Thursday, January 8, 2009 103 Comments

A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 1)

I thought it'd be fun to kick off the year by retro-introducing the blog - for the benefit of innocent new readers, and crazy old ones as well.

Continuing UR readers: obviously, you are not crazy. It is everyone else who is crazy. Thanks for coming back in 2009. If you need a link to introduce your other crazy friends to UR, this may be a good one.

New UR readers: unfortunately, I'm lying. There is no such thing as a gentle introduction to UR. It's like talking about a "mild DMT trip." If it was mild, it wasn't DMT.

UR is a strange blog: its goal is to cure your brain. We've all seen The Matrix. We know about red pills. Many claim to sell them. You can go, for example, to any bookstore, and ask the guy behind the counter for some Noam Chomsky. What you'll get is blue pills soaked in Red #3.

Since we provide the genuine article, UR is pretty much the anti-Chomsky. (As a broad generalization, UR's stance in any controversy will be the opposite of Chomsky's.) Take one of our red pills - heck, split one in half - and you'll be in a completely different world. Like DMT, except that the DMT reality is prettier than your old reality. UR's is uglier. Also, DMT wears off.

Alas, our genuine red pill is not ready for the mass market. It is the size of a golfball, though nowhere near so smooth, and halfway down it splits in half and exposes a sodium-metal core, which will sear your throat like a live coal. There will be scarring. What can we say? That's what you get for being an early adopter. At least you didn't buy a Newton.

When we think about red and blue pills in the real world, obviously, we are thinking about the Orwellian mind-control state. We are not going to cure your whole brain. After the treatment, for instance, you may still be a Celtics fan. Our chemical interest is solely in the political lobe.

Unfortunately, this organ is unusually large and proliferating fast. After the treatment, it will return to its normal marble-like size, and you may hear a hollow sound if you knock your fist hard on the back of your head. That's because now you know the truth, and you never need to think about any of that crap ever, ever again. Since the shape of your skull is unchanged, the resulting void is percussive.

When we think about the Orwellian mind-control state, we generally think of a few big, obvious examples. The Nazis. The Soviet Union. And so on. These regimes, of course, specialized in implanting bizarre, sometimes murderous, instructions in their subjects' brains. If you must visualize these implanted Orwellian modules, you can think of them as little worms, like in Wrath of Khan, that crawl into the ear and stay there.

One imagines writing a letter to a dedicated National Socialist, explaining why he should expel his evil neural parasite and instead become a good liberal, signing it "Das Future" and emailing it through a time machine to 1938. Perhaps this could be the original red pill.

Here at UR we have many sinister devices, but a time machine is not one of them. And fortunately, you do not live in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or 1938. And even more fortunately, your democratic education has vaccinated you to perfection against the first, and to an adequate if unimpressive level against the second. And most fortunately of all, your government is nothing like either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. All good. But -

But in 1938, three systems of government were contending for global supremacy. One of them is still around: yours. Anglo-American liberal democracy. Had military luck favored either of the others - National Socialism or Marxist-Leninism - we can also be sure that it would have discovered and reveled in its foes' every misdeed, and that it would have approached its own, if at all, tentatively and ambiguously.

If only one can survive, at least two must be illegitimate, and irredeemably criminal. And the survivor will certainly paint them as such. But suppose all three are irredemably criminal? If the third is an Orwellian mind-control state as well, its subjects are unlikely to regard it as such. It will certainly not prosecute itself.

The third, our third, is very different from the other two. We must remember that American democracy is categorically distinct from National Socialism and the people's democracies in too many ways to count. Since there are too many ways to count, we will not bother counting them. We remain entitled to notice parallels. (For instance, it is almost more aesthetic criticism than political or economic analysis, but do read Wolfgang Schivelbusch's Three New Deals.)

But no number of categorical distinctions from the other two can alter our estimate of the third's criminality. There are as many ways to be a criminal as there are crimes. That we hang the murderer does not mean we must award a prize to the thief.

Ie: the assumption that, since the Third Reich was Orwellian, and Barack Obama is not Adolf Hitler, Washington must not be Orwellian, is complely fallacious. Socrates is a cat; Ribbentrop is not Socrates; therefore, Ribbentrop is not a cat.

(Comparing the totalitarian dictatorships of the mid-20th century to the OECD democracies of the early 21st is like comparing a reptile to a mammal, a propeller plane to a jet plane, or a flashlight to a laser. We may learn something about the latter from the former, but we may not, and we are easily misled. But they are what we think of what we think of Orwell, and the association must be tackled first.)

Anyway, let's define this vague charge. What do we mean by Orwellian?

I'd say a fair definition of an Orwellian government is one whose principle of public legitimacy (Mosca's political formula, if you care) is contradicted by an accurate perception of reality. In other words, the government is existentially dependent on systematic public deception. If it fails in its mission to keep the lie alive, it at least stands some chance of falling.

The basic premise of UR is that all the competing 20th-century systems of government, including the Western democracies which came out on top and which rule us to this day, are best classified as Orwellian. They maintain their legitimacy by shaping public opinion. They shape public opinion by sculpting the information presented to the public. As part of that public, you peruse the world through a lens poured by your government. Ie: you are pwned.

Thus the red pill: any stimulus or stimulant, pharmaceutical or literary, that fundamentally compromises said system of deception. That sounds very medical, but let's be clear: you are not taking our pill as a public service. At least with our present crude packaging, the remedy is not accessible to any politically significant percentage of citizens. Rather, you are dosing up because you'd rather be high. Despite the agony of ingestion, it's just too much fun to see your old reality from the outside. This, rather than "society," is why you will return to UR again and again.

Seen from outside, the Western democracies are particularly elegant examples of Orwellian engineering. They function in the context of a free press and fair, contested elections. They operate no gulags. Not only has UR never been bothered by the authorities, I have not received a single private communication that I would describe as in any sense unfriendly. So how on earth can the system be described as Orwellian?

Easily. Of course, everyone describes it as Orwellian. Professor Chomsky, for one. But UR gets the same result in a very different way.

You now enter a journey from which your soul may not return. Don't say we didn't warn ya. The back button is up and to the left. Like yourself the way you are? You might just want to press it.

Okay! It's actually quite simple to demonstrate how you've been pwned. Let's start the show with one of UR's earliest Sith mind tricks. (Jedi mind tricks are blue pills. Sith mind tricks are red pills. Suffice it to say that you've been exposed to a lot of anti-Sith propaganda.)

We'll start with a point of agreement. As a good citizen of America, which is the greatest country on earth, one thing you believe in is separation of church and state. I too am an American, and it so happens that I too believe in separation of church and state. Although one might argue that my interpretation of the formula is a little different than yours.

So let's understand what we mean by the formula, word by word. What do we mean when we say state? We mean, "the government." I trust that is sufficiently clear.

What do we mean by separation? If A and B are separated, A has nothing to do with B. Eg, whatever church and state are, if separated, they have as much to do with each other as the Albanian Golf Federation and the Alaskan Alliance for Beef, ie, nothing. I think that's pretty clear. If the Alaska cattlemen can rent that course outside Durazzo, so can anyone else. Presumably, the opposite, bad if separation is good, would be union of church and state.

What do we mean by church?

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller....

Clearly, if we have some general objection to union of church and state, these objections must in some way be derived from some generic definition of the word church. But when we use words like church, religion, etc, while it is very easy to think of examples (the Catholic Church, Islam, etc, etc), it is considerably more difficult to construct a description which includes all the examples, and excludes all the non-examples. Of course one may have a perfectly reasonable prejudice against the Pope, Muslims, etc - but if so, why not just say so?

For example, it is very easy to include God or gods in one's definition of church. In that case, we throw out Buddhism, which is surely a legitimate religion. I assume your version of separation of church and state includes separation of Buddhism and state. Mine sure does. And what about Scientology? Shouldn't we have separation of Scientology and state? I'm guessing you'll sign up for this one as well.

The question seems difficult. So let's procrastinate. For a straw definition of church, though, let's say a church is an organization or movement which specializes in telling people what to think. I would not inquire into this definition too closely - lest you ruin the suspense - but surely it fits Scientology, the Southern Baptists, Buddhism, etc. That's close enough for now.

This definition of state, separation, and church gives us three interpretations of why separation of church and state is such a good idea.

One: our definition of church might include the stipulation that a church is an organization that distributes misinformation - ie, lies, unfalsifiable hypotheses, and other bogus truths. This sounds very sensible, because we don't want the state to distribute misinformation.

On the other hand, this is not a very useful definition. It is equivalent to a restriction that union of church and state is okay, so long as the state church teaches only the truth. Naturally, according to the church, it teaches only the truth. But it is difficult to imagine a clause in the Constitution which states: "Congress shall establish a Church, which shall Teach only the Truth." From an engineering perspective, the restriction is more effective if it does not depend on some process for distinguishing true churches from false churches. Ya think?

Two: we might say that whether they teach the truth or not, churches are just a bad idea, period. People should think for themselves. They should not have thoughts broadcast into a little antenna in the back of the skull. Therefore, the state should separate itself from the church, just because a good state should separate itself from all evil things.

But fortunately or unfortunately, there is no kingdom of philosophers. Most people do not think for themselves, should not think for themselves, and cannot be expected to think for themselves. They do exactly what they should be doing, and trust others to work out the large philosophical truths of the world for them. This trust may be well-placed or not, but surely this mechanism of delegation is an essential aspect of human society - at least with the humans we have now.

Three: we might believe that a government should not tell its subjects what to think. Since this is the only option I have left, it is the one I follow. I'd like to think you follow it as well.

If not quite for the same reason. Let's think about it. There are two kinds of government: those whose formula of legitimacy depends on popular consent, and those whose doesn't. Following contemporary usage, we can classify these as authoritarian and democratic.

An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think. In a truly authoritarian government, the ruling authority relies on force, not popularity. It cares what its subjects do, not what they think. It may encourage a healthy, optimistic attitude and temperate lifestyle proclivities, but only because this is good for business. Therefore, any authoritarian state that needs an official religion must have something wrong with it. (Perhaps, for example, its military authority is not as absolute as it thinks.)

A democratic state which tells its citizens what to think is a political solecism. Think about the motivation for democracy: it consigns the state to the collective responsibility of its citizens, because it feels this is an independent and well-anchored hook on which to hang the common good. Once the republic has an established church, this hook is no longer independent, and the (postulated) value-add of democracy is nullified.

Without separation of church and state, it is easy be for a democracy to indulge itself in arbitrarily irresponsible misgovernment, simply by telling its bishops to inform their congregations that black is white and white is black. Thus misdirected, they are easily persuaded to support counterproductive policies which they wrongly consider productive.

A common syndrome is the case in which a purported solution is in fact the cause of the problem. As a Russian politician once said of his opponents: "These people think they are the doctors of society. In fact, they are the disease." (It is indeed surprising that Nassim Taleb has just learned the word iatrogenic. BTW, if you know Taleb, please point him at UR. If you know someone who knows Taleb, please...)

Union of church and state can foster stable iatrogenic misgovernment as follows. First, the church fosters and maintains a popular misconception that the problem exists, and the solution solves it. Secondly, the state responds by extruding an arm, agency, or other pseudopod in order to apply the solution. Agency and church are thus cooperating in the creation of unproductive or counterproductive jobs, as "doctors." Presumably they can find a way to split the take.

The root problem with a state church in a democratic state is that, to believe in democracy, one must believe that the levers of power terminate with the voters. But if your democracy has an effective state church, the actual levers of power pass through the voters, and go back to the church. The church teaches the voters what to think; the voters tell the politicians what to do. Naturally, it is easy for the politicians to short-circuit this process and just listen to the bishops.

Thus the government has a closed power loop. With the church at its apex, of course. Which is exactly what we were hoping to avoid when we decided to make our state democratic, rather than authoritarian - an independent and unaccountable authority, which is in charge of everything else. In this case our authority is, of course, the church itself. Oops! We have engineered ourselves a big bucket of FAIL.

In other words, our so-called democracy is dependent not on the wisdom of the people, but on the internal power politics of the official church. If these politics produce a political platform which translates to responsible and effective actions, the government will be good. If they don't, it will suck. Either way, we have consigned the state to an unaccountable conclave of bishops. Why this is an improvement on monarchy, or any other form of autocracy, is unclear.

This political architecture, an abortion by any standard, is commonly known as a theocracy. Oddly enough, the classic historical case of a theocracy is... wait, hang on, I'm forgetting... oh, yes! Right here, in North America. Under those strange people we call the "Puritans."

(A more precise label would be Brownist - I'm with Shakespeare on this one. Note that, cladistically speaking, we are all Brownists now. And Carter Van Carter has told us all about Whitby - let Daniel Wait Howe fill you in on Scrooby.)

For those who prefer their history fresh rather than aged, we can turn to Darren Staloff, whose Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts is badly-written but quite informative. Professor Staloff writes [italics mine]:
The Puritan ministers [...] created a completely new form of political authority - in the Weberian sense of legitimate power - which I have called cultural domination. Cultural domination, as here conceived, requires four formal supports.

First
of all, like charismatic authority, it requires recognition in the form of ritual election or some similar mechanism of oath swearing or covenant signing. Fealty is sworn to the "correct" cultural formation, in this case Puritan biblicism, and the officeholder is empowered only as the specially trained bearer and interpreter of that cultural tradition. The "laity" generally conceive of this high cultural training - whether centered around biblicism or some other intellectually legitimating principle like reason or rationality - as being endowed with an automatic efficacy that need simply be applied to any problem to generate a univocal solution. The biblical truth is eternal and immutable, claimed Thomas Hooker, "but the alteration grows, according to God's most just judgment, and their own deservings."

Such belief gives rise to the second formal requirement, that officially authorized bearers of the cultural tradition must always agree in their public formulations or at least not disagree. If this condition is violated, the laity may come to see the cultural tradition as an amorphous collection of expressions or principles manipulated by "mandarins" for their own aggrandizement.

The third requirement is that all public expression of the culturally able must be bestowed on these public acts, including forced attendance, titulary homage, and silent obedience. Finally, to ensure the stability of the entire system, unauthorized cultural expressions must be carefully monitored and severely suppressed when they contradict or threaten to "desacralize" the authorized formulas.
The crafty Professor Staloff, like all good historians, is trying to sneak a message about the present into his narrative of the past. Note that quibble: or some other intellectually legitimating principle like reason or rationality. Why would he say this? Professor Staloff, who has clearly been reading too much H.P. Lovecraft, provides a clue in his introduction:
How could an educated elite of ministers (and magistrates, as I learned from Timothy Breen) hold such dominant power in a fledgling colonial settlement? Granted the deference normally accorded a university degree, these educated leaders lacked the large-scale property interests normally associated with a ruling stratum. What were the institutional arrangements and practices that facilitated this remarkable empowerment? Finally, why did this elite choose to use their power to impose an order on Massachusetts derived from academic theology? What did it mean that the Bay Colony was patterned after a high cultural theory?

I sought the answer to these questions in the library of Miskatonic University. Two works in particular - Falconer's three-volume Cryptomenysis Patefacta, and von Junzt's strange Unaussprechlichen Kulten - confirmed my most unsettling hunches.

Professional intellectuals and intelligentsia comprised a collective interest. They were the great unexamined class in modern political history, whose will to power occasionally took the form of revolutionary ideological politics. I had a greater appreciation for the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred's claim that the Puritan divines were the precursors of the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks.
Professor Staloff, we see, speaks elliptically but with great urgency. What, exactly, is his message to the initiated? How can we translate this dark prophecy into the plain, Saxon tongue?

I'm afraid the proposition Professor Staloff is hinting at is that we do have a state church. It just doesn't call itself that. By this simple twitch of the hips, like a receiver dodging a linebacker, it has faked your intellectual immune system off its feet. Not to worry! Our red pill is here to help.

Like Professor Staloff, I have constructed my definition of church as a trap. If you have been following along without suspicion, you are in the trap. Let us now close the lid.

Notice that our definition of church has not invoked any of the typical attributes of religion. In particular, we have avoided any requirement that (a) the doctrines of the church be either partially or entirely supernatural in nature (think of Buddhism or Scientology - or, for that matter, Nazism or Bolshevism), or (b) the structure of the church be in any way centrally organized (a Quaker theocracy is just as excluded as a Catholic theocracy - and once your church is united with the state, there is no shortage of structure).

We have just said: a church is an organization or movement which tells people how to think. A broad definition, but it turns out to be perfectly adequate to validate our case for separation of church and state. And it contains all our test cases.

There's just one problem. The definition is slightly too broad. It captures some cases which we obviously don't want to include. You see, under this definition, Harvard is a church.

And we surely can't mean that there should be separation of Harvard and state. Yet somehow - this is the result the computer keeps giving us. Perhaps there is some mistake?

We have stumbled, of course, into Professor Staloff's definition. Unlike the Harvard of 1639, the Harvard of 2009 bases its authority not on the interpretation of scripture, but on some other intellectually legitimating principle like reason or rationality. Everything else is the same.

It could be, of course, that Harvard of 2009's application of reason or rationality is inherently accurate, ie, endowed with an automatic efficacy that need simply be applied to any problem to generate a univocal solution. Whether or not this is the case, many behave as if it were.

But even if it is, all we are looking at is a condition we rejected earlier as unsatisfactory: a state church which teaches only the truth. Perhaps Harvard of 2009 teaches only the truth. And Harvard of 2010? 2020? We resign the answer to the tempests of academic power politics. If this is transparent and accountable, so is mud.

The basic security hole is this word, education. Education is defined as the inculcation of correct facts and good morals. Thus an institution which is educational and secular, such as Harvard, simply becomes a "Church, which shall Teach only the Truth." Like the Puritans of old New England, in seeking to disestablish one state church, we have established another.

It is also hard to argue that we enjoy separation of Harvard and state. Harvard is conventionally described as a "private" university. This term is strictly nominal. Vast streams of cash flow from the taxpayer's pocket into Harvard's - as they do not flow to, say, the Vatican.

And we can see easily that Harvard is attached to something, because the perspective of Harvard in 2009, while wildly different from the perspective of Harvard in 1959, is not in any way different from the perspective of Stanford in 2009. If a shared attachment to Uncle Sam isn't what keeps Harvard and Stanford on the same page, what is? It's not football.

Except for a few unimportant institutions of non-mainstream religious affiliation, we simply do not see multiple, divergent, competing schools of thought within the American university system. The whole vast archipelago, though evenly speckled with a salting of contrarians, displays no factional structure whatsoever. It seems almost perfectly synchronized.

There are two explanations for this synchronization. One, Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because they both arrive at the same truth. I am willing to concede this for, say, chemistry. When it comes to, say, African-American studies, I am not quite so sure. Are you? Surely it is arguable that the latter is a legitimate area of inquiry. But surely it is arguable that it is not. So how is it, exactly, that Harvard, Stanford, and everyone else gets the same answer?

I'm afraid the only logical alternative, however awful and unimaginable, is the conclusion that Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because both are remoras attached, in some unthinkable way, to some great, invisible predator of the deep - perhaps even Cthulhu himself.

Certainly, the synchronization is not coordinated by any human hierarchical authority. (Yes, there are accreditation agencies, but a Harvard or a Stanford could easily fight them.) The system may be Orwellian, but it has no Goebbels. It produces Gleichschaltung without a Gestapo. It has a Party line without a Party. A neat trick. We of the Sith would certainly like to understand it.

And we are again reminded of the half-mad words of the late Professor Staloff:
... officially authorized bearers of the cultural tradition must always agree in their public formulations or at least not disagree. Cthulhu R'lyeh wagh'nagl fhtagn! If this condition is violated, the laity may come to see the cultural tradition as an amorphous collection of expressions or principles manipulated by "mandarins" for their own aggrandizement.
But if Harvard in 2009 fits this description, how exactly is said agreement enforced? If you've ever met any of the officially authorized bearers, you know that the last thing they think of themselves as being is "officially authorized bearers." And it is one thing to say they must always agree - another to make them do so.

No one does. And yet, they agree. Their views change over time - and they all change in the same direction, at the same rate. There is a strange self-organizing quality about this design. Does the American university system's maintenance of broad unanimity, despite the clear absence of anything like a coordinating executive authority, make it seem less creepy to you? Or more? I'm afraid I'll have to go with "more" on this one.

Moreover, if we broaden our focus from the university system to the entire system of "education," from grade schools to journalism, we see this effect again and again. What, exactly, is the "mainstream media?" If we accept the ecclesiastical metaphor, the newspaper is a perfect analogue of the church proper. It is simply the latest transmission technology for your worm's daily or weekly security update. And here again, a coordinated message - without any central agency.

Dude, if you don't find this creepy, I gotta ask: why not? But maybe it is all an abstraction to you. Let's make it slightly more concrete.

In 1963, a long time ago but in the lives of many now living, the citizens of California, by a majority of nearly two-thirds, voted to pass a law called Proposition 14. This amended the state constitution to add the following:
"Neither the State nor any subdivision or agency thereof shall deny, limit or abridge, directly or indirectly, the right of any person, who is willing or desires to sell, lease or rent any part or all of his real property, to decline to sell, lease or rent such property to such person or persons as he, in his absolute discretion, chooses."
In other words: if you don't want to live with persons of color, you don't have to. The amendment, obviously, turned out to be unconstitutional, just like this one; and we have persons of color to this day in California. In fact, we have so many of them that California in 2008 elected Barack Obama, noted person of color, by almost the same margin that its 1963 predecessor passed Prop. 14.

Part of this political change was due to said demographic shift. But not all. So: how, exactly, did California change from a state that would vote for Prop. 14, to one that would elect Obama? Was this change predictable? Was it inevitable in some sense? Again, we are seeing the movement of a bobber on the water. What is the bobber attached to? A bluegill? Or Cthulhu?

If you are still clinging to the Matrix, you might say the change happened because Prop. 14 was wrong, and the election of Obama was right. Suppose we agree with you. But why, exactly, should we have been so confident in expecting a change from wrong to right? If there is some mechanism large and powerful enough to drag the public opinion of California, in 45 years, from Prop. 14 to Obama - maybe not Cthulhu, but definitely not a bluegill - shouldn't we expect to be just as easily dragged back from right to wrong? Will segregation make a comeback in San Francisco? If not, why not?

Whatever our Cthulhu may be, it is interesting to note that there is an algorithm for predicting the movement of the bobber. On a number of subjects - not just segregation - I note that the public opinion of California in 2008 is quite similar to the public opinion of Stanford in 1963.

This is easy to explain: in post-1945 America, the source of all new ideas is the university. Ideas check out of the university, but they hardly ever check in. Thence, they flow outward to the other arms of the educational system as a whole: the mainstream media and the public schools. Eventually they become our old friend, "public opinion." This process is slow, happening on a generational scale, and thus the 45-year lag.

Thus whatever coordinates the university system coordinates the state, through the transmission device of "public opinion." Naturally, since this is 100% effective, the state does not have to wait for the transmission to complete. It can act in advance of a complete response, as in this case the Supreme Court did in 1967, and synchronize directly with the universities.

This relationship, whose widespread practice in the United States dates to 1933, is known as public policy. Essentially, for everything your government does, there is a university department full of professors who can, and do, tell it what to do. Civil servants and Congressional staffers follow the technical lead of the universities. The residual democratic branch of Washington, the White House, can sometimes push back feebly, but only with great difficulty.

(What's neat is that because of our armies' great success in the early 1940s, the governments of other countries respond to American public policy as well. The synchronization is international. Some of America's little friends overseas, such as Britain, have universities in the second rank. But there is only one global postwar academic system, the American one, and all top-tier universities are in the United States. The con by which policies devised by this system are passed off as global, transcending mere nationality, is sometimes called transnationalism. But I digress.)

The triangle of professors, bureaucrats, and public opinion is stable, because the professors teach as well as advise. Of course, there is a time lag. The system experiences some strain. But it will stay together, so long as the polarity does not randomly reverse - ie, because Cthulhu decides to suddenly swim right rather than left.

But no. Cthulhu may swim slowly. But he only swims left. Isn't that interesting?

In the history of American democracy, if you take the mainstream political position (Overton Window, if you care) at time T1, and place it on the map at a later time T2, T1 is always way to the right, near the fringe or outside it. So, for instance, if you take the average segregationist voter of 1963 and let him vote in the 2008 election, he will be way out on the wacky right wing. Cthulhu has passed him by.

Where is the John Birch Society, now? What about the NAACP? Cthulhu swims left, and left, and left. There are a few brief periods of true reaction in American history - the post-Reconstruction era or Redemption, the Return to Normalcy of Harding, and a couple of others. But they are unusual and feeble compared to the great leftward shift. Nor, most important for our hypothesis, did they come from the universities; in the 20th century, periods of reaction are always periods of anti-university activity. (McCarthyism is especially noticeable as such. And you'll note that McCarthy didn't exactly win.)

The principle applies even in wars. In each of the following conflicts in Anglo-American history, you see a victory of left over right: the English Civil War, the so-called "Glorious Revolution," the American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Clearly, if you want to be on the winning team, you want to start on the left side of the field.

And we are starting to piece the puzzle together. The leftward direction is, itself, the principle of organization. In a two-party democratic system, with Whigs and Tories, Democrats and Republicans, etc, the intelligentsia is always Whig. Their party is simply the party of those who want to get ahead. It is the party of celebrities, the ultra-rich, the great and good, the flexible of conscience. Tories are always misfits, losers, or just plain stupid - sometimes all three.

And the left is the party of the educational organs, at whose head is the press and universities. This is our 20th-century version of the established church. Here at UR, we sometimes call it the Cathedral - although it is essential to note that, unlike an ordinary organization, it has no central administrator. No, this will not make it easier to deal with.

This strange chiral asymmetry implies some fundamental difference between right and left. What is that difference? What does it even mean to be left rather than right? How can an entire system of independent thinkers and institutions, without any central coordinating agency, recognize that everyone should go left rather than right?

First, we need to define left and right. In my opinion, obviously a controversial one, the explanation for this mysterious asymmetric dimension is easy: it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.

Because values are inherently subjective, it is possible to argue that left can be good and right can be bad. For example, you can say that the Civil War was good - the North needed to conquer the South and free the slaves.

On the other hand, it is also quite easy to construct a very clean value system in which order is simply good, and chaos is simply evil. I have chosen this path. It leaves quite a capacious cavity in the back of my skull, and allows me to call myself a reactionary. To you, perhaps, it is the dark side. But this is only because the treatment is not yet complete.

Whatever you make of the left-right axis, you have to admit that there exists some force which has been pulling the Anglo-American political system leftward for at least the last three centuries. Whatever this unfathomable stellar emanation may be, it has gotten us from the Stuarts to Barack Obama. Personally, I would like a refund. But that's just me.

It is time to understand this force. My theory is that what we're looking at is the attraction of power itself. The left attracts a natural coalition because it always attracts those whose only interest is in the pure thrill of domination. Most will join them through peer pressure alone, leaving only the misfits.

Let's look, for a minute, at the minds of the people who hold these positions of power. Your R1 professors, your Times reporters, and so on. These are, of course, very competitive jobs, and only a tiny minority of the people who want them and are capable of doing them will get to have them. They have certainly worked very hard to get where they are. And they perceive that effort as one made in the interest of humanity at large.

I think the salaries at this level are reasonable, but it is not money that makes people want these jobs. It is power, which brings with it status. I define power as personal influence over important events; I don't know of any other definition.

One of the key reasons that intellectuals are fascinated by disorder, in my opinion, is the fact that disorder is an extreme case of complexity. And as you make the structure of authority in an organization more complex, more informal, or both - as you fragment it, eliminating hierarchical execution structures under which one individual decides and is responsible for the result, and replacing them with highly fragmented, highly consensual, and highly process-oriented structures in which ten, twenty or a hundred people can truthfully claim to have contributed to the outcome, you increase the amount of power, status, patronage, and employment produced.

Of course, you also make the organization less efficient and effective, and you make working in it a lot less fun for everyone - you have gone from startup to Dilbert. This is Brezhnevian sclerosis, the fatal disease of organizations in a highly regulated environment. All work is guided by some systematic process, in which each rule was contributed by someone whose importance was a function of how many rules he added. In the future, we will all work for the government. Individually, this is the last thing your average intellectual wants to do, but it is the direction in which his collective acts are pushing us.

In short: intellectuals cluster to the left, generally adopting as a social norm the principle of pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droit, because like everyone else they are drawn to power. The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.

Once the cluster exists, however, it works by any means necessary. The reverence of anarchy is a mindset in which an essentially Machiavellian, tribal model of power flourishes. To the bishops of the Cathedral, anything that strengthens their influence is a good thing, and vice versa. The analysis is completely reflexive, far below the conscious level. Consider this comparison of the coverage between the regime of Pinochet and that of Castro. Despite atrocities that are comparable at most - not to mention a much better record in providing responsible and effective government - Pinochet receives the full-out two-minute hate, whereas the treatment of Castro tends to have, at most, a gentle and wistful disapproval.

This is because Pinochet's regime was something completely alien to the American intellectual, whereas - the relationship between Puritan divines and Bolshevism being exactly as the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, says - Castro's regime was something much more understandable. If you sketch the relative weights of the social networks connecting Pinochet to the Cathedral, versus Castro to the Cathedral, you are comparing a thread to a bicep.

We also see the nature of the blue pill here. After completing the UR treatment, it is interesting to go back and read your Chomsky. What you'll see is that Chomsky is, in every case, demanding that all political power be in the hands of the Cathedral. The American system is very large and complex, and this is certainly not the case. The least exception or (God forbid) reversal, and Chomsky is in on the case, deploying the old principle of "this animal is very dangerous; when attacked, it defends itself." The progressive is always the underdog in his own mind. Yet, in objective reality, he always seems to win in the end.

In other words, the Chomskian transformation is to interpret any resistance, by a party which is inherently much weaker, as oppression by a magic force of overwhelming strength. For example, we can ask: which set of individuals exerts more influence over American journalists? American professors, or American CEOs? American diplomats, or American generals? In both cases, the answer is clearly the former. Yet any hint of corporate or military influence over the press is, of course, anathema.

If anyone is in an obvious position to manufacture consent, it is (as Walter Lippmann openly proposed) first the journalists themselves, and next the universities which they regard as authoritative. Yet, strangely, the leftist has no interest whatsoever in this security hole. This can only be because it is already plugged with his worm. The complaint of the Chomskian, in other words, always occurs when the other team is impudent enough to try to manufacture a bit of its own consent. Hence: the blue pill.

And there is another card I've been holding back on. You see, the problem is not just that our present system of government - which might be described succinctly as an atheistic theocracy - is accidentally similar to Puritan Massachusetts. As anatomists put it, these structures are not just analogous. They are homologous. This architecture of government - theocracy secured through democratic means - is a single continuous thread in American history.

An excellent historical description of this continuity is George McKenna's Puritan Origins of American Patriotism - it gets a little confused in the 20th century, but this is to be expected. However, as a demonstration, I am particularly partial to one particular primary source - this article from 1942, which I found somehow in Time Magazine's wonderful free archive.

The nice thing about reading a primary source from 1942 is that you are assured of its "period" credentials, unless of course someone has hacked Time's archive. The author cannot possibly know anything about 1943. If you find a text from 1942 that describes the H-bomb, you know that the H-bomb was known in 1942. One such text is entirely sufficient.

What's great about the "American Malvern" article is that, while it describes a political program you will place instantly, it describes it in a very odd way. You are used to thinking of this perspective, which is obviously somewhere toward the left end of your NPR dial, as representative of a political movement. Instead, the anonymous Time reporter describes it as a religious ("super-protestant," to be exact) program. Isn't that just bizarre?

We have caught the worm in the act of turning. The political program and perspective that we think of as progressive is, or is at least descended from, the program of a religious sect. Unsurprisingly, this sect, best known as ecumenical mainline Protestantism, is historically the most powerful form of American Christianity - and happens to be the direct, linear descendant of Professor Staloff's Puritans. (You can also see it in abolitionism, the Social Gospel, the Prohibitionists, and straight on down to global warming. The mindset never changes.)

For a brief snapshot of where it is today, try this article. Note that Congregationalist and Puritan are basically synonyms, and American Unitarianism is a spinoff of Congregationalism. Of course, these belief systems have evolved since the time when these labels meant anything. Since the 1960s they have merged into one warm, mushy, NPR-flavored whole, which we here at UR sometimes refer to as Universalism. Michael Lerner is perhaps the ultimate Universalist.

Thus we see the whole, awful picture merge together. It is Cthulhu. We don't just live in something vaguely like a Puritan theocracy. We live in an actual, genuine, functioning if hardly healthy, 21st-century Puritan theocracy.

What this means is that you can trust hardly any of your beliefs. You were educated by this system, which purports to be a truth machine but is clearly nothing of the sort. Since the US is not the Soviet Union, hard scientific facts - physics, chemistry, and biology, are unlikely to be wrong. But the Soviet Union actually did pretty well with hard science.

Other than that, you have no rational reason to trust anything coming out of the Cathedral - that is, the universities and press. You have no more reason to trust these institutions than you have to trust, say, the Vatican. In fact, they are motivated to mislead you in ways that the Vatican is not, because the Vatican does not have deep, murky, and self-serving connections in the Washington bureaucracy. They claim to be truth machines. Why wouldn't they?

The Cathedral, with its informal union of church and state, is positioned perfectly. It has all the advantages of being a formal arm of government, and none of the disadvantages. Because it formulates public policy, it is best considered our ultimate governing organ, but it certainly bears no responsibility for the success or failure of said policy. Moreover, it gets to program the little worm that is inserted in everyone's head, beginning at the age of five and going all the way through grad school.

Worst of all, this system is not a new one. It dates at least to FDR. Nor was the pre-FDR system of government in the United States particularly savory. Nor was the one before that - etc. If you want to be completely disillusioned with mythic Americana, I recommend Peter Oliver. It is certainly interesting to know that, ultimately, the reason the Star-Spangled Banner waves o'er the home of the free and the land of the brave is that James Otis's father was not given a job.

So it is no use deciding that the solution is to be a "conservative." It is wonderful that you've gotten past progressivism, but you still need the red pill. The problem is much, much older and deeper than you think. I once teased the infamous Larry Auster, proprietor of View from the Right - the Web's most thoughtful hard-line conservative - that his blog should be called VFR1960, because he sides with the right in every conflict after 1960. Before 1960, however, VFR could be accurately renamed View from the Left. Larry, bless his soul, didn't like that at all. But it still happens to be true.

This is slightly daunting. But only slightly. We have not even gotten to the active ingredient in our red pill yet - certainly not that awful sodium core. We have presented an alternate picture of reality, in which you live not in the free, post-Orwellian world, but in an Orwellian mind-control state which is a nasty, nasty hangover from the old, weird past. To verify this conviction, however, we need to catch said mind-control state in the act of actually controlling our minds.

Therefore, since we cannot trust our existing beliefs, we need to look at the areas in which our Universalist "educations" may have caused us to misperceive reality, reassess our beliefs, and compare the reassessment to the orthodox or received truth. If we see discrepancies, we confirm the Orwellian interpretation. If we see no discrepancies, perhaps the Cathedral is just a truth machine after all.

Next week, we'll complete the not-so-gentle introduction. The red pill will then be in your possession, and all you need to do is swallow it.

(And yes, I know, I promised to respond to the comments on the Patchwork series. I will spend one more week, only, on this introduction, and then get to it.)

103 Comments:

Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

In short: intellectuals cluster to the left, generally adopting as a social norm the principle of pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droit, because like everyone else they are drawn to power. The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.

By far the most concise explanation of left and right (and why people choose left and right) that I've ever seen.

January 8, 2009 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, we need to define left and right. In my opinion, obviously a controversial one, the explanation for this mysterious asymmetric dimension is easy: it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.

What then do we say about the situation that prevails when the Left is triumphant? Say what you want about the USSR, or Mao's PRC, or Fidel's Cuba, or Kim's North Korea, or East Germany, they were (are) all orderly. There was little or no anarchy or crime in these states. It was safe to walk the streets in Brezhnev's Moscow.

An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think. In a truly authoritarian government, the ruling authority relies on force, not popularity. It cares what its subjects do, not what they think. It may encourage a healthy, optimistic attitude and temperate lifestyle proclivities, but only because this is good for business. Therefore, any authoritarian state that needs an official religion must have something wrong with it. (Perhaps, for example, its military authority is not as absolute as it thinks.)

An official religion / ideology is still needed in an authoritarian state as an economy of force measure. It is cheaper to get people to behave if you can get them to think correctly (and thus want to behave) than to monitor their behavior constantly and send the KGB around to give them a beating when they get out of line.

January 8, 2009 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

An actual authoritarian state doesn't need thugs to beat up people. If someone is a problem they are killed. This doesn't take any sort of monitoring. Someone is a problem once they make themselves one -- by becoming a threat to the state.

January 8, 2009 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Botogol said...

But there is only one global postwar academic system, the American one, and all top-tier universities are in the United States

That has to be the most depressing thought I have encountered on UR to date.

Can it really be true? Will it always be true?

January 8, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An actual authoritarian state doesn't need thugs to beat up people.

By that logic there has never been an actual authoritarian state, since every regime normally described as authoritarian, of the Left or Right persusasion, has employed thugs to beat up people.

If someone is a problem they are killed. This doesn't take any sort of monitoring. Someone is a problem once they make themselves one -- by becoming a threat to the state.

Um, you need monitoring to know who is a threat to the state and thus needs to be killed.

January 8, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Did the Stuarts regularly beat up folk?

I mean,
I remember them killing treasonous people and highwaymen, etc.

Thugs I don't seem to recall.

And no, you don't need spies and monitors to find people out. Guy Fawkes was discovered without the help of 007. Had George III been on his toes, he would have had all the "patriots" drinking with Jimmy Otis drawn and quartered.

But perhaps you think that thinking can somehow threaten the state, instead of action.

In a democracy thinking is dangerous. In an autocracy, thinking is unimportant.

January 8, 2009 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger William A. Sigler said...

Saying that the intellectual left seeks anarchy is like an infant describing his parent as two knee caps--it's the limited perspective of someone who cannot understand why someone wouldn't choose the bootstrap of authority. The left may be anarchic in effect, but it is motivated by the desire to shift the balance away from power over others to power over self. That's the theory anyway--we see daily (Gaza, anyone?) how self-conceptions can be the exact opposite of objective reality. History tilts leftward because people, as a species, want control over their own lives, and what they have been programmed to believe is order, rules, the natural way of things, will eventually be overcome because none of these things can be validated by personal experience.

January 8, 2009 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Not With a Whimper said...

Anonymous says,

"Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.

"What then do we say about the situation that prevails when the Left is triumphant? Say what you want about the USSR, or Mao's PRC, or Fidel's Cuba, or Kim's North Korea, or East Germany, they were (are) all orderly. There was little or no anarchy or crime in these states. It was safe to walk the streets in Brezhnev's Moscow."

Order. Depends on what level you mean.

You may have been been able to walk the streets in Moscow, but could that have been because potential muggers were in their one-room hovels drunk on cheap vodka?

Notice the suicide rates...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

Maybe deviance goes underground in authoritarian societies.


"... violence is a leading cause of death in Russia.."

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/national_activities/rus/en/

January 8, 2009 at 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The left may be anarchic in effect, but it is motivated by the desire to shift the balance away from power over others to power over self."

Been awhile since you were on a college campus aye?

Brad

January 8, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger godescalc said...

I'm not convinced by Moldbug's theory of left vs. right, but I've seldom come across a theory of it that I found convincing anyway. Modern morality strikes me as the morality of comfort and prosperity, and older morality as that of survival and keeping the tribe intact and in reasonable working order; projecting this onto the left/right axis explains the leftward drift of politics over the last few hundred years (science and technology improving quality of life) that Moldbug notes, but doesn't explain why certain causes liable to endanger your health are generally considered "left-wing' - unionism, for example, which while safe in the modern West, wasn't always so. T.S. Eliot's dismissal of those seeking to build "systems so perfect that no-one will need to be good" could describe liberalism; but there's enough right-wingers out there who think capitalism would solve all the world's problems if allowed to run free, so I'm not sure the Left has any monopoly on trying to design the Perfect System.

That aside, it's great to see an entry-level introduction here, considering the sprawling and lengthy contents of the blog. This entry's still pretty damn wordy on its own, though - I hesitate to recommend a blogger take on an editor, but I think the wordcount could be reduced by a third at least without losing much.

January 8, 2009 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger James said...

Mr. Sigler,

Jesus said something in the bible about Judge them by their fruits. Well let's look at the fruits of leftism. Hmmm... looks like evil and destruction all around. I can't think of a single case were leftist ideas have not created havoc. Can you Mr. Sigler? A lot of leftist ideas sound really good on paper. It sounds like a lot of really good people getting together and trying to do good, yet the implementation causes disaster. Leftist don't see themselves or there ideas as evil, but that's part of the lie. It's the results that matter not everyone's good intentions.

January 8, 2009 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

Discuss this article over at Thiblo.

From now on, every article posted at unqualified-reservations.blogger.com will be automatically reposted at unqualified-reservations.thiblo.com. For the purpose of phrase-by-phrase nitpicking. :-)

The process will be more and more automated (this one was a test done halfway by hand).

The design will be worked out as well as the fixing of the many small annoying bugs as soon as we get our hot-deployment process in shape. Sorry for the inconveniences. Enjoy!

January 8, 2009 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

"systems so perfect that no-one will need to be good" could describe liberalism

I'm not sure if that's what Eliot had in mind, but it definitely doesn't describe the left's pet systems. We hear about the New Socialist Man, but never the New Capitalist Man. The left is characterized by systems which assume that people are good, the right by those that admit they are not. I have never heard a libertarian complain that humans are not ethical enough for capitalism to work.

January 8, 2009 at 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but still relating to the ideas of this blog: the latest riots in the Bay area were instigated by the group from 'Revolutionary Books' in Berkeley. Not much media attention on it, and less so on the fact that the core rioters were the lefties.

January 8, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

I would be curious to know how the 1948 creation of Israel fits into the go-left theory of world history. Was it (Zionism, I guess) a leftward step, a rightward step, or just one of those ideas that was to the left of the Overton window at one time, but which sixty years on now lies to its right?

January 8, 2009 at 6:31 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 8, 2009 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 8, 2009 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Bah, both of those posts had typos.

Anyhow, I think it would be more to the point to say that rather than seeking anarchy the leftist, is the person who wants to CHANGE who* wields power, to transfer it to a new group of people, while the conservative is either happy with the existing group or fears either the new masters or the change more than the existing set. This definition has the virtue of functioning within both the the Soviet Union, which exhibited profound "liberal" drift over time. There is some difficulty involved in thinking about extreme rightists like MM, but we can create a third category, reactionaries, who want to actively undo what the leftists have wrought.

*By who I mean institutions much more than individuals. MM does not want to put Stuart corpses back on the throne, he wants to bring back their system.

January 8, 2009 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the Stuarts regularly beat up folk? Thugs I don't seem to recall.

ROFLMAO! You could hardly have picked a worse example to prove your case. Is your knowledge of history really so faulty that you don't know that at a time of extreme religious and political factional strife, those in power in England used state power against their opponents, and also withdrew the protection of the law from targeted groups? I can assure you that they did - just ask the Puritans, Covenanters, and Irish Catholics, among others. But then perhaps you think the Puritans left en masse for North America because they enjoyed starving among savages, not because they wanted to avoid being whipped, pilloried, branded, and ear-cropped by government thugs.

And no, you don't need spies and monitors to find people out. Guy Fawkes was discovered without the help of 007.

One example of an incompetent plot hardly demonstrates that no surveillance of the population is necessary. Every authoritarian state maintains a surveillance apparatus, so manifestly these regimes would find your contention that no spies and monitors are needed quite absurd.

Had George III been on his toes, he would have had all the "patriots" drinking with Jimmy Otis drawn and quartered.

Thanks for refuting your own arguments. Obviously George III couldn't have been on his toes and aware of what Otis was up to unless he had, um, yeah, that's right, spies and monitors.

But perhaps you think that thinking can somehow threaten the state, instead of action.

It is perfectly clear to me that in practice, as opposed to theory, authoritarian states actually do care what people think.

In a democracy thinking is dangerous. In an autocracy, thinking is unimportant.

Gee that must be why the most hyper-centralized states in history made no effort to influence what people thought - they knew this was unimportant.

You may have been been able to walk the streets in Moscow, but could that have been because potential muggers were in their one-room hovels drunk on cheap vodka?

I was talking about the USSR, not Russia. The level of private (criminal) violence in the USSR was very low. That is not true in post-Soviet Russia.

I would be curious to know how the 1948 creation of Israel fits into the go-left theory of world history.

It is worth noting that one of the main original sponsors of the creation of Israel was Joe Stalin. He hoped Israel would be a Soviet client that would help to destroy Anglo-French hegemony in the Middle East.

January 8, 2009 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

How could we possibly design a government which doesn't care what its citizens think? All governments, as Darwinian entities, are inherently interested in their own survival.

They must propagate some sort of loyalty system throughout multiple generations of their citizens in order to even hope of staying in power long enough to matter. A government which uses force instead of control of information to enforce loyalty may sound preferable to you in theory, but come back to me after you've spent ten years in a gulag because you ran an anti-government blog.

You are extremely good when writing about problems, but on solutions UR comes up ridiculously short. That whole thing about "Patchwork" earlier was patent nonsense to anyone with the minutest of bullshit detectors, and I hope you have realized that by now. Look in the mirror to witness a classic case of iatrogenesis.

January 8, 2009 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger William A. Sigler said...

I guess if your mind has been so softeneed by Orwellian doublespeak that you regard structures like Soviet Communism or American Universities as "leftist" instead of the deeply reactionary and authoritarian institutions they obviously were/are (bankers don't create such institutions without a specific agenda), you might view leftism as Hitler's hypocritical twin (or even Hitler as leftist, I dunno, the "right" tends to be very selective about what dismantled institutions it mourns). Left or liberal thinking has produced a few disasters (the Great Society, the French Revolution, secular humanism, the mindless coddling of Israel spring to mind), but it's had its share of successes (free enterprise, the Renaissance, goverments of laws not men, abolition, suffrage, race music, drug mysticism, gay marriage, to name but a few). The people in charge (the wealthy that own the governments that control the press, etc.) don't have much if any use for this kind of thinking, so they tend to use the old ink of the cuttlefish to obscure what they stand for and co-opt the most viral thoughts of those who think independently. Thus we now have the continuous hosannas of tolerance from the corporate press, corporate diversity initiatives, global warming greenshirts, the branding of "science" as a force of rationality and progress instead of death and enslavement, Republicans like Clinton and Obama keeping all the disenfranchised leftees happy, and so on.

It's a strange magic. Power and ideology are uncertain bedfellows at best, so all involved try to keep things simple, hence the consternation when liberals get to control the money or conservatives the arts. But it's probably best that liberals are virtually never in charge, for they don't really want any responsibility for anything, and lord knows the people who's opinion they claim to value are not too fond of responsible leaders. They all just want to be free to play, something conservatives actually give them more of because one, they don't have the imagination to steal everything (tho Bush came close), and two, their abject terror of the great unwashed. The work out this terror, I suppose, by turning what's left of their ideology into the visceral pleasure of bullying liberals.

January 8, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@michael

"Look in the mirror to witness a classic case of iatrogenesis."

I see you have been reading Nassim Taleb's latest notebook entries. I knew that word in the coming weeks and months would be thrown around by bloggers. It's like people reading Gladwell for the first time and then telling everyone about their new found knowledge.

January 8, 2009 at 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

William A Sigler:
I guess if your mind has been so softeneed by Orwellian doublespeak that you regard structures like Soviet Communism or American Universities as "leftist" instead of the deeply reactionary and authoritarian institutions they obviously were/are

'pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droit'
QED

January 8, 2009 at 11:48 PM  
Anonymous togo said...

pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droit'
QED


I think most salient is his reference to "drug mysticism."

Unless you think, for example, that Gaza, once liberated from Zionism, will pass gay rights laws of the kind that the late Pim Fortuyn would have endorsed.

January 9, 2009 at 2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droit"


Would someone mind telling me what this means, it'd be much appreciated.

Thanks.

January 9, 2009 at 4:37 AM  
Blogger James said...

Mr. Siglar,

How is the rule of law leftest? Gay marriage has the potential to destroy society. The traditional family has been the foundation of society since, well, forever. Leftism makes the assumption that two women or two men or single parent families are just as good as the traditional family. At least in the case of single parent families the rot has taken awhile to come out, but it is there. Anyway, how is free enterprise leftist?
Of course you are right about the right. Bush duped a hell of a lot of people into believing he was a conservative. That man is liberal to the core.

January 9, 2009 at 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:37

It means "No enemies to the left, no friends to the right."

January 9, 2009 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

@Anonymous from 10:52 1/8/09
I was just being a bit snarky in using Moldy's own feigned amazement against him. Why should we assume the cure for democracy won't be worse than the disease? I had never heard of Nassim Taleb until he was mentioned in this essay.

January 9, 2009 at 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be curious to know how the 1948 creation of Israel fits into the go-left theory of world history. Was it (Zionism, I guess) a leftward step, a rightward step, or just one of those ideas that was to the left of the Overton window at one time, but which sixty years on now lies to its right?

If we accept the MM definition that "the Left is political entropy... it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime", then simply ask yourself whether the Middle East has become more or less peaceful, orderly, and secure since the creation of Israel. The Middle East under the hegemony of the British and French was largely peaceful, orderly, and secure (or so it seems to me), and it is hard to imagine a development more likely to increase the amount of war, crime, and anarchy in the region than the establishment of a Jewish state. Ergo, the creation of Israel was a profoundly Leftist development.

January 9, 2009 at 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...that you regard structures like ... American Universities as "leftist" instead of the deeply reactionary and authoritarian institutions they obviously were/are..."

Sounds bitter. Must have been booted out of Evergreen State; probably offended the other members of his "Pod" by arguing that free enterprise is a product of left thinking. That or something went terribly wrong during an episode of "drug mysticism."

Brad

January 9, 2009 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Bradnonymous --

that and the sub seems to misunderstand that the left is frequently authoritarian in its bent (though not autocratic -- though the cult of personality is a big one on the left. . .)

January 9, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger godescalc said...

Phillip,

I'm not sure if that's what Eliot had in mind, but it definitely doesn't describe the left's pet systems. ...The left is characterized by systems which assume that people are good, the right by those that admit they are not.

I concede there's truth in the latter point; but the Welfare State is a Left-wing creation, and fits Eliot's snark down to a t - a properly-functional welfare system removes the need for human charity, because generosity has been outsourced (or commandeered) by the State, and taxes become the primary way in which citizens contribute to the benefit of the needy; the virtue of Charity in the individual becomes superfluous. (Or would if the Welfare State worked perfectly. That it doesn't is another matter...)

January 9, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Coward said...

I agree with the interpretation that "Left" best characterizes those who that want a change to something new or different. The status-quo does not satisfy some kind of need, whether real or merely perceived.

In contrast, "Right" best characterizes those who don't want anything to change, or who want to go back to the way things were. They perceive no deficiency in the current scheme.

Movements under either label can cause *all* of the problems Mencius mentions. Please see the past 100 years of history for all the examples you could ever want.

Certainly changing things is going to cause problems, but, and I'm sure Mencius can personally identify with this, you don't get a better computer program by being too scared to make a change to your source. No one can predict every little ripple or splash a change is going to make. NO ONE IS PERFECT. We wouldn't even be having these discussions if they were.

So, yes, the "Left"-moving policies are going to cause more chaos than the "Right" ones, but it's not for the sake of causing problems (heh, at least not always). And, yes, sometimes the problems caused by the change outweigh the benefits.

You can't just mindlessly default to one position or the other. And that's why I think it's so hard for people to wrap their heads around these things - you can't just pick one and then turn your brain on autopilot. It's a struggle.

Of course, if Mencius is proposing new classifications of politics and is recycling these old terms, then I have to wonder if he's turned his penchant for euphemisms on its head ;-p

I'll leave my theories for the must culpable source of change-related-problems for another post. Essentially, it's a problem between cross-contamination and cross-pollination. When ideas that worked well in one area are applied to another area irresponsibly.

January 9, 2009 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger drank said...

An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think. In a truly authoritarian government, the ruling authority relies on force, not popularity.

What are some examples of such authoritarian regimes? All the ones that easily come to mind seem to engage or have engaged in extensive propaganda.

Even the city-states that MM promotes as forerunners of formalism are not immune from this. In Dubai, the weekly sermon in every mosque in the Emirate is set by the government. Why does Sheik Mo care so much about what his subjects think?

This sounds like science fiction or wishful thinking on MMs part. I suspect that EVERY sovcorp cares that their citizens hold those beliefs that allow the rulers to rule, and a Formalist state would be no different.

January 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

It seems to me that this "progressives always win" claim relies on identifying "progressives" as winners after the fact. Sure, there were "progressives" that got what they wanted, but there were plenty of other self-identified progressives that didn't. I don't want to keep beating a dead roach, but the same reasoning the courts used to legalize abortion in 72 could just as easily have been used to legalize pot instead, and it's not at all clear to me that most self-identified progressives would have preferred the former over the latter.

January 9, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think".

Frederick the Great is supposed to have said, "My people and I have an arrangement. They can say what they like and I can do what I like." (Michael, please note.)

"So how is it, exactly, that Harvard, Stanford, and everyone else gets the same answer? I'm afraid the only logical alternative, however awful and unimaginable, is the conclusion that Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because both are remoras attached, in some unthinkable way, to some great, invisible predator of the deep - perhaps even Cthulhu himself."

No, they do it through the regular interchange of vital bodily fluids in the form of peer review and personnel.

"Tories are always misfits, losers, or just plain stupid - sometimes all three".

While that may be true of the USA, it is not true in general; consider Disraeli, to name but one.

'Oddly enough, the classic historical case of a theocracy is... wait, hang on, I'm forgetting... oh, yes! Right here, in North America. Under those strange people we call the "Puritans.'

Nonsense, it was Calvin's Geneva.

"Some of America's little friends overseas, such as Britain, have universities in the second rank. But there is only one global postwar academic system, the American one, and all top-tier universities are in the United States."

That is also nonsense. Oxford and Cambridge are clear exceptions.

Of course, those two nonsenses are indications of the ways in which the system still holds the author's mind captive.

January 9, 2009 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Jacob Lyles said...

Drank says:

I suspect that EVERY sovcorp cares that their citizens hold those beliefs that allow the rulers to rule, and a Formalist state would be no different.

This is because every current sovcorp chooses its executives from its citizenship. So, it must educate its future executives in the desirability of its system.

A neocameralist state would choose its executives from anywhere in the world, so it would not have to worry about mind controlling its citizens.

January 10, 2009 at 1:06 AM  
Blogger Jacob Lyles said...

Also, Mencius, you should write a book. It would force you to give structure to your thoughts.

January 10, 2009 at 1:07 AM  
Anonymous 33 said...

The entire of Unqualified Reservations depends on a value judgement: whether the progressive left is bad or not.

I liked Mencius's blog for awhile, and some of the other blogs in this section of the blogosphere, but now I've changed my mind. You guys are a bunch of whiny castrated men who discuss the problem, but lack a solution. It reminds me of Marc Sageman's book about members on online terror social networks goading each other on chat rooms and blogs to join the jihad, but the majority never do because they are pussies. Much like al Qaeda this is what you've all become: cave-dwelling rockapes that chat about stuff on the net, but at a base level you are impotent. A relic of past times.

Nevertheless, do you know what does matter, and that you do have control over?

Power.

Just like Mencius was saying. Progressives are obsessed with power. And you know what? I'm going to take advantage of that. Reactionary conservatives are beta males. Alphas are social climbers with power. And if you all believe that progressives have the power, then that's where I'm heading off to. It is where self-interested persons can take advantage of the one thing that matters.

January 10, 2009 at 4:22 AM  
Anonymous 33 said...

I just had an epiphany.

It's no wonder that the progressive left harp on all the time about their own various representative groups being oppressed, even when there is evidence to the contrary. Their political taskmasters must know that they have the upper hand and eventually win out.

By creating such a (probably false) dichotomy between left as the loser, and the right as 'the powerful' it attracts males, especially white males, to delusionally choose the losing side in history (even though said white males believe they are picking the winners, after all "dem der stupid wimminz and minorities are filled with emotions and no logic").

I think my choice to become a faux-leftist will be a good one in progressing my personal interests under the guise of the collective.

January 10, 2009 at 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

And if you all believe that progressives have the power, then that's where I'm heading off to. It is where self-interested persons can take advantage of the one thing that matters.
[...]
I think my choice to become a faux-leftist will be a good one in progressing my personal interests under the guise of the collective.


A very wise choice, 33. If you think you have what it takes to go succeed, signing on with the left can only help you and declaring for the far right can only weaken you. Nobody here would disagree.

January 10, 2009 at 4:49 AM  
Blogger drank said...

Jacob Lyles: A neocameralist state would choose its executives from anywhere in the world, so it would not have to worry about mind controlling its citizens.

So they'd probably start teaching that truth in Kindergarden and nursery rhymes in a Formalist state, no? You've got to tell the kids how wonderful their society is, after all.

Especially if the current CEO was more Rick Wagoner than Steve Jobs.

January 10, 2009 at 6:51 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

@33: It's true that the far right is politically irrelevant, but it does not follow that we're all a bunch of castrated, whiny men. You don't know what a bunch of pseudonymous bloggers do in their real lives or how powerful they are. If we were to go into politics we wouldn't get anywhere (unless we pretended to be something we're not), but you'll find a fair number of right-wingers who are entrepreneurs, engineers, professionals, etc, and who are not 40-year-old virgins who live with their moms.

Also, being a progressive is hardly a guarantee of becoming powerful. Go read the comments at Daily Kos and you'll find at least a large proportion of bitter losers as you would find here.

Prominent example: well known left-wing blogger Gary Farber, who is about the saddest sack of shit ever to have walked the Earth.

Your plan is only a good one if you're planning to seek power as a politician, or something like that. Otherwise, it doesn't matter so much what your beliefs are, as long as you aren't too outspoken about unpopular beliefs. There are lots of other power structures to climb that don't involve politics.

It's also funny that you should use PUA-talk ("beta male") to put down the right, when PUA types tend to be right-wing.

January 10, 2009 at 8:07 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

A neocameralist state would choose its executives from anywhere in the world.

That would not be a panacea. People tend to recognize social hierarchies as legitimate if they are composed of people like themselves. One of the probable reasons lies in sexual competition. Men get annoyed when there is a perception of being pushed off the status ladder by alien males, who by being "neocameralist executives," become the default alpha males.

Mencius's insistence that color/ethnicity-blind hierarchies would work betrays his Homo-Economicus blinders.

I think my choice to become a faux-leftist will be a good one in progressing my personal interests under the guise of the collective.

The Ketman phenomenon. Wiki it. It's interesting, however, that opportunism is not the sole motivating human factor.

January 10, 2009 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is also nonsense. Oxford and Cambridge are clear exceptions.

Read these paragraphs again:

Except for a few unimportant institutions of non-mainstream religious affiliation, we simply do not see multiple, divergent, competing schools of thought within the American university system. The whole vast archipelago, though evenly speckled with a salting of contrarians, displays no factional structure whatsoever. It seems almost perfectly synchronized.

There are two explanations for this synchronization. One, Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because they both arrive at the same truth. I am willing to concede this for, say, chemistry. When it comes to, say, African-American studies, I am not quite so sure. Are you? Surely it is arguable that the latter is a legitimate area of inquiry. But surely it is arguable that it is not. So how is it, exactly, that Harvard, Stanford, and everyone else gets the same answer?

I'm afraid the only logical alternative, however awful and unimaginable, is the conclusion that Harvard and Stanford are synchronized because both are remoras attached, in some unthinkable way, to some great, invisible predator of the deep - perhaps even Cthulhu himself.


Do Oxford and Cambridge teach "different and competing schools of thought" from Harvard? No. They teach the exact same "truth" as Harvard. Thus, Oxford and Cambridge are synchronized with Harvard. Is it possible that Oxford and Cambridge are the origin of the "truths" taught at Harvard? Clearly not. Harvard passes the "truth" to Oxford and Cambridge, not the other way around. Thus, MM is exactly correct to say that Harvard and the other Ivies are in the top tier, and all other universities - including foreign ones - are beneath them and dependent on them.

January 10, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Left = the forces of Decay- or really, just the parasites who become popular in a time of Decay.

and Western civilization has been decaying for 2000 years. But it's like an exponential function- Death approaches faster and faster. Thus the past century.

I tend to blame Christ, but who knows what the real cause is. Dead leadership, ego worship, individualism, just the natural course of civilization? No more Aryans?

January 10, 2009 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous cranky matron said...

Anyway, finding cracks in the cathedral's version of truth is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel.

My own bizarro-world intro to this idea was actually Stormfront, of all places, where I wandered in for giggles a few years ago.

It's true that plenty of 'em are addled idiots, but it's also true that if even a semiliterate hillbilly can tell the emperor has no clothes, then there is no excuse for the rest of us to carry on playing pretend.

(well, the fact that the emperor has my husband on payroll serves as my personal excuse. Nice suit, Mr. Obama.)

I think it's hard to conceive of a working local government that doesn't rely at least somewhat on "affinity networks" as Sailer describes them, though.

January 10, 2009 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger lewy14 said...

The Overton Window isn't a window, it's a bus, and Google is now being thrown under it:

Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches.

January 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anonymous Anonymous of January 10, 2009 11:59 AM, that is a wilful misreading of what is meant by top and second tier. It clearly refers to their positioning or ranking as academic institutions, but even if you misread it as being whether they are sources of these streams of opinion, you are asserting that Harvard is such a source - whereas Mencius Moldbug regards these things as not having particular centres at all, and your valid assertion that Oxford and Cambridge are not particular sources also applies to Harvard. Even on your reading, Oxford and Cambridge are in there with the body of institutions that work as a source in an emergent way.

January 10, 2009 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Haven't you repeated yourself enough? We can go to Corrupt.org if we want an intro. Early on when you started the blog you claimed "one of the reasons I started this blog was to have a place to give that specific piece [Myth of the Rational Voter] of Caplan's a really, really hefty, deep and nasty, rhino-sized reaming.". You never got around to that. You said there were four Universalist ideals, of which you explicitly took on social justice and pacifism but not community or fraternity. You claimed the Iron Decagon/Polygon was composed of groups that you later claimed made up the Cathedral along with "the judiciary, [...] the "Hill" (congressional staff), the military, the Beltway bandits (defense and other contractors), and corporate holders of official monopolies (such as "intellectual property")" but you never discussed the latter again. You said the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan was a "suspicious" exception to your general rule about left v right and guerrillas that you'd have to discuss later, but never got around to it. Also, I'd like you to address n/a on New Englanders, Progressivism and mainline Jews. Those are all worthwhile things you could take on rather than doing the OL thing all over again.

But no number of categorical distinctions from the other two can alter our estimate of the third's criminality
Going by legal positivism, the law is whatever the State claims it is. It is silly to talk of a type of regime being "criminal". We can understain if you find democracy unaesthetic. But let's not come up with some imaginary line it must not cross lest we (and what army?) throw it in the paddy-wagon.

I'd say a fair definition of an Orwellian government is one whose principle of public legitimacy (Mosca's political formula, if you care) is contradicted by an accurate perception of reality
There goes divine-right monarchy.

Professor Chomsky, for one.
He's wrong. Consider that all the believers in Orwellianism might be as well. Perhaps Kafka or Gogol (or Mike Judge) are more accurate.

one thing you believe in is separation of church and state.
I think it's questionable how many people really do. People may have complained about Bush supporting federal dollars for faith-based programs, but Obama supports the same thing and those same Progressives don't complain.

What do we mean by separation?
A good question considering your claim that the ostensibly private media is an arm of the state. What would it mean to separate it?

And what about Scientology?
It's questionable whether it's really church (many, including the German government, claim it just decided to call itself that for tax purposes). It does have a frighteningly high influence over the coercive fist of government.

we might believe that a government should not tell its subjects what to think
Does that mean the President can't give a State of the Union address?

An authoritarian state has no need to tell its subjects what to think, because it has no reason to care what they think.
Most governments described as "authoritarian" don't fit that bill.

In a truly authoritarian government
No true Scotsman.

Therefore, any authoritarian state that needs an official religion must have something wrong with it.
That describes pretty much every government before that of the U.S.

Without separation of church and state, it is easy be for a democracy to indulge itself in arbitrarily irresponsible misgovernment, simply by telling its bishops to inform their congregations that black is white and white is black
That sounds a bit more like Caesaropapism, which is not the only alternative to separation of church and state.

The root problem with a state church in a democratic state is that, to believe in democracy, one must believe that the levers of power terminate with the voters. But if your democracy has an effective state church, the actual levers of power pass through the voters, and go back to the church.
You sound somewhat like Galbraith/Chomsky on capitalism. I'm with Hayek. It is silly to imagine either hermetically sealed atomistic inviduals unaffected by the rest of society whose opinions are therefore "real" or "valid" vs passive receptables of whatever they're told (many schoolchildren forced to sit and listen aren't even capable of this for even the duration necessary for their grades).

Either way, we have consigned the state to an unaccountable conclave of bishops
Substitute voters for voters for bishops. Are they any more accountable?

This political architecture, an abortion by any standard, is commonly known as a theocracy.
I don't think those are supposed to bother with democracy.

a Quaker theocracy
William Penn actually failed to establish effective control over Pennsylvania, which is why Rothbardians applaud the anarchy of that era.

a church is an organization or movement which tells people how to think
That could include both Eliezer Yudkowsky and the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People guy.

And we surely can't mean that there should be separation of Harvard and state
I think Chomsky might actually approve of that.

Harvard is conventionally described as a "private" university. This term is strictly nominal. Vast streams of cash flow from the taxpayer's pocket into Harvard's
Elaborate. How much cash? Are you primarily speaking of student loans? Catholic universities get those too. Faith-based programs also send money to Rome's outposts in America. Considering the size of most Ivy League endowments, I don't think many were really in need of government cheese.

If a shared attachment to Uncle Sam isn't what keeps Harvard and Stanford on the same page, what is?
The same pool of potential students and professors? Assuming some sort of nefarious collusion for similar behavior is stupid.

It's not football
Well how come so many have football teams? Why don't any schools put all their eggs in the underwater hockey basket? I SMELL CONSPIRACY!

we simply do not see multiple, divergent, competing schools of thought within the American university system
Within any academic discipline there are usually competing divergent schools of thought (though usually not for 101 courses).

displays no factional structure whatsoever
You mean universities as a whole? What are they supposed to gang up to do? Schools of thought in certain disciplines display factionality though. "Freshwather" vs "Saltwater" for instance.

When it comes to, say, African-American studies, I am not quite so sure
Where does the demand for African-American studies come from? I'd say a fairly small group of students uninterested in serious study. It would be pretty pointless having an AA studies class that didn't cater to them. Harvard and Stanford are drawing from the same pool of students. Although I have to admit despite not finding your explanation plausible I don't have any idea why schools want such students in the first place.

because both are remoras attached, in some unthinkable way, to some great, invisible predator of the deep - perhaps even Cthulhu himself.
A pool of students, donors, professors perhaps?

how exactly is said agreement enforced
Actually a good question. How do you maintain a cartel without having a mechanism to punish defectors? You read Austrian economics, so you know how difficult and unlikely that is, for much of the same reason that group selection doesn't work (sorry, Kevin MacDonald). Simply saying that the drift IS the mechanism of organization is just begging the question.

the late Professor Staloff
It really is impolite to claim living people are dead.

Their views change over time - and they all change in the same direction, at the same rate
I bet they exhibit similar clothing trends and hairstyles as well.

If we accept the ecclesiastical metaphor, the newspaper is a perfect analogue of the church proper
The original meaning of the word "church" in Christianity referred to the people or community (this was before Constantine). Newspapers don't deliver the same communal gathering. This is one of those areas Razib likes to piont out where atheists severely misunderstand religion as being about ideas. That's because atheists tend to be interested in ideas, whereas most of the religious are not.

we have persons of color to this day in California
The law doesn't have anything to do with whether they'll live in California, just the rights of property owners.

But not all
Evidence? And isn't it possible for someone to both prefer Obama as President while favoring Prop 14?

universities in the second rank
I would have thought Oxbridge was first rank.

T1 is always way to the right, near the fringe or outside it
David Frum and Brink Lindsey both wrote books about it shifting right, and they discuss that here. They're more interested in the crappy Keynes/Galbraith economy, but gun cuntrol has gotten considerably less popular from what I remember in early-to-mid 90s, the "Roe effect" has made recent generations more pro-life and death penalty got reinstated after being abolished. Going from coddling Uncle Joe to denouncing the Evil Empire was another big change.

Where is the John Birch Society, now?
Here. Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley did stick a knife in its back though, partially over Welch's skepticism on Vietnam.

Nor, most important for our hypothesis, did they come from the universities;
The "Dunning School" took place in universities, and Woodrow Wilson (President of Princeton before the United States) was among its adherents.

periods of reaction are always periods of anti-university activity
Was there any of that during either Redemption or the Return to Normalcy?

McCarthyism is especially noticeable as such. And you'll note that McCarthy didn't exactly win
McCarthy's downfall came with the Army-McCarthy hearings. Conflating McCarthy's activities, which related to national security risks among employees of the federal government, with interference with the private sector is usually a mark of leftist brainwashing.

Clearly, if you want to be on the winning team, you want to start on the left side of the field.
The victors can always of course redefine terms (seriously, check out that link and the other posts by that author linked there).

In a two-party democratic system, with Whigs and Tories, Democrats and Republicans, etc, the intelligentsia is always Whig
Before the 60s the professoriate was more conservative than the general public.

Tories are always misfits, losers, or just plain stupid - sometimes all three.
That describes a whole lot of leftists to me. In fact, in the people I've known personally there is a very high correlation between leftism and failure.

What does it even mean to be left rather than right?
Melendwyr/Caledonian asked the same question, and I gave my answer here, while Bryan Caplan did here.

Right represents peace [...] left represents war
Just like Clinton stole welfare reform, the right has stolen war.

highly fragmented, highly consensual
Sounds a bit like the libertarian ideal.

Dilbert
The world of Dilbert seems quite hierarchical to me.

What you'll see is that Chomsky is, in every case, demanding that all political power be in the hands of the Cathedral
He views the media and universities as being part of the manufacture of consent, like you, so that seems odd.

Yet any hint of corporate or military influence over the press is, of course, anathema
Corporations own the press. In the run-up to the Iraq war the White House enlisted retired generals working for military contractors to talk to the media and spread the message (without revealing who was paying them).

Yet, strangely, the leftist has no interest whatsoever in this security hole
The very reason "Indymedia" exists is because they don't trust the MSM. Leftists write books like "How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire".

the Web's most thoughtful hard-line conservative
"Thoughtful" is one of the last words I'd use to describe him. I don't think of him as being that conservative either (though he insists he's the only real conservative), for the same reason you give.

I promised
As noted above, you promise a lot. You've promised to respond to comments several times.

For my own part, I promise to nitpick other people's comments to this post before Tuesday.

January 11, 2009 at 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the question of what is Left and what is Right, some commenter wrote this at another blog.

This is an excellent comment, but I can't take credit for it:

______
I tend to target the libs more, simply because they openly advocate many of the things that destroyed the Old America. They are the true believers, the fervent foot soldiers of cultural decay.

But, in the bigger picture, there are many other forces at work. For example, modern conservatism isn’t really conservatism at all. Instead, it simply quibbles with the Left on a few issues, but has largely conceded the fight. Totally ineffective. Most modern conservatives are in fact liberals in conservative clothing, and in that way they are actually more dangerous and destructive than the real liberals. The true lib you can see coming from a mile away. The real danger is the so called conservative that gets gullible people to believe that he is on their side. He isn’t.

The main thing modern conservatives do believe in is money. They want plenty more of it, and have raised this to a political ideal. The problem is that unrestrained, global capitalism (as opposed to smaller scale free enterprise) is inherently at odds with traditional values. Big business wants to be able to move people and capital anywhere it wants. Tribal loyalties and tradition only get in the way of this. Big business wants to be able to import third worlders by the tens of millions, or offshore jobs so that they don’t have to pay first world wages, and so forth. They get you coming and going.

Big business therefore is perfectly comfortable with the rootless, atomized individual who has no ties or traditional loyalties. Such a person is willing to move around the continent or the planet to chase whatever carrot the globalists put in front of him. Such a person simply wishes to consume (what else is there?), and therefore is also a great customer. A rootless worker and a self-medicating consumer. Perfect from the elite standpoint. Indoctrinate him with some foggy ideas about being a global citizen or how diversity is our greatest strength, and presto! you’ve got your perfect cog in the machine. The important thing is to strip him of any tribal identity, especially if he/she is white. Tribes can be dangerous to elites. Atomized individuals are not.

And, as you point out, there is a lot of money to be made off of societal decay. There is a lot of money to be made off of human misery. The current elites, be they liberal or nonimally conservative, have proven unfit to rule. The lib, being an evil cuss, seems to actually enjoy seeing the cultural degradation and human misery. The so called conservative (being an amoral cuss) is happy because he can make plenty of money. It’s a Punch and Judy show.

January 11, 2009 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Re-reading my comment, I'd like to retroactively strike out the bit about the conservatism of pre-60s professors. I thought I had deleted that but forgot to. I'm really not sure about that far into the past, although the political leanings in academia have not been static in the decades afterward.

January 11, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

33--

I think I shall institute "Palmer's Law" -- whoever mentions alpha and beta males is obviously involved in some sort of internal power struggle and is not worth listening to.

January 11, 2009 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Kudos to Anonymous January 8, 2009 8:08 AM on orderly authoritarian communist states. NOW GET A GODDAMN HANDLE!

It is cheaper to get people to behave if you can get them to think correctly
That's likely why religion has been so universal and pre-dates recorded history.


G. M. Palmer:
An actual authoritarian state
No true Scotsman.

This doesn't take any sort of monitoring
Yes, it does. The ancien regime of Europe, which Mencius seems to take as something of an ideal, employed spies (Francis Drake was one) to prevent the smoking gun from being a mushroom cloud, as it were.


Anonymous anuary 8, 2009 9:40 AM, everything you said is absolutely correct and relevant. NOW CHOOSE A HANDLE! Even Anonymous2 would do.


G. M. Palmer:
Did the Stuarts regularly beat up folk?
They were notorious for the Star Chamber. I would hope torture in the Tower of London or mutilation counts as "beating up" or exceeds it in your book.

But perhaps you think that thinking can somehow threaten the state, instead of action.
The Stuarts certainly did, given prosecution of Puritans and banning of all new books in 1632.

In an autocracy, thinking is unimportant.
Then there has never been an autocracy.


William A. Sigler:
Mencius described the left as representing war and chaos, but allowed that the value of such things is inherently subjective. They left may certainly claim high-minded motivations, but he is saying it is "anarchic in effect", just as you agree.

History tilts leftward because people, as a species, want control over their own lives
That's somewhat plausible. But see The Inevitability of a Mecicalized Society for a different take.


Not With a Whimper:
could that have been because potential muggers were in their one-room hovels drunk on cheap vodka?
Why it is orderly does not change the fact that it was orderly. Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was also orderly due to the chemical pacification of belligerents (I personally found it an appealing vision).


godescalc:
I've seldom come across a theory of it that I found convincing anyway
Probably because most people giving theories are trying to make their side look better.

Modern morality strikes me as the morality of comfort and prosperity, and older morality as that of survival and keeping the tribe intact and in reasonable working order
Exactly! The Inductivist shows how different nations adhere to these in a graphical represenation. We can think of government as a luxury good. We get more and more of it as our wealth allows us to afford it. I agree with Tyler Cowen that technology is the major factor producing this shift. Brink Lindsey wrote about this in Age of Abundance, and Will Wilkinson similarly talks about how possibly the most significant shift (gender issues), which MM seems afraid to discuss, are due to easier access to birth control, labor saving devices and the related shift from a household as productive economic unit to consumption unit.

I hesitate
Don't you know this is the internet? Everyone is free to voice ill-informed opinions.


James:
I can't think of a single case were leftist ideas have not created havoc.
Mencius himself approves of gay marriage. I forget, but I think he might have said he approves of interracial marriage as well.


Philip:
the New Capitalist Man
Same as the Old Capitalist Man.


Mitchell:
Interestingly enough, the right used to be pro-Arab/Palestinian. I've heard that Stalin supported the creation of Israel because he thought it would give us headaches down the road, but that strikes me as U.S centric hindsight.


Anonymous January 8, 2009 7:58 PM (GET A HANDLE!):
It is perfectly clear to me that in practice, as opposed to theory, authoritarian states actually do care what people think.
True, but MM once said that as an Austrian he only cares about theory. He may have disparaged rationalism elsewhere, but a rationalist is what he is (as were Mises and Rothbard before him).

Anglo-French hegemony
They were rather rivalrous, so I don't they can be lumped into one hegemon.


Mitchell:
All governments, as Darwinian entities, are inherently interested in their own survival.
Very true, but MM seems to find certain mechanisms of cementing power to be objectionable for moral/aesthetic reasons.


William A. Sigler:
I guess if your mind has been so softeneed by Orwellian doublespeak that you regard structures like Soviet Communism
If they aren't, what is? Are you a Trotskyite/Schachtmanite or something?

bankers
You should probably elaborate on that conspiracy theory, as most won't be familiar with it or consider it plausible on face value.

suffrage
I'd say that's questionable.

the wealthy that own the governments that control the press
Is this some sort of C. Wright Mills/William Domhoff "power elite" theory?

But it's probably best that liberals are virtually never in charge, for they don't really want any responsibility for anything
I think there's some truth in that. But they're very concerned anyway.

They all just want to be free to play
I think Matt Taibbi had something to say about that.


James:
How is the rule of law leftest
If we consider classical liberalism to be on the left (which MM agrees it was, see here for a leftist perspective on the pre-liberal conservatism it sneakily displaced). Liberals do still like the bit in A Man For All Seasons (written by an agnostic socialist) when Thomas More explains why he would even give the Devil the benefit of law. In MM's book, rulers have absolute sovereignty and can do whatever they want as there is no authority to tell them otherwise. The rule of law usually has judges overruling executive and legislative decisions within a normative framework of limiting government authority to written law. Such a system is to the advantage of those who know the law (such as lawyers or the educated more broadly), if not to the extent of modern living-constitutionalism.


G. M. Palmer:
frequently authoritarian in its bent (though not autocratic
What the hell are you talking about?


Anonymous Coward (nice nym):
In contrast, "Right" best characterizes those who don't want anything to change, or who want to go back to the way things were
Like when Iraq was a pro-Israel liberal democracy.


drank:
What are some examples of such authoritarian regimes? All the ones that easily come to mind seem to engage or have engaged in extensive propaganda.
Hear hear!


George Weinberg:
It seems to me that this "progressives always win" claim relies on identifying "progressives" as winners after the fact.
See the link I gave earlier.


P. M. Lawrence:
Frederick the Great is supposed to have said, "My people and I have an arrangement. They can say what they like and I can do what I like."
That might have been Bismarck, although I believe they still had press-laws back then.

No, they do it through the regular interchange of vital bodily fluids in the form of peer review and personnel.
Thank you.


33:
Reactionary conservatives are beta males. Alphas are social climbers with power.
Funny. I haven't read much Roissy, but I know in his reaction to Sarah Palin he was talking about "simpering liberal beta-boys", while P. J. O'Rourke said "no woman ever fantasized about being ravished by a liberal".

By creating such a (probably false) dichotomy between left as the loser, and the right as 'the powerful' it attracts males
That reminds me, see #4 in Hopefully Anonymous' most recent post.


c23:
Also, being a progressive is hardly a guarantee of becoming powerful. Go read the comments at Daily Kos and you'll find at least a large proportion of bitter losers as you would find here.
You said it. Also see this and this from the Distributed Republic (the latter I just accidentally found looking for the former).

It's also funny that you should use PUA-talk ("beta male") to put down the right, when PUA types tend to be right-wing.
It was already best done in the "Gene For Evolutionary Psychology" satire.


Anonymous January 10, 2009 11:59 AM:
GET A HANDLE!

Is it possible that Oxford and Cambridge are the origin of the "truths" taught at Harvard? Clearly not.
I don't think it's clear either way.


Anonymous January 11, 2009 10:05 AM:
GET A HANDLE!

My guess is that Mencius approves of off-shoring. PA's point about his economism seems to support that.

whoever mentions alpha and beta males is obviously involved in some sort of internal power struggle and is not worth listening to.
If you're using it against your opponents, then it's likely the sort of ad hominem used by Freudians and Marxists, or what C. S. Lewis called bulverism. It is perfectly sensible to talk about an alpha gorilla having a harem or beta orangutans resorting to rape.

January 11, 2009 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I would hope torture in the Tower of London or mutilation counts as "beating up" or exceeds it in your book.

It's a little beyond "beating up," really -- that was my point, actually. That regime with power unchecked by the people is going to be far more brutal (and open) in its punishments -- it doesn't have to have secret thugs that go around beating up journalists -- it simply takes them to the public square and has them drawn and quartered.

January 12, 2009 at 3:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elaborate. How much cash? Are you primarily speaking of student loans? Catholic universities get those too. Faith-based programs also send money to Rome's outposts in America. Considering the size of most Ivy League endowments, I don't think many were really in need of government cheese.

Government subsidies to higher education are huge - both direct payments and tax breaks and through subsidizing students (which naturally allows colleges to raise their fees). Identifying "how much cash" wouldn't add anything to the argument here. Since you mention those endowments, the fact that they are tax exempt represents a gigantic cost to the taxpayer - literally BILLIONS of dollars.

displays no factional structure whatsoever
You mean universities as a whole? What are they supposed to gang up to do? Schools of thought in certain disciplines display factionality though. "Freshwather" vs "Saltwater" for instance.


Nope. Universities are a sterile intellectual and political monoculture. And what are they ganging up to do? Sheesh, how long have you been reading this blog? They are ganging up to influence government policy, obviously.

Right represents peace [...] left represents war
Just like Clinton stole welfare reform, the right has stolen war.


No, the Left has cleverly allowed the Right to take the blame for wars that the Left won't allow them to win.

Yet, strangely, the leftist has no interest whatsoever in this security hole
The very reason "Indymedia" exists is because they don't trust the MSM. Leftists write books like "How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire".


The reason idiots like that criticize the MSM is because it is not Leftist enough, not because it influences the government. If they criticize Harvard, again, it is for being not Leftist enough, not merely for influencing the government. Such critiques only demonstrate the hypocrisy and loony Leftism of their authors, not the validity of their claims.

Anglo-French hegemony
They were rather rivalrous, so I don't they can be lumped into one hegemon.


No, they divided the region between them, and it is proper to speak of their joint hegemony.

Is it possible that Oxford and Cambridge are the origin of the "truths" taught at Harvard? Clearly not.
I don't think it's clear either way.


Yes, well, your intellectual limitations have long been obvious. It is perfectly clear that the Ivies are the source of the noxious ideology that prevails in academia today, not Oxford and Cambridge.

January 12, 2009 at 9:13 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anonymous Anonymous of January 12, 2009 9:13 AM asserts of "Anglo-French hegemony They were rather rivalrous, so I don't they can be lumped into one hegemon" that "No, they divided the region between them, and it is proper to speak of their joint hegemony".

That is incorrect. All the way through they were very confrontational, backing off before reaching overt hostilities. This only ended with the Entente Cordiale, in the face of an outside threat - but that did not involve agreeing on how to divide the spoils, but rather deferring other issues for later. To see that you need only look at things like the British squelching French advances in New Zealand and the Sudan (the Fashoda Incident), and how British pressure kept French penetration of South East Asia from continuing into Siam (now Thailand) so it could be kept as a buffer state with Burma. Exceptions like letting the French into Madagascar in exchange for a free hand in Zanzibar are more apparent than real; they occurred in a wider context of tradeoffs with yet other European powers (Germany got Heligoland out of that one) - they did not secure any sort of Anglo-French hegemony but rather a European consensus.

January 12, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The specific region under discussion was (is) the Middle East. It might be less proper to speak of their joint hegemony in other regions, such as Africa, but it is absolutely correct to speak of their joint hegemony of the Middle East. That was the meaning of the Treaties of Sevres and Lausanne: the British and French partitioned the Ottoman Empire and cooperatively dominated the Middle East. Ergo, joint hegemony.

January 12, 2009 at 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, isn't this a nice little erudite orgy.




I think, sadly for Mencius, and all of us, that order and the left do go together.

Look at modern rock music: a sad and dumb and boring affair. Yet the young flock around the faux rebels like pigs to the slaughter. (sheep are smarter). Whatever you think of Žižek this part of his theory is essentially true - the image of anarchy which the west spits forth is just illusion. At the base of it is nazi-like social efficiency. Give it time and it will rear its head.


I think the real goal of any would be "Cthulu" is to merge the left and the right.

"oy liberals, put down that Steely Dan album and join our army of goodness. You can feed little african kids and lobotomize their brains until they become as bland and lifeless as your own"


"oy conservatives, socialism isn't that bad if you can still drive your great big SUV, smoke dem' cigars, and beat yur wife. You can even keep that God-character if you want."


A perfect system of idiocy can emerge! An artificial paradise for the boring, the godless, and the loveless. Yet claiming to be the pinnacle of all three.

The hypereducated can meet the superstupid, hold hands for a crucial life giving second, coitus interruptus, and presto-whamo!

the spermatozoa of a perfect political system would fly out and impregnate the world! And then the parents could for ever after keep a proper distance between them.

Wouldn't that be great? We could actually BEAT history. That would be the first time it happened in... well in history!


What if we are witnessing the rise of a perfect political system? No more poverty. No more unnecessary death. Hell, with science we could cut even death out of the picture! Wouldn't that be the hell of all hells. Could a mother do more? Could a father do better?

January 12, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anonymous Anonymous of January 12, 2009 8:34 PM asserts "...it is absolutely correct to speak of their joint hegemony of the Middle East. That was the meaning of the Treaties of Sevres and Lausanne: the British and French partitioned the Ottoman Empire and cooperatively dominated the Middle East. Ergo, joint hegemony."

That is yet more confusion. Far from it meaning joint hegemony, it meant the later division of the spoils that I referred to. There was an allocation of separate spheres of interest over which they had separate hegemonies - the treaties did not set up any continuing joint arrangements.

Even if it weren't obvious, we can see this from two things:-

- Later on, British Commonwealth forces had to go to a great deal of trouble to deal with what were by then Vichy holdings. Clearly, nothing that was in place was being handled jointly.

- We have a comparison with the very few areas that did end up joint responsibilities, i.e. the Suez Canal and some islands in the South Pacific. Things there were very different from the norm.

January 13, 2009 at 2:20 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

For those who haven't compared MM's quotation of Prof. Staloff with the original, the parts about Miskatonic University, Falconer, and von Junzt are his own facetious substitutions for the (alas) rather less interesting authorities cited by Professor Staloff. The author to whom Staloff actually attributes the 'claim that the Puritan divines were the precursors of the Jacobins and Bolsheviks' is not 'the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred,' but someone called Michael Walzer. I have not read what Walzer has written on the subject, but suspect he is just channeling Eric Voegelin, who found in the Roundheads an earlier manifestation of the gnostic desire to 'immanentize the eschaton' in common with that of the Jacobins and Bolshevists. I met the late Prof. Voegelin at a meeting of the Philadephia Society in 1975, and can't quite imagine what that formidable scholar would have thought of being identified with Lovecraft's mad Arab.

For those who want a surprising view of Harvard in the seventeenth century I can do no better than to recommend William R. Newman's "Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey" (Harvard University Press, 1994). Newman reveals a Harvard far more like Lovecraft's mythical Miskatonic than one might imagine. Alchemy was taught at Harvard. Newman quotes the titles of a number of A.M. theses defended at Harvard . The defenses are lost, but it is known whether the theses were answered affirmatively or negatively. Some examples:

1687. - Is there a stone that makes gold? Yes.
1693, 1708. - Is the cure of wounds by sympathetic powder lawful? Yes.
1698. - Is there a magnetic method of curing wounds? Yes.
1698, 1761. - Is there a universal remedy? Yes in 1698, no in 1761.
1701. - Are there diseases which are not cured by Galen's remedies, but only by chemical ones? Yes.
1703. - Can metals be changed into one another alternately? Yes.
1703, 1708, 1710. - Is there a sympathetic powder? Yes.
1767. - Are all bodies (metals and stones not excepted) produced from seed? Yes.
1771. - Can real gold be made by the art of chemistry? Yes.

Credulity is still alive at Harvard. According to one account, just recently "when the Harvard psychologist John Mack declared that UFO abductions were a real phenomenon, his colleagues were told to treat him with sensitivity and as a respected scholar." Plus ça change.

On G.M, Palmer's and his interlocutor's points about the Stuarts and 'thugs beating up people": First, a distinction has to be made between the period before and after the English civil war. James I and Charles I ruled in much more authoritarian fashion than did Charles II and James II. Second, much of the objection to the rule of the first James and Charles was to its procedural aspects rather than to the punishments they meted out, which were typical of the time; and to the typical misfortune of losers in that the winners get to write their history. The conventional presentation of this period is as in "1066 and All That" - the Cavaliers were "wrong but wromantic." A less superficial examination is warranted.

The procedural objection to the Star Chamber is that it was a prerogative court rather than one of common law, and operated on an inquisitorial basis rather than the adversarial one familiar from common law. Although this was thought an enormity in 17th-century England, in today's terms, being haled before it was no different from being subjected to an Internal Revenue Service audit. A good progressive of the present day can hardly condemn the procedural aspects of the Star Chamber without implicitly condemning those that make it possible for Barack Obama to 'spread the wealth around.'

In terms of its cases and sentences, the Star Chamber was not entirely or even mainly a means of suppressing dissent. It tried offenses that would still be offenses today. As an example, in the church of St. Edmund's in Salisbury, there was a stained-glass window representing God the Father in the semblance of an old man, making the world with a pair of compasses. The Puritans thought this a blasphemous idolatry and sought to remove it, but the bishop, Dr. Davenant, forbade them. Thereupon Henry Sherfield, the recorder of Salisbury, an enthusiastic Puritan, entered the church, climbed up a ladder, and broke the window with a pikestaff, after which he slipped and fell, injuring himself on a pew.

He was brought before the Star Chanber in 1633 to be tried for the offense The judges were unanimous in condemning him, but disagreed upon the sentence. William Laud, then bishop of London, and Richard Neile, archbishop of York, voted to fine him £1000, dismiss him from the office of recorder, and require him to make public acknowledgment of his wrongdoing. However the chief justices Sir Robert Heath and Sir Thomas Richardson, and the lord keeper Coventry voted for a milder sentence, allowing Sherfield to escape with a fine of £500, acknowledgment of his fault, and the costs of repairing the window.

When one considers that in 1633, a person who had stolen goods to the value of five shillings or more could be hanged, to be fined and charged for repairs after having vandalized and destroyed a work of art considerably more valuable, seems comparatively mild. Yet the Star Chamber persists in the modern imagination as an iniquitous tribunal on the order of those presided over by Freisler or Vishinsky - the consequence of our being taught that the Puritans were right, though repulsive.

January 13, 2009 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

G. M. Palmer:
(and open) in its punishments -- it doesn't have to have secret thugs that go around beating up journalists -- it simply takes them to the public square and has them drawn and quartered.
The Tower of London is not public, and they engaged in plenty of secrecy and monitoring. The Carlist/Jacobite R. J. Stove has a book on the subject, though I haven't actually read it.


Anonymous January 12, 2009 9:13 AM (WHAT PART OF CHOOSE A HANDLE DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?):
Government subsidies to higher education
That would include community college, in-prison education, and various religious schools such as Bob Jones, Oral Roberts and Falwell's Liberty University.

Identifying "how much cash" wouldn't add anything to the argument here
You remind me of the buffoon who thought the working and middle classes were in danger of paying massive amounts of foreign aid (1% of the budget or less) that the rich wouldn't pay for at all. Size matters and we should seek to at least have a rough estimate. Mencius is disputing the labeling of Ivy League schools as "private", so it would be helpful to know what portion of their yearly expenditures comes from government largesse. Your point about increasing tuitions following student subsidies is right on though.

Since you mention those endowments, the fact that they are tax exempt represents a gigantic cost to the taxpayer - literally BILLIONS of dollars.
My guess is that does indeed outweigh any direct aid given to them. However, it is the Progressive mindset that all income properly belongs to the government and any portion they are allowed to keep is just the government giving rich people money. The whole point of Mencius' discussion was on the separation of church and state and whether DCCorp & Harvard's relationship violates this. Churches are similarly tax exempt, and considering how many of them there are my guess is that outweighs the potential taxes of Ivy League schools.

And what are they ganging up to do?
Note I said "supposed" because Mencius denies they are ganging up and wonders why. However, if you think that GOP administrations and righty thinktanks suffer from a shortage of academics than I'm afraid you're mistaken.

the Left has cleverly allowed the Right to take the blame for wars that the Left won't allow them to win.
There's nothing especially clever about watching a fool shoot his own foot, even a retard could do it. I've brought this up before, but Mencius' arguments about what the Left/State has actually DONE to prevent their enemies from winning wars seems to amount to treaties signed back in the 50s, long before numerous wars of choice were launched. That's incredibly prophetic of them to predict that their enemies would be in command and blind of the Right not to realize those laws were in place when they decided to go to war.

The reason idiots like that criticize the MSM is because it is not Leftist enough
And MM's objection seems to be that it is not Rightist enough. See how symmetric that is?

Such critiques only demonstrate the hypocrisy and loony Leftism of their authors, not the validity of their claims.
I already stated that I believed Chomsky and MM were wrong. I was saying that MM severely misrepresented the position of the left, which is surprisingly close to a mirror image of his own.

No, they divided the region between them, and it is proper to speak of their joint hegemony.
If there is no T.A.Z, any amount of powers can divide a region betweent them, just as any amount of businesses and divide an industry between them, that doesn't make the former a hegemony or the latter a monopoly.

It is perfectly clear that the Ivies are the source of the noxious ideology that prevails in academia today, not Oxford and Cambridge.
That there was an opportunity to provide some supporting evidence, but all you did was just re-assert the claim.


Anonymous January 13, 2009 2:20 AM (CHOOSING A HANDLE ISN'T HARD, YOU CAN EVEN END YOUR POSTS WITH A SIGNATURE):
What if we are witnessing the rise of a perfect political system? No more poverty. No more unnecessary death. Hell, with science we could cut even death out of the picture!
People proclaiming the End of History tend to be wrong. I do look forward to something like the end of death, even if it is limited to aging.


Michael S.:
You're no fun, it just discourages potential Lovecraft fans from clicking the links! But speaking of UFOS, Robin Hanson claims academics don't treat the topic as seriously as it deserves, even if there is only about a 1% probability of there being any truth to the matter.

A good progressive of the present day can hardly condemn the procedural aspects of the Star Chamber without implicitly condemning those that make it possible for Barack Obama to 'spread the wealth around.'
Which leaves non-progressives free to damn the Star Chamber! Damn every one that won't damn the Star Chamber!! Damn every one that won't put lights in his windows and sit up all night damning the Star Chamber!!!

Your point about the wromantic and repulsive reminds me of the question why we make folk heroes out of nobility like the Scarlet Pimpernel but retch at Oliver Cromwell. Hollywood would be just the sort of place to engage in a conspiracy against the reputations of such figures and it's as left-leaning as you could reasonably ask for.

January 13, 2009 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL

I'm going to sign in here as anonymous from now on, just cause it gets a rise out of TGGP.

Do you have aspergers TGGP? Cause you are: (1) rather obsessive about things and; (2) prone to flying off the hook over the most trivial of things.

January 13, 2009 at 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Honorius (aka anonymous ) said...

@TGGP
Heh. It has already ended, unfortunately. Heck, you can go to any museum and see history hanging utterly dead, pinned to walls and rotting on pedestals.


(about the story you linked to - an end to death! (aging) that would be a truly gruesome thing. Can you imagine seeing ones mother for eons and eons?)

January 13, 2009 at 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8th Jan 8.08am
"It was safe to walk the streets in Brezhnev's Moscow."

And you know that because you read it in Pravda ?

January 13, 2009 at 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we are anonymous

we are legion

January 14, 2009 at 2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous does not forgive!

...you know, if the average attention spans at 4chan were a little longer, I'd try to interest them in this Web page. Just for the lulz. It's getting kind of /b/ in here, if you know what I mean.

Mr. Moldbug uses far too many big words to hold their interest for long, though.

January 14, 2009 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP - "why we make folk heroes out of nobility like the Scarlet Pimpernel but retch at Oliver Cromwell" has less to do with Hollywood politics than with Hollywood's being in the entertainment business. The movie versions of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (the first of which appeared in 1917; the best known being the 1934 Alexander Korda production) were based on a very popular novel by the Baroness Orczy, which had been adapted to the stage as long ago as 1903 - and whatever the baroness may have been, she was certainly not a progressive. Left-wing as Hollywood may be today, it is still a capitalist operation at heart, and won't pass up a proven money-making property like "The Scarlet Pimpernel."

I suppose if someone wrote a best-selling swashbuckler in which Cromwell was the hero, they'd jump at it. "Hudibras" might make an amusing comedy, but we'd need to resurrect Oliver Hardy to play the Puritan knight-errant, and Stan Laurel to be his squire Ralpho. The casting call remains open for Sidrophel.

The English civil war is more significant to the formation of modern ideas about government than most people think, maybe even more so than the American Revolution or the War of Secession, both of which can be seen as derivatives of it. And it was not a simple phenomenon. It can't just be characterized as a religious conflict between utopian Puritans and reactionary, suspiciously 'popish' Anglicans, though it had that aspect; neither was it entirely a conflict between a people jealous of their liberties and a would-be absolute monarch, though it also had that aspect. I think Lord Dacre (Hugh Trevor-Roper) has presented the most balanced picture. According to him, there was a tendency in all of western Europe for princely states to develop increasingly elaborate courts, populated by an officer class that enriched itself at the expense both of the country gentry and the city merchants. The secular conflict between court and country coincided with the religious upheavals of the Reformation. The secular conflict pitted an essentially conservative wish for a simpler and less expensive government against the interests of the burgeoning officer class, which was parasitic upon the agricultural and commercial economy in the same way that bureaucracy is today. This is what was 'right' about the Parliamentarians. On the other hand, its combination with religious utopianism was the 'repulsive' part.

Had Laud been as astute and as unscrupulous as Richelieu, he would have done what Richelieu did to curtail the growth of the officer class, while making use of the rest of it more robustly to strengthen and centralize monarchical government. He did not, so the parliamentarians won. In France, Richelieu crushed their opposite numbers in the Fronde (who had much the same secular cause as did the commonwealth's-men, though not sharing their religious utopianism).

What eventually led to the restoration of the Stuarts was that the English body politic eventually became as fatigued with the parliamentary Commonwealth as it had been with Charles I's personal rule. The restored monarchy of Charles II did not reintroduce the aspects of his father's rule that the country party had found most objectionable, while the appeal of religious utopianism had so dimmed after a decade of it that Englishmen were relieved to return to an Anglicanism that (in the words of Elizabeth I) did not seek to make windows into the souls of men. The compromises between monarch and parliament at the time of the restoration led to a constitutional monarchy that was idealized from abroad by Montesquieu, as reflected in his concept of separation of powers. Of course, the American founding fathers not only read Montesquieu but also had a familiarity with English history that few people do today.

January 14, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is yet more confusion. Far from it meaning joint hegemony, it meant the later division of the spoils that I referred to. There was an allocation of separate spheres of interest over which they had separate hegemonies - the treaties did not set up any continuing joint arrangements.

The only confusion is in your mind, which seems peculiarly narrow (unless you're just being contentious for its own sake?). "Joint hegemony" certainly does not exist only through the operation of treaties, nor does it require "continuing joint arrangements". There was no external threat to Anglo-French control of the region from 1922 to 1935, and therefore they did not need to have a continuously staffed joint military command, or anything of that nature. As threats arose, they conferred - jointly! - to deal with them as required. The San Remo oil agreement certainly qualifies as a "continuing joint arrangement" in the economic sphere, i.e. the two regional hegemons jointly decided how the oil should be shared in the future. The self-denial clause underlined the joint nature of the arrangement - new oil pursuits in the area had to be made jointly or not at all.

When two countries militarily dominate a region, decide together what the borders should be within the region, decide together who the regional puppet rulers should be, decide together which countries they should each protect, and divide the regions resources between them, I really don't know how to describe it other than "joint hegemony" or why any rational person would object to this term.

Even if it weren't obvious, we can see this from two things:
Later on, British Commonwealth forces had to go to a great deal of trouble to deal with what were by then Vichy holdings. Clearly, nothing that was in place was being handled jointly.


Um, what should be obvious is that joint Anglo-French hegemony devolved into sole British hegemony when France was defeated and occupied. It's a tad hard to be a joint hegemon of anything when the boys in Feldgrau are goose-stepping through your capital. This does not, however, alter the fact that joint Anglo-French hegemony in the region existed from 1918 to 1940, and that the two powers attempted to reassert it after WW2.

We have a comparison with the very few areas that did end up joint responsibilities, i.e. the Suez Canal and some islands in the South Pacific. Things there were very different from the norm.

The idea that the only places the British and French exercised "joint hegemony" from 1918 to 1939 are Suez and the South Pacific is simply risible and only highlights the fact that your conception of "joint hegemony" is so narrowly defined as to make it worthless as a description of actual real-world situations.

On G.M, Palmer's and his interlocutor's points about the Stuarts and 'thugs beating up people": First, a distinction has to be made between the period before and after the English civil war. James I and Charles I ruled in much more authoritarian fashion than did Charles II and James II. Second, much of the objection to the rule of the first James and Charles was to its procedural aspects rather than to the punishments they meted out, which were typical of the time; and to the typical misfortune of losers in that the winners get to write their history.

The important point for this discussion is that state power was employed violently against people who opposed the "party line" of the time. In our day, Larry Summers was fired for straying from official doctrine; back in the Stuart days, he'd have been flogged, branded, and spent a day or two in the stocks.

Identifying "how much cash" wouldn't add anything to the argument here
You remind me of the buffoon who thought the working and middle classes were in danger of paying massive amounts of foreign aid (1% of the budget or less) that the rich wouldn't pay for at all.


The buffoon is the one who needs an exact dollar figure in order to believe that "Vast streams of cash flow from the taxpayer's pocket into Harvard's", not the one who thinks this unremarkable claim needs no further elaboration. The buffoon is the one who thinks such a number would have added anything to MM's logic train in that post, not the one who thinks such a figure would have added nothing.

Size matters and we should seek to at least have a rough estimate. Mencius is disputing the labeling of Ivy League schools as "private", so it would be helpful to know what portion of their yearly expenditures comes from government largesse.

Why does size matter? In the case of the separation of Church and State, size clearly does NOT matter. The Left clearly believes that ANY mingling of Church and State is unacceptable, and that NO government moneys whatsoever should be spent on religion or its trappings. Leftist organizations have energetically sought to eliminate every last vestige of Christianity from public discourse, down to the last banal nativity scene. If we applied this standard to the separation of Harvard and State, why then if ANY government money - $0.01 - goes to Harvard, separation of Harvard and State does not obtain. We may also note that Leftists have often used the argument that educational institutions accept government funds in order to force these institutions into line with Cathedral doctrine. The government did not apply a "size matters" rule in such cases, e.g. "if VMI only gets 5% of its money from government sources then it doesn't have to enroll women". Nope, in such cases, if the institutions get ANY government money, then they're "state owned" and have to obey state rules.

However, if you think that GOP administrations and righty thinktanks suffer from a shortage of academics than I'm afraid you're mistaken.

Since you're in love with proportions, what proportion of academics do you think are lefty and righty? Numbers matter, right? If there is a large number of righty academics in GOP administrations and thinktanks, but there is an even vaster horde of lefty academics, what does that mean?

Also, if you think every academic affiliated with a GOP administration is a "righty", then I'm afraid YOU are the one who is tragically mistaken.

There's nothing especially clever about watching a fool shoot his own foot, even a retard could do it.

Oh, the Left doesn't just stand there and watch, it holds the Right's arm and makes sure it shoots its own foot if it fires the gun at all.

I've brought this up before,

Yes, yes, you have failed to understand this issue before, and you still don't get it.

And no, it is not just about laws and treaties signed way back when, it is much more than that.

MM's objection seems to be that it is not Rightist enough. See how symmetric that is?

Um, when two sides are in fundamental disagreement, that may be "symmetric" but does not necessarily mean they are both wrong.

If there is no T.A.Z, any amount of powers can divide a region betweent them, just as any amount of businesses and divide an industry between them, that doesn't make the former a hegemony or the latter a monopoly.

What is a TAZ?

Hegemony means domination. The power(s) with hegemony dominate, rule, and decide. Britain and France dominated the Middle East between the wars. Again, they had military supremacy in the region, they decided what the borders of each state should be and who their rulers should be, they dictated policy to their puppets on issues affecting British and French interests, they occupied key bases in the region, and they divided the regions resources between them. If that isn't joint hegemony, I don't know what is. If you want to accept Palmer's claim that it was two separate hegemonies running simultaneously, fine, but it was still undeniably hegemony.

"It was safe to walk the streets in Brezhnev's Moscow."
And you know that because you read it in Pravda ?


I know that from personal experience.

January 14, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Anon - you are right that 'state power was employed against people who opposed the "party line" of the time' under the personal rule of Charles I. It also was under the aegis of Parliament, as the examples of Strafford, Laud, and Charles himself illustrate. Such use of state power was commonplace not only in Britain but in the rest of Europe. The question, then, is why the Star Chamber was *especially* objectionable, and the answer lies not in the offenses it punished nor the punishments it imposed, but in its inquisitorial procedure, which was alien to the English common law.

Your personal experience may be that it was safe to walk the streets of Brezhnev's Moscow, but then you were lucky not to run into A.R. Chikatilo, who murdered more than fifty people in just over a decade. He was not prosecuted until shortly after the fall of the Soviet state.

Soviet police effort was directed more toward the suppression of political dissent than to the prosecution of ordinary crimes against person and property. According to Marxist theory, such behavior was a product of capitalist exploitation and would disappear under communism. There was accordingly a strong ideological bias against the reporting or even the acknowledgment of ordinary crime, and it is commonly thought to have been significantly under-reported during the Soviet period.

January 14, 2009 at 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, no state can entirely eliminate crime, nor prevent the actions of freakish serial killers like Chikatilo. None of this alters or contradicts my original contention that the USSR was fundamentally an orderly state, in seeming contrast to the MM argument that the Left represents political entropy.

January 14, 2009 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous raistthemage said...

I think the idea that order always equals good and disorder/chaos always equals chaos is the nub of Confucian ethics.

Its a good guideline for a society but bad when taken to extremes (as it was when China and Japan closed themselves off and fell behind).

January 14, 2009 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Honorius (salute!):
As long as history keeps getting produced to be hung in museums, it isn't dead.

Can you imagine seeing ones mother for eons and eons?
You could always move away. Perhaps to another planet.


Michael S:
Hollywood's being in the entertainment business
That's how I view all of the media.

novel by the Baroness Orczy, which had been adapted to the stage as long ago as 1903 - and whatever the baroness may have been, she was certainly not a progressive.
Neither was Ernst Junger, but I think the chances for Storm of Steel: The Movie are (unfortunately) slim.

I suppose if someone wrote a best-selling swashbuckler in which Cromwell was the hero, they'd jump at it.
There was a movie made in 1970. I haven't seen it myself, but I don't think the Roundheads come off looking that well.

the same secular cause as did the commonwealth's-men, though not sharing their religious utopianism
How were they "secular"? Can one even be that and a religious utopian? Wasn't there a whole lot more religious (or "blue") laws under the commonwealth than monarchy?

What eventually led to the restoration of the Stuarts was that the English body politic eventually became as fatigued with the parliamentary Commonwealth as it had been with Charles I's personal rule.
That sounds much like the Whiggish narrative for leftist drift, which is not necessarily to say that it's wrong.


Anonymous (I suppose the same one from January 12, 2009 9:13 AM but can't be sure, you could be any of number of commenters that don't identify themselves):
exact dollar figure
rough estimate
Those two are not synonyms.

The Left clearly believes that ANY mingling of Church and State is unacceptable, and that NO government moneys whatsoever should be spent on religion or its trappings.
That terrible reactionary Barack Obama supports faith-based programs. What do you hear from the left? Crickets. There are a number of Jesuit universities in America, and despite their malevolent reputation (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is just a ripoff of a tract about the Jesuits), they aren't excluded from the kind of funding the Ivies get. I already mentioned, but feel like repeating the fact that churches are tax-exempt, which is the largest boon given to non-profits like Harvard.

The government did not apply a "size matters" rule in such cases, e.g. "if VMI only gets 5% of its money from government sources then it doesn't have to enroll women". Nope, in such cases, if the institutions get ANY government money, then they're "state owned" and have to obey state rules.
I'll agree that rules they want to impose are generally stupid, but VMI didn't even pretend to be private. It considered going private to avoid having to accept women and that WOULD HAVE WORKED. In response, the DoD threatened to withdraw ROTC programs if they went private, and then in response to that Congress passed a law that would prevent said withdrawal. What that shows is that is actual public/private stus and not the presence of even a tiny amount of funding. VMI gets 26 percent of its operating budget from state funds and 31 percent from private giving. Harvard does not receive state funds because (unlike VMI) it is not a state university. 25 percent of its budget comes from the return on its endowment, tuition pays for two-thirds of the expense of an education. It should be noted that community colleges have more conservative faculties than the more prestigious schools, even though a larger portion of their budget comes from the government.

Since you're in love with proportions, what proportion of academics do you think are lefty and righty?
Razib has a pretty good roundup here.

Oh, the Left doesn't just stand there and watch, it holds the Right's arm and makes sure it shoots its own foot if it fires the gun at all.
Give me some examples of specific actions. A metaphor or analogy can only go so far.

And no, it is not just about laws and treaties signed way back when, it is much more than that.
Yet again you had an opportunity to undercut my position but all you presented was assertion. Rather than "much more", actually tell me all the ways in which I am wrong.

Um, when two sides are in fundamental disagreement, that may be "symmetric" but does not necessarily mean they are both wrong.
True, it's not any sort of logical proof. It just means it's incumbent on one of the sides to show that they are not completely symmetric.

What is a TAZ?
Temporary autonomous zone, like Somalia or international waters.

If you want to accept Palmer's claim that it was two separate hegemonies running simultaneously, fine
I do.


Michael S.:
Only a tiny fraction of murders are by serial killers. Was the U.S or U.S.S.R more crime-ridden during that period? I honestly don't know.

January 14, 2009 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

TGGP:
How were they "secular"? Can one even be that and a religious utopian?

Wow, a swing and a miss from TGGP; you don't see that every day. Even Homer nods, eh? (note: I honestly mean this; tone's hard to convey in text but that's not sarcastic) He's just trying to separate the Roundheads' religious and non-religious motives, not saying they were a secular movement.

Various Anons:
I love 4chan with a passion; somehow Anonymous manages to deliver more often than not. The contempt for internet fame, forum reputation, and "namefagging" is a bracing gust of cold mountain air. But, there's a reason /b/ is /b/. Don't forget that.

January 15, 2009 at 4:07 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Ah, I interpreted it as "secularism as a cause" rather than "the portion of the cause distinct from religion".

January 15, 2009 at 7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That terrible reactionary Barack Obama supports faith-based programs. What do you hear from the left? Crickets.

Wrong. They got their panties in a big twist when he declared that. Just google "Obama faith-based" and you'll see a selection of Leftist tooth-gnashing.

There are a number of Jesuit universities in America, and despite their malevolent reputation (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is just a ripoff of a tract about the Jesuits), they aren't excluded from the kind of funding the Ivies get.

ROFLMAO! You think the likes of Holy Cross, Georgetown, and Boston College are hotbeds of sinister anti-semitic reaction? Oh man, that is too funny! I have news for you, they make their students drink from exactly the same poison chalice as does Harvard. I went to Georgetown, it is a Leftist snakepit. The Jesuit schools are members in good standing of the Cathedral, they preach the same religion as the Ivies, no reason - from a "progressive" standpoint - they shouldn't get government funds like the Ivies.

If you can come up with a not-completely-laughable example of a school that gets government funds but doesn't preach the Cathedral line, I will simply note that accepting government funds gives the government

I already mentioned, but feel like repeating the fact that churches are tax-exempt, which is the largest boon given to non-profits like Harvard.

Leftists want to put an end to that, too! In time, this exemption will be revoked.

Harvard does not receive state funds because (unlike VMI) it is not a state university. 25 percent of its budget comes from the return on its endowment, tuition pays for two-thirds of the expense of an education.

Again, that endowment is untaxed, and the government subsidizes the lenders who make the student loans that pay tuition (and in turn, the availability of cheap credit for student loans drives tuition increases just like cheap mortgage credit drove up home prices). If you're trying to disprove MM's claim that vast streams of taxpayer funds flow to education, you're doing a really poor job of it.

It should be noted that community colleges have more conservative faculties than the more prestigious schools, even though a larger portion of their budget comes from the government.

What does that even mean? Do you think they don't teach liberal dogma at community colleges? They certainly do! They may not be as completely crazed as the more prestigious schools, but that only makes sense because community colleges are thought-followers, not thought-leaders. It takes time for the latest stupid intellectual fads to sink from the surface where the Ivies swim down to the abyssal plain where the community colleges grope in the dark.

Give me some examples of specific actions.

Go read this.

Yet again you had an opportunity to undercut my position but all you presented was assertion.

Why, if bald assertion is enough for you, it is enough for me, too. Standard should be the same for all.

January 15, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP - like many political movements since, the Parliamentary cause in the English civil war drew support from a coalition. Some of its members were country gentry or city merchants with secular grievances against the expense of the royal court and the parasitism of the officer class, which was rewarded less by direct stipend than by grants of rent-seeking opportunities. Examples were monopolies on the sale of certain commodities or sinecure offices that enabled their holders to exact fees from the public. Others were religious zealots of the sort parodied in Hudibras. Politics make strange bedfellows.

There certainly was a proliferation of blue laws under the Puritan ascendancy. Prosecutions for witchcraft also became more frequent; vide the career of Matthew Hopkins. The Puritans suppressed theatrical performances, which had long been one of their bugbears (cf. Prynne's "Histriomastix"). On the other hand, press freedom was considerably greater, as the Jacobean and Caroline provisions for censorship and licensing of publications crumbled.

That the English body politic became as fatigued with the Commonwealth as it had with the personal rule of Charles I may seem like a Whiggish narrative to you, but its truth is supported by the example of George Monck, who had been a Parliamentary soldier, but who in the confusion that followed Oliver Cromwell's death forced the dissolution of the Rump Parliament and brought about the restoration of Charles II. The grateful Charles made him duke of Albermarle. It is hard to see this as an example of 'leftward drift.'

Of course the case of Chikatilo is just anecdotal support for the point that police in the old USSR cared more about suppressing political dissent than about arresting common criminals. However the same point has been made by Solzhenitsyn and other dissident writers of the period. They noted that reluctance on the part of the Soviet government to acknowledge the extent of ordinary crime was rooted in Marxist ideology that held such crime was a capitalist problem. I merely repeated what they observed.

Whether crime in the Soviet Union was more or less prevalent than in the U.,S. at the same period is hard to say because there aren't reliable statistics from the USSR. Theft of course requires that there be things to steal; when there is nothing on the shelves, as was often the case in the Soviet Union, it's hard to shoplift. And when no one has any money, what is the point of mugging?

On the other hand, street crime is largely a phenomenon of the inner city slums in the U.S., and is overwhelmingly committed by young black males. If we factor out these specialized concentrations, there are vast areas of the United States in which there has always been very little crime - e.g., the northern plains from North Dakota south to Nebraska, and west to Idaho and Utah.

January 15, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Jesuit schools are members in good standing of the Cathedral, they preach the same religion as the Ivies, no reason - from a "progressive" standpoint - they shouldn't get government funds like the Ivies."

This comment from a fellow anon is true, and TGGP is PWNed.

The Canadian historian John Ralston Saul also has a good history of the Jesuits and their influence on the Cathedral in "Voltaire's Bastards."

January 16, 2009 at 2:31 AM  
Anonymous da other anon said...

If you can come up with a not-completely-laughable example of a school that gets government funds but doesn't preach the Cathedral line, I will simply note that accepting government funds gives the government

Hmmm, just noted this got truncated for some reason.

Should say:

If you can come up with a not-completely-laughable example of a school that gets government funds but doesn't preach the Cathedral line, I will simply note that accepting government funds gives the government further justification to intervene in the running of the school.

January 16, 2009 at 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some actual numbers on higher education spending (from here and this presentation).

Total state and local taxpayer support for higher education: $70bn a year.

Between 1982 and 2007, total inflation-adjusted federal and state aid, including grants, loans, work-study expenditures, and education tax benefits, rose from $30.8 billion to $103.9 billion annually.

"Inflation-adjusted federal expenditures on research at academic institutions rose from $13.9 billion in 1980 to $31.4 billion in 2006."

Conclusion: "The public has been paying out the nose for higher education."

Ergo, MM was correct.

January 16, 2009 at 12:15 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anonymous Anonymous of January 14, 2009 11:45 AM tries to mock me, but he concedes the very point at issue in "If you want to accept Palmer's claim that it was two separate hegemonies running simultaneously, fine, but it was still undeniably hegemony" (apparently addressed to someoene else). Nobody was disputing hegemony, just the idea that there was a joint Anglo-French system for it. So I won't bother refuting his thin arguments and assertions addressed to my remarks.

January 17, 2009 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I do not concede that point. One has to spoonfeed TGGP very slowly, one step at a time. He didn't even believe it was hegemony, and I had to get him over that basic hurdle before proceeding to more advanced concepts.

Nobody was disputing hegemony, just the idea that there was a joint Anglo-French system for it.

Yes, TGGP was!

So I won't bother refuting his thin arguments and assertions addressed to my remarks.

You won't refute them because you can't. To repeat: When two countries militarily dominate a region, decide together what the borders should be within the region, decide together who the regional puppet rulers should be, decide together which countries they should each protect, and divide the regions resources between them, I really don't know how to describe it other than "joint hegemony" or why any rational person would object to this term.

January 17, 2009 at 7:44 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Not only is that joint hegemony, it's not what happened after the initial division. I clearly demonstrated that it was not a continuing thing. One might as well argue that the USA is now a French protectorate because of the Frtench role in creating it.

January 18, 2009 at 12:41 AM  
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January 19, 2009 at 2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only is that joint hegemony, it's not what happened after the initial division. I clearly demonstrated that it was not a continuing thing. One might as well argue that the USA is now a French protectorate because of the Frtench role in creating it.

You asserted it, you didn't demonstrate it.

If you don't even understand that the Middle Eastern states were clearly and obviously Anglo-French protectorates, you are starting from a low level of knowledge indeed. Did France have bases in the USA after the American Revolution, maintain significant military forces on US soil, and force the US to pay some of the costs of doing so? Did France enjoy an "unconditional and unlimited right" to move troops into or through US soil after the American Revolution? Did France appoint the rulers of the USA after the American Revolution? Did France dictate that the USA would heed French advice on all matters affecting French interests after the American Revolution? Did France dictate who could and could not immigrate to the US after the American Revolution? The answer to all of these questions is clearly no. Yet these are exactly the rights (and by no means all of the rights) that the British and French enjoyed in the Middle Eastern countries which are rightly described as their protectorates during the interwar period.

I hope you're not arguing that the hegemony was not continuous, because it was. The "independence" of the protectorates was purely nominal, and quite distinctly different (to any intelligent person, anyway) from the actual independence enjoyed by the US after the American Revolution.

January 19, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Anonymous masaponax said...

For those of us who don't quite have the intuitive powers of the blogring illuminati, could some one kindly give us a short list of the essential planks of "the Cathedral Line".

January 19, 2009 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Masaponax:

The four fundamental principles, so far as Mr. Moldbug can discern them, of postmodern Marxist capital-P Progressivism are:

* Egalitarianism/Anti-Racism
* Pacifism
* Social Justice
* Tolerance

Most modern-day leftists in the West at least seem to give these four concepts a nod. In at least some cases they appear to believe their own propaganda, but when you scratch some Progressives, more and more likely as you get to the top of the food chain, you find cackling nihilists.

Egalitarianism is this rather idealistic idea, very rooted, I think, in the Christ-cultists' belief that all members of our species 1, have souls and are therefore 2, equally valuable to God. It is perhaps calculated to appeal to our capacity for hope. Leaving aside the inarguable fact that there is no better way to convert people into "racists" than by exposing them to the Negro and allowing them to witness and experience Typical Negro Behavior first-hand, we nonetheless have a society in which you can be made unemployable even by Burger King if you dare to state in public that this particular Emperor wears no clothes. Google for the case of one Dan Schildhauer, if you have a strong stomach, for one of the more odious recent examples of this. Whites must be atomized, anomic, deracinated consumers, and must not under any circumstances band together for mutual protection, or even wonder aloud about whether we'll be extinct in another fifty years. Look over your shoulder, mouth the lies with a smile on your face, and for God's sake don't think about the future. Consume. Obey. And if you have children, tell them "diversity is our strength." Tikkun olam, we shall remake the world to our liking and put those uppity hick goyim in their place.

Pacifism is the second of the Progressives' warped ideals. Again, it is calculated to appeal to what we are all raised to believe is our more civilized natures. Gee, wouldn't it be cool to live in a world where everyone else was as squeamish about the use of force as we are, and we'd all be nice to one another, or maybe just a little bit passive-aggressive, except for people who want to blow up the Pentagon, of course--we empathize with people who want to kill those racist babykilling Army motherfuckers, right? We have adults, actual adults, who make a living by going from place to place bloviating about "the cycle of violence" and the "futility of war." Yeah, dropping those atomic bombs on Japan just made them angrier, right? Thus we have vast US government resources poured into "the peace process" in the Middle East, for instance, in which, contrary to all of human history, the strong make concessions to the vanquished. How much terrorism would there be if the US and Israel used the proven Roman method, told the Palestinians and the Iraqis and the Shi'ites "vae victis" and made it stick? None, of course. How much piracy would there be off the Horn of Africa if the US and British Navies simply dealt with the pirates the way pirates were dealt with two hundred years ago--by instantaneous execution upon capture? None, of course. But we are told that "we are better than that," we are told that "if we give in to hatred the terrorists win," we are told that we are bullies and troglodytes if we do anything but turn the other cheek over and over until it is our turn to go whimpering into the gas chamber--and don't even think about resisting, either, because guns are evil and icky and creepy and should be banned. I think Heinlein said it best: "Naked force has resolved more issues throughout history than any other factor. The contrary opinion, that violence never solves anything, is wishful thinking at its worst." Tikkun olam, we shall remake the world to our liking and put those uppity hick goyim in their place.

Social justice is the third Progressive ideal. It is rooted in the idea that, objectively, the human condition kind of sucks, and wouldn't it be nice if everyone would share? Especially those fucking honky hicks with their guns and religion, who think they're better than the Wonderful Rainbow Diversities just because they work for a living and pay taxes so that Dayshawn and Loqueesha and their seventeen IQ-55 crackbabies can have welfare checks and Affirmative Action and a free fucking ride through life, and anyone who objects to this is RAAAAAAAAAAACIST, see Egalitarianism above. Gimme ya wallet, honky motherfucker! Again, this is calculated to appeal to what we are told is a noble and hopeful desire. If only Dayshawn had been raised by parents who owned their own home, his IQ would have been 45 points higher and he wouldn't have had five felony convictions in juvey before his voice changed. Nice kids share their toys. Give to those in need. Do it for the children! Tithe to your church to support the poor, who never, ever, ever, ever, ever have any responsibility for their own wretched lives. Loqueesha could not be expected to keep her legs closed or learn to operate a condom, and anyway she and her kids all vote the straight Democrat ticket. Remember, every child is born with the potential to be another Einstein, and only poverty--not defective genes, not bad choices, not inherent innate incurable rock-hard stupidity and a genetically encoded proclivity for TNB--makes some of them grow up with a totally understandable and morally righteous hatred of Whitey. See Egalitarianism again. Tikkun olam, we shall remake the world to our liking and put those uppity hick goyim in their place.

Tolerance is the fourth Progressive ideal, rooted in the same Christer slogans we're all raised to bleat. Jesus loves the little children, etc. Even when little Milton is in the fourth grade and shaving, and rapes his little brother every afternoon after they get out of Sunday school, we cannot, must not, make any moral judgements. It's not enough to be indifferent. We have to love them and praise them and admit that they are our moral equals, perhaps superiors. Bugchasers, pedophiles, murderous felons, transvestites, zoophiles, drug addicts, disgusting sexual deviants of every stripe. The state must allow them to marry, thereby giving official state validation and approval to their behavior. The state--by which I mean you, Mr. Working-Class White Taxpayer--must give them everything they demand and more, drug addiction counseling, free AIDS drugs for life, a cushy featherbed job even while you work longer and longer and longer for less and less and less. Pay and pay and pay, and do it with a smile on your face. Or else. Tikkun olam, we shall remake the world to our liking and put those uppity hick goyim in their place.

All of this is madness, of course. It is Christer-flavored propaganda, slogans carefully crafted to appeal to dreamers and children, attempting to take the place of reasoned thought. It is batshit insanity codified. And we all mouth the slogans and look over our shoulders and hope we can make it home from work again alive. Anyone who disagrees with any part of it is met not with reason, but with red-faced screaming and name-calling: FASCIST! RACIST! NAZI! NEOCON! etc. If they have any rational arguments underlying this "but isn't this nicer and nobler? don't you really want to believe this about human nature?" and "but you are white, you owe them everything because of slavery" horseshit, I have yet to hear them.

And yes, these are nihilists. They know damned well what they're doing to Western Civilization and they get off on it. Why build something when it's so much more fun to destroy? Why create something enduring when it feels so good to grind your heel in those fucking hick goyish faces and make them grovel and beg and repeat your idiot slogans? It feels just like getting even with Daddy for not buying you a pony when you were nine.

January 19, 2009 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do understand, that as a Heinlein-reading, anti-Christian nerd, the hick goyim are not on your side. They love Jesus. They have normal human emotions. They try to have love for their fellow man, even if its hard. They are not autistic misanthropes with overdeveloped intellects and underdeveloped social skills. Yes, the world was made for them, not you.

So let me get this straight. Schools should instead teach that:

1. Niggers are stupid and violent.
2. Killing and Conquest is fun and cool.
3. Law of the Jungle should rule society.
4. Faggots are so fuckin gay.

and anything else is just nigger-loving Jew-socialist brainwashing?

January 20, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As they say at 4chan, no u.

And I see no reason for the schools to propagandize. Self-evident truths do not need threats of force from the State to compel their acceptance.

I would be pleased enough, actually, to see the Whitey-is-evil, White-civilization-is-evil, Whitey-must-do-penance, White-guilt original-sin brainwashing removed from the cirricula. Thereafter everything pretty much takes care of itself.

One does not require propaganda posters and a constant drumbeat of brainwashing from the televitz to inform people that the Negro is a vicious and stupid subhuman beast--even the grass-eaters know this as we can observe by their behavior, they just find it unfashionably gauche to speak of the elephant in the room--just as we need not tell them that water is wet, that the sky is blue, that night follows day. Perhaps in science class we can discuss the whys and wherefores of hydrogen bonding and the identified alleles in chromosome 13q shared solely by Negroes and African apes. It need not be drilled into them as political correctness is. This is the advantage of objective truth.

And with White-guilt propaganda elided, the worst, most enervating effects of the loathsome and destructive Dead-Jew-on-a-Stick cult are mitigated and we will begin to see more direct and rational thinking about certain useless eaters they have of late found it fashionable to anthropomorphize. And if, thus liberated, people begin to choose Nietszche as a replacement for Jeebus, who could object? Simple, yes?

January 20, 2009 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous jagorev said...

Wow, after all these words, and the long build-up, I was really hoping you'd have something insightful or original to contribute. But nope, there's nothing there.

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February 18, 2009 at 6:37 PM  
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February 18, 2009 at 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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February 18, 2009 at 6:55 PM  
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February 18, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
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February 18, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
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February 18, 2009 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger perlhaqr said...

Hey now, leave us anarchists out of it. We just want to be left alone to make our wares and sell them on the open market without interference.

WV: "expoort" yes, and expoort them too, if people in other countries wish to buy them. ;)

March 4, 2009 at 3:31 PM  
Anonymous fnord said...

Moldbug, sir, Your text mass is too large for me to chew into as a whole, but a few points:

"UR is a strange blog: its goal is to cure your brain. We've all seen The Matrix. We know about red pills. Many claim to sell them. "

Hmm, many talk and few do, sir. As a anarcho-syndicalist I work actively with several projects to help the weak against the strong and ruthless. We feed junkies, clean their wounds, etc. (http://blitz.no) I just cant see why this police-run structure of independent individuals looking at each others like predators is a good idea in the long run. On Abu M you suggested banning reporters from going to Pakistan. wtf?

March 16, 2009 at 1:13 PM  
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March 18, 2009 at 4:32 AM  
Blogger Jody Wilson said...

Whew! You almost had me going there, until I got to this part:

"Most people do not think for themselves, should not think for themselves, and cannot be expected to think for themselves."

The truth is that many do, most can, and everyone should. Your statement above is something you've got to prove, not an axiom that we're all going to "swallow."

July 21, 2009 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger theia mania said...

Um, aren't Sri Lankan Buddhists on your side here? I see an almost 1:1correspondence between the two positions and their underlying justification. Sri Lankans initially gave Tamils several concessions, including instituting Tamil as an official language, etc. When they still persisted in revolutionary violence, the government decided a swift coup de grace ("firm and consistent policy") would be best for everyone concerned. Tamil nationalists should have known the international community will never risk an excessive popularization of this act of inciting violence (if only an efficient killing blow aimed at long-term minimization) in the name of Buddhism, lest it mar the Dalai Lama's public image and compromise anti-Chinese propaganda.

August 10, 2011 at 4:25 PM  

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