Tuesday, December 9, 2008 16 Comments

UR will return on Thursday, January 8

I think it is best to break for the holidays - don't you? When attempting to compete with any monstrous monopoly, one might as well imitate by default its tactics.

When we return, I'll start by responding to comments on the last four posts. Also, if you have any further questions about or points against the whole scenario, feel free to comment below.

Remember the comment policy of UR: any thought, however evil, is welcome - so long as it is phrased in literate and interesting terms, and will inform other readers, amuse them, or both. Please address your thoughts to other readers, not the essay itself. Please do not spam, twitter, use bad words, descend into flamage, or otherwise outrage good manners.

In the meantime, readers who just cannot get enough might be interested in this recent sortie against the NYT's favorite military blog, and readers whose favorite chapter in every surf video is the essential "wipeouts" segment can track me down on Athens & Jerusalem. (I take strong exception to the commenter on this 2Blowhards thread who asserted that I have been, in some way, "served." I am never served. At least, not on the facts. Style can be another matter.)


Anonymous CVD said...


In previous UR posts, you have portrayed progressivism, or Whig-ism, as an unstoppable force.

In the most recent series, you seem to be counting down the minutes to its destruction.

Am I missing something?

As best I can tell from previous posts, your theory for the downfall of progressivism is that the internet will destroy it. In short, the free flow of information - particularly old information - will reveal the truth for all to see.

(Personally, I'm more convinced by the explanation of someone like Neal Stephenson. In the author's science fiction novels, the end of progressivism and the implementation of the patchwork, comes about through cryptographic techniques which make tax collect impossible and therefore the nation-state untenable.)

Anyway, the question is how do I square the circle? Is progressivism (whig-ism) the unstoppable force described in parts of UR? Or has it reached its end, as it appears you argue in recent posts? If our predecessors - whose works you justifiably cite approvingly - could not stop progressivism how can we?

You humble and obt. svt.,


December 10, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Byrne said...

CVD: It's unstoppable within a system that allows it to exist in any form, but one can imagine (and possibly implement) an alternative system.

December 10, 2008 at 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Molyuk said...


I believe Mencius thinks universalism cannot be stopped in a democratic system, because it has adapted to subvert democracies. It can always collapse under the pressure of its own contradictions. He seems to think the burgeoning economic crisis & universalism's fading grip on public sources of information will soon break its power. I tend to agree.

Obama, however intelligent he may be (and I think he's pretty sharp), has no training in economics. Even if he did, the bureacracy which holds true power cares only about that power. Consider the number of progs who have coyly hinted that a Depression could give them an opportunity to enact a New Deal 2.0. Time magazine, for example, recently put Obama's face on an old photo of FDR & made it their cover. Keynesianism seems to be making a comeback. The Feds are lavishing hundreds of billions of nonexistent dollars on failing industries. There is no political will to raise interest rates, so cheap credit will continue. The dollar, in short, is doomed. The Welfare State will collapse with it. Print & television news are hemorrhaging money.

What comes next is unknowable. I very much doubt it will resemble Mencius's Patchwork; but the less it resembles the current mess, the better.

December 11, 2008 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger James F. Elliott said...

Jeez, you're one wordy motherfucker. Great words, eloquent even. But holy crap.

December 11, 2008 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Shoot, looks like I missed the show over at Athens and Jerusalem. Sure, there's some good stuff left, but this comment by Withywindle makes me think I missed part of the story:
Too true. I've deleted your latest map, and all future maps will be deleted, since I have a rough idea of your preferred destination.

Can anyone here fill me in?

December 11, 2008 at 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news; the auto bailout failed due to Republican "concerns." The UAW was unwilling to accede to their wage cut demands. Now we'll see what is more powerful; The UAW or Republican Congressional Delegation. Place your bets.

December 11, 2008 at 10:48 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

n previous UR posts, you have portrayed progressivism, or Whig-ism, as an unstoppable force.

In the most recent series, you seem to be counting down the minutes to its destruction.

I wasn't going to respond to this because it was aimed at MM, but since two other people did...

Think of progressivism as something akin to pancreatic cancer: it's unstoppable until it destroys itself by killing its host.

December 12, 2008 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

At some other blog he said he makes it a point to comment at his own blog. I find that strange. It can't be explained by time, since he still gets in extended arguments elsewhere. It's especially odd given that he's continually generating more jargon unintelligible to anyone who isn't a long-term reader here. I was recently in a big argument with a lefty in which he said our views were simply far too divergent for there to be any meaningful communication. I don't find that an uncommon attitude, and I don't even go as out of my way to alienate people with the whole epater le brahmin thing as MM does.

December 13, 2008 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Neutrino Cannon said...

In previous UR posts, you have portrayed progressivism, or Whig-ism, as an unstoppable force.

In the most recent series, you seem to be counting down the minutes to its destruction.

If I may answer for MM:

-The primary selective pressure upon the Universalist memeplex, to use Dawkensian terminology, has been to make it more competitive with the related memeplexes it shares its environment with. "Political Debate" is almost a rote, ritualized combat sort of affair, with discussion restricted to only a few areas of conflicting opinion and only a few opinions upon those areas will be tolerated. And Universalism always wins. Gay marriage; you're either for it or against it, and anyone who says that the feddies shouldn't touch marriage, they way it was prior to 1926 simply isn't taken seriously. If those are the only two options tabled, and you have a captive media and audience, well then of course the anti-gay-marriage forces are going to look like a bunch of backwards theocratic asshats. Universalism has considerable ability to assimilate, but a limited ability to debate or even comprehend anything that isn't too similar to itself (see TGGP's comment). All but the most reprobate paleoconservatism in the modern western world ain't that different than 200 proof, hippie Obama-loving Universalism, demography and sanctioned areas of debate aside.

In this envionment, the Universalist memeplex kicks unholy ass. No form of Conservatism is competitive with it. Anything too weird is simply ignored. Hope, Love, Freedom, et cetera are inexorably spread to the heathens as everyone dreams about the suitably secular Millennium that this will inevitably bring.

Unfortunately, Universalism doesn't kick so much ass when it comes to dealing with things that aren't competing memes that aren't similar to itself. Sensible foreign policy? Not so good at that, even though the art of Imperialism, Confederalism and Neutrality have been long since perfected by the Romans, Persians and Swiss respectively. Economic stability? Also, not very good at that; there would be no room to pay off cronies and provide meaningless jobs to its intellectual class. Education? Not too bad, since education is near and dear to its heart since it is one of the means by which it spreads, but the bias in the educational system towards turning its charges into Universalists is obvious, and anything else is correspondingly neglected.

So, in terms of engineering a meme or strategy to replace Universalism as the dominant religion of the Western world, we might as well be throwing rocks at an aircraft carrier. Its longterm health and viability is, however, in question for much the same reason that the Ebola virus doesn't stick around for very long; it's only good at reproducing itself, and it's not in very good shape when it runs out of hosts to suck nutrients from.

December 14, 2008 at 7:27 AM  
Anonymous Libra said...

A few problems I see with patchwork:

1) I assume the board of directors controls the cryptolocks for the weapons. What stops the board members from seizing control of the state from the shareholders, and taking the profits for themselves?

2) What prevents a majority shareholder from screwing over the minority shareholders ( say by issuing a gazillion shares straight to the majority shareholder)?

3) Even assuming that the military cannot break the cryptolocks ( a very dubious assumption), what prevents the military from secretly buying new, unlocked weapons? And any military needs a lab and R&D. Who is responsible for locking newly invented weapons?

4) What if the ceo/military provokes a war, gets the weapons unlocked, and then seizes the state?

That said, I don't think neocamerelism needs to rely on crypto command and control in order to succeed.

Instead of making all shares fully transferable, instead make 80% of shares non-transferable, dividend paying, preferred, and non-voting class B shares. Every resident would receive $x worth of class B shares upon turning 21. The other 20% would be voting, transferable, common shares.

Shareholder rights and the resident charter would be enforced by an independent court as the first line, with appeal to jury, and ultimate appeal to the military.

The shares and the dividend payments would ensure popular support for the state. The military would support the structure for the same reason they do now - popular support is a Schelling point.

It's not quite as Pareto optimum as MM's idea. But it's close, and I think it works without relying on unproven crypto magic.

December 14, 2008 at 10:17 PM  
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