, as they may well, the responsibility of funding and organizing journalism will fall to the great foundations, who will certainly be happy to pick up the relatively small expense.)

I have blown a lot of pixels on the historical roots of the Cathedral. But this one-minute clip might tell you just as much:



That, my dear open-minded progressive, is what we call a personality cult. No, that's not George W. Bush on the flag. If you don't recognize the eagle, he is this friendly fellow. And if you think there is anything ironic about the production (from this movie), you're dead wrong.

And in what secret speech was this cult denounced? It never has been. All mainstream thought in the United States, Democrat and Republican alike, descends in unbroken apostolic succession from the gigantic political machine of That Man. (The last of the FDR-haters were purged by Buckley in the '50s.) The Cathedral connection, of course, is this.

Today's Cathedral is not a personality cult. It is not a political party. It is something far more elegant and evolved. It is not even an organization in the conventional, hierarchical sense of the word - it has no Leader, no Central Committee, no nothing. It is a true peer-to-peer network, which makes it extraordinarily resilient. To even understand why it is so unanimous, why Harvard always agrees with Yale which is always on the same page as Berkeley which never picks any sort of a fight with the New York Times, except of course to argue that it is not progressive enough, takes quite a bit of thinking.

Yet as the video shows us, the Cathedral was born in the brutal hardball politics of the 20th century, and it is still best understood in 20th-century terms. Most historians would agree that the 20th century started in 1914 - much as "the Sixties" denotes the period from 1965 to 1974 - and I don't think it can be declared dead until this last great steel machine finally gums up and keels over. I'd be surprised if this happens before 2020 - or after 2050.

The 20th century prudently and definitively rejected the 19th-century idea that government policies should be formulated by democratically elected representatives (whom you know and loathe as "partisan politicians"). Unfortunately, at least in the United States and the Soviet Union, it replaced the fallacy of representative government with the far more insidious fallacy of scientific government.

Government is not a science because it is impractical to construct controlled experiments in government. Uncontrolled or "natural" experiments are not science. Any process which is not science, but claims to be science, or claims that its results exhibit the same objective robustness we ascribe to the scientific process, has surely earned the name of pseudoscience. Thus it is not at all excessive to describe 20th-century "public policy" as a pseudoscience. A good sanity check is the disparity between its predictions and its achievements.

Moreover, all the major 20th-century regimes maintained, and generally intensified, the underlying mystery of Whig government: the principle of popular sovereignty.

Even the Nazis acknowledged popular sovereignty. If the NSDAP had defined its leadership of Germany as a self-explaining proposition, it could have laid off Goebbels in 1933. Instead it went to extraordinary lengths to capture and retain the support of the German masses, and most historians agree that (at least before the war) it succeeded. If you don't consider this an adequate refutation of the principle of vox populi, vox dei, perhaps you are a Nazi yourself.

This is the terrible contradiction in the political formula of the modern regime. Public opinion is always right, except when it's not. It is infallible, but responsible educators must guide it toward the truth. Otherwise, it might fall prey to Nazism, racism, or other bad thoughts.

Hence the Cathedral. The basic assumption of the Cathedral is that when popular opinion and the Cathedral agree, their collective judgment is infallible. When the peasant mind stubbornly resists, as in the cases of colonization or the racial spoils system, more education is necessary. The result might be called guided popular sovereignty. It wins both coming and going.

In 1933, public opinion could still be positively impressed by group calisthenics displaying the face of the Leader, eagles shooting lightning bolts, etc, etc. By today's standards, the public of 1933 (both German and American) was a seven-year-old boy. Today's public is more of a thirteen-year-old girl (a smart, plucky, well-meaning girl), and guiding it demands a very different tone.

You are not a thirteen-year-old girl. So how did you fall for this bizarre circus? How can any mature, intelligent, and educated person put their faith in this gigantic festival of phoniness?

Think about it. You read the New York Times, or similar, on a regular basis. It tells you this, it tells you that, it reports that "scientists say" X or Y or Z. And there is always a name at the top of the article. It might be "Michael Luo" or "Celia Dugger" or "Heather Timmons" or "Marc Lacey" or... the list, is, of course, endless.

Do you know Michael or Celia or Heather or Marc? Are they your personal friends? How do you know that they aren't pulling your chain? How do you know that the impression you get from reading their stories is the same impression that you would have if you, personally, saw everything that Michael or Celia or Heather or Marc saw? Why in God's green earth do you see their "stories" as anything but an attempt to "manipulate procedural outcomes" by guiding you, dear citizen, to interpret the world in a certain way and deliver your vote accordingly?

The answer is that you do not trust them, personally. Bylines are not there for you. They are there for the journalists themselves. If the Times, like the Economist, lost its bylines and attributed all its stories to "a New York Times reporter," your faith would not change one iota. You trust Michael and Celia and Heather and Marc, in other words, because they are speaking (quite literally) ex cathedra.

So you trust the institution, not the people. Very well. Let's repeat the question: what is it about the New York Times that you find trustworthy? The old blackletter logo? The motto? Suppose that instead of being "reporters" of "the New York Times," Michael and Celia and Heather and Marc were "cardinals" of "the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?" Would this render them more credible, less credible, or about as credible? Suppose, instead, they were "professors" at "Stanford University?" Would this increase or decrease your trust?

For a hardened denialist such as myself, who has completely lost his faith in all these institutions, attempting to understand the world through the reports and analysis produced by the Cathedral is like trying to watch a circus through the camera on a cell phone duct-taped to the elephant's trunk. It can be done, but it helps to have plenty of external perspective.

And for anyone starting from a position of absolute faith in the Cathedral, there is simply no other source of information against which to test it. You are certainly not going to discredit the Times or Stanford by reading the Times or going to Stanford, any more than you will learn about the historical Jesus by attending a Latin Mass.

And as a progressive, you are no more interested in prying into these questions than the average Catholic is in explaining what makes the Church "One, Holy, and Apostolic." You do not see yourself as a believer in anything. You don't think of the Cathedral as a formal entity, which of course it is not. Its institutional infallibility is a matter of definition, not faith.

Rather, you focus your political energies on the enemies of the Cathedral. Perhaps the keystone of the progressive belief system is the theory that the Cathedral, far from being the boss hog, the obvious winner in all conflicts foreign or domestic, is in fact struggling desperately against the dark and overpowering forces of bigotry, religion, ignorance, corruption, militarism, etc. In a word - the Man.

We met the Man last week courtesy of Lincoln Steffens, whose enemies - in the form of Gilded Age blowhards such as Chauncey Depew - at least really existed, and had real power. When C. Wright Mills wrote The Power Elite, their memory could at least be reasonably invoked. By the Chomsky era, the military-corporate-financial conspiracy was approaching the plausibility, if not the maliciousness, of its international Jewish counterpart. The 20th century's real power elite, of course, are Steffens, Mills and Chomsky themselves.

This is the classic propaganda trope in which resistance becomes oppression. Poland is always about to march into Germany. Every aggressive political or military operation in history has been painted, usually quite sincerely, by its supporters as an act of self-defense.

In reality, active resistance to the Cathedral is negligible. At most there is the Outer Party, which is completely ineffective if not counterproductive (more on this in a bit). The Outer Party can sometimes align itself with small acts of petty corruption, as in Tom DeLay's K Street Project. This can hardly be described as a success. There are also phone-in operations, such as NumbersUSA, which attempt to mobilize the last remnants of unreconstructed public opinion. The Cathedral, which fears the masses much more than it has to, is often demure in revealing its power to just steam right over them, and so it is possible to achieve small victories such as NumbersUSA's in maintaining the status quo. Finally, the initiative process, ironically a relic of early Progressivism itself, grants occasional laurels to a Howard Jarvis or Ward Connerly.

But most resistance is of the passive, atomized, and inertial sort. People simply tune out. If they are especially determined and wily, they may practice the Ketman of Czeslaw Milosz. Or they believe, but they don't super-believe. They are the progressive version of jack Mormons. Naturally, even these small, private apathies enrage the fanatical.

Here is another inescapable contradiction. The average progressive, who is not open-minded (most people aren't) and is not reading this, cannot imagine even starting to perform the exercise of imagining a world in which his side is the overdog. Yet the very word "progress" implies that his cause in general tends to advance, not retreat, and history confirms this.

If you were advising a young, amoral, ambitious and talented person to choose a political persuasion solely on the probability of personal success, you would certainly advise her to become a progressive. She should probably be as radical as possible, hopefully without acquiring any sort of a criminal record. But as the case of Bill Ayers shows, even straight-out terrorism is not necessarily a bar to the circles of power (especially if, like Ayers, you started there in the first place).

The only reason to oppose progressivism is some sincere conviction. As Edith Hamilton said to Freda Utley: "Don't expect the material rewards of unrighteousness while engaged in the pursuit of truth." This has to be one of the finest sentences of the twentieth century.

Any such conviction may be misguided, of course. People being what they are, and progressivism being the creed of the most intelligent and successful people in the world, most opponents of progressivism are in some way ignorant, deluded or misinformed. Often the situation is simple: progressives are right, and they are wrong. This hardly assists the pathetic, doomed cause of antiprogressivism.

In the Post, the liberal historian Rick Perlstein stumbles on (and then, of course, past) the inconvenient reality of progressive dominance:
Born myself in 1969 to pre-baby boomer parents, I'm a historian of America's divisions who spent the age of George W. Bush reading more newspapers written when Johnson and Richard Nixon were president than current ones. And I recently had a fascinating experience scouring archives for photos of the 1960s to illustrate the book I've just finished based on that research. It was frustrating -- and telling.

The pictures people take and save, as opposed to the ones they never take or the ones they discard, say a lot about how they understand their own times. And in our archives as much as in our mind's eye, we still record the '60s in hazy cliches -- in the stereotype of the idealistic youngster who came through the counterculture and protest movements, then settled down to comfortable bourgeois domesticity.

What's missing? The other side in that civil war. The right-wing populist rage of 1968 third-party presidential candidate George Wallace, who, referring to an idealistic protester who had lain down in front of Johnson's limousine, promised that if he were elected, "the first time they lie down in front of my limousine, it'll be the last one they'll ever lay down in front of because their day is over!" That kind of quip helped him rise to as much as 20 percent in the polls.

It's easy to find hundreds of pictures of the national student strike that followed Nixon's announcement of the invasion of Cambodia in the spring of 1970. Plenty of pictures of the riots at Kent State that ended with four students shot dead by National Guardsmen. None I could find, however, of the counter-demonstrations by Kent, Ohio, townies -- and even Kent State parents. Flashing four fingers and chanting "The score is four/And next time more," they argued that the kids had it coming.

The '60s were a trauma -- two sets of contending Americans, each believing they were fighting for the future of civilization, but whose left- and right-wing visions of redemption were opposite and irreconcilable. They were a trauma the way the war of brother against brother between 1861 and 1865 was a trauma and the way the Great Depression was a trauma. Tens of millions of Americans hated tens of millions of other Americans, sometimes murderously so. The effects of such traumas linger in a society for generations.

Consider this example. The Library of Congress, which houses the photo archives of Look magazine and U.S. News & World Report, holds hundreds of images of the violent confrontation between cops and demonstrators in front of the Chicago Hilton at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and, from the summer of 1969, of Woodstock. But I could find no visual record of the National Convention on the Crisis of Education. Held two weeks after Woodstock in that selfsame Chicago Hilton, it was convened by citizens fighting the spread of sex education in the schools as if civilization itself were at stake. The issue dominated newspapers in the autumn of 1969 and is seemingly forgotten today.
'68 wasn't a "trauma." It was a coup. It was a classic chimp throwdown in which, using tactics that were as violent as necessary, the New Left displaced the Old Left from the positions of power. "Up against the wall, motherfucker, this is a stickup." Truer words were never spoken. The victory of Obama, a Movement man to the core, represents the final defeat of the Stalinist wing of the American left by its Maoist wing. (By "Stalinist" and "Maoist," all I mean is that the New Deal was allied with Stalin and the SDS was aligned with Mao. These are not controversial assertions.)

But I digress. My point is that what we can infer, by our inability to recognize any serious successor in 2008 of George Wallace, the anti-sex-education movement, or the folks who thought that the National Guard's real mistake at Kent State was that they failed to follow up the victory by fixing bayonets and charging, is that these reactionaries lost, and their progressive enemies won. Generally in any conflict only one side can claim victory. And if after the battle we see that one side still flourishes and the other has been so thoroughly crushed that it is not only nonexistent, but actually forgotten, we sure know which is which.

The great myth of the '60s is that the Movement, somehow, failed. Actually, its foes - not Nixon's silent majority, who never had any real power in the first place, but the Establishment, the old Eleanor Roosevelt liberals, the Grayson Kirks and S.I. Hayakawas and McGeorge Bundys, lost almost every battle - including, of course, the Vietnam War itself. The SDSers and Alinskyites suffered hardly at all for their offenses, and moved smoothly and effectively into the positions of power they now hold, almost exactly as described in the Port Huron Statement. (Which is unbelievably windy, even by my standards - scroll to the end for Hayden's actual tactical battle plan.)

The case of the "silent majority" illustrates the system of guided popular sovereignty. A majority of American voters opposed the student movement. Just as a majority of Germans supported Hitler. The majority does not always win. The children of the "silent majority" are far, far less likely to express the views of a George Wallace, a Spiro Agnew or an Anita Bryant than their parents. The same can be said for the grandchildren of the Nazis. The Cathedral defeated both.

(Was this a good thing? I suppose it probably was. I am not a huge fan of George Wallace, or of Hitler. But they are both dead, you know. History is not a judicial proceeding. Quite frankly, I find it amateurish to take sides in the past. We study the past so that we can take sides in the present.)

The progressive is quite satisfied with the defeat of Hitler, which short of making pyramids of skulls, Tamerlane style, was about as complete as it gets. But Wallace is another matter.

To a progressive, progressivism is right and its opposite is wrong. Thus any survival of the "silent majority," any sense in which the world has not yet been completely progressivized, any victory short of unconditional surrender, is a sign to progressives that the world remains dominated by their enemies. More energy is necessary, comrades.

The device of unprincipled exceptions allows this bogus, self-congratulatory legend of defeat to persist indefinitely. As we've seen, the progressive story can be traced back centuries, and at every moment in its history it has existed in a society which has included reactionary power structures. For example, the concepts of property, corporations, national borders, marriage, armed forces, and so on, are irredeemably unprogressive. Attacking on all these fronts simultaneously would result in nothing but defeat, real defeat.

So the continued existence of these reactionary phenomena provides evidence that progressives are struggling against dark forces of titanic and unbounded strength. You have to be a bit of a reactionary yourself to see the truth: these institutions are simply a matter of reality. So it is is reality itself that progressivism attacks. Reality is the perfect enemy: it always fights back, it can never be defeated, and infinite energy can be expended in unsuccessfully resisting it.

Thus Condoleeza Rice, for example, can claim that America is only now becoming true to its principles. The Times disagrees - it claims that America is not yet there. Rather, it is treating its illegal immigrants unjustly. Is it just for America to prevent any human being from setting foot on its noble soil? Or is "no person illegal?" The Times is silent on the question. But perhaps in a decade or two the answer will be revealed in our "living constitution." You see how cynical a response this great institution can expect, from a carping denialist such as myself, when it accuses some poor Outer Party shill of "breaking the law."

Anyway. I think I have gone far enough in describing the Cathedral. It is basically a theocratic form of government, minus the literal theology. Its doctrines are not beliefs about the spirit world. But they rest no less on faith. I certainly cannot see any reason to believe that these people have delivered, are delivering, or will deliver government that is secure, responsible, and effective. I can see plenty of reasons to expect that, as the unprincipled exceptions rise to the surface and are carved away, things will get worse.

In case you are still undecided on whether or not to support the Cathedral, dear open-minded progressive, I offer you a simple test. The test is a little episode in ancient history. The name of the episode is Reconstruction.

The question is: who is right about Reconstruction? Team A: Eric Foner, Stephen Budiansky, and John Hope Franklin? Or Team B: Charles Nordhoff, Daniel Henry Chamberlain, and John Burgess? For extra credit, throw William Saletan in the mix.

Team B has an advantage in that their books are available in one click. They have another advantage: they actually lived through the events they describe. Team A has an advantage in an extra century or so of scholarship, and the vast marketing powers of the Cathedral. You don't actually need to buy their books - their ideas are everywhere. (Budiansky's breathless first chapter is, however, on line.)

Note that there are no factual matters in dispute. The choice is merely one of interpretation. And all the authors linked above are, by any reasonable historical standard, liberals. Who do you find more credible, Team A or Team B? As you'll see, you can hardly agree with both.

If you get the same results from this experiment that I did, you may want to think about strategies for change. Change can be divided into two parts: capturing power, and using it.

My answer for how to use power will not change: I believe in secure, responsible, and effective government. This is not, in my humble opinion, a difficult problem. The difficult problem is how to get from here to there.

Let's start by looking at some ineffective strategies. In my opinion, the most common error made by antiprogressive movements is to mimic the strategies of progressivism itself. The error is in assuming that the relationship between left and right is symmetric. As we've seen, it is not.

The three main strategies for progressive success in the 20th century were violence, Gramscian or bureaucratic incrementalism, and Fabian or democratic incrementalism. As antiprogressive strategies, I don't believe that any of these approaches has any chance of success. As (at the very least) distractions, they are counterproductive.

Revolutionary violence in the 20th century has such a strong track record that it's only natural for reactionaries to think of trying it. Furthermore, in Japan, Italy and Germany, the 20th century has three cases of reactionary movements (yes, I know Hitler did not claim to be a reactionary - but he was lying) which achieved success through violence. For a while.

Before their fascist movements rose to power, these countries all had one thing in common. They were monarchies. Is your country, dear reader, a monarchy? If not, I recommend - strongly - against any kind of reactionary violence, terrorism, "civil disobedience" (such as tax protesting), or any approach that even starts to smell of the above.

Fascism was a reaction to Communism. (Thus the word "reactionary.") It could exist because of one thing and one thing only: a political and especially judicial establishment that was fundamentally reactionary, and willing to turn a blind eye toward antirevolutionary thugs, who used Bolshevik techniques against the Bolshevists themselves. Is your country, dear reader, equipped with a reactionary judicial establishment? Are you sure? Are you really sure? Because if not, I recommend - strongly - against etc.

In a world dominated by progressives, the fascist gate to power is closed, locked, welded shut, filled with a thousand tons of concrete, and surrounded by starving cave bears. Today's Apparat has entire departments who do nothing but guard this door, which no one but a few pathetic dorks will even think of approaching. And this is even assuming that a regime which achieved power through fascist techniques would be superior in any way, shape, or form to the Cathedral, a proposition I consider extraordinarily dubious. Give it up, Nazis. Game over. You lose. Frankly, even the real Nazis were no prize, and few of them would regard their modern successors with anything but contempt. There is a reason for this.

We continue to Gramscian incrementalism. This is not without its merits. It even has its successes. I think the most effective arm of the modern "conservative" movement, far and away, has been the Federalist Society. The Federalists are absolutely decent and principled, they have separated themselves as far as possible from the Outer Party, and they have had a real intellectual impact. Frankly, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

On the other hand, it should not be necessary to join the Cathedral to have an intellectual impact on it, and one day it won't be. And as an institutional power play rather than a platform for intellectualizing, the idea of Gramscian reaction is just silly. At best, the Federalists, and their economic counterparts in the George Mason School, might make the Cathedral system work a little more efficiently. But the Cathedral tends to be much better at assimilating them than they are at subverting it - an intention which, you'll note, few of them will admit to.

Gramscian subversion works for a reason: the Gramscian progressive's real goal is power. In order to generate free energy which he can transmute into organizational power, he is ready to push his organization toward ineffective policies, which by virtue of their very ineffectiveness are a permanent source of work for him and his friends. A Gramscian reactionary, working in the same organization as these people and nominally collaborating with them, is forced into one of two options: attacking the progressives and trying to destroy their jobs, which will result in his certain destruction, or finding a way to betray his own principles, which will result in a comfortable and permanent sinecure. There is little suspense in the decision.

Ultimately, the Gramscian reactionary is in fact a Gramscian progressive. All he is doing is to create jobs for himself and his friends. The Cathedral is happy to employ as many tame libertarians or conservatives as it can find. As LBJ used to put it, better to have them inside the tent pissing out. Hence the infamous cosmotarians. Perhaps if someone found a way to spread their dung on crops, they might have a reason to exist.

We continue to Fabian incrementalism. You can see Glenn Reynolds endorse the Fabian strategy here. I'm afraid I still have a soft spot for the Instapundit, who was perhaps my first introduction to the weird, scary world outside the Cathedral, and a gentle and pleasant introduction it was. But frankly, Reynolds doesn't pretend to be anything but a lightweight, and I see no reason to waste much time on him.

Fabian incrementalism means supporting either the Outer Party, or a minor party such as the Libertarians. By definition, if you are going to take power using the democratic process, you have to support some party or other.

There is an immediate problem with this: as we've seen, modern "democracies" do not allow politicians to formulate policy. It is a violation of their unwritten constitutions, and an unwritten constitution is just as hard to violate as a written one. Therefore, even when the Outer Party manages to win the election and gain "power," what they find in their hands is more or less the same sort of "power" that the Queen of England has.

My stepfather, a mid-level Washington insider who spent twenty years working as a staffer for Democratic senators, caviled vigorously at the idea that the Democrats are the "Inner Party" and Republicans are the "Outer Party." He pointed out that between 2000 and 2006, the Republicans held the Presidency and both houses of Congress.

I pointed out that he was actually underplaying his hand. During this period, Republican nominees also held a majority on the Supreme Court. By the eleventh-grade civics-class "separation of powers" theory, this would have given the Grand Old Party complete domination over North America. Without breaking a single law, they could have: liquidated the State Department and transferred sole foreign-policy responsibility to the Pentagon, packed the Supreme Court with televangelists, required that all universities receiving Federal funds balance their appointments between pro-choice and pro-life professors, terminated all research in the areas of global warming, evolution and sexual lubricants, etc, etc, etc.

Whereas in fact, in all the hundreds of thousands of things Washington does, there was exactly one major policy which the Bush administration and Congress pursued, but their Democratic equivalents would not have: the invasion of Iraq. Which you may support or oppose, but whose direct effect on the government of North America is hard to see as major. Moreover, this applies only to the first term of the Bush administration. We have no strong reason to believe that a Kerry administration would not have adopted the same policies in Iraq, including the "surge."

Why did the Republicans not use their formal control over the mechanisms of Washington to cement real control, as the Democrats did in 1933? There are many specific answers to this question, but the basic answer is that they never had real power. In theory, the Queen has just the same power over the UK, and if she tried to use it all that would happen is that she would lose it. Exactly the same is true of our own dear Outer Party, on whatever occasion it should next get into office. It may get into office again. It will never get into power. (Although it retains the power to fill many juicy sinecures.)

There is a more subtle reason that the Outer Party is a rolling disaster: conservatives and reactionaries, whose political positions must be based on principle rather than opportunism (since if they were opportunists, they would always do better as progressives), find it difficult to agree. Progressives always find it easy to agree - as you might have noticed, their disputes are almost always over either tactics or personalities, almost never over principles. There is a reason for this.

Thus progressives have the advantage of spontaneous coordination, the glue that holds the Cathedral together in the first place. Their formula is pas d'amis a droit, pas d'ennemis a gauche, and any unbiased observer must applaud at how smoothly they make it work. Their coalitions tend to hold, those of their enemies tend to fracture. Evil is stronger than good, because it is never worried or confused by scruples.

Third, Outer Party politicians who achieve any success are constantly tempted to succeed even more, by replacing their principles with progressive ones and allying with progressives. Since this alliance enables them to outcompete their principled competitors with ease, it takes a very determined figure to avoid it. In the ancient, grinning carapace of Senator McCain, this strategy has surely been pushed to its furthest possible extent - or so at least one would think. Then again, one would have thought the same of the original "compassionate conservative."

We can see a more extreme version of this in the pathetic gyrations of one of the Outer Party's outer parties, the Lew Rockwell libertarians, skewered with deadly aim at VDare and roasted to a fine crisp at VFR. I don't really agree with the details of Auster's analysis of libertarianism (here is mine), but our conclusion is the same: the problem with libertarianism is that libertarianism is a form of Whiggery, and the first Whig was the devil. (Furthermore, this idea of presenting Dr. Paul, who so far as I can tell is nothing but a profoundly decent old man, as some kind of public intellectual, and putting his name on blatantly ghostwritten books, reeks of 20th-century politics.)

Fourth, there is another way to succeed in the Outer Party. This might be called the Huckabee Plan. On the Huckabee Plan, you succeed by being as stupid as possible. Not only does this attract a surprising number of voters, who may be just as stupid or even stupider - the Outer Party's base is not exactly the cream of the crop - it also attracts the attention of the Cathedral, whose favorite sport is to promote the worst plausible Outer Party candidates. As usual with the Cathedral, this is a consequence of casual snobbery rather than malignant conspiracy, but it is effective nonetheless. It is always fun to write a human-interest story about a really wacky peasant, especially one who happens to be running for President.

And fifth, the very existence and activity of the Outer Party, this profoundly phony and thoroughly ineffective pseudo-alternative, is far and away the greatest motivator for Inner Party activists, who believe it is a monstrous danger to their entire world. Don't say they don't believe this. I believed in the right-wing menace, the regs gevaar as it were, for the first quarter century of my life.

Without the Outer Party, the Cathedral system is instantly recognizable as exactly what it is: a one-party state. You'll note that when the Soviet Union collapsed, it wasn't because someone organized an opposition party and started winning in their fake elections. In fact, many of the later Communist states (such as Poland and China) maintained bogus opposition parties, for exactly the same reason we have an Outer Party: to make the "people's democracy" look like an actual, 19th-century political contest.

Without the Outer Party, the legions of Inner Party youth activists we see all over the place are exactly what they appear to be: Komsomol members. They are young, ambitious people who serve the State to get ahead. In fact, often their goal is not to get ahead, but just to get laid. Once it is clear that the Inner Party is just the government, all the fun disappears from this enterprise. There are other ways to get laid, most of them less boring and bureaucratic.

If the Republicans could somehow dissolve themselves permanently and irrevocably, it would be the most brutal blow ever struck against the Democrats. It would make Obi-Wan Kenobi look like Chad Vader. As I'll explain, passive resistance is not your only option, but it is a thousand million times better than Outer Party activism. Do not support the Outer Party.

Face it: political democracy in the United States is dead. It died on March 4, 1933, when the following words were uttered:
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis--broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
FDR is often credited with "preserving democracy." He "preserved democracy" in about the same way that the Russians preserved Lenin. More precisely, it was his opponents who preserved the pickled corpse of democracy, when again and again FDR made these kinds of crude threats and they failed to call his bluff. (Justice Van Devanter has a lot to answer for.)

Democracy sucks. It never worked in the first place. Pobedonostsev got it exactly right. If you read British travelers' accounts of 19th-century American democracy, when we had the real original thing and theirs was still heavily diluted with aristocracy, the phenomenon sounds terrifying and barbaric. It sounds, in fact, distinctly Nazi. And where do you think the Nazis got their mob-management technology? By listening to Beethoven, perhaps? By reading Goethe?

And since democracy is dead, the idea of restoring it is doubly quixotic. If you have to pick something dead to restore, at least find something that everyone understands is dead. It would actually be much easier, and certainly far more productive, to restore the Stuarts.

For example, the British writer Richard North, who is not a porn star but the proprietor of EU Referendum, perhaps the world's best blog on the reality of government today, has a fine two-part essay on the failure of the eurosceptic movement - that is, the movement to rescue the UK from assimilation into the curiously Soviet-like and thoroughly undemocratic EU.

What astounds Dr. North so much is that no one seems to care. All the Sturm und Drang of the 19th century, all the democratic foofaraw and the jingoism and the socialism and all the rest, and the British people are letting it all just be sucked away into a creepy-looking building in Belgium, from which all important decisions are handed down by transnational bureaucrats who could sign on as extras in Brazil II without the cost and inconvenience of a baby mask.

And it's not just the UK. I mean, good lord, Ireland! All the ink that was shed over Home Rule. All the blood, too. The unquenchable Celtic passion of the fiery, irrepressible Celt. And they can scarcely be bothered to give a tinker's damn whether they are governed from Dublin or from Brussels. What in the world can be going on?

What is going on is that the voters of both Britain and Ireland, though they may not know it consciously, are perfectly aware of the game. As anyone who has read the Crossman diaries knows, their politicians handed off power to faceless bureaucrats a long, long time ago, just as ours did. The only real question is what city and office building their faceless bureaucrats work in, and what nationality they are. And why should it possibly matter?

So Dr. North concludes his entire well-reasoned discussion with this bathetic cri de coeur:
To achieve that happy outcome, though, we have to answer the question that the élites have been evading ever since they decided to take refuge in the arms of "Europe": what is Britain's role in the world?

On reflection, I have come to the view that it is the failure to address this question which has given rise to many of the ills in our society. As have our politicians internalised, so has the population. Lacking, if you like, a higher calling – the sense that there is something more to our nation than the pursuit of comfort, prosperity and a plasma television in the corner – we too have become self-obsessed, inwards-looking … and selfish.

In effect, therefore, we are looking for the "vision thing" – a sense of purpose as a nation, a uniting ethos which will restore our sense of pride and reinforce our national identity which the EU has been so assiduously undermining.
What bland shite. Dr. North, here's a modest proposal for your "national identity."

I suggest a Stuart restoration in an independent England. Through some beautiful twist of fate, the Stuart succession has become entangled with the House of Liechtenstein, who just happen to be the last working royal family in Europe. The father-son team of Hans-Adam II and Hereditary Prince Alois are not decorative abstractions. They are effectively the CEOs of Lichtenstein, which is a small country but a real one nonetheless. As you'll see if you read the links, the last "reform" in Lichtenstein actually increased the royal executive power. Take that, 20th century!

And Prince Alois's son, 13-year-old Prince Joseph Wenzel, just happens to be the legitimate heir to the Stuart throne - illegally overthrown in a coup based on the notorious warming-pan legend. Therefore, the structure of a restoration is obvious. The Hanoverians have failed. They have become decorative pseudo-monarchs. And as for the system of government that has grown up under them, it makes Richard Cromwell look like a smashing success. Restore the Stuarts under King Joseph I, with Prince Alois as regent, and the problem is solved.

Unrealistic? Au contraire, mon frere. What is unrealistic is "a sense of purpose as a nation, a uniting ethos which will restore our sense of pride..." Frankly, England does not deserve pride. It has gone to the dogs, and that may be an insult to dogs. If England is to restore its sense of pride, it needs to start with its sense of shame. And the first thing it should be ashamed of its the pathetic excuse for a government that afflicts it at present, and will afflict it for the indefinite future until something drastic is done.

For example, according to official statistics, between 1900 and 1992 the crime rate in Great Britain, indictable offenses per capita known to the police, increased by a factor of 46. That's not 46%. Oh, no. That's 4600%. Many of the offenders having been imported specially, to make England brighter and more colorful. This isn't a government. It's a crime syndicate.

Ideally a Stuart restoration would happen on much the same conditions as the restoration of Charles II, except perhaps with an extra caveat: a total lustration of the present administration. It has not partly, sort of, kind of, maybe, failed. It has failed utterly, irrevocably, disastrously and terminally.

Therefore, the entire present regime, politicians and civil servants and quangocrats and all, except for essential security and technical personnel, should be retired on full pay and barred from any future official employment. Why pick nits? The private sector is full of competent managers. You can import them from America if you need. Don't make the mistake of trying to sweep out the Augean stables. Just apply the river. (If a concession must be made to modern mores, however, I think this time around there is no need to hang any corpses.)

In order to make a Stuart restoration happen, Dr. North, you have to accomplish one of the following two things. You either need to persuade a majority of the population of England (or Great Britain, if you prefer, but England as a historic jurisdiction without a present government is quite an appealing target) that it needs to happen, or you need to persuade the British Army that it needs to happen. The former is preferable. The latter is dangerous, but hardly unprecedented. Frankly, the present situation is dangerous as well.

Neither of these options involves any of the following acts: starting a new political party, recruiting a paramilitary fascist skinhead stormtroop brigade, or engaging in eternal debates about the policies and procedures of the restored polity.

All of these are crucial, but the third especially. Note the difference between organizing a royal restoration and organizing a democratic revival. The latter, simply because of the open landscape of power it must create, offers an infinite plane across which an arbitrary oil slick of random crackpot ideas can spread out indefinitely, creating a movement with less cohesion than the average pubic hair. (See under: UKIP.) The former is a single decision. It is far less complicated than voting. Either you want to restore the rightful King of England, or you'd rather take your chances with the faceless bureaucrats. Either you're a neo-Jacobite, or you're not. There are no factions, parties, personality conflicts, etc, etc.

What will the new England look like? You don't even have to think about it. It is not your job to think about it. It is Prince Regent Alois's job - the miracle of absolute monarchy, Stuart style. If he runs the place a quarter as well as he runs Vaduz, if he can get the crime rate per hundred thousand back down to 2.4 from 109.4, historians will be kissing his ass for the next four centuries. Perhaps he can get Lee Kuan Yew in as a consultant.

You have many difficulties in making a Stuart restoration happen, but perhaps the greatest is that most Englishmen simply have no idea what living in a competently governed country would be like. Liechtenstein, while quite well-run, is too small to serve as an illustration. Singapore is definitely a better bet.

Here is a speech made last year by Lee Hsien Loong, who just, um, happens to be the son of Lee Kuan Yew. Read this speech, obviously composed by Prime Minister Loong himself (it certainly does not betray the speechwriter's art), and imagine living in a country in which the chief administrator talks to the residents in a normal voice as if speaking to grownups. Yes, men and women of England, this is what American-style democracy has deprived you of. We're sorry. We promise we won't do it again.

This sort of transition in government is what, here at UR, we call a reset. It's just like rebooting your computer, when for some reason it gets gunked up and seems to be running slowly. Are you interested in debugging it? Would you like to activate the kernel console, perhaps look at the thread table, check out some registers, see what virtual memory is doing? Is a bear Catholic? Does the Pope - anyway.

Or perhaps it's a little more like reinstalling Windows. The gunk could be a virus, after all. Rebooting will not remove a virus. Better yet, you could replace Windows with Linux. That way, you won't just get the same virus right away again. I think a Stuart restoration in England is about as close as it comes to replacing Windows with Linux.

There are three basic principles to any reset.

First, the existing government must be thoroughly lustrated. There is no point in trying to debug or reform it. There is certainly no need for individual purges, McCarthy style, or for Fragebogen and Persilscheine a la 1945. Except for the security forces and essential technical personnel, all employees should be thanked for their service, asked to submit contact information so that they can be hired as temporary consultants if the new administration finds it necessary, and discharged with no hard feelings, an amnesty for any crimes they may have committed in government service, and a pension sufficient to retire.

Second, a reset is not a revolution. A revolution is a criminal conspiracy in which murderous, deranged adventurers capture a state for their arbitrary, and usually sinister, purposes. A reset is a restoration of secure, effective and responsible government. It's true that both involve regime change, but both sex and rape involve penetration.

Of course, a failed reset can degenerate into a revolution. No doubt many involved in the rise to power of Hitler and Mussolini thought of their project as a reset. They were quite mistaken. It is a cruel irony to free a nation of democracy, only to saddle it with gangsters.

There is a simple way to distinguish the two. Just as the new permanent government must not retain employees of the old government, it must not employ or reward anyone involved in bringing the reset about. A successful reset may involve an interim administration which does have personal continuity with the reset effort, but if so this regime must be discarded as thoroughly as the old regime. This policy eliminates all meretricious motivations.

Third, and most important, a reset must happen in a single step. It is not a gradual effort in which a new party builds support by incrementally moving into positions of responsibility, as the Labour Party did in the 20th century. As we've seen, this Fabian approach only works from right to left. The only way for a reactionary movement to acquire power incrementally is to soil itself by participating in political democracy, a form of government it despises as much as any sensible person. Besides, since there is no such thing as a partial reset, there are no meaningful incremental policies that resetters can support. You can restore the Stuarts or not restore the Stuarts, but you can't restore 36% of the Stuarts.

A reset is the result of a single successful operation. Ideally, the old regime simply concedes peacefully and of its own free will that it has lost the confidence of the people, and obeys all legal niceties in conveying full executive power to the new administration. This is more or less the way the Soviet satellites collapsed, for example. It can get more complicated than this, but not much more complicated. Whatever is done, there should be no security vacuum and certainly no actual fighting. Real reactionaries don't go off half-cocked.

There is a simple way to execute a reset without falling into the dead-end trap of politics, and without the assistance of the military. Conduct your own election. Enroll supporters directly over the Internet, verifying their identity as voters. Once you have a solid and unquestionable majority, form an interim administration and request the transfer of government.

And it will happen. You may not even need an absolute majority. The modern regime is quite immune to politics, but it is tremendously sensitive to public opinion. It cannot afford to be disliked. Like every bully, it is a great coward. Especially if it is given a comfortable way out - thus the amnesty and the pension. If you have your majority and still the regime does not concede, this, and only this, is the time to turn to the official elections.

The truth about the people who work for government is that, in general, they despise it. They are demoralized and disillusioned. They have slightly more excitement and energy than your average Stasi employee circa 1988, but not much. Working for the government in 1938 was incredible, unbelievable fun. Working for the government in 2008 is soul-destroying. If you gave the entire civil service an opportunity to retire tomorrow on full pay, nine out of ten would take it, and lick your hand like golden retrievers for the offer.

But this is getting long. Continue to part 9.

77 Comments:

Blogger TGGP said...

two-minute clip
I noticed a lot of people in uniform, but not so many non-uniformed officials.

And in what secret speech was this cult denounced?
I suppose by the opposition party as all that was occurring. Or possibly in the Supreme Court decision that ruled the National Recover Administration unconstitutional.

The Cathedral connection
As I argued previously and would like to reiterate, that seems on its face much less like the Universities subordinating the politicians than the latter enlisting the former.

It is a true peer-to-peer network, which makes it extraordinarily resilient.
Just ask John Robb.

which never picks any sort of a fight with the New York Times, except of course to argue that it is not progressive enough
Then you've just admitted a lack of unanimity. A hypothetical leftist Moldbug would be complaining that the right-wing power structures only criticize the Times for not being reactionary enough. But of course K. C. Johnson, an academic who describes himself as a liberal Obama supporter has denounced the NYT for buying into a lefty multiculti narrative.

Government is not a science because it is impractical to construct controlled experiments in government
For some governmental policies randomization has actually been used to conduct studies. The results showed, for example, that the kids who signed up for vouchers but got stuck in crappy schools did just as well as the kids who actually got vouchers. Most policies, of course, are not determined by their results. This is because scientific government is not really that in vogue. Bryan Caplan and Jeffrey Friedman on how archaic Hayek sounds about the menace of "scientism" here.

its predictions and its achievements
Bellamy seemed to be describing something like fascism. Perhaps the Soviet Union is a better example.

in the cases of colonization
Matthew Yglesias used immigration as an example of the public not getting its way, Caplan responded here. Of course, in terms of immigration law there is a sense in which the public gets its way by making immigrants illegal (I think that's great because it prevents them from voting). The "amnesty bill" was defeated because of grassroots reaction, but many of the same people who vociferously oppose "amnesty" if the word pops up simultaneously approve of letting the immigrants who are already here stay, possibly after paying some sort of fine for breaking the law. To me the hidden factor here is the "cheap labor lobby", which is just fine with their illegal status (unlike the Cathedral) and is very well-connected to the Republican party. The nefarious influence of the cheap labor lobby could be nullified if we adopted something like a Gulf State style guest-worker system where the workers were truly guests who eventually went home and sent money to their families rather than having families here. The economic benefits would be sizable enough that we could tax them and pay for whatever it would take to shut the Cathedral up. We could even have their employers act sort of like bondsman, taking the hit for whatever problems their charges cause. A good way to internalize externalities.

If the Times, like the Economist, lost its bylines and attributed all its stories to "a New York Times reporter," your faith would not change one iota.
Are we considering Brooks and Kristol editorials to be stories?

You are certainly not going to discredit the Times or Stanford by reading the Times or going to Stanford
Both Walter Lippman and Noam Chomsky used the NYT as case-studies in their criticism of the news media. Mainstream media criticize Harvard, but often on educational rather than political grounds (Harvard's purpose is supposed to be educating people). Now politicians are saying Harvard's endowment is too large, so they should be taxed regardless of their non-profit status.

You do not see yourself as a believer in anything
I think progressives tend to identify as progressive rather than say "independent", which is what Bill O'Reilly calls himself.

Chauncey Depew
I thought you exhibited him earlier as an example of Progressive bullshitting.

Poland is always about to march into Germany
That's the analogy you used for this. My question then, as now, is why does "Poland" have a yearly budget of $600 billion and manpower of 1.68 million while "Germany" has $30 billion and (I think we would agree) a fraction of the manpower.

Every aggressive political or military operation in history has been painted, usually quite sincerely, by its supporters as an act of self-defense.
There was a time when simple conquest was held in great respect.

If you were advising a young, amoral, ambitious and talented person to choose a political persuasion solely on the probability of personal success, you would certainly advise her to become a progressive
I would advise them to stay the hell out of politics and go into finance, medicine or law.

She should probably be as radical as possible, hopefully without acquiring any sort of a criminal record
I think Obama is more succesful while being less radical than Nader, Kucinich or Gravel. The really radical ones don't seem to have much success, unless like Ayers they started out at the top.

The only reason to oppose progressivism is some sincere conviction
Or because you think it will be easy to get a job via Heritage or AEI in Iraq reconstruction.

People being what they are, and progressivism being the creed of the most intelligent and successful people in the world
I don't know about success since you haven't explained how to quantiify it, but Half Sigma showed that higher IQs tend to result in libertarianism.

using tactics that were as violent as necessary
What was the bodycount? It sounds pretty lame to me.

Obama, a Movement man to the core
He seems rather Establishment liberal to me.

the final defeat of the Stalinist wing
I thought Saul Alinsky was part of the Stalinist wing.

Alinskyites suffered hardly at all for their offenses
What offenses did the Alinskyites engage in against the Old Left?

the concepts of property, corporations
That seemed more in danger in the 30s, but by the rise of the neo-liberals it seems that strand of though got rather conclusively defeated in America.

dark forces of titanic and unbounded strength
You can watch the Will Wilkinson diavlog with the book's author here. I laughed when I first heard of it, as my reaction was similar to yours, but its better than it sounds. Not some all-powerful malevolent force, just some Congresscritters behaving like dicks.

The question is: who is right about Reconstruction?
Summarize the point of contention (even if it be over value rather than fact) and give your view.

For extra credit, throw William Saletan in the mix.
He didn't say a damn thing about Reconstruction.

I believe in secure, responsible, and effective government.
And unicorns.

They were monarchies
Weimar was called a REPUBLIC for a reason.

In a world dominated by progressives, the fascist gate to power is closed, locked, welded shut, filled with a thousand tons of concrete, and surrounded by starving cave bears
The progressives were preceded by reactionaries in positions of power (the Tsar was definitely to the right of Weimar). How was their revolutionary violence succesful?

I think the most effective arm of the modern "conservative" movement, far and away, has been the Federalist Society
A good chain of posts from Volokh on a book about the conservative legal movement, in good part on the Federalist society, here.

The Federalists are absolutely decent and principled
I wouldn't grant as much to the John Yoo imperial executive types, but they're just one faction among them. I forget where I read it, but it's been claimed the only single policy all the different parts of the Society agree on is opposition to affirmative action.

they have separated themselves as far as possible from the Outer Party, and they have had a real intellectual impact
I think there are two reasons Thomas and Scalia put most "conservative" politicians to shame (I don't know enough to discuss Scalia or Roberts). One is that they're more intelligent and that tends to result in people taking extreme and consistent positions rather than the jumble described by Converse. Another is that they can't lose their jobs and so can ignore the polls.

On the other hand, it should not be necessary to join the Cathedral to have an intellectual impact on it
Let's drop the "shoulds" unless you want to wish for ponies rather than grab for power.

and their economic counterparts in the George Mason School
GMU is nothing compared to Chicago.

might make the Cathedral system work a little more efficiently
In my view that's about as good as it gets.

But the Cathedral tends to be much better at assimilating them than they are at subverting it
I think that happens to moderates, not confirmed Federalist Society types. Though if someone would like to give examples of sellout Society members, please do so.

Gramscian subversion works for a reason: the Gramscian progressive's real goal is power
Isn't that yours as well, or at least that of the movement you're advising?

or finding a way to betray his own principles, which will result in a comfortable and permanent sinecure
There are reactionaries whose principles do not include preventing them and their comrades from getting jobs.

Hence the infamous cosmotarians
I thought they worked for Reason and Cato, not the Cathedral. Unless you consider the former a subset of the latter.

I'm afraid I still have a soft spot for the Instapundit, who was perhaps my first introduction to the weird, scary world outside the Cathedral
I feel so very sorry for you, but not enough to quit mocking you for the birth defect that still plagues your mind.

as we've seen
No, as you've asserted and neglected to answer any criticisms.

modern "democracies" do not allow politicians to formulate policy
Pay no attention to the Iraq war behind the curtain!

He pointed out that between 2000 and 2006, the Republicans held the Presidency and both houses of Congress.
Bush didn't take office until 2001. When that Vermont senator crossed over it gave the Dems a majority in the Senate (I think until 2002). As our proggle friends are sure to remind us on 2008, you need a two-thirds majority in the Senate anyways to really get things done.

Without breaking a single law, they could have: liquidated the State Department
As Glenn Reynolds pointed out, its one of the few departments whose existence dates back to the Constitution. The GOP has never had any intention of getting rid of it. It uses the State department even to this day, as it is run by a Bush appointee. Colin Powell dissented, so he was removed, but before that he performed his role and helped give them their war in Iraq.

packed the Supreme Court with televangelists
Bush wanted to put Miers and Gonzalez there, but conservatives balked which is why Roberts and Scalia are there instead.

Whereas in fact, in all the hundreds of thousands of things Washington does, there was exactly one major policy which the Bush administration and Congress pursued, but their Democratic equivalents would not have: the invasion of Iraq
What about the Patriot Act and related shenanigans? I can't say for certain that the Dems wouldn't do something like that, unlike the prescription drugs thing. There are also tax cuts, which have remained low even during a war and massive spending increase.

Which you may support
If you're a collosal fucking idiot. Offense intended. A bit less so for you, since you at least claim to have seen the error of your neo-con ways.

but whose direct effect on the government of North America is hard to see as major
It is called foreign policy for a reason, but all the spending and employment of contractors seems pretty significant.

Why did the Republicans not use their formal control over the mechanisms of Washington to cement real control, as the Democrats did in 1933?
What did they do? I know FDR attempted a court-packing plan (which Congress didn't accept), but he had a much larger majority than Bush did. But what specific actions were taken in 33 that Bush didn't take?

since if they were opportunists, they would always do better as progressives
Do some simple economics analysis. There is a supply of people who wish to be political hacks. If they are unprincipled they will shift between the Dems and GOP until equilibrium is reached. Even GOP members will admit there are a sizable amount of unprincipled GOP hacks (to someone like Auster, they comprise roughly the entire party).

find it difficult to agree. Progressives always find it easy to agree
I remember those years where the Dems kept losing elections and the right kept mocking them for being so fractious and unable to get it together. How can they run a country if they can't run their own party? That shouldn't be surprising if the Dems consist of three castes and the GOP two (although many Vaisya also vote Dem) only if we count the Optimates.

their disputes are almost always over either tactics or personalities, almost never over principles
I think Vietnam and Civil Rights both really divided the Dems back in the day. There haven't been any equivalent big issues since then it doesn't seem.

Their coalitions tend to hold
FDR's (relying on the Solid South) famously didn't.

Evil is stronger than good, because it is never worried or confused by scruples.
If you think any significant faction in politics is "good", I don't know what you're smoking.

the Lew Rockwell libertarians
The Left Conservative responds to Pendleton here. I have a post about it here.

roasted to a fine crisp at VFR
He claims he is quoting Ryan McMaken when the use of "we" in reference to immigrants should have given it away that he did not make or endorse the statement. Auster tries to spin things to make it appear that Ryan has embraced a double-standard, when he is actually equivocating and making in the most part an amoral realist analysis. Given my experiences discussing Darwin with Auster, I can't say I'm dissapointed.

whose favorite sport is to promote the worst plausible Outer Party candidates
Huckabee lost. The establishment GOP got completely scared (assisted by lefties up in arms over what looked like a cross in a Christmas ad) and shut him down.

Without the Outer Party, the Cathedral system is instantly recognizable as exactly what it is: a one-party state
Two parties minus one party is one party. You're one step closer to passing kindergarten math!

You'll note that when the Soviet Union collapsed
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita explains why it happened here.

China) maintained bogus opposition parties
Wikipedia makes it sound like there's only the CCP. It's even enshrined in the Chinese constitution.

They are young, ambitious people who serve the State to get ahead
I noticed you said "the State" instead of "Cathedral" there. So they support the Patriot Act and giving more power to the President?

If the Republicans could somehow dissolve themselves permanently and irrevocably, it would be the most brutal blow ever struck against the Democrats.
Is there some historical incident you are basing this conjecture on, or are you just talking out of your ass?

Face it: political democracy in the United States is dead. It died on March 4, 1933, when the following words were uttered
When Reagan was shot some goverment dude claimed he then had authority, but that didn't make it so. Even here you don't show the Polygon kicking out politicians but the Executive brow-beating the Legislature.

they failed to call his bluff
The NRA was ruled unconstitional and his court-packing plan didn't come to fruition. Doesn't that count as calling his bluff?

the phenomenon sounds terrifying and barbaric
The little I read sounded like artistocrats complaining about new money, which as a capitalist just makes me laugh.

I suggest a Stuart restoration in an independent England
Why not repeal the Norman invasion? And give everyone a pony?

illegally overthrown in a coup
That you endorsed. It's the Tower of London for you when your restoration comes through.

Restore the Stuarts under King Joseph I, with Prince Alois as regent, and the problem is solved.
The Stuarts couldn't keep themselves in power before, why would they be able to now?

For example, according to official statistics, between 1900 and 1992 the crime rate in Great Britain, indictable offenses per capita known to the police, increased by a factor of 46
How much of that is due to things being illegal that weren't before? Also, it should be noted that compared to the pre-democratic era there is far less violence. Pinker, Diamond and even Sailer have all discussed the phenomenon.

It has failed utterly, irrevocably, disastrously and terminally.
It has some of the highest living standards of all time. I think I would reserve those words for the communist regimes.

except for essential security and technical personnel
Remember that a standing army and professional police force were newfangled inventions in England that smelled somewhat French to the citizenry on their introduction.

The private sector is full of competent managers
"Whiz kids", they called them in the Kennedy administration. Oops. I guess putting the right people in place doesn't solve a damned thing!

The former is preferable
It's implausible.

The latter is dangerous, but hardly unprecedented
I thought you just said revolutionary violence was closed off?

Frankly, the present situation is dangerous as well
Oh, come off it. When the average Englander is harmed, its generally a safe bet that its due to their own intoxication.

historians will be kissing his ass for the next four centuries
Especially if said historians are employed by the Royal Family.

Here is a speech
I quit reading when I came across some dreck about inequality.

Yes, men and women of England, this is what American-style democracy has deprived you of. We're sorry. We promise we won't do it again.
How is it America's fault? Didn't they have the Whig and Dissenter problem on their own?

Second, a reset is not a revolution. A revolution is a criminal conspiracy in which murderous, deranged adventurers capture a state for their arbitrary, and usually sinister, purposes. A reset is a restoration of secure, effective and responsible government.
The difference seems to be that you approve of one. Revolutionaries certainly claim they will deliver those goods while their opponents offer the opposite.

Of course, a failed reset can degenerate into a revolution
Or that's just what it was in the first place.

it must not employ or reward anyone involved in bringing the reset about
Then who is going to support it? You've just blocked the Stuarts themselves from taking part!

A successful reset may involve an interim administration which does have personal continuity with the reset effort, but if so this regime must be discarded as thoroughly as the old regime
The dictatorship of the proletariat will surely dissolve of its own accord.

This is more or less the way the Soviet satellites collapsed, for example
The result was not a reset. And it didn't happen that way for Romania, it was quite violent.

Whatever is done, there should be no security vacuum and certainly no actual fighting. Real reactionaries don't go off half-cocked.
Real reactionaries have often enjoyed fighting since they were part of the military caste.

Once you have a solid and unquestionable majority
If you could have had anything close to that you wouldn't be in that situation in the first place. This is just more democracy.

The modern regime is quite immune to politics, but it is tremendously sensitive to public opinion
All your examples of its immunity to politics just showed it ignoring public opinion, with the politicians in both parties more to the other side.

Like every bully, it is a great coward
Whig nonsense. Bullies are less risk-averse than average.

If you gave the entire civil service an opportunity to retire tomorrow on full pay, nine out of ten would take it, and lick your hand like golden retrievers for the offer
If pay was that important they'd be in the private sector. You yourself claimed they were paid psychically by taking part in Progressivism.

June 5, 2008 at 5:02 AM  
Blogger gokart-mozart said...

Is tggp the alter ego of Moldbug?

Who else could volumize their writing in this manner?

June 5, 2008 at 6:15 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Part of that reminds me of a saying ascribed to the 19th century randlord Barney Barnato: "Well, gentlemen, those are my principles. And if you don't like them, I have others."

More seriously, you have either confused or chosen to ignore something which matters a great deal in terms of facts on the ground and in personal attachment, both now and in the past. Indeed, this conflation causes offence to people like me, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. Here are some examples:-

- "Queen of England"; there hasn't been one of these since 1707.

- "I suggest a Stuart restoration in an independent England"; taken literally, this means an exclusion and ejection of Scotland that would in fact work at odds with the only justification for the Stuarts being in England in the first place, namely the personal union of the crowns; by omitting Scotland it would contradict the idea of "You can restore the Stuarts or not restore the Stuarts, but you can't restore 36% of the Stuarts" (and if by England you meant to include Scotland, you are offensive).

- "Either you want to restore the rightful King of England, or you'd rather take your chances with the faceless bureaucrats", ditto.

I could continue quoting this nauseating stuff ad nauseam, but won't. No true Scotsman would make this conflation, and no true Jacobite could ignore the essential trinity of the three kingdoms.

More calmly and tactically now, I must point out that there is an inherent contradiction in "Ideally a Stuart restoration would happen on much the same conditions as the restoration of Charles II, except perhaps with an extra caveat: a total lustration of the present administration". That is, that caveat totally undercuts everything that was done to implement the restoration. Insist on it, and you find that you have nothing left by way of precedent and you might as well start afresh. Acts of Amnesty and Oblivion ("amnesty for the King's enemies and oblivion for his friends", as the wry contemporary joke had it) were the very foundation of the restoration. Lustrated restoration is no restoration, but rather reform of the Machiavellian sort that keeps the appearance of the old by using the plumage from the dying bird.

"And Prince Alois's son, 13-year-old Prince Joseph Wenzel, just happens to be the legitimate heir to the Stuart throne - illegally overthrown in a coup based on the notorious warming-pan legend". Formally, the "illegally" part of that does not happen to be the case. That is, formally, James II was deemed to have abdicated. In any case, his successor was constitutionally elected through the Council of Accession (think "faithless electors" in the US Electoral College), so as from James II's death there can be no legalistic grounds for objecting that someone else - old or young pretender - was the rightful king. Please note, I am only commenting on legal and constitutional forms, not endorsing them; my intention here is to show that anyone who wants to pray legalisms in aid will find they work against him.

It's also worth noting that "In theory, the Queen has just the same power over the UK, and if she tried to use it all that would happen is that she would lose it" is probably wrong. That is the mistaken understanding held by Australia's Whitlam government before the notorious dismissal, in regard to the Governor-General (the monarch's proxy). So, recent history strongly suggests that if she tried to use it to resist improper behaviour of the government and/or parliament, and followed it with constitutionally replacing them through fresh elections or whatever (unlike what the Shah did after Mossadegh's removal), it would work.

June 5, 2008 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger icr said...

For example, the concepts of property, corporations, national borders, marriage, armed forces, and so on, are irredeemably unprogressive.

I think property and corporations are anathema only to very young progressives.

June 5, 2008 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

This is getting ridiculous. How many Britons would prefer to live in Singapore? Or Lichtenstein? You go on and on as if Western Democracies are unbearably awful, but all you can point to is a higher crime rate, immigration, and the government's employment of tons of citizens.

If I'm going to be convinced that things are just so awful that the smart thing to do is to just hand over the entire country to a single man to do whatever the fuck he wants with it... you're going to have to demonstrate a lot more danger.

June 5, 2008 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"How many Britons would prefer to live in Singapore? Or Lichtenstein?"

The suggestion is not that we pack up and move. The question is:

"How many Britons (or, in my case, Americans) would prefer their government to look like the government of Singapore or Lichtenstein?"

Or simply: "Are you dissatisfied with your current form of government? How can it best be changed?"

"You go on and on as if Western Democracies are unbearably awful, but all you can point to is a higher crime rate, immigration, and the government's employment of tons of citizens."

Are these things great? While I'm not terrifically concerned with #2 (I'm a Floridian -- oranges depend on immigrants), #3 is often a waste of money, and #1 -- how can a higher crime rate be not "unbearably awful"?

June 5, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is tggp the alter ego of Moldbug?

He consistently demonstrates, at great length, that he hasn't understood a word MM says. I am glad MM doesn't waste a lot of time responding to TGGP's eager volubility. Some Children, after all, should be Left Behind...

June 5, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Are these things great? While I'm not terrifically concerned with #2 (I'm a Floridian -- oranges depend on immigrants), #3 is often a waste of money, and #1 -- how can a higher crime rate be not "unbearably awful"?

Compared to Utopia or compared to Mencius's new, reactionary government? Why should we think that the reactionary government wouldn't lower the crime rate by deciding to cane people for chewing gum, like Singapore? Or by calling in air-strikes on Baltimore? Who cares about illegal immigrants if the alternative is living in the old East Germany? Who cares about government handing out money to government employees and contractors when the alternative might be an economy where you've got to be Tony Soprano to make any money?

June 5, 2008 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Short version of my argument:

Out of the universe of all possible countries, the existent U.S. is better than almost all of them. Where's the evidence that MM's new U.S. would be among the rare better U.S.s in that space?

June 5, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Mencius: Decisions should, more or less by definition, be made correctly. Correct decision procedures are those that create correct decisions. Given human fallibility, for humans, correct decision procedures are *deliberative* procedures. The universities are our society's institutions for organizing deliberative procedures. They work imperfectly, but what the F*ck else would you expect to work better than deliberation of some sort or another? The only thing that comes to mind is gambling, e.g. decision markets.
In any event, politics is FAR more complicated that the decision procedures of academia, which don't seem to be powerful or pervasive enough even for one branch of academia to reach conclusions about the legitimacy of a nearby branch, say physics on biology or economics on sociology.
Bored now.

June 5, 2008 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"Out of the universe of all possible countries, the existent U.S. is better than almost all of them. Where's the evidence that MM's new U.S. would be among the rare better U.S.s in that space?"

Horseshit.
I would greatly prefer any time in pre-Wilson America, or being both educated & landed, anywhere on the Continent prior to the Revolutions or China prior to 1900 or so.

June 5, 2008 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous TGGP said...

I have stated elsewhere that I prefer Singapore. I just don't think it can be easily replicated (it wasn't produced by a reactionary reset but the "People's Action Party" or something like that). It's a tiny, tiny country very dependent on mobile factors of production. I wish to produce more such tiny localities, which is why I endorse multitudes of secessionary movements in the U.S as well as seasteading. Granting absolute to some individual is far more likely to produce disaster than prosperity, and the First World nations are in a good enough position that it would be ridiculous to take that gamble.

If I have made any errors, feel free to point them out.

I am not so much irritated by MM's declining to respond to me personally but to make any response to anyone at all. One of the great things about the blog used to be the discussions that would occur in the comments section. Bloggers that keep out of the comments section are just a step above ones that don't have comments at all.

I forgot to mention earlier that MM's plan here seems completely different from his earlier post on "How to destroy the United States", which was based on Revipedia or whatever. I would like to know what caused him to change his mind on that.

June 5, 2008 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I would greatly prefer any time in pre-Wilson America, or being both educated & landed, anywhere on the Continent prior to the Revolutions or China prior to 1900 or so.

Why?

June 5, 2008 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I'm just a dope, but this verbose ramble can be explained by a few facts:
1. Reporters are lazy. They are fed by smart people, and the transmitted thoughts are passed on verbatim by the laziest reporter, and sometimes the passed-on concept is turned on its head by a more industrious member of the press. Academes are smart, and make good sources. Smart people dictate the content of smart discussions. Factory workers usually do not. Cathedral? Give me a break!

2. I guess you don't get the Wall St. Journal, which gives the American Enterprise Institute the run of the editorial page. If you read liberal papers, you'll get liberal thought. If you read conservative papers, you'll get the opposite. Big deal.

3. You don't get the truth from newspapers, but if you read a few and understand their biases, you can get a very good idea of what's actually happening in the world.

4. It is particularly transparent now that government decision makers aren't always the best and brightest. Their PR people, however, are the best of that lot.
It follows that the pandering to the lowest common denominator will be effective. Political parties have a will to remain in power, and "reset" to remain fashionable, at least in the US.

June 5, 2008 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

If you read liberal papers, you'll get liberal thought. If you read conservative papers, you'll get the opposite.

Big deal. Because, both of them are wrong.

I'd like crime to drop 98%. That would be pretty cool. (Not that I've ever been a victim or know any victims.) It is possible, since we had it a short 100 years ago. If Mencius' proposal doesn't or can't work to bring it about, then we need to try something else. The status quo is not a serious option.

Also awesome would be not living in a nation of children. Read the Singapore thing and then try to tell me that my government can't talk to me like that.

To compare Obama to Lee Hsien Loong is to compare a drunk with a stick to Tiger Woods. You start wondering if they're both human. Obviously, the cognition of one of them is seriously different in kind from the other.

I don't actually believe Obama is that dumb. But he acts that dumb, and it apparently works.

June 5, 2008 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of the universe of all possible countries, the existent U.S. is better than almost all of them. Where's the evidence that MM's new U.S. would be among the rare better U.S.s in that space?

There only needs to be one better US for a reset to be justified. And there is at least one - the pre-1933 United States.

I am not so much irritated by MM's declining to respond to me personally but to make any response to anyone at all.

Ever have a newborn baby? =)

We're lucky he writes anything at all, let alone respond to people.

I think he responds pretty quickly to email.

June 5, 2008 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger DR said...

So Singapore which has slavery (two years compulsory military service) and capital punishment for tiny amounts of marijuana is suppose to represent the culmination of the best thing you can replace current government with?

No thanks, I'll take the higher healthcare costs and the slightly higher unemployment if it means I can buy the Wall Street Journal, chew gum and not get my head chopped off because my roommate smokes pot.

I thought you were building up to something a little better than Singapore with this long series, Mencius. You had me strung along for a little while, but if this is the end result I'll stick with Reason and Will Wilkinson instead.

June 5, 2008 at 7:06 PM  
Anonymous m said...

dr: this devolves back to Hume's is-ought problem. Is good governance economic prosperity, safety and security? Or is it the freedom to do what you want, even if it means a substantially lower quality of living and the chance of getting mugged or killed when you walk out of your house? (If you think this is an exaggeration, look at South Africa. We have a long ways to fall yet, and there's very little to suggest that our current path will alter.)

I'd take the former any day of the week.

June 5, 2008 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

tggp-

At Yale, the NYTimes is given out for free in every single dining hall and is read by almost all the students. The Wall St Journal certainly does not have this same arrangment. This is as good as evidence as you need for the link between the univerisities and the NY Times.

June 5, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Singapore which has slavery (two years compulsory military service) and capital punishment for tiny amounts of marijuana is suppose to represent the culmination of the best thing you can replace current government with?

Ha, those are your only complaints? I already served - it ain't so bad - and I detest drug use (in fact I think Singapore's drug policy is a model for what our drug laws should be), so I have no problem with either "drawback". Booming economically (7.9% growth rate, $48,900 GDP per capita), negligible crime rate, educated workforce, advanced infrastructure... yeah, I'd be damn near ecstatic if the USA were run along the same lines as Singapore.

June 5, 2008 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

TGGP: "Wikipedia makes it sound like there's only the CCP. It's even enshrined in the Chinese constitution."

China has other parties. But they are constitutionally required to accept the CCP's "leading role" in society.

Perhaps it can be understood as a hybrid of people's democracy and representative democracy. In representative democracy you have multiple parties and they fight it out. In people's democracy, there is a class-based theory of politics, according to which all the parties in a representative democracy are stooges of the pre-revolutionary ruling class, and then there's a revolutionary party which represents the masses of workers and peasants. The day it gets into the power is the first day on which the people actually rule, and so long as it stays in power, the people are still ruling, by definition...

Xinhua calls the Chinese system a "multi-party cooperation system". Wikipedia has more.

June 5, 2008 at 8:21 PM  
Anonymous picklefactory said...

TGGP: the hell with the haters. Keep it up. Anyone who says "Well plainly, you just don't understand!" and leaves it there may just as well take that thumb off the spacebar and stick it straight up his or her arse.

June 5, 2008 at 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Jewish Atheist:
If I'm going to be convinced that things are just so awful that the smart thing to do is to just hand over the entire country to a single man to do whatever the fuck he wants with it... you're going to have to demonstrate a lot more danger.

Direct hit! The perfect the enemy of the good, no question. Really, from my perspective in a medium-sized city in the American Midwest, things aren't so bad.

For perspective, I'm pretty low in status: I make barely more than minimum wage, and I'll probably never own a house nor start a family. Still, by any reasonable standard, my life's OK, and the same is true of most people I know. We never lack for food or entertainment, and we're free to do more-or-less whatever we want. Panhandlers, prostitutes, and thugs annoy me, but mostly leave me alone. I've only been mugged once, and that was in Europe. It's not like I walk through a Judge Dredd comic every day.

I do think to see Western Civilization crumbling all around me, but honestly, part of that is just personal temperament. People have been saying the world's going to the dogs throughout recorded history, but like the poem says, "the dogs have had a good long wait." You're right, JA: things would have to get a lot worse than they are now to justify the kind of radical solutions MM advocates. His clear-headed non-mystical take on democracy and progressivism is refreshing and worthwhile, though.

June 6, 2008 at 12:08 AM  
Anonymous baduin said...

Mencius' problem is that he is still a classic progressive, except that he now subscribes to a much earlier time period. (Calling Hitler a reactionary shows this quite well.)

He wants to create an enlightened absolutism in England in XVIII century style. Enlightened Absolute Monarchs were the ultimate in progressivism before the French Revolution, but that was rather long ago.

And so, while his description is nearly prescient (I find it hard to believe he didn't read Voegelin, the similarities are so striking), his prescriptions are just ridiculous.

Simply speaking, (important) people don't want a good government. People want a saviour, an Obamessiah, who will lead them to a paradise. That is why the right name for the progressivists would be secular millenarists.

Good government is enough for a city (it not an accident that both Lichtenstein and Singapore are city-sized).

June 6, 2008 at 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TGGP: the hell with the haters. Keep it up. Anyone who says "Well plainly, you just don't understand!" and leaves it there may just as well take that thumb off the spacebar and stick it straight up his or her arse.

In my experience as a teacher, there are three kinds of students: those who need no help to learn, those who can learn if you help them, and those who can't learn even if you help them.

I don't "hate" TGGP, I just think he's in the third category, and I'm not going to knock myself out trying to explain to him what's wrong with what he thinks about what MM says. Not my job, not getting paid for it.

June 6, 2008 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

And so, while his description is nearly prescient (I find it hard to believe he didn't read Voegelin, the similarities are so striking), his prescriptions are just ridiculous.

I see things pretty much the same way. I would assume that he's joking about reestablishing the Stuarts, but
he's certainly spent a long time on a joke that wasn't particularly funny in the first place.

The best thing I get out of this blog is some interesting suggestions for further reading. Jouvenel's On Power alone makes reading the blog worthwhile, but I get the impression that Jouvenel's prescriptions would be in many ways almost the opposite of Mencius's.

June 6, 2008 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

I talked to several people about Liechtenstein (I have some plans there), including some natives in responsible positions (i.e. in banking) and they all agree that Liechtenstein is under German attack (do your homework to find out how and why, in case you don't know). Another opinion that I often hear about Liechtenstein is that it is really just another Swiss canton; Switzerland being the first and most democratic state on Earth and the very birthplace of Calvinism.

June 6, 2008 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

I've been reading Daniel Henry Chamberlain.

Chamberlain notes that South Carolina's public expenditures rose during Reconstruction and fell afterward; right after calling the Northern whites who moved to South Carolina "adventurers". He darkly implies corruption at the heart of Reconstruction ("public and private virtue well-nigh extinct").

To tell his "moral tale" as he puts it, Chamberlain has to show that the money went into Northern pockets rather than into education of Carolinian blacks.

Chamberlain doesn't do that. In addition he's pinging my bullshit-meter several times when he refuses to name the miscreants of Reconstruction. Looking around it seems that Chamberlain was a politician at the time; more a Cicero than a Tacitus (c.f. Chapter Eight).

If the prosecution against Reconstruction is to be reconvened, Chamberlain ought not to be allowed to speak for the prosecution.

June 6, 2008 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

Now I'm reading Nordhoff. Nordhoff is often wrong (he predicts a split in the "Conservative" - crypto-Democrat - party, with both halves appealing on equal footing to the black electorate - LOL!) but unlike Chamberlain he is at least honest.

I'm reading only the Louisiana section because, living in Houston, Louisiana is the Southern state we are the most familiar with. Also I own a couple of books about the Colfax Massacre.

Interestingly both Charles Lane (whom you may remember from the movie "shattered glass") and Nordhoff record that the blacks were by no means unanimously supportive of their self-appointed Republican heroes. Chamberlain over in SC huffed and puffed about how servile "the Negro" was to the Northern carpetbaggers. Nordhoff doesn't. Both states have a diverse black population (e.g. Creoles in LA, Gullah in SC). Lane and Nordhoff agree with each other and with common sense, and at least try to understand the Negro point(s) of view.

Chuck Lane would make short work of Chamberlain, methinks.

June 6, 2008 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

But that wasn't the point of your essay.

You seem to be saying that the people I'd called "the mutant Congregationalists" last year started by shunting most of this nation's real power over to the permanent, "objective" civil service, which maintained close ties with the university system; and then, in 1968, the true believers conquered the universities.

Remember that 1968 couldn't have happened without years of demonstrations, unchecked, by their allies. Any other gang of armed thugs would have been JanetRenoed in hours. Likewise Czechoslovakia wasn't just a Russian conquest; there were plenty of German-hating Czechs who demonstrated for more Soviet influence.

To reverse 1968, you'd need a year or two of reactionary demonstrations on college grounds. The demonstrators needn't all be students; public colleges are open to all. If no-one provided a martyr then you'd need to invent some. You'd also need to find some thugs but that's never a problem. You'd just have to tell your thugs not to waste time on government buildings (Ayers didn't get anywhere with the Pentagon; and if he'd succeeded he'd have gone the way of McVeigh, unlamented).

Basically you'd need Redemption tactics. But white people are becoming more and more like Jews, universalists and Lights To All Nations, an international market-dominant minority and they'll never stand for the thuggery you require. Unless it is to make the country even more Maoist than it already is.

If you want to stay here under reactionary rule then I suggest learning Spanish; the most credible reactionary movement in this country (my part of it anyway) is Chicano. Reactionary whites in this country should emulate the Zionists and demand Europe as our ancestral home.

June 6, 2008 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger mtraven said...

As one of the very few people who read this blog on occason and could conceivably be called an open-minded progressive, let me just say that this series is not accomplishing its stated goal. I find the material you dredge up fascinating but entirely unconvincing.

I confess that I've given up on reading the postings all the way through, since they exceed my attention span. My random dips into them reveal propositions like:

- Noam Chomsky is the power elite (I suppose that explains why he is such a so pervasive presence on the talk shows and op-ed pages).

- Some obscure humanities prof is the living embodiment of evil.

- Busby Berkely == Leni Riefenstahl.

- Present-day governments are omniously oppressive, yet they can be rebooted painlessly in a single operation. The result will be control by a single individual whose powers extend to being able to disable all extant weaponry from a button on his desk.

Exactly who this person is, or why the current holders of power are going to sit still while he accumulates such power, I'm not sure. Maybe I missed that part. But whoever he is, he will avoid both being the object of a cult of personality and being a faceless bureaucrat, because those are both bad.

The above propositions are entertainingly ludicrous. No progressive is going to take them seriously. That's too bad, because progressivism (like any belief system) could stand to gain from having its suppositions questioned.

June 6, 2008 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

mtraven, you don't get it about Chomsky's influence.

Chomsky is someone everyone has heard of; the major newspapers are too smart to run his material directly. Chomsky's disciples, whom you haven't heard of, teach classes using Chomsky's (and Zinn's) books as textbooks. Their students go on to public service and/or think-tanks like "The James Baker Institute at Rice University" or "The Council for Foreign Relations". They then post "progressive" yet "objective" policy proposals under their aegis. Rice University is, after all, full of respected scientists and engineers. And James Baker was even a Republican! Surely someone writing from that place couldn't be wrong.

That said, we are agreed that a reboot is impossible in America under current conditions. It's just not among the Stuff White People Like. What we will see instead is the breakup of this nation into several component parts. Many of these parts will be reactionary. None will be of Mencius's preferred form of reactionary.

June 6, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

mtraven-

Do you think a the average American city - say Houston, Baltimore, or San Jose - would be better run as a democracy or as a for-profit corporation? Which do you think would be better for the current residents ( assuming a formalization process where each current voter and homeowner got shares in the municipal corporation)?

I'd argue that they would be run better as for profit corporation.

Take Baltimore. Currently, police officers have two incentives: 1) stay alive until you get a pension and 2) make arrests ( their stats and overtime pay is based on arrests) Note, there is no incentive in the system to actually reduce crime. The insane crime rate of Baltimore can be attributed to awful management structures. A for profit corporation that made money off of property taxes would both be more humane ( it wouldn't care about arrests, just reducing crime) and more effective. The homicide rates in the ghettos of cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Philly are worse than the those of the primitive tribes of Paupa New Guniea. A black male born in East Baltimore has has 15% chance of dying of homicide. There is simply no way that a for profit management would allow this to happen. Yet democratic management has allowed this civil war to continue for 30 years.

Or take Houston. Nobody likes the current zoning regulations. The city is sprawl hell. And it turns out, if you look at the cities with good planning, like Boston or Seattle, they have much higher property values. A for profit city would actually have an incentive to produce the progressive dream of smart growth.

June 7, 2008 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger eipi10 said...

I have misgivings about how well a non-minarchist state can function. Especially one without the massive friction of modern social democracies, which I see as their primary strong point.

Quite simply, the market requires vast amounts of failure in order for it to efficiently function. I just don't see how government itself can be made subject to creative destruction.

June 7, 2008 at 2:47 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

let me just say that this series is not accomplishing

I find MM to be a superb and diagnostician of the problem. Jis big-picture assessment of the intra-Western power struggle (BHD-OV struggle) is a genuine contribution. It clarifies things in a mighty way. Some of his genuinely observations, like "the Cathedral," ring true even once I go outside of the UR parlor.

The problem with the OL series, I think, is his proposed remedies. Mencius has a blank-slate streak. This creates in him a blind spot to the reality of ethnic particularities.

If his ultimate goal is a prosperpus and orderly society, he needs to spend more time considering who the society is composed of. A top-down "reboot" is a little too role-playing-game for me. A more realistic solution for the United States to the problems created by the progressive regime is not a techno-geek utopia but a reconsitution to pre-1933 -- or at the very least, pre-1963 -- structures.

And to hold it all together, infuse this restored America with a masive injection of Jesus. Or Muhammad.

June 7, 2008 at 4:15 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

>>A top-down "reboot" is a little too role-playing-game for me.

What is actually going on here is this:
Unqualified Reservations is the codebase for a long-winded, plain-english toy language. Once compiled, it runs a simulation of various SimCity-like governmental reboots.

MM is just using the comments to bughunt, thats all.

June 7, 2008 at 6:23 AM  
Blogger mtraven said...

Chomsky is someone everyone has heard of; the major newspapers are too smart to run his material directly.
No, Arnold Schwarzenegger is someone everyone has heard of. I'd be very surprised if more than 3% of the population would recognize Chomsky's name, or if more that 0.1% had read anything he's written and could accurately state his views. Can you?

BTW, TGGP unearthed some video of Chomksy debating Michel Foucault, which ought to make your head explode. If Chomsky is the secret ruler of the universe, how come he used to get on TV and now, does not? Has he, in his Dr. Evil mode, decided the interests of the Cathedral would be best served if he was excluded from TV and the left-wing point of view was represented by Alan Colmes?

June 7, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an ambitious series of posts, obviously well informed by history. While I disagree with the nitty gritty - a reboot consisting of a less than majority of people installing a king - I'm just damned happy to see original thinking, any original thinking.

The comparison of Christianity to Hitler youth was deliberate and obnoxious and invites criticism. I'm not at all surprised to learn you are a San Fran atheist code monkey, which is to say that cohort is traditionally not overly burdened with gravitas.

The rest of the series is sufficiently salted with passive aggressive hostility toward Christianity - can I fucking tell you how cliche and tiresome this is? - as to be nearly unbearable, sort of the same feeling I get reading Mark Steyn when he breaks into Broadway show tunes in the middle of an otherwise good article. There is no need to whore up your argument up in the plaid skirt of petulant anti-Christianity.

Immigrants to western civilization have coined a verb, "to Hitler", which refers to the complete inability of any westerner to argue any point without reference to Nazis, Hitler, or the Third Reich. I for one am beginning to hate gratuitous Nazi references nearly as much as actual National Socialism, and this series contains not a few such references.

As Linus Torvalds once said: "If you don't have numbers, you're just wanking with an opinion." A critique of western civilization of this ambition needs to contain some numbers, facts, and connection to reality. There is no need for abstraction here.

My view is that by re-examining the voting criteria democracy can be saved. To do so is to enter seriously un-PC territory, such as repealing so-called "civil rights" legislation preventing literacy tests for voters and re-evaluating the utility of female and lumpenproletarian suffrage, something that, at the end of the day, your entryist ass appears unwilling to do.

June 7, 2008 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Before considering the reset in more detail, I'd suggest that it is necessary to consider this line in more detail; "Frankly, the present situation is dangerous as well."

First, how exactly is the present situation dangerous? Then, how exactly would a reset eliminate the danger?

June 7, 2008 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

My view is that by re-examining the voting criteria democracy can be saved. To do so is to enter seriously un-PC territory, such as repealing so-called "civil rights" legislation preventing literacy tests for voters and re-evaluating the utility of female and lumpenproletarian suffrage, something that, at the end of the day, your entryist ass appears unwilling to do.

The idea that you can "save democracy" by limiting the franchise is self-refuting. So, uh, the women and the peasants are going to vote that henceforth they don't get to vote? Hmmm, good luck running on that platform or getting that referendum to pass. Either you need the vast majority of the people in the country to agree to something that's manifestly not in their best interest, or you will need to change the rules of "democracy" via some rather non-democratic methods (stormtroops who stop the women and peasants from voting, perhaps?).

But let's say suddenly only Men of Property get to vote. What do you think is the first thing that will happen? Ambitious politicians anxious to secure the "women and peasants" vote will begin demanding that the franchise be expanded. What reason do we have to believe they will not succeed? Since 1789, the franchise has expanded relentlessly - why would this not happen all over again? In short, your solution, even if it could be achieved, is unstable.

June 7, 2008 at 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius has done the impossible, he's turned Jewish Athiest into a conservative:

"Short version of my argument:

Out of the universe of all possible countries, the existent U.S. is better than almost all of them. Where's the evidence that MM's new U.S. would be among the rare better U.S.s in that space?"

So take your progressivism someplace else; he needs evidence before making any changes.

Now, what was the evidence that the changes made in the 1930s were for the better? The changes in the 1960s? The further changes in the 2000s (huge increase in illegal immigration from Mexico)?

When you come to the point that you realize that all of these changes made the United States worse off by almost any measure then you have to start to think that rolling them back would be good.

Unfortunately, the forces that made those changes possible in the first place will not go away without a change in political structure. Hence the reactionary view.

-Steve Johnson

P.S. If someone is taking a survey, number me in the "MM describes present structure perfectly and describes a great alternative but doesn't have any good suggestions for getting from here to there."

June 8, 2008 at 3:35 PM  
Anonymous picklefactory said...

My view is that by re-examining the voting criteria democracy can be saved.

Only on this blog would some goon wander blithely out of the woodwork, make whining noises about the allegedly passive-aggressive anti-Christian attitude around here (I think just plain "aggressive" would better fit the bill), quote Linus Torvalds, then accuse the proprietor of being too PC to consider an argument whereby Democracy is Saved because the wimmin 'n' niggers ain't allowed to vote without actually, you know, making the fucking argument. Make it already, if you've got one; what are you afraid of? Someone from here going to crap on the immaculate comment gardens of the capital city of Myblogistan?

June 8, 2008 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I just came across via Ilkka a pretty interesting disection of MM's "W-force" idea by someone called Hertzlinger. Somewhat similar to my idea of the random-walk victors retroactively defining themselves as favored by God, he claims that progressive intellectuals define popular/victorious ideas as progressive while unpopular ones once considered progressive (like eugenics) are labelled reactionary. There are links there to other posts by him discussing that idea.

I guess you don't get the Wall St. Journal, which gives the American Enterprise Institute the run of the editorial page. If you read liberal papers, you'll get liberal thought. If you read conservative papers, you'll get the opposite. Big deal.
As MM has discussed before, there are two sides to the WSJ. Their editorials are neo-conservative and their news is more liberal than the New York Times. USA Today is the most centrist paper. NPR was found to be no more liberal than average (I think it actually has slightly more conservative listeners than liberals).


We're lucky he writes anything at all, let alone respond to people.
I thought it was fine when he took a break and was surprised he got back as quick as he did. His posts seem to be shorter than before, which I consider a good thing. But if I had to choose between monthly+comment interactions (even if it was just other people's comments) or the status quo, I prefer the former.

I think he responds pretty quickly to email.
Moldbug Transcripts 2 was supposed to be longer as he said he had more to say, but his last contribution there was in February. His last e-mail to me was April 18, though I've sent a good number between then and now. Most of my e-mails tend to be "hey check this out" so a response is not really expected though.

m:look at South Africa
Cross-continental comparisons used to discuss political systems are tricky even when talking about the U.S vs Europe, Africa is an even trickier subject. Some people used the poverty of Somalia under anarchy as proof of the necessity of government economists looking at it over time say it was Better Off Stateless even compared to its neighbors. You have not established any sort of connection between security and gum-chewing or pot-smoking. Anyway, I thought this site was frequented by race realists not neo-con End of History universalists.

Patrick:At Yale, the NYTimes is given out for free in every single dining hall and is read by almost all the students. The Wall St Journal certainly does not have this same arrangment.
I don't know about Yale, but at my school USA Today (as I mentioned, the most centrist of print media) was handed out at dorms, though I don't recall many people reading it. I had a roommate in finance and his professor required all students to subcribe to and read the WSJ.

Mitchell, thanks for pointing out that bit about China.

Lawful Neutral: from my perspective in a medium-sized city in the American Midwest, things aren't so bad.
As a fellow complacent Midwesterner (I may be moving to Wisonsin, which is more proto-typically Midwestern than Illinois and perhaps Minnesota) I say right on.

like the poem says, "the dogs have had a good long wait."
I like what Adam Smith said around the American War of Independence: "There is much ruin in a nation".

baduin: He wants to create an enlightened absolutism in England in XVIII century style. Enlightened Absolute Monarchs were the ultimate in progressivism before the French Revolution, but that was rather long ago.
That's exactly what I had trying to point out earlier!

I find it hard to believe he didn't read Voegelin
Did he actually say he hadn't?

Hater that can't be bothered to use a handle: In my experience as a teacher
Resisting the urge to make snarky comments.

those who can't learn even if you help them.
So basically you think it's not worth it to converse because no progress can be made. I submit that on the contrary during my last argument with Lugo many misunderstandings were cleared up and we ended up being in agreement on a great many things. By Aumann standards that is a success of rationality. But there's no way to make any progress if you can't even specify WHAT in specific I fail to understand.

Daniel A. Nagy: they all agree that Liechtenstein is under German attack
Just that point is made in Moldbug Transcripts 2.

Switzerland being the first and most democratic state on Earth and the very birthplace of Calvinism
That's an interesting way to put it given MM's hatred of democracy and Calvinism.

Zimri: then, in 1968, the true believers conquered the universities
Were their predecessors not true believers?

Any other gang of armed thugs
Were many of the student protestors armed? I asked MM before for the body-counts of these hippie paramilitaries, I encourage anyone who knows to provide the info.

To reverse 1968, you'd need a year or two of reactionary demonstrations on college grounds. The demonstrators needn't all be students; public colleges are open to all.
As the article I provided and MM now highlights points out there WERE protestors at the time who supported the National Guard shooting at Kent State.

Redemption tactics
What?

But white people are becoming more and more like Jews, universalists and Lights To All Nations
Sounds like Yuri Slezkine's The Jewish Century (which I have yet to read). Robert Lindsay likes to harp on that theme.

If you want to stay here under reactionary rule then I suggest learning Spanish
It is interesting to note that Spain, Portugal and South America seem more hospitable for reactionary government than anywhere else on earth.

Reactionary whites in this country should emulate the Zionists and demand Europe as our ancestral home
Keith Preston, who got his start as an anti-apartheid activist, now supports the European New (nationalist) Right as just another indigenist movement who happen to be European.

Many of these parts will be reactionary. None will be of Mencius's preferred form of reactionary.
I've made the same point before, basing it on the Return of Patriarchy. It's no longer the aristocrats who have the most children.

Patrick: I'd argue that they would be run better as for profit corporation.
I think so as well, but the profit-making corporations we are familiar with operate within the context of a government. I think giving absolute authority so some dude will most likely result in North Korea (and there it is institutions that are important, just compare it to South Korea).

Note, there is no incentive in the system to actually reduce crime.
I was just reading in James Q. Wilson's Bureaucracy about that. He points out that there are two different functions: law-encorcement and order maintenance. Law enforcement is an easier procedure to monitor and police chiefs like operating with those stats. Order maintenance is trickier and often more unpleasant for the officers (resolving domestic disputes is the most hated kind of call).

The insane crime rate of Baltimore can be attributed to awful management structures
Peter Moskos, who worked the East Baltimore beat, says every violent crime he dealt with was a result of the War on Drugs.

A for profit corporation that made money off of property taxes would both be more humane
I would still like for someone to explain to me why they expect King Leopold's behavior in Belgium rather than the Congo (BBdM on that here).

The homicide rates in the ghettos of cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Philly are worse than the those of the primitive tribes of Paupa New Guniea
Really? I always hear from anthropologists and sociobiology types that they have higher death rates than the most blighted American inner city.

Or take Houston. Nobody likes the current zoning regulations
Except this guy. Steve Sailer favorably compares just those to places like San Francisco in his "dirt gap" series. Speaking of Sailer, how the hell could anyone read this and promote a Sailer/Whittle presidential ticket!? That was around the time he was promoting Revipedia/Uberfact which he seems to have rejected now. That may have been inspired by Bill Whittle's Ejectia, a stupid idea that still leaves me pondering what MM saw in the guy.

And it turns out, if you look at the cities with good planning, like Boston or Seattle, they have much higher property values
They restrict supply, which increases price. That's econ 101 and generally considered a bad thing. One way to reduce sprawl while increasing supply is by allowing high-rise buildings. That's where Ilkka differs from Kunstler.

PA: A more realistic solution for the United States to the problems created by the progressive regime is not a techno-geek utopia but a reconsitution to pre-1933 -- or at the very least, pre-1963 -- structures
The funny thing is that MM himself has pointed out that the retro Welsh and Gaelic speaking Romantic proto-nationalists were basically bullshitting their history. An attempt to revive the Stuarts would be carried out by people whose perceptions of that era consist of caricatures.

mtraven: If Chomsky is the secret ruler of the universe, how come he used to get on TV and now, does not?
The fact that he was on TV in the first place makes him something of an elite. On the other hand, that's not American TV. On the third hand, he was on William F. Buckley's show. So the explanation for that change is the diminishing influence of Buckley!

the left-wing point of view was represented by Alan Colmes?
I thought it was more represented by Donahue or Olbermann. I don't watch any of them so I can't say what's preferrable.

Anonymous who may or may not be a previous Anonymous: As Linus Torvalds once said: "If you don't have numbers, you're just wanking with an opinion."
My sentiments exactly! MM explains his epistemology here. I should credit him with providing a date by which his prediction will be falsified (I predict he will be proved wrong) and he did provide some crime stats. Definitely insufficient for the extraordinary claims he's making, but better than nothing. Jeffrey Friedman discusses Austrian economics as "epistemological economics" and his own work as "epistemological political science" here. Anyone interested in a critique of democracy and unsatisfied with traditional libertarianism should really check him out. Oddly enough, he also discusses a little Foucault.

My view is that by re-examining the voting criteria democracy can be saved
MM doesn't want to save democracy, he rejects it. Here he discusses Reconstruction era southern conservatives who critiqued universal suffrage as not taking their own point of view far enough, even as they accuse the conservative "mainstream" of doing just that!

Lugo: The idea that you can "save democracy" by limiting the franchise is self-refuting
I wouldn't say entirely. If newly enfranchised people are likely to vote for the abolition of democracy (say, by electing the NSDAP), then preventing them from voting can ensure that some people still vote. That is similar to how minarchists justify the state. Speaking personally as a minarchist though, I dismiss justification and legitimacy.

Since 1789, the franchise has expanded relentlessly - why would this not happen all over again?
That is a good point. When I tell anarchists that anarchy is not a stable strategy/equilibrium they reply that minarchy is also impossible, using our own history to prove that. My response is that it may be true, just as the second law of thermodynamics ensures the inevitable increase of entropy and our own mortality. That doesn't mean efforts to stave off the inevitable are pointless though. If we had to start all over again from 1789, at least least have a few more years of small government in our lifetimes!

Steve Johnson (kudos on signing your post, you'd get extra kudos if your name appeared at the top): he's turned Jewish Athiest into a conservative
As someone sympathetic to Burkean conservatism, I'd say that's a good thing.

Now, what was the evidence that the changes made in the 1930s were for the better? The changes in the 1960s? The further changes in the 2000s (huge increase in illegal immigration from Mexico)?
As someone opposed to all those, I'd say doesn't that strengthen the case against change? Much of "progressivism" is actually reaction to change (the industrial revolution being an example of such a change). Efforts to ameliorate harms often have unintended consequences.

June 8, 2008 at 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

tggp-

I think so as well, but the profit-making corporations we are familiar with operate within the context of a government. I think giving absolute authority so some dude will most likely result in North Korea (and there it is institutions that are important, just compare it to South Korea).

Neocamerelism is not giving authority to one person. It's giving the authority to the shareholders. If the shareholders retain control, a North Korea outcome is very unlikely. A profit maximizing dicator would turn North Korea into South Korea. However, I'm not convinced MM has solved the problem of ensuring military control by the shareholders. If the shareholders cannot retain control, neocarmelism could turn into informal gang rule, ala North Korea.

I'm starting to believe in a Moldbug-Szabo synthesis. Cities should be run as neocamelist corporations. However, they would operate under a broader minarchist government that would operate only a continental defense force and a high court to ajudicate disputes over the city charters. The defense force and court would be overseen by jury, appointed by a combination lottery/election. Taxes would be consitutionally set, and only be able to be increased via referrendum. The government would have no power to create laws and would have no politicians. Hopefully, this would check the growth of the central government, as there would be no class of people who would gain from increasing the power of the state.

Peter Moskos, who worked the East Baltimore beat, says every violent crime he dealt with was a result of the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs is a case of horrendous management. Baltimore has less control over it than other policies, but there's a lot more they could do. But the current policy creates an incredible amount of crime, without preventing people from accessing drugs. No one is benefitting from the policy, yet it stays in place because of political scaremongering ( ie democracy).

Houston's current zoning policy is insane:

Until 1999, all single family homes were required to take up 5,000 square feet of land; apartment building are required to have more parking spaces than residents (and other business have similar rules); major streets are required to have a 100 foot right-of-way (which means that streets can be up to 100 feet wide, compared to the average modern street of 32-36 feet); intersections must be 600 feet apart (making short, walkable blocks impossible), etc. source

I don't know about that guy from Reason, but I've experienced walkable down towns and sprawling suburbs, and I'd much prefer the walkable communities. Most Americans agree, judging by the price premiums paid for houses in walkable areas. ( and I'm not anti-Walmart, it's fully possible to have a Walmart super center in a walkable downtown, that's what they do in China). A for-profit city would strike the profit maximizing balance between density and desirability.

Yes, Boston and San Francisco limit supply, but the cities are so desirable people are willing to pay the prices anyway. Incidentally, I think Boston and San Fran would be better run as for profit cities too. Currently, they are run as strange organizations where each housing unit is effectively an ownership share. Unfortunately, there is no way to sell more shares and distribute dividends to the current owners. Thus all new building effectively dilutes the current ownership and lowers the value of each house (share). The current ownership therefore prevents building.

If Boston formalized, and gave current homeowners shares in the joint stock corporation Boston Inc, they would receive dividends from the property taxes paid on new housing units. Thus there would no longer be any reason to restrict supply.


As for your King Leopold question - I think it depends on the human capital potential of the Congo people. If it's possible to turn the Congo into a nation of businessmen and engineers, then the profit maximizing activity would be enlightened rule that allowed people the freedom to engage in commerce. The shareholders of neocamerelist government would vote out King Leopold and his human capital destroying ways.

On the other hand, if there are biological realities that limit the human capital potential of the Congo, then the profit maximizing policy could be quite appalling. Of course, in this situation, universal suffrage democracy does not work either, as it requires an enlightened citizenry. In fact, I have no idea what the solution would be. Perhaps there is none. Looking at history, the Congo has never had any kind of good government. As bad as Leopold was, post-colonialism has been no picnic.

June 8, 2008 at 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I wouldn't say entirely. If newly enfranchised people are likely to vote for the abolition of democracy (say, by electing the NSDAP), then preventing them from voting can ensure that some people still vote.

If you don't let the Nazis / Communists / Islamofasicsts vote, even if they openly say they're going to abolish democracy, then you don't have a democracy any more. Oftentimes this is a practical and sensible solution - God knows who they'd elect if they had a genuinely free election in, say, Saudi Arabia - but the resulting system is not democracy, even if the remaining fraction of the population gets to vote.

June 9, 2008 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"If you don't let the Nazis / Communists / Islamofasicsts vote, even if they openly say they're going to abolish democracy, then you don't have a democracy any more. Oftentimes this is a practical and sensible solution - God knows who they'd elect if they had a genuinely free election in, say, Saudi Arabia - but the resulting system is not democracy, even if the remaining fraction of the population gets to vote."

Firstly -- not by the Athenian definition.

Secondly -- this is why universal suffrage is an idiotic/insane/destructive idea.

Thirdly -- this is why open democracies will eventually fail.

June 10, 2008 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

Damn! I have read the scan of Pobedonostsev's book online via Google following MM's link just 3 days ago. Wanted to show to my friends today, and access to the content has been removed. WTF?!

June 10, 2008 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Lugo, the phenomenon of "one man, one vote, once" is widely observed. Probably the worst current example of a country in which it has taken place is Zimbabwe. Of course there have been 'elections' since Mugabe was first installed, but these have been of the window-dressing type familiar in dictatorships.

June 10, 2008 at 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

I certainly don't think TGGP can't learn. It's just that TGGP never seems to give the benefit of the doubt to anything Moldbug leaves vague. Moldbug has a problem here - his first-iteration writing is so lengthy that replying to the replies would probably get prohibitive.

My guess is, something about TGGP and Moldbug both being such fervent opponents of egalitarianism, cant, etc. makes TGGP hound Moldbug. It's like the two girls in The Parent Trap. I happen to like both almost any nerdy anti-Marxist I read, so it make me a little sad and curious. Freud explained his falling-out with Jung in Freudian terms ... I wonder what Moldbug would say? My guess is he's either editing or changing nappies.

"I think Obama is more succesful while being less radical than Nader, Kucinich or Gravel."

AFAIK neither Nader, Kucinich, nor Gravel ever came out openly in favor of immanentizing the eschaton. "I, Dennis Kucinich, have a cute wife and am an instrument of God, and total nerd."

"He seems rather Establishment liberal to me."

Movement youth become establishment leftists in their older years. I.e., they hate the World Bank because it's a Bank, then they remember it's a World, and that it pays well, and they'd sure like to work....

"Weimar was called a REPUBLIC for a reason."

Every time Moldbug glosses over something it seems like it really annoys you. Does it? I hope not. I like reading broad-brush history, myself, and I'm not going to blame the author for not writing like a history text. Couldn't Moldbug have meant, "Fascist takeovers only work in monarchies, or in republics recently converted from defeated monarchies, whose citizens have an unfocussed but deep-seated mistrust of republican institutions." If he meant it, I know why didn't type it out - saving keystrokes. You can't do this stuff with macros, really. He could have mentioned France immediately pre-Napoleon as a place ripe for charismatic dictatorship, but that wasn't a monarchy either, it was [macro].

"FDR's (relying on the Solid South) famously didn't."

You're thinking about elections again. Moldbug is thinking about policies and the constituencies that support them. The "ultra-conservative South" is only conservative about what they snack on while watching the game. Anyone still trying to abolish the TVA or end Food Stamps? Not in the South, I'll wager, unless GMU counts as the South.

"Then who is going to support it? You've just blocked the Stuarts themselves from taking part!"

Naw, he's blocked himself and his minions from taking part. The actual people that are or would-be enthroned by restorations are not necessarily involved in the restoring, since they're often foreigners speaking some other language.

I don't think this whole site is really so strange. Build elite support for royalism on the web. Wait until enough smart, powerful people agree with you and force a bloodless power handover. Not everyone who wants good government wants to be part of the government (me included, although I'm stopping short of calling myself a royalist). That's the thing about royalists, they know exactly who they want in power, and it's not them.

(As to the term "royalist", I don't know why Mencius doesn't adopt it.)

June 10, 2008 at 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

From mtraven -

"Present-day governments are omniously oppressive, yet they can be rebooted painlessly in a single operation. The result will be control by a single individual whose powers extend to being able to disable all extant weaponry from a button on his desk."

He doesn't really say the governments are oppressive though, does he? He says they are inefficient and wasteful, and remain in place because of an oppressive thought patttern - the meme of egalitarian cant, democracy is always better, etc. The governments themselves are remarkably un-oppressive, and I seem to remember him admitting that in the spirit of "We dodged a bullet." He does maintain that crime is oppressive, and government more or less sits on its tuchus regarding that, but crime isn't going to save the government.

Speaking of ominous, I'd like more solid predictions from Moldbug about where we're headed (Downfall of Western Civ-type stuff), unless I've missed them. My guess is that he worried about creeping Sharia, multilingualism, etc., just like Lawrence Auster (who incidentally seems not to regard this site as full of anti-Christian aggression, probably because Moldbug is usually chewing out mainline American Protestants, not High Church Anglicans.)

"Has he, in his Dr. Evil mode, decided the interests of the Cathedral would be best served if he was excluded from TV and the left-wing point of view was represented by Alan Colmes?"

My guess is that Chomsky is well aware that he isn't particularly telegenic and doesn't help his cause by trying to address the public. I'd say the same thing about myself, actually, and I'm probably a lot less aware of media images than he. (I saw Stupidity, which has him in it, but not the other 58 IMDB titles....)

June 10, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

On the question about the Congo Free State vs Belgium:

First, Belgium had long since come to a stable equilibrium in terms of the accommodation of the people to the political regime, and of it to the people. Both sides knew what to expect, so, there was not a lot of friction there. Perhaps there were some people at subsistence level not creating any value for the state, but everyone would have tied by no more than a degree or two of separation to a valuable worker.

By contrast, not only were the people living in the Congo almost unknown to the West, they were considered worthless savages. And they, of course, had no experience at all of being ruled by distant foreigners. Nor were they in any way integrated into the world economy. The regime was brand-new.

The question for the CFS, then, was not how to maximize the value extracted from each individual within a well-ruled area. Rather, it was how to extract any value at all, from a practically non-ruled (and unruly) area. The means chosen were more or less the traditional ones for conquerers: you demand of the existing village headmen, local chiefs, etc., and let them do the hard work. And you back them up with as much force as necessary.

What we're talking about here, then, is not a smooth-functioning monarchy. Rather, it was the violent period of the establishment of the state; the conquest itself. As such, you can expect it to be bloody as hell.

Getting a reliable army in the Congo was a problem. Whites were vulnerable the local diseases, but the locals were not very reliable.

Now, I'm not sure they could not have done "better" in terms of money-extraction via more humane means... but then I'm not sure of the converse, either. Leopold did make a killing, literally and figuratively. Certainly there were excesses -- and truly excessive ones at that (human hands as currency, anyone?) -- but then corporate governance was even a bigger problem then, than now.

June 10, 2008 at 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

Man, I'm not sure if I like my nym. It looks cool in title case, but apparently blogger likes it better in all lower-case.

On absolutism monarchy -

Hey wait! I don't think Moldbug supports absolute monarchy. I think he support aristocracy, in the old-fashioned sense. The Stuarts were protectors of that, no? I think there is a false dichotomy, born of Government 101 simplification, between absolute and titular monarchies.

How about, say, historical monarchies? I don't know why he's picking the UK. My guess is that it's because the country he lives in was originally an English colony. Part of why Americans call the UK "England", I suppose. (Why Britons call the Netherlands "Holland", I may never figure out.)

Aristocracy. Etymologically, rule by the best. Functionally, rule by owners. Not too different from the way corporations are managed. In the various countries of old Britain (VCOB), the state was highly dispersed, with royal powers very much circumscribed. They needed the consent of other owners to do most important things. Made sense to formalize that as a parliament, but even without all the Lords meeting a House, the king needed their acquiescence at the very least.

Moldbug is much closer to European aristocratic liberals than he is to American republican libertarians, I think. He's much quicker to see the advantages of a state where good government quite literally profits the owners and rulers. They weren't paid to govern, they were paid because they owned everything. And they did as little as they possibly could to govern. Benign neglect had much the same effect on Britain as it did on North America, but why not include the rest of Europe? There was a lot of freedom back then that's been forgotten (and a lot of oppression that is quite well-remember, like serfdom and all that ... the past is a mixed bag).

June 10, 2008 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

On the matter of "rebooting", I have some comments.

First off, I certainly don't think it would be easy to do, as MM makes it seem. No state goes quietly, unless not only the people lose faith, but the state apparat itself. And this hardly seems likely in democracy, because the rulers are all the most fanatical believers in democracy. They are chosen! And here I mean not just the general notion, but rather the actual, specific election processes by which titular political power is granted. How many times are we admonished that if we don't like something, we should "write our representative"? This is the mindset we must fight.

If we had national referenda, there would be a better chance. Although I would note how often state-level initiatives are invalidated by courts, if the initiative is not progressive.

Parenthetically, on the matter of who our rulers are, I detect a slight problem with a reset. MM believes that our rulers are, more or less in order from most to least powerful:
progressive intellectuals
the press
the civil service
NGOs
politicians
But presumably he is not seriously going to lustrate all of these people. The politicians and civil service, yes. But the others are not part of the state, so they will be just as able to hold "offices" before as after -- unless he is talking about a truly vast lustration. Of course, he may be, but then I think it even less likely to go over successfully. Think the intellectuals and press are shrill about, oh, illegal immigration? How about we threaten to bar them from any employment where they would write anything?

Now, I realize that neocameralism is supposed to defang the chattering classes; this is part of the point of it. Still, it seems odd to pick out the least powerful rulers while leaving untouched the most powerful ones. Surely a civil servant should be just as defanged as a professor given the proper weapons-locks?

A further criticism I have of the reset notion, is that MM seems to advocate it almost without referent to what comes after. Yet, that would be by far the most important aspect of it in terms of getting people to vote for it. If you advocate voting for it, you're left with a huge problem: getting enough people to consent. Certainly I think nothing less than 50% would do it (unlike MM). A minority will never do in democracy.

I think you might possibly get 50% of the American people to say they are "for a reset", if you are totally vague about what it is. (Indeed, politicians run on "change" every fucking election.) But only a few fools would vote for a random reset with no knowledge of what comes after it. And if MM makes his ideas well enough known to even 50% of the people, I can guarantee that the ideas will be demonized by the left. As MM himself know when he half-jokes that this is a neofascist hate blog.

June 10, 2008 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

I have one more huge criticism of the resets: that actually gathering political opinions, on anything that matters, is really quite difficult. Do you gather signatures? Internet poll? No matter how you do it, it's likely to be quite costly. Certainly the state will not fund it. So, who? And what if the state decides to shut you down?

But all that said, let me attempt to be more constructive in the matter of resets. I suggest that the net, with strong cryptography, could be a useful facilitating technology, in two ways.

One is to allow opinion polling independent of the Cathedral.

A second is to facilitate the creation of a shadow government before a reset. As I argued above, what you are resetting to matters fundamentally to the matter of a proposed democratic reset. So you need to have a system in hand, preferably already running, to vote for. Not just something to vote against.

With crypto, it should now be possible -- although again, vastly expensive -- to set up a shadow government parallel to the official one. Governments, actually (let the Nazis do it to, if they can). Obviously such a government would not have a lot of power initially, but if it was truly attractive I think it could develop public support. It would have to walk a very fine line between being utterly ineffective and viewed by the state as a criminal conspiracy (hence the crypto). But if the state started having serious financial problems, there might be an opening for this sort of thing.

June 10, 2008 at 8:51 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Lugo wrote 'The idea that you can "save democracy" by limiting the franchise is self-refuting. So, uh, the women and the peasants are going to vote that henceforth they don't get to vote? Hmmm, good luck running on that platform or getting that referendum to pass. Either you need the vast majority of the people in the country to agree to something that's manifestly not in their best interest, or you will need to change the rules of "democracy" via some rather non-democratic methods (stormtroops who stop the women and peasants from voting, perhaps?).'

There's a quite straightforward trick for this. Although you can't get turkeys to vote for Christmas, you can get them to vote for Christmas for other turkeys. So, the trick is to grandfather them out by eliminating new voters in the categories while keeping the old ones and giving them something substantive at the others' expense to keep them on side. Divide et impera.

'But let's say suddenly only Men of Property get to vote. What do you think is the first thing that will happen? Ambitious politicians anxious to secure the "women and peasants" vote will begin demanding that the franchise be expanded. What reason do we have to believe they will not succeed? Since 1789, the franchise has expanded relentlessly - why would this not happen all over again? In short, your solution, even if it could be achieved, is unstable.'

That is indeed how representative democracy developed, driven by just precisely that internal dynamic. It's an agency costs issue, and as such ought to be handled as part of that larger problem. They can be addressed best by such things as term limits and so on.

Leonard wrote "On the question about the Congo Free State vs Belgium:... Getting a reliable army in the Congo was a problem. Whites were vulnerable the local diseases, but the locals were not very reliable."

Actually, the process was quite straightforward, and worked quite well so long as you kept providing white junior officers for short terms of service. Like France in Senegal, they simply "freed" all the local slaves by turning them into conscripts, then getting new recruits from orphanages run by missionaries. The Force Publique mutinied once Belgian control was removed at independence, however.

June 10, 2008 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Patrick: Neocamerelism is not giving authority to one person
Right in this very post MM advocates restoring the Stuarts and making them absolute monarchs.

A profit maximizing dicator would turn North Korea into South Korea
I don't know how much money Kim Jon Il rakes in, it could be quite a lot (consider how much money has been to Swiss banks by African despots). He is likely interested in things other than profit, and having shareholders could indeed change that.

Taxes would be consitutionally set, and only be able to be increased via referrendum
Part of MM's objective is to abolish mass politics so there is no incentive to incite mob violence.

Thanks for the note on Houston. I was unaware of that.

Most Americans agree, judging by the price premiums paid for houses in walkable areas
Once again, you need to distinguish high prices resulting from restricted supply and consumer preferences. There are likely some people who would be willing to pay very high prices to live in Houston, but due to the much larger availability of housing nobody can get away with charging that. A monopoly (or something close to it) can price discriminate by charging higher prices to people willing to pay more, but I don't think that applies to housing (governments restrict entry but as we know they aren't profit maximizing real estate agents).

Currently, they are run as strange organizations where each housing unit is effectively an ownership share.
Could you explain more about that? I didn't know that landlords held such power there.

Looking at history, the Congo has never had any kind of good government. As bad as Leopold was, post-colonialism has been no picnic.
You are neglecting the period after Leopold but before the end of colonialism. Belgium did a much better job of running the place than Leopold. It should be noted that Leopold faced a lot more political constraints in Belgium, where he was merely king, than the Congo Free State which he personally owned.

Lugo: If you don't let the Nazis / Communists / Islamofasicsts vote, even if they openly say they're going to abolish democracy, then you don't have a democracy any more.
If the government selectively disenfranchises major political factions, then I would say it should not be called a democracy. However, universal suffrage is too extreme a requirement. Ancient athens did not have it, nor did the United States in its early days. It wasn't all that long ago that the South was prevented from disenfranchising blacks and before then women were allowed to vote. Even now felons cannot vote. At the same time I think one can make an argument that by preventing an anti-democratic group from coming to power democracy can be preserved for later.

Islamofasicsts
I hope you're being ironic. Even Eli Lake realizes the word is ridiculous.

G. M. Palmer: this is why open democracies will eventually fail
Our host has given us a date by which the collapse should happen. Would you care to as well?

Not Moldbug: It's just that TGGP never seems to give the benefit of the doubt to anything Moldbug leaves vague
I suppose that's true. I think when one's conjectures are as ambitious as MM's they should be subject to very rigorous attempts at refutation. There was a book about that idea.

AFAIK neither Nader, Kucinich, nor Gravel ever came out openly in favor of immanentizing the eschaton.
When did Obama do that? I can bet you that no matter how outlandish a quote you can find from Obama, I can find one from Kucinich that would put it to shame.

Movement youth become establishment leftists in their older years
I don't know of anyone showing Obama was part of any radical movement (though I bet his politics were considerably to the left of the Democratic median). He worked for The Man before he was a community organizer. When he was in charge of the Harvard law review nobody from the Federalist society had any problem with him (the dreck that winds up in there now did not go out under him). Sailer has written a lot about how he avoided leaving a "paper trail". "Movement youth" aren't that canny.

On Weimar, it's pretty central to his argument (comparatively few people care about Mussolini compared to Hitler, in part because the former achieved less control and had to govern in coalition with socialists). Weimar was considered rather liberal, not just by Nazis (although they also referred to it as "reaction" in the Horst song) but also by nostalgic lefties. Weimar is an excellent example of the fragility of democracy. It should be noted though Bismarck's Germany was more liberal with democratic rights than Great Britain or Belgium at the time.

You're thinking about elections again
I'm thinking about coalitions, and the Solid South was part of that coalition but did not remain so.

Anyone still trying to abolish the TVA
As James Q. Wilson notes in Bureaucracy, liberals came to oppose it because it focused on providing electricity.

end Food Stamps
Much of the south lapped up Reagan's denunciation of the "vodka queen" on food stamps.

The actual people that are or would-be enthroned by restorations are not necessarily involved in the restoring, since they're often foreigners speaking some other language
Something like that was done in Thailand, where despite the claims of the coup leaders the King does not actually rule (he even opposed the coup), but if you seriously want the King to hold power he's going to have to be involved. The Jacobite rebellion failed in part because the King couldn't get along with other leaders of the rebellion.

The governments themselves are remarkably un-oppressive
I think he notes that any reactionary rebellion is quickly crushed and in some areas there is much that constitutes "hate speech" and is banned.

Lawrence Auster (who incidentally seems not to regard this site as full of anti-Christian aggression
Does he even read this site?

My guess is that Chomsky is well aware that he isn't particularly telegenic and doesn't help his cause by trying to address the public
I know Manufacturing Diseent got made into a documentary that was nearly a hagiography of him, but he didn't seem to think highly of it.

Lugo: Rather, it was how to extract any value at all, from a practically non-ruled (and unruly) area
It wasn't unruled, he ruled it. As far as I know he exercised pretty effective control and there wasn't any serious resistance. That actually supports much of MM's theories.

What we're talking about here, then, is not a smooth-functioning monarchy
It wasn't a monarchy at all. It was called a "Free State", not a "Kingdom" because he was owner, not king.

Rather, it was the violent period of the establishment of the state; the conquest itself
He ruled it from 1885 to 1908. I do not know of any claims that it got better near the end, rather when what was currently going on was exposed Belgium took it over from him. After that happened there were no longer baskets full of hands.

Getting a reliable army in the Congo was a problem. Whites were vulnerable the local diseases, but the locals were not very reliable.
That is true. People like to blame things on colonialism, but its generally the most throughly colonized areas of Africas with the most white settlement and investment that are the best off, while the interior regions are hell on earth. A plausible explanation is that Europeans didn't want to live in hell on earth.

corporate governance was even a bigger problem then, than now.
Could you explain more?

I don't think Moldbug supports absolute monarchy. I think he support aristocracy, in the old-fashioned sense.
He himself uses the term "absolute monarchy". I tend more to be in favor of the rebellious aristocracy that gave us the Magna Carta, but MM hates treacherous Monmouth. The aristocracy were generally the opponents of the absolutizing of the monarchy and its attendant centralization. Voltaire and other philosophes were more fond of the "enlightened absolute monarchs".

Lugo: No state goes quietly, unless not only the people lose faith, but the state apparat itself
Bryan Caplan claims that's what happened in the USSR.

How many times are we admonished that if we don't like something, we should "write our representative"?
I know exactly the feeling.

It wouldn't make much sense for lustration to exempt intellectuals and the press, because his justification for it is deception. In the Moldbug Transcripts 2 he asserted that the press controls the state, so they would have to be removed from power.

A further criticism I have of the reset notion, is that MM seems to advocate it almost without referent to what comes after
I get the same feeling. It is as if it is self-evident that the status quo is so bad its replacement could only be better.

A minority will never do in democracy.
Except that in practice it often does! The majority doesn't even vote, and Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 while Clinton never had more than a plurality.

Leonard: One is to allow opinion polling independent of the Cathedral
Internet polls are notoriously unreliable. Ron Paul was king of the internet.

A second is to facilitate the creation of a shadow government before a reset
It seems he is explicitly trying to avoid something like that as the revolutionaries are not allowed to take part in government, which is pretty much the opposite of how shadow cabinets work in parliament, or governments-in-exile work outside.

June 10, 2008 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger Leonard said...

tggp: Oh, the Congo was ruled after the CFS got in and started ruling it, but that is just my point. It was not ruled in any sense by Westerners before. Then it transitioned -- a very bloody process. And finally the surviving population had been beaten into submission. But this took time. There were many revolts, and much more passive resistance. It takes time to fasten a state on people lacking it. I would guess it takes at least a generation, probably two. And Leopold only owned the place for 23 years -- one generation.

You might think of it as a kind of protracted negotiation within a cultural space, where initially the two sides don't even speak the same cultural "language". But everyone understands killing, bullwhipping, and rape; these are human universals. So, the languages spoken by the conquerors and the conquered do eventually converge.

As for the Belgium-run Congo being better... well, yes, marginally. Of course they lost money running it, whereas Leopold made money. But I would also argue that in terms of their ability to control it, they benefited immeasurably from the preceding terror. You simply cannot fasten the state onto any diverse population who are largely free of it, without sustained violence. (If you know of any exceptions, I'm all ears.)

It was called a "Free State", not a "Kingdom" because he was owner, not king.
I fail to see how sole ownership of a state doesn't count as monarchy. Perhaps you are using some private definition?

Regarding your query about my use of "corp governance", what I meant was that it is hard to run a corporation like the CFS when communication is low-bandwidth, and slow. We're talking a month or more, one way, from some post in the interior even to the coast, then another few weeks to Europe. In conditions like that, any far-flung outpost is more or less independent. So it will be very hard to exert fine-tuned governance, as would (IMO) be necessary to moderate the violence necessary to bring a wild population of humans to heel.

We're also talking about a nearly complete lack of feedback from the governed. They were, after all, illiterates who did not speak French. So how could they possibly complain? In theory the central corp might have sent out investigators, who might then get a native translator and speak to people. I trust you can see some flaws in that idea, starting with "Why would they do that?".

June 11, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

G. M. Palmer said:

Firstly -- not by the Athenian definition.

Secondly -- this is why universal suffrage is an idiotic/insane/destructive idea.

Thirdly -- this is why open democracies will eventually fail.


1. What is the relevance of this? The anon wants to reform democracy today by limiting the franchise. It is wildly implausible to think that we could reset the clock to America 1860 (only white males get to vote!) let alone Athens 400BC. You could not use democratic methods to achieve this, the result would not be democracy (as understood today, which is the only relevant measure), and the result would not be stable.

2. and 3. Maybe, but it doesn't alter the fact that limiting the franchise ain't gonna work in today's real world.

Leonard said:

But presumably he is not seriously going to lustrate all of these people. The politicians and civil service, yes. But the others are not part of the state, so they will be just as able to hold "offices" before as after -- unless he is talking about a truly vast lustration.

If you didn't do it, you wouldn't solve the problem. You would just create great social tensions as the journalists and academics decried the lustration of the bureaucrats and demanded the restoration of the status quo.

TGGP:

You attribute a lot of things to me that I didn't say, and then respond to them. I'm not going to respond to your responses to things I did not say.

If the government selectively disenfranchises major political factions, then I would say it should not be called a democracy. However, universal suffrage is too extreme a requirement. Ancient athens did not have it, nor did the United States in its early days. It wasn't all that long ago that the South was prevented from disenfranchising blacks and before then women were allowed to vote. Even now felons cannot vote. At the same time I think one can make an argument that by preventing an anti-democratic group from coming to power democracy can be preserved for later.

Again, we do not live in Athens, nor even in the USA of 1776 / 1860 / 1950. The conditions that existed in those places, then, were considered "democracy" at that time, but would not be considered "democracy" if imposed on the USA of 2008. If you did set it up so that only white males with property can vote, can you eliminate the historical memory of the fact that a USA existed in which others, such as blacks and women and poor folks, could vote? Of course not. Could you eliminate the view, held by the overwhelming majority of the population, that "democracy" means universal suffrage and that it would be outrageous, unfair, evil, racist, and sexist to limit the franchise? Of course not. Could you stop ambitious politicians from agitating to restore the vote to these folks? Of course not. Give it up. Setting it up so that only rich white men can vote is a great fantasy - I'm all for it, being a person of that description myself - but it is an even less plausible solution to our current problems than a reset to neocameralism.

Islamofasicsts
I hope you're being ironic. Even Eli Lake realizes the word is ridiculous.


Meh, it's a good enough shorthand for "an example group of people who would vote democracy out of existence if they were allowed to do so". I agree with Not Moldbug that you are excessively pedantic, and there is no need to clarify in painful detail things like this that are clear enough to any reasonably intelligent reader.

June 11, 2008 at 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

I was just snickering to myself thinking of a candidate running on this platform:

"My fellow Americans, my Vision of Hope and Change, and my plan to restore America and save democracy, is to create an even more reactionary regime than apartheid South Africa. Not only the blacks, but the women and the peasants will be shut out. Folks, if you believe in Athenian Democracy, in all of its rich and authentic traditionalism, come vote for me, and most of you will never have to worry about voting again!"

Sounds like a winner, doesn't it?

June 11, 2008 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Leonard said...

TGGP: reading back into that link, I think you are right -- MM would lustrate all of 'em. All of the press and intellectuals. And that makes it much less likely. I knew we were in thought experiment land to begin with. But this is to an average thought experiment as Cthulhu is to Zeus.

I mean, how are you going to build any kind of majority for a reset when every intellectual knows that it will mean him spending the rest of his life as a plumber or mechanic? And don't think that "intellectual" is limited to pwoggies like Matt Yglesias or the reporters for the NYT. Probably most people reading this are intellectuals; certainly MM himself is one. What percentage of the population is the set of teachers, professors, reporters, and bloggers?

Regarding the use of the internet, I agree that internet polling is worthless. My point is not to propound anything that has been done, but rather to simply point out a possibility, that the internet, in theory, makes it possible to collect information outside of the influence of the state.

I agree with you that MM would seem to be precluding any kind of shadow government idea. And I kind of see the reasoning, but it's insufficient. You simply are not going to get the people nor the apparat to give up without making clear what comes after. And to do that, you need an example. This is why MM uses monarchy (although IMO that's already daft): it's well-known how it works. I'd prefer an already functioning government, for proof that it can function. If MM is right, and correctly engineering the governmental structure itself can guarantee good results, then it should not matter whether or not any given person will benefit. Of course some people will be incented to vote Yes on the basis of greed. But MM's whole idea is to radically cut down the size of the state, from half the population (or whatever the size of the current set of rulers is), to a small fraction. They cannot vote it in alone.

To MM, let me say this: I'm sure you've read Thomas Kuhn, so let me analogize changing a government to changing scientific theory. It is simply not enough to be able to poke holes in an existing theory. This is, analogically, the equivalent of your criticism of the existing demotic state for manufacturing consent, lysenkoism, "friction", etc. Nor is it enough to be able to articulate a competing theory. No: the existing theory needs to have big enough holes, and the new competitor needs to explain those problems as well as dealing with everything else that the old theory covers. There needs to be both "push" away from the old theory, and "pull" towards the new.

And even then, typically the old generation of scientists has to die. :) I don't see a direct analog to that, but rather I think it means that change politics you need supermajorities, including majorities of those with power. In this case it means getting a majority of the intellectuals on your side -- a difficult task, made more difficult by your promise to demote them to jobs washing windows and mowing grass.

June 11, 2008 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

how are you going to build any kind of majority for a reset when every intellectual knows that it will mean him spending the rest of his life as a plumber or mechanic?

If journalists and academicians were lustrated, there would still be journalistic and academic jobs for intellectuals - they'd just have to be different intellectuals.

"Journalist" and "academic" are not the only intellectual jobs, either. Do you think intelligent conservatives are all plumbers and mechanics? I'm sure as hell not.

What percentage of the population is the set of teachers, professors, reporters, and bloggers?

BLS says 8,316,360 educators (which appears to include teachers, professors, and votech instructors) and maybe 100,000 journalists / media types (excluding technicians). Bring on the tumbril carts, we won't need a lot of them, muahahaha!

June 11, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Here's a thought about how to re-jigger the franchise without taking a vote away from anyone. It wouldn't bring about the state of affairs MM hopes for, but would alter current electoral politics markedly.

Let everyone keep his one vote. Then allow additional votes. How about, say, one vote in Federal elections for each $1000 (or fraction thereof) paid in Federal income taxes?

This would resemble corporate governance more closely than one-man, one-vote. If A owns 10,000 shares of a corporation and B owns 100, A has 100 times the voting power that B does. If a corporation has a ten-man board, under the rules of cumulative voting, a person who owns ten per cent of the corporate stock can put one director on that board. A person who owns one per cent has to convince other owner(s) who hold nine per cent to go along with his choice for a director's seat. That does not deprive him of his say, but puts his vote in proper proportion to that of holders of larger numbers of shares.

To bring this about in the U.S. would require a Constitutional amendment, repealing the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and setting forth the particulars of the new system. It would be difficult, but parts of the Constitution have been repealed before. One beauty of the concept is that it would be self-limiting. If, under it, a holder of a large number of votes succeeded in bringing about a reduction in his taxes, the result would be a reduction in his direct capacity to influence government policy.

June 11, 2008 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Have any of you ever read Nick Szabo's post on unpredictable elections? I think a hybrid lottery/election system could go a long way towards fixing the worst aspects of democracy.

June 11, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Patrick, the concept of conciliar government by lot exists even now to a limited extent, in the institution of trial by jury. The old (pre-Blair) British House of Lords was another example, albeit the field from which the lottery drew was limited. Since the hereditary peers came to their seats in the Lords by happenstance, the composition of that body was in practice far more diverse than the Commons, which was made up of professional politicians. The result was that the Lords were the one branch of the British government that could not be controlled by the Prime Minister.

It is quite significant that Blair's "democratising" of the Lords did not consist in making it a second elective chamber, like the U.S. Senate. Rather, he stripped all but a tiny number of hereditary peers of their seats, so as to assure that the majority of votes in the Lords belonged to the Life Peers, who are typically superannuated politicians and bureaucrats put out to pasture. Thus control of the majority is always firmly in the hands of the incumbent PM, since if it should be out of synchronization with the majority in the Commons, he can create enough life peers to tip the balance without having substantially to overpopulate the upper house.

The Earl Peel, an hereditary peer, wrote a very interesting essay on the Blairite reform of the Lords in "The Field." I do not have the issue at hand any more, but it was shortly after the measure was carried. Peel pointed out that as it stands, the only elected members of the Lords are the 70 or so hereditary peers who are elected as representatives by the other hereditary peers, much as the Scottish and Irish peerages formerly elected their representatives to the Lords. Peel indicated that two measures were put forward by the hereditary peers in the debate leading up to the reform. One would have eliminated the noble titles, heraldic additaments, and other trappings of peerage for the life peers, who would simply have been styled, Mr. (or Ms.) N.N., Delegate to the Lords. The other would have abolished the peerage entirely. There was never any doubt that both proposals would be rejected, since the Life Peers, and the Blair government, wanted their titles, coronets, shoulder-knots, mantles, and supporters just as avidly as the typical British politician on the make ever has. So much for "democracy" and "equality"!

June 11, 2008 at 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

Further dialogue with TGGP:

"On Weimar, it's pretty central to his argument (comparatively few people care about Mussolini compared to Hitler, in part because the former achieved less control and had to govern in coalition with socialists). Weimar was considered rather liberal, not just by Nazis (although they also referred to it as "reaction" in the Horst song) but also by nostalgic lefties. Weimar is an excellent example of the fragility of democracy. It should be noted though Bismarck's Germany was more liberal with democratic rights than Great Britain or Belgium at the time."

I believe the Weimar failed partly because it was underpinned with security forces that connived with the Nazis. The point has been made often that the Nazis came to power legally, but part of what determines legality is court decisions in legal cases - cases that were generally not brought against the rightist perpetrators of street violence. Army, judiciary, and police forces were holdovers from the Hohenzollerns and they hated Bolsheviks and mistrusted Social Democrats. I think that is all Moldbug was alluding to. Weimar was liberal in various ways, but in the just over a decade it was in power its liberalism didn't really sink into the men with guns. How it would have turned out had the state been even-handedly harsh with left- and right-wing perps, I don't know.

"I think he notes that any reactionary rebellion is quickly crushed and in some areas there is much that constitutes "hate speech" and is banned."

Moldbug is drawing a subtle distinction between a fairly innocuous state and a vicious culture of egalitarian doublethink. You can get arrested for saying the N-word in the UK, but AFAIK not in the US. Here, you can only get fired, beaten to a pulp, expelled from school, and ostracized, and none of those are state functions. (In a sense, this is the main reason I think this site is pointed in the wrong direction. I have no desire to overthrow the government - it's mass culture I want to show the door. Just MHO.)

But yes, if there were a reactionary uprising a la the OAS, it would be crushed. I don't think Moldbug regards that as peculiarly nasty.

'Lawrence Auster (who incidentally seems not to regard this site as full of anti-Christian aggression'
"Does he even read this site?"

Auster has chatted about Moldbug but it may be entirely based on what Moldy has said at VFR ... I was speculating, without realizing it.

June 11, 2008 at 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Why is everyone fixated on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? "Maybe if we put the chairs here, the SS Democracy can be saved!" MM has amply demonstrated that tinkering with the current system cannot work, not least because such tinkering would be violently resisted by the Cathedral. The Cathedral is not going to listen with an open mind and accept "reasonable" changes that undermine its power - it will fight them tooth and nail. Just ask mtraven what he thinks about any of your ideas for limiting the franchise, and that'll pretty much tell you how the Cathedral writ large will respond.

I have no desire to overthrow the government - it's mass culture I want to show the door. Just MHO.)

I don't think they can be treated in isolation from one another. The Cathedral, after all, is intent on changing both. Since a "progressive" government can never do what it wants to do unless mass culture has been changed to accept "progress", the Cathedral will never willingly leave mass culture alone.

June 11, 2008 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

"I don't think [government and mass culture] can be treated in isolation from one another. The Cathedral, after all, is intent on changing both. Since a "progressive" government can never do what it wants to do unless mass culture has been changed to accept "progress", the Cathedral will never willingly leave mass culture alone." - lugo

Fair enough.
My general sense is that the reason this sort of blog is relevant is, if North America does undergo some sort of widespread institutional collapse, there will need to be some hard thinking about what to rebuild in its place. If it doesn't undergo such a collapse, I doubt there will be very much rebuilding - but no one saves money for a sunny day or stores canned food in anticipation of business as usual.

Trends right now look bad - a country combining a big welfare state with nearly unrestricted immigration draws a very specific type of people in as immigrants. Those being intravenously fed mass-media attitudes see no alternative to welfare and unrestricted immigration, and resist "labelling" anyone by type. Any information disproving their misconceptions will be filtered to the point where it means nothing, long before it gets to the bulk of voters. If you point out the obvious ethnicities of rioting people on television, or even point out the effects of other people noticing the obvious ethnicities of rioting people on television, you get excommunicated fast.

So it does look like the self-correcting mechanism of democracy has found itself to be an error and corrected itself out of existence. But I still can't think of a solution that doesn't mainly involve moving deck chairs. The alternative would be, first, figuring out where the bridge is and, second, picking the lock on the bridge door. But Moldbug is always a good read.

June 11, 2008 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Not Moldbug said...

To clarify, the reason I brought up immigration was that I don't think Moldbug has spent too much time on doomsaying. He leaves that to the conservatives, I guess? Anyway, he's pretty vague about what impending doom the restoration of the Stuarts would stave off. For the time being, my favorite source of doom is, not immigration per se, but the mix of lax enforcement of immigration laws with lots of (de facto and de jure) welfare assistance.

Moldbug is interesting because he has a completely different angle on immigration restriction. Most restrictionists talk about the right of a nation to pick and choose who settles in their country, without the need to please some campus group or other whose feelings might get hurt over [whatever]. Moldbug talks about government like a business, of course; businesses are under no obligation to choose customers who can't pay (or customers who pay less and but take more merchandise out the front door). If they are under such an obligation, it is obviously because of socialism.

Extending that metaphor, the U.S. government isn't inflicting the socialism, it's a victim of the socialism inflicted by the media and the student / immigrant mobs. Imagine someone hiring a formidable but guilt-prone security guard, and then asking him to do unpaid overtime to protect the neighbors up the street, who can't pay. The security guard does it for a while, and then can't pay his own bills. (Apparently he doesn't understand double-negatives like "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".) The compromise solution is, protect the neighbors up the street while billing the neighbors down the street.

The point is, you don't have get a new security (and you can't, since you're not the guy who hired him), you just convince the security guard to stop extorting money from the people down the street, even if it means the people up the street have to fend for themselves. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with moral suasion!

June 11, 2008 at 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

businesses are under no obligation to choose customers who can't pay

Heh.

You won't lend money to certain customers who can't pay? Racism!

Oh wait... you will lend money to customers who can't pay? Sorry, also racism.

Racist if you do, racist if you don't.

June 11, 2008 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Why is everyone fixated on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?


Becuase we all live on the Titanic and blowing it up and then building a brand new ship out of the ashes is a strategy that has proven to fail every single time it has been tried. We ponder ways to improve the existing system because dreaming about what we could be done with a true tabula rasa ought to be left to the idiots, meglomaniacs, and undergrads. Real improvement must work through the existing system, not becuase the existing system is inherently good, but because it is the existing system, and thus controls both the guns and the popular will. Fantasies of revolution lead down seemingly different roads, but they all end up at the same place.

June 12, 2008 at 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Lugo said...

Studd, old Beefpile, are you not reading the same blog I am? Neither MM nor I advocate revolution. Indeed, MM has flat out said that revolution (violence, blowing up the ship) will not work. However, he has also said that "reforming" democracy - working within the system to take power and make the desired changes (which I call rearranging the deck chairs) - does not work either. He makes cogent arguments that you CANNOT make real improvements by working through the existing system. Do you have a substantive response to these arguments, or do you just want to set up a strawman and attack people who do not believe such improvements are possible as idiots, meglomaniacs, undergrads, and soi-disant revolutionaries?

June 13, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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February 12, 2009 at 1:51 AM  
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March 2, 2009 at 10:18 PM  
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March 18, 2009 at 9:50 AM  

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