Monday, September 21, 2009 65 Comments

UR: banned in San Francisco

My niggaz:

This week's post appears early due to special circumstances. I've just received this letter from the Seasteading Institute:
Dear Mr. Moldbug,

The Seasteading Institute appreciates controversial ideas, including many of yours. We also value rigorous debate. But we do not wish to be associated with personal denunciations against people of good will. Your recent post, "From Cromer to Romer and back again," crossed that line.

In the spirit of a constructive exchange of ideas, we encourage you to post a retraction and apology to Professor Romer. Until you do so, we are disappointed to inform you that your invitation to speak at our conference is withdrawn. We apologize for the late notice.

Patri Friedman, Executive Director, The Seasteading Institute.

p.s. We would like to clarify that this action is being taken by TSI on its own initiative, not at the request of any other party. Professor Romer has unilaterally and irreversibly withdrawn from speaking at our conference, and this triggered a re-examination of our policies and your invitation. He made no requests, express or implied, about this decision.
Ie: one of the 25 most influential people in the world decided to take his ball and go home.

I confess that when I wrote "Romer to Cromer," I had no evidence that Professor Romer was a faggot, a seducer of young women, or an asshole. I still have no evidence that he is a faggot, or a seducer of young women. Indeed, both these propositions strike me as quite unlikely; their conjunction is of course incredible. Moreover, the resolution on his TED video is wholly insufficient for me to appraise his eyeglasses, a task for which I am anyway untrained. They may well have set him back only a few benjamins. Accordingly, I apologize to Professor Romer, and to anyone else who took these baseless, unfounded accusations seriously.

My conviction of Professor Romer's intellectual dishonesty - for condemning colonialism in one breath, and trying to take credit for reinventing it in the next - was sincere, and remains intact. Let me clarify this charge for a moment. It is personal in one sense, impersonal in another.

Having devastated the Old World with fire and the sword, not to mention condemning its former colonies to anarchy and ruin, the 21st-century American professor feels no ethical obligation to acknowledge that a distinct European civilization once existed, let alone that it contained "people of good will" - such as Lord Cromer. Briefly, I will acknowledge Professor Romer's good will when he acknowledges Lord Cromer's. Hell will grow glaciers first.

This ethos is not Professor Romer's personal invention. Similarly, National Socialism was not Adolf Eichmann's personal invention. One of the admirable features of the post-Nazi Western ethos is its insistence that ethical responsibility is personal, absolute and universal. Office, especially high office, in an unethical institution can never excuse unethical behavior.

Moreover, Professor Romer has a more serious ethical burden than your average anticolonialist professor - because he is effectively proposing the restoration of colonialism. Under the rules of Western scholarship, which the American academy claims to respect and of which it is (sadly) the only living heir, this obliges him to study, understand, and cite previous work in the field. Instead, he not only fails to study his predecessors - he condemns them.

Suppose, for example, institutional geology in the 1960s had continued to reject the plate tectonics of Wegener - the last major Kuhnian revolution of which I am aware. Wegener was dismissed for his entire life as a crackpot. This dismissal might easily have remained permanent, had not the professors of this field and era retained some scrap of regard for their own intellectual honesty. Judging by the treatment its modern successor has delivered to Steve McIntyre, the field is capable of no such revolution today.

Plate tectonics nonetheless remain the truth, and the truth remains accessible to all. In an alternate 2009 in which professional geologists universally denied continental drift, and continued to mock Wegener and any common fool who noticed that Brazil fits into West Africa, any renegade geologist who realized the truth would have three options. He could say: Wegener was right. Or he could say: Wegener was a crackpot and a Nazi, as everyone knows, but he still got the right answers for the wrong reasons. Or he could simply ignore Wegener, and claim to have discovered continental drift himself.

The first option is intellectually honest. The second option is weaselly, but perhaps defensible. The third option is a crime against scholarship and history. To me, it seems that Professor Romer's choice falls somewhere between the second and third options. Thus, I am ethically comfortable in condemning him - and would be uncomfortable in condoning him. Lord Cromer does not exactly have a surplus of 21st-century defenders.

I do not expect that this non-retraction will satisfy TSI. Thus, I do not expect to be presenting at the Seasteading Conference. My apologies to anyone who chose to attend on this basis. If you email Patri, he will give you your money back.

I also offer a (much warmer) apology to Patri and TSI. Our conflict can best be summed up under the Hollywood chestnut of "creative differences." UR is simply not a good match for TSI. Our goals and ideas are similar in some ways; our tactics are very different. Despite my reclusiveness and anonymity, I am actually (like Hitler) a compelling public speaker, and it would have been fun to practice my pitch on an unsuspecting audience. Alas, it will have to happen some other time.

(Note that Professor Hanson, displaying his Buck Harkness nature once again, has a different reaction: he has offered to debate me in any mutually convenient forum. In fact, he thinks we could sell tickets - and he's probably right. This probably would have already happened, if not for the East Coast - West Coast thing. Anyone with the means to facilitate such a Tupac-Biggie throwdown should contact us, so I can cap this nigga once and for all.)

In case anyone is disappointed or confused, I want to explain the incompatibility of our approaches, and in particular the reason that TSI is so intent on wooing professors, while UR is so intent on reviling them. Had I understood the former (and had I not discovered that Professor Romer was scheduled to present at the same conference, before I posted "Cromer to Romer," but after I'd already written most of it; in general, UR posts are drafted entirely on Wednesday nights, with minimal revision) I would have refrained from calling him a faggot. For Patri's sake, not his.

While TSI is pursuing its goals in many ways at once, so far as I can tell the thrust of its PR effort is to convince at least the educated minority that seasteading is not the harebrained crackpot idea it may seem at first glance, but in fact a sensible and intelligent project which sensible, intelligent people can support or at least understand.

This goal can be summarized in the word legitimacy. Thus, by attracting Professor Romer - one of the 25 most influential people in the world - as a TSI speaker, TSI demonstrates to the educated minority that it is a legitimate endeavor, not a bunch of dangerous nutcases. The content of Professor Romer's speech, almost surely a replay of his unctuous TED talk, and its relationship to seasteading, almost surely tangential, are almost irrelevant. The half-endorsement of his presence is all that TSI requires.

(Compare this to the reason that Patri invited me in the first place, which is solely that my presentation would have been thrilling and provocative. It certainly would not have brought any institutional prestige to TSI - quite the converse, of course. Thus what we are seeing here is the tension between two incompatible goals.)

By attracting dignitaries of this caliber, TSI might well hope to attract a correspondent for the New York Times or some other reputable institution of journalism - who might well produce a report not containing the word "whackjob." Millions of people will of course read this story, and some percentage of them may decide to support or participate in TSI's endeavors. Or at least not oppose them. Therefore, by causing Professor Romer to take his ball and go home, I have materially hampered these endeavors. Dignitaries, after all, must have their dignity.

Or so, anyway, is the theory. I have some problems with this theory - but let me first explain my own. The important thing to remember is that this theory is reasonable, it may well be correct, and in any case it was not my prerogative as a guest to discount it. This is why I owe an apology to Patri, which I hope he will accept.

UR does not seek the approval of professors. It reviles them. Moreover, the more influential my target is, the more hostile I feel free to be. For example, Professor Romer is one of the 25 most influential people in the world, which makes him a faggot. Of course, he last cracked this ranking in 1997, which means he may have slipped down to the top 200 or so. Thus some milder metaphor of perversion may have been more appropriate - compulsive masturbation, perhaps. But he still includes this claim in his bio, so I feel he deserves the consequences. He can always have his flacks edit Wikipedia and take it out.

To me, the word "professor" is a historical misnomer. It implies that the individual is a sage, a teacher, and a man of learning. If you double the manly half of Professor Hanson, for instance, you will observe these qualities - and their rarity. They were also often seen in those who carried that title in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and they survive in some fields especially divorced from political purpose. Pure mathematics, for instance, or the classics.

One clue to the fact that something fundamental has changed is the almost complete absence of true intellectual debate in the modern university. Nor does this mean congeniality pervades throughout. It means that when you see the appearance of an argument over ideas, the substance beneath that argument is not that of men trying to convince each other and/or an audience. The substance is that of bureaucratic warfare. When someone criticizes your work in the modern university, he is probably trying to kill you and take your funding. His criticism is not the opening for dialogue; it is the ritual pretext for an attack.

Thus, any fool who starts such an argument, with no better reason than that he (a) disagrees with someone else, and (b) grew up reading about the age of Darwin, Huxley and Wilberforce, will be surprised to find himself on the other end of an administrative mafia war. You might as well call your opponent a faggot. It will not exacerbate his ferocity in the slightest. He is right to assume that you are probably out to kill him, and right to respond in kind. When in Rome, etc.

I attribute this change to the revolution of 1933, when progressivism captured USG - finally and for good. Without quite putting it in these two words, it was acknowledged (by paladins of the new system, such as Dewey and Lippmann - each of whom had more influence in his pinky finger than anyone living today) that democracy had failed, and effective authority over the State should depart from the politicians and come to a new set of hands: the professors.

Who, in the New Deal state, exercise triple sovereignty: they formulate public policy, direct (through their permanent friends, the journalists) public opinion, and assign (through their academic credentials) social and professional rank. Subsequent military events exported this 20th-century American caesaropapism to the entire planet - or at least, its civilized remnants.

Democratic politics, at least in the US, remains capable of resisting and interfering with public policy. But the sceptre has most definitely passed. If you gave the reins of government, the full reins, the imperium maius, to Sarah Palin, she would have no idea what to do with them. Resisting rule by professor is the beginning and end of her political philosophy, and that of her supporters. (And remember that the professors are not always wrong.)

Thus an influential professor of economics, like Professor Romer, is not best seen as a sage, a teacher, and a man of learning. He is best seen as a high-ranking official of the permanent government. Who wears the Ring accepts its consequences.

Which is both why TSI feels blessed by Professor Romer's presence, and why I feel free - compelled, indeed - to revile him. Deference to authority is a natural human quality. Chimpanzees display it. No doubt even I, in the presence of Professor Romer, would feel a mild, easily-suppressed urge to fellate the man.

Thus if we afford these Ringwraiths normal human courtesy, we afford them too much. We will shortly find ourselves on our knees. The normal human reaction to hearing a Professor Romer express ideas similar to mine, albeit in highly diluted form, is to fawn and curtsy and beg for his approval. By condemning and reviling him instead, I counter this tendency and enforce my own independence. I burn my boats, like Cortez.

UR's objective is to do for the New Deal state what Voltaire did for the Catholic Church. Sufficient exposure to UR renders, or at least should render, it impossible for the reader to take these fsckers seriously. No church can endure mockery.

A Professor Romer is your modern version of a Catholic cardinal - with powers both spiritual and temporal. But caesaropapism, once established, is a single cathedral. Its power over the mind cannot survive the loss of its power over the body. Its power over the body cannot survive the loss of its power over the mind. Both buttresses, built and joined, quickly become essential.

The New Deal state is unassailable in its temporal authority. It is not unassailable in its spiritual authority. Once enough of the right people realize that the man under the red silk hat is not a sage and a teacher and a man of learning, but - the reader may substitute her own insult - the combination cannot survive.

So there is a theory behind both tactics: UR's boat-burning, and TSI's bridge-building. It remains to compare these theories.

The choice is a matter of opinion, of course. For me, it comes down to the question: has progressivism failed? Is the New Deal state, in any way, shape or form, redeemable? Can it be repaired? Or is it totaled?

If you believe (like me) that it is totaled, reason compels you to believe that bridge-building is at best a terrible waste of time, and at worst something far worse. By accepting the legitimacy, authority and permanence of the New Deal state, you are not only putting your money on a doomed horse - you are both accepting and contributing to that legitimacy, authority and permanence. Of course, if the State is not totaled and can be repaired, this is exactly the right thing to do.

What puzzles me about the TSI approach is that its entire premise seems to assume that USG is totaled. Seasteading says: instead of devoting your good efforts to repairing USG, devote them to escaping it. Build new cities at sea, where USG cannot rule you. Making this work is a tall order for many reasons, but none too tall if the New Deal state is both irreparable and invincible (Although if it is invincible, its navy probably is too.)

Whereas to seek legitimacy from USG is to acknowledge its own legitimacy. If you woo the professors and the journalists, they will either say no or yes. If they say no, your bridge-building is wasted effort. If they say yes, the kingdoms of the earth are offered indeed. The Times can make anyone famous, important and successful. If they endorse seasteading, lo, seasteading gets a big Barry Bonds injection of Ring juice. But the ring it receives is not the One - its powers can be revoked. (No one can revoke the powers of the Times.)

So if TSI succeeds in becoming a legitimate institution, it thus subjects itself to the authority of these powers. Should it displease them for a second, its ring melts on its finger. Thus it begins by trying to escape USG, and finishes as its toy.

I find this scenario quite improbable. Ringwraiths are evil, not stupid. It is very easy to see what TSI is and is trying to do. Such a venture will never, ever be politically correct. If there was any chance of disguising it, which there probably was not, it disappeared with Peter Thiel's essay against democracy. Once a right-wing extremist, always a right-wing extremist. Your Nazgul has an impeccable sense of smell.

Curiously, there is a parallel to Professor Romer's own program. Charter cities will never, ever happen - if they do, I will fellate either the good professor, or a homeless person of his choice. (There is one place in the world where international trusteeship exists: Bosnia. Exercise for the reader: in what way is Bosnia different from the former colonial world? Hint: what three-letter word starts with "W" and ends with "G"?)

Again, the Ringwraiths are not stupid. They know colonialism when they see it. They don't like it at all. Any effort invested in diluting and disguising it is wasted. If Professor Romer's goal is to make something happen, he might as well just propose that NATO restore the Raj in Afghanistan. His chances would be the same: zero.

But making something happen is not his goal. His goal is to get good PR and climb back into that top 25, by proposing a clever idea which no one else has thought of. Hence the irresistible metaphor of nonreproductive sex. If TSI is thinking along the same lines, consciously or unconsciously, it should probably inform its supporters of the matter.

At present, the tone of TSI's coverage is this, which reflects the journalist's perception that seasteading is (a) new, (b) kind of funny, and (c) extremely unlikely to succeed. As (a) changes, the coverage will disappear. If (c) changes, it will reappear with a vengeance. Or so is my prediction.

As Hunter Thompson so memorably put it, you can't wallow with the eagles at night and soar with the pigs in the morning. UR will always be found wallowing with the eagles. TSI, while it might like to do both, would clearly rather soar with the pigs. I feel that the less luck it has in this endeavor, the greater its chance of success in the long run.

If I were running TSI, as of course I am not, I would discard the entire strategy of PR, outreach and legitimacy. What seasteading needs is not a million people who think it's a cool idea, but a thousand fanatics completely dedicated to making it happen. TSI does not need the New York Times to find these people. In fact, outreach makes it harder to identify them, because it makes it hard to separate the fanatical supporters from the casual ones.

TSI's approach reminds me of that of many software startups I've seen, and more than one I've worked for. One of the classic startup errors is going too wide, too soon. Rather than focusing on the niche market it can own and hitting it with maximum force, a startup which makes this mistake (typically egged on by low-grade VCs) tries to sell its product to the entire world, which quickly rejects it. Seasteading is a niche market if I've ever seen one.

Yes, going wide helps you raise money. But money is never free. If your strategy depends on raising money from people who found you in the New York Times, your strategy is beholden to the New York Times. If you raise money through spin, you are a prisoner of that spin. Getting in the habit of telling it straight and telling it whole may raise less money - or not - but the money you raise will be better money. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as bad money.

Compare the strategy of seasteading to that of another notable exercise in artificial community: Burning Man. Today, Burning Man is both legitimate and successful. But it is legitimate because it was first successful, not successful because it was first legitimate. The burners did not start by founding a Burning Man Institute to promote their concept. They started by burning the Man.

My message to the seasteaders is: get out there. If you want to prove that seasteading isn't a joke, buy a boat and find a bunch of crazy people who are willing to live on it. Stop promoting; put everything into doing. Any number of eloquent essays, rigorous engineering studies, lovely websites, academic endorsements, or glowing writeups in the Times, do not add up to one genuine maritime community. Worse, they subtract energy and focus from the incredibly difficult task of creating one.

One way to think of this is to consider the long, distinguished history of prison ships. Every ship at sea past sight of land is a prison - more secure than Alcatraz. A ship without a destination is a prison ship by definition.

So the question is: who wants to go to prison? A hard problem. But not an unsolvable one. Suppose you could go to prison with forty or fifty of the coolest people in the world? Living and working together, perhaps - half Internet startup, half commune, half correctional facility. A hard problem. But not an unsolvable one - if you focus on it.

Once you have one such ship and it succeeds, you can have another. Once you have two, you can have three. Once you have three, they can tie up to each other and have a big party. Once you have twenty, it may start looking like a floating city, and someone may think of adding an immobile platform. And so on. Frankly, it would still surprise me if any such thing happened - but I would very much like to be surprised.

Will Professor Romer help you with this? Will he come live with you on your pimped-out container ship? (There's never been a better time to buy a container ship.) If he disapproves, will it keep you in port? The answers are no, and no, and no.

Enough with seasteading. Again, the essential point of disagreement is: can the New Deal state be saved, rescued, repaired, or restored? Since this is UR, my answer is the same as Carlyle's: no. And since this is UR, the week would not be complete without a lengthy excerpt. From the first Latter-Day Pamphlet, The Present Time:
Not long ago, the world saw, with thoughtless joy which might have been very thoughtful joy, a real miracle not heretofore considered possible or conceivable in the world,--a Reforming Pope. A simple pious creature, a good country-priest, invested unexpectedly with the tiara, takes up the New Testament, declares that this henceforth shall be his rule of governing. No more finesse, chicanery, hypocrisy, or false or foul dealing of any kind: God's truth shall be spoken, God's justice shall be done, on the throne called of St. Peter: an honest Pope, Papa, or Father of Christendom, shall preside there. And such a throne of St. Peter; and such a Christendom, for an honest Papa to preside in! The European populations everywhere hailed the omen; with shouting and rejoicing leading articles and tar-barrels; thinking people listened with astonishment,--not with sorrow if they were faithful or wise; with awe rather as at the heralding of death, and with a joy as of victory beyond death! Something pious, grand and as if awful in that joy, revealing once more the Presence of a Divine Justice in this world.

For, to such men, it was very clear how this poor devoted Pope would prosper, with his New Testament in his band. An alarming business, that of governing in the throne of St. Peter by the rule of veracity! By the rule of veracity, the so-called throne of St. Peter was openly declared, above three hundred years, ago, to be a falsity, a huge mistake, a pestilent dead carcass, which this Sun was weary of. More than three hundred years ago, the throne of St. Peter received peremptory judicial notice to quit; authentic order, registered in Heaven's chancery and since legible in the hearts of all brave men, to take itself away,--to begone, and let us have no more to do with it and its delusions and impious deliriums;--and it has been sitting every day since, it may depend upon it, at its own peril withal, and will have to pay exact damages yet for every day it has so sat. Law of veracity? What this Popedom had to do by the law of veracity, was to give up its own foul galvanic life, an offence to gods and men; honestly to die, and get itself buried.

Far from this was the thing the poor Pope undertook in regard to it;--and yet, on the whole, it was essentially this too. "Reforming Pope?" said one of our acquaintance, often in those weeks, "Was there ever such a miracle? About to break up that huge imposthume too, by 'curing' it? Turgot and Necker were nothing to this. God is great; and when a scandal is to end, brings some devoted man to take charge of it in hope, not in despair!"--But cannot he reform? asked many simple persons;--to whom our friend in grim banter would reply: "Reform a Popedom,--hardly. A wretched old kettle, ruined from top to bottom, and consisting mainly now of foul grime and rust: stop the holes of it, as your antecessors have been doing, with temporary putty, it may hang together yet a while; begin to hammer at it, solder at it, to what you call mend and rectify it,--it will fall to sherds, as sure as rust is rust; go all into nameless dissolution,--and the fat in the fire will be a thing worth looking at, poor Pope!"--So accordingly it has proved. The poor Pope, amid felicitations and tar-barrels of various kinds, went on joyfully for a season: but he had awakened, he as no other man could do, the sleeping elements; mothers of the whirlwinds, conflagrations, earthquakes. Questions not very soluble at present, were even sages and heroes set to solve them, began everywhere with new emphasis to be asked. Questions which all official men wished, and almost hoped, to postpone till Doomsday. Doomsday itself had come; that was the terrible truth!

For, sure enough, if once the law of veracity be acknowledged as the rule for human things, there will not anywhere be want of work for the reformer; in very few places do human things adhere quite closely to that law! Here was the Papa of Christendom proclaiming that such was actually the case;--whereupon all over Christendom such results as we have seen. The Sicilians, I think, were the first notable body that set about applying this new strange rule sanctioned by the general Father; they said to themselves, We do not by the law of veracity belong to Naples and these Neapolitan Officials; we will, by favor of Heaven and the Pope, be free of these. Fighting ensued; insurrection, fiercely maintained in the Sicilian Cities; with much bloodshed, much tumult and loud noise, vociferation extending through all newspapers and countries. The effect of this, carried abroad by newspapers and rumor, was great in all places; greatest perhaps in Paris, which for sixty years past has been the City of Insurrections. The French People had plumed themselves on being, whatever else they were not, at least the chosen "soldiers of liberty," who took the lead of all creatures in that pursuit, at least; and had become, as their orators, editors and litterateurs diligently taught them, a People whose bayonets were sacred, a kind of Messiah People, saving a blind world in its own despite, and earning for themselves a terrestrial and even celestial glory very considerable indeed. And here were the wretched down-trodden populations of Sicily risen to rival them, and threatening to take the trade out of their hand.

No doubt of it, this hearing continually of the very Pope's glory as a Reformer, of the very Sicilians fighting divinely for liberty behind barricades,--must have bitterly aggravated the feeling of every Frenchman, as he looked around him, at home, on a Louis-Philippism which had become the scorn of all the world. "Ichabod; is the glory departing from us? Under the sun is nothing baser, by all accounts and evidences, than the system of repression and corruption, of shameless dishonesty and unbelief in anything but human baseness, that we now live under. The Italians, the very Pope, have become apostles of liberty, and France is--what is France!"--We know what France suddenly became in the end of February next; and by a clear enough genealogy, we can trace a considerable share in that event to the good simple Pope with the New Testament in his hand. An outbreak, or at least a radical change and even inversion of affairs hardly to be achieved without an outbreak, everybody felt was inevitable in France: but it had been universally expected that France would as usual take the initiative in that matter; and had there been no reforming Pope, no insurrectionary Sicily, France had certainly not broken out then and so, but only afterwards and otherwise. The French explosion, not anticipated by the cunningest men there on the spot scrutinizing it, burst up unlimited, complete, defying computation or control.

Close following which, as if by sympathetic subterranean electricities, all Europe exploded, boundless, uncontrollable; and we had the year 1848, one of the most singular, disastrous, amazing, and, on the whole, humiliating years the European world ever saw. Not since the irruption of the Northern Barbarians has there been the like. Everywhere immeasurable Democracy rose monstrous, loud, blatant, inarticulate as the voice of Chaos. Everywhere the Official holy-of-holies was scandalously laid bare to dogs and the profane:--Enter, all the world, see what kind of Official holy it is. Kings everywhere, and reigning persons, stared in sudden horror, the voice of the whole world bellowing in their ear, "Begone, ye imbecile hypocrites, histrios not heroes! Off with you, off!" and, what was peculiar and notable in this year for the first time, the Kings all made haste to go, as if exclaiming, "We are poor histrios, we sure enough;--did you want heroes? Don't kill us; we couldn't help it!" Not one of them turned round, and stood upon his Kingship, as upon a right he could afford to die for, or to risk his skin upon; by no manner of means.

That, I say, is the alarming peculiarity at present. Democracy, on this new occasion, finds all Kings conscious that they are but Play-actors. The miserable mortals, enacting their High Life Below Stairs, with faith only that this Universe may perhaps be all a phantasm and hypocrisis,--the truculent Constable of the Destinies suddenly enters: "Scandalous Phantasms, what do you here? Are 'solemnly constituted Impostors' the proper Kings of men? Did you think the Life of Man was a grimacing dance of apes? To be led always by the squeak of your paltry fiddle? Ye miserable, this Universe is not an upholstery Puppet-play, but a terrible God's Fact; and you, I think,--had not you better be gone!" They fled precipitately, some of them with what we may call an exquisite ignominy,--in terror of the treadmill or worse.

And everywhere the people, or the populace, take their own government upon themselves; and open "kinglessness," what we call anarchy, --how happy if it be anarchy plus a street-constable!--is everywhere the order of the day. Such was the history, from Baltic to Mediterranean, in Italy, France, Prussia, Austria, from end to end of Europe, in those March days of 1848. Since the destruction of the old Roman Empire by inroad of the Northern Barbarians, I have known nothing similar.

And so, then, there remained no King in Europe; no King except the Public Haranguer, haranguing on barrel-head, in leading article; or getting himself aggregated into a National Parliament to harangue. And for about four months all France, and to a great degree all Europe, rough-ridden by every species of delirium, except happily the murderous for most part, was a weltering mob, presided over by M. de Lamartine, at the Hotel-de-Ville; a most eloquent fair-spoken literary gentleman, whom thoughtless persons took for a prophet, priest and heaven-sent evangelist, and whom a wise Yankee friend of mine discerned to be properly "the first stump-orator in the world, standing too on the highest stump,--for the time." A sorrowful spectacle to men of reflection, during the time he lasted, that poor M. de Lamartine; with nothing in him but melodious wind and soft sowder, which he and others took for something divine and not diabolic!

Sad enough; the eloquent latest impersonation of Chaos-come-again; able to talk for itself, and declare persuasively that it is Cosmos! However, you have but to wait a little, in such cases; all balloons do and must give up their gas in the pressure of things, and are collapsed in a sufficiently wretched manner before long.

And so in City after City, street-barricades are piled, and truculent, more or less murderous insurrection begins; populace after populace rises, King after King capitulates or absconds; and from end to end of Europe Democracy has blazed up explosive, much higher, more irresistible and less resisted than ever before; testifying too sadly on what a bottomless volcano, or universal powder-mine of most inflammable mutinous chaotic elements, separated from us by a thin earth-rind, Society with all its arrangements and acquirements everywhere, in the present epoch, rests!

The kind of persons who excite or give signal to such revolutions--students, young men of letters, advocates, editors, hot inexperienced enthusiasts, or fierce and justly bankrupt desperadoes, acting everywhere on the discontent of the millions and blowing it into flame,--might give rise to reflections as to the character of our epoch. Never till now did young men, and almost children, take such a command in human affairs. A changed time since the word Senior (Seigneur, or Elder) was first devised to signify "lord," or superior;--as in all languages of men we find it to have been! Not an honorable document this either, as to the spiritual condition of our epoch. In times when men love wisdom, the old man will ever be venerable, and be venerated, and reckoned noble: in times that love something else than wisdom, and indeed have little or no wisdom, and see little or none to love, the old man will cease to be venerated; and looking more closely, also, you will find that in fact he has ceased to be venerable, and has begun to be contemptible; a foolish boy still, a boy without the graces, generosities and opulent strength of young boys. In these days, what of lordship or leadership is still to be done, the youth must do it, not the mature or aged man; the mature man, hardened into sceptical egoism, knows no monition but that of his own frigid cautious, avarices, mean timidities; and can lead no-whither towards an object that even seems noble. But to return.

This mad state of matters will of course before long allay itself, as it has everywhere begun to do; the ordinary necessities of men's daily existence cannot comport with it, and these, whatever else is cast aside, will have their way. Some remounting--very temporary remounting--of the old machine, under new colors and altered forms, will probably ensue soon in most countries: the old histrionic Kings will be admitted back under conditions, under "Constitutions," with national Parliaments, or the like fashionable adjuncts; and everywhere the old daily life will try to begin again. But there is now no hope that such arrangements can be permanent; that they can be other than poor temporary makeshifts, which, if they try to fancy and make themselves permanent, will be displaced by new explosions recurring more speedily than last time. In such baleful oscillation, afloat as amid raging bottomless eddies and conflicting sea-currents, not steadfast as on fixed foundations, must European Society continue swaying, now disastrously tumbling, then painfully readjusting itself, at ever shorter intervals,--till once the new rock-basis does come to light, and the weltering deluges of mutiny, and of need to mutiny, abate again!

For universal Democracy, whatever we may think of it, has declared itself as an inevitable fact of the days in which we live; and he who has any chance to instruct, or lead, in his days, must begin by admitting that: new street-barricades, and new anarchies, still more scandalous if still less sanguinary, must return and again return, till governing persons everywhere know and admit that. Democracy, it may be said everywhere, is here:--for sixty years now, ever since the grand or First French Revolution, that fact has been terribly announced to all the world; in message after message, some of them very terrible indeed; and now at last all the world ought really to believe it. That the world does believe it; that even Kings now as good as believe it, and know, or with just terror surmise, that they are but temporary phantasm Play-actors, and that Democracy is the grand, alarming, imminent and indisputable Reality: this, among the scandalous phases we witnessed in the last two years, is a phasis full of hope: a sign that we are advancing closer and closer to the very Problem itself, which it will behoove us to solve or die; that all fighting and campaigning and coalitioning in regard to the existence of the Problem, is hopeless and superfluous henceforth. The gods have appointed it so; no Pitt, nor body of Pitts or mortal creatures can appoint it otherwise.

Democracy, sure enough, is here; one knows not how long it will keep hidden underground even in Russia;--and here in England, though we object to it resolutely in the form of street-barricades and insurrectionary pikes, and decidedly will not open doors to it on those terms, the tramp of its million feet is on all streets and thoroughfares, the sound of its bewildered thousand-fold voice is in all writings and speakings, in all thinkings and modes and activities of men: the soul that does not now, with hope or terror, discern it, is not the one we address on this occasion.

What is Democracy; this huge inevitable Product of the Destinies, which is everywhere the portion of our Europe in these latter days? There lies the question for us. Whence comes it, this universal big black Democracy; whither tends it; what is the meaning of it? A meaning it must have, or it would not be here. If we can find the right meaning of it, we may, wisely submitting or wisely resisting and controlling, still hope to live in the midst of it; if we cannot find the right meaning, if we find only the wrong or no meaning in it, to live will not be possible!--The whole social wisdom of the Present Time is summoned, in the name of the Giver of Wisdom, to make clear to itself, and lay deeply to heart with an eye to strenuous valiant practice and effort, what the meaning of this universal revolt of the European Populations, which calls itself Democracy, and decides to continue permanent, may be.

Certainly it is a drama full of action, event fast following event; in which curiosity finds endless scope, and there are interests at stake, enough to rivet the attention of all men, simple and wise. Whereat the idle multitude lift up their voices, gratulating, celebrating sky-high; in rhyme and prose announcement, more than plentiful, that now the New Era, and long-expected Year One of Perfect Human Felicity has come. Glorious and immortal people, sublime French citizens, heroic barricades; triumph of civil and religious liberty--O Heaven! one of the inevitablest private miseries, to an earnest man in such circumstances, is this multitudinous efflux of oratory and psalmody, from the universal foolish human throat; drowning for the moment all reflection whatsoever, except the sorrowful one that you are fallen in an evil, heavy-laden, long-eared age, and must resignedly bear your part in the same.

The front wall of your wretched old crazy dwelling, long denounced by you to no purpose, having at last fairly folded itself over, and fallen prostrate into the street, the floors, as may happen, will still hang on by the mere beam-ends, and coherency of old carpentry, though in a sloping direction, and depend there till certain poor rusty nails and worm-eaten dovetailings give way:--but is it cheering, in such circumstances, that the whole household burst forth into celebrating the new joys of light and ventilation, liberty and picturesqueness of position, and thank God that now they have got a house to their mind? My dear household, cease singing and psalmodying; lay aside your fiddles, take out your work-implements, if you have any; for I can say with confidence the laws of gravitation are still active, and rusty nails, worm-eaten dovetailings, and secret coherency of old carpentry, are not the best basis for a household!--In the lanes of Irish cities, I have heard say, the wretched people are sometimes found living, and perilously boiling their potatoes, on such swing-floors and inclined planes hanging on by the joist-ends; but I did not hear that they sang very much in celebration of such lodging. No, they slid gently about, sat near the back wall, and perilously boiled their potatoes, in silence for most part!--

High shouts of exultation, in every dialect, by every vehicle of speech and writing, rise from far and near over this last avatar of Democracy in 1848: and yet, to wise minds, the first aspect it presents seems rather to be one of boundless misery and sorrow. What can be more miserable than this universal hunting out of the high dignitaries, solemn functionaries, and potent, grave and reverend seigniors of the world; this stormful rising-up of the inarticulate dumb masses everywhere, against those who pretended to be speaking for them and guiding them? These guides, then, were mere blind men only pretending to see? These rulers were not ruling at all; they had merely got on the attributes and clothes of rulers, and were surreptitiously drawing the wages, while the work remained undone? The Kings were Sham-Kings, play-acting as at Drury Lane;--and what were the people withal that took them for real?

It is probably the hugest disclosure of falsity in human things that was ever at one time made. These reverend Dignitaries that sat amid their far-shining symbols and long-sounding long-admitted professions, were mere Impostors, then? Not a true thing they were doing, but a false thing. The story they told men was a cunningly devised fable; the gospels they preached to them were not an account of man's real position in this world, but an incoherent fabrication, of dead ghosts and unborn shadows, of traditions, cants, indolences, cowardices,--a falsity of falsities, which at last ceases to stick together. Wilfully and against their will, these high units of mankind were cheats, then; and the low millions who believed in them were dupes,--a kind of inverse cheats, too, or they would not have believed in them so long.

A universal Bankruptcy of Imposture; that may be the brief definition of it. Imposture everywhere declared once more to be contrary to Nature; nobody will change its word into an act any farther:--fallen insolvent; unable to keep its head up by these false pretences, or make its pot boil any more for the present! A more scandalous phenomenon, wide as Europe, never afflicted the face of the sun. Bankruptcy everywhere; foul ignominy, and the abomination of desolation, in all high places: odious to look upon, as the carnage of a battle-field on the morrow morning;--a massacre not of the innocents; we cannot call it a massacre of the innocents; but a universal tumbling of Impostors and of Impostures into the street!--

Such a spectacle, can we call it joyful? There is a joy in it, to the wise man too; yes, but a joy full of awe, and as it were sadder than any sorrow,--like the vision of immortality, unattainable except through death and the grave! And yet who would not, in his heart of hearts, feel piously thankful that Imposture has fallen bankrupt? By all means let it fall bankrupt; in the name of God let it do so, with whatever misery to itself and to all of us. Imposture, be it known then,--known it must and shall be,--is hateful, unendurable to God and man. Let it understand this everywhere; and swiftly make ready for departure, wherever it yet lingers; and let it learn never to return, if possible! The eternal voices, very audibly again, are speaking to proclaim this message, from side to side of the world. Not a very cheering message, but a very indispensable one.

Alas, it is sad enough that Anarchy is here; that we are not permitted to regret its being here,--for who that had, for this divine Universe, an eye which was human at all, could wish that Shams of any kind, especially that Sham-Kings should continue? No: at all costs, it is to be prayed by all men that Shams may cease. Good Heavens, to what depths have we got, when this to many a man seems strange! Yet strange to many a man it does seem; and to many a solid Englishman, wholesomely digesting his pudding among what are called the cultivated classes, it seems strange exceedingly; a mad ignorant notion, quite heterodox, and big with mere ruin. He has been used to decent forms long since fallen empty of meaning, to plausible modes, solemnities grown ceremonial,--what you in your iconoclast humor call shams, all his life long; never heard that there was any harm in them, that there was any getting on without them. Did not cotton spin itself, beef grow, and groceries and spiceries come in from the East and the West, quite comfortably by the side of shams? Kings reigned, what they were pleased to call reigning; lawyers pleaded, bishops preached, and honorable members perorated; and to crown the whole, as if it were all real and no sham there, did not scrip continue salable, and the banker pay in bullion, or paper with a metallic basis? "The greatest sham, I have always thought, is he that would destroy shams."

Even so. To such depth have I, the poor knowing person of this epoch, got;--almost below the level of lowest humanity, and down towards the state of apehood and oxhood! For never till in quite recent generations was such a scandalous blasphemy quietly set forth among the sons of Adam; never before did the creature called man believe generally in his heart that lies were the rule in this Earth; that in deliberate long-established lying could there be help or salvation for him, could there be at length other than hindrance and destruction for him. O Heavyside, my solid friend, this is the sorrow of sorrows: what on earth can become of us till this accursed enchantment, the general summary and consecration of delusions, be cast forth from the heart and life of one and all! Cast forth it will be; it must, or we are tending, at all moments, whitherward I do not like to name. Alas, and the casting of it out, to what heights and what depths will it lead us, in the sad universe mostly of lies and shams and hollow phantasms (grown very ghastly now), in which, as in a safe home, we have lived this century or two! To heights and depths of social and individual divorce from delusions,--of "reform" in right sacred earnest, of indispensable amendment, and stern sorrowful abrogation and order to depart,--such as cannot well be spoken at present; as dare scarcely be thought at present; which nevertheless are very inevitable, and perhaps rather imminent several of them! Truly we have a heavy task of work before us; and there is a pressing call that we should seriously begin upon it, before it tumble into an inextricable mass, in which there will be no working, but only suffering and hopelessly perishing! --

Or perhaps Democracy, which we announce as now come, will itself manage it? Democracy, once modelled into suffrages, furnished with ballot-boxes and such like, will itself accomplish the salutary universal change from Delusive to Real, and make a new blessed world of us by and by?--To the great mass of men, I am aware, the matter presents itself quite on this hopeful side. Democracy they consider to be a kind of "Government." The old model, formed long since, and brought to perfection in England now two hundred years ago, has proclaimed itself to all Nations as the new healing for every woe: "Set up a Parliament," the Nations everywhere say, when the old King is detected to be a Sham-King, and hunted out or not; "set up a Parliament; let us have suffrages, universal suffrages; and all either at once or by due degrees will be right, and a real Millennium come!" Such is their way of construing the matter.

Such is, alas, by no means my way of construing the matter...
Continue here, if you're hooked. As, alas, I am. A heavy task of work, indeed! But by no means to be shirked.

65 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you email Patri, he will give you your money back.

I'm gonna email him to call him a faggot and an asshole for pulling the plug on MM.

Not kidding.

September 21, 2009 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Anon

Why? Patri's reasons are amply on display in the article and they are reasonable, unfortunate as their consequence may be.

Also, MM, this forum needs moderation. There is no benefit to permitting the use of empty derogatory terms like "faggot" and "asshole." Why not follow the example of LA and sanitize the language so that it is not unnecessarily offensive?

September 21, 2009 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Patri isn't serious about seasteading.

If he were, he would be trying to figure out how to protect seasteaders from the inevitable attacks from all sides.

From what I have seen and have been told, this is hardly a concern of theirs.

Oh well.

September 21, 2009 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@GM Palmer,

It seems more of an issue of naivety to me. He thinks that if he and his friends just leave and stay away, USG will follow a live and let-live policy. Apparently the eight decades of US meddling in international affairs has yet to sink in.

Either way, I agree that his first concern should be military protection. I only see two ways of doing this: get WMDs (with delivery devices) or hire mercenaries (like Lichtenstein). The first is nearly impossible (and rightfully so) and also requires balls in sizes that Patri and friends simply do not have. The second is expensive as hell and there is always the chance that the mercenaries will decide that they may as well go for the treasure chest. I think that the dependence on the Swiss for protection is the biggest weakness that Vaduz has (though I have too little data to arrive at a definitive conclusion).

September 21, 2009 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger American Monarchist said...

Excellent post as usual, but you've gotten awfully crude. Have you been reading Roissy?

September 21, 2009 at 2:04 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

Does anyone anywhere expect this Seasteading thing to actually get off the ground? Seems like its more about signaling something; and whatever that something is, it seems to require the cool, smart people taking you seriously.

September 21, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Mencius Speaks

The Philosophy of Mencius: Mencius,Book 2, Part 1,Chapters 4-9

September 21, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Zdeno said...

I was also put off by the Cromer to Romer post. Comparing the style to the Open Letter to Progressives, I think the earlier tone is much more effective in terms of UR's informational-warfare purpose. Also, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, "faggot" "my niggaz" etc is cringe-worthy.

This opinion isn't based on civility or deference, but effectiveness. Calling Romer names is not conducive to UR becoming part of an elite network of bright, hip, influential reactionaries. Mock his ideas mercilessly, sure. Refuse to defer to his relative official status, absolutely. But what purpose is served by going pejoratively NC-17? Would Steve Sailer be more or less effective of an ambassador for HBD if he sprinkled his blog with N-bombs?

Moving on to the substance of the arguments, I watched the video, and Romer's disavowal of colonialism is not as ridiculous as you claim. He distinguishes between the coercive colonialism of the past and voluntary charter cities. Is that unfair of him? He implicitly acknowledges the similarity of his vision and Cromer's simply by pointing out the one difference. That doesn't strike me as dishonest at all. Also, is it really necessary to convince the progressive establishment that one of their core beliefs is incorrect? Why fight that battle? Once there are 10-20 successful reactionary city-states in the world, arguments to replace entire nations with patchworks will be infinitely more pliable. Let's wait this one out.

Cheers,

Zdeno

September 21, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Tim of Angle said...

I think that the term you were really looking for is "dildo", not "faggot". A faggot, after all, can lead a productive life. But you must do as you think best.

September 21, 2009 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Provocative today, MM.

My thought about government goes as follows: For government to be necessary, it must in some way be a sham, since its governors will be people, and for the people to need to be governed they must be in some way deficient, and for government to be unnecessary must mean the people are fit to govern themselves.

It would seem that at the beginning of civilizational cycles, circumstances dictate becoming worthy as a prerequisite for a lot of things, such as, living until 30, which in turn creates a lot of somewhat virtuous people. The result, however, of the success of their governance is a world in which men may live until 30, or even past 72, and be wholly unvirtuous. For awhile nobility, that is, class, can maintain virtue in the rulers provided that it is small, but by its function it will, as ruler, amass wealth, which is a powder keg - since virtues are immaterial and wealth, while good, acts more often as a weight laying up and slowing down the path of the just rather than enabling and quickening it. I will admit certain circumstances favor wealth; and this is the conundrum. The circumstance of a brutal, survival level society dictates that wealth must be acquired (or obscurity) to allow for the development of virtue. But having secured a certain amount of virtue, wealth becomes simply a weight which slows - and perhaps stops - its progression.

Multi-stage rockets are a perfect image, of course... and such is the image of the hermit of God who releases worldly attachments in stages to attain to the heavens.

Carlyle is sharp of wit to note that the dupes cannot rule themselves better than the conmen. But that's the business of democracy fomented by revolution.

September 21, 2009 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, MM, this forum needs moderation. There is no benefit to permitting the use of empty derogatory terms like "faggot" and "asshole." Why not follow the example of LA and sanitize the language so that it is not unnecessarily offensive?

Since the whole faggot and asshole thing came from the original post, it would be a tad hypocritical for him to censor those terms in the comments section.

September 21, 2009 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Zdeno

I was also put off by the ... N-bombs?

I agree with the conclusion. Usage of words like "niggaz" and "faggot" detracts from the quality of the articles.

Moving on to the substance of the arguments, I watched the video, and Romer's disavowal of colonialism is not as ridiculous as you claim. He distinguishes between the coercive colonialism of the past and voluntary charter cities.

First lets deal with that misconception. Once the charter cities are up and running, they represent a massive source of cash. More cash than the prospective partners (african govt. officials, castro, etc...) have ever seen in their lifetime. What keeps them from taking it? Obviously not their goodwill. What will make them behave is force or the threat thereof. If charter cities are voluntary, they will be so only for the first few years. Of course from the perspective of the citizens, they are cooerced under either government though the coercion from charter cities would be much easier to bear.

Is that unfair of him? He implicitly acknowledges the similarity of his vision and Cromer's simply by pointing out the one difference. That doesn't strike me as dishonest at all.

His method and tone of presentation implies otherwise. He isn't portraying his ideas as a successor to colonialism or just ignoring colonialism. He is intentionally denigrating colonialism while holding up how saintly his idea is with its "choice" for all. He may acknowledge similarities but that is only to glorify one at the expense of the other, deserved or not.

Also, is it really necessary to convince the progressive establishment that one of their core beliefs is incorrect? Why fight that battle? Once there are 10-20 successful reactionary city-states in the world, arguments to replace entire nations with patchworks will be infinitely more pliable. Let's wait this one out.

Read the essay. Trying to trick the progressive establishment is assuming that it can be saved. I doubt that progressives are so foolish so as to not realize the reactionary nature of charter cities. It is doubtful that we will ever get to 10 or 20. If we do, the progressive movement will do whatever it can to destroy them or sink them into a morass of bureaucratic goo.

@Anon 5:32

Of course, I support the removal of these words from the articles themselves.

September 21, 2009 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

Suppose, for example, institutional geology in the 1960s had continued to reject the plate tectonics of Wegener - the last major Kuhnian revolution of which I am aware.

Would you count germ theory 2.0? It shows the same features, with Marshall eventually having to deliberately infect himself in order to convince the establishment that ulcers were not caused by mothers-in-law.

September 21, 2009 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

As of right now, The Seasteading Institute's site still claims Romer and Mencius will speak. I have not seen anything mentioning changes at A Thousand Nations Bloom, the Distributed Republic or Patri's livejournal.

I concur that this nigger-speak and faggot stuff is uncalled for. As others have pointed out before, Mencius once sought to have higher standards and censor such words in his own posts. I don't endorse him moderating the comments, but there is no need for him to indulge in that kind of behavior himself.

Mencius is not consistent in reviling professors. He promotes the Ludwig von Mises institute, which aside from Kinsella and Tucker (as far as I can recall) draws entirely from professors. He has criticized one of their contributors, but promoted a professor who has defended Greenspan from the former's charges (along with a few other professors who have not spoken on the matter). Also, do you revile Ross McKitrick, Richard Lindzen and/or Roger Pielke? Your revulsion in this case is especially incoherent. Romer is promoting charter cities, you view charter cities as a euphemism for colonialism, colonialism is an anathema to the Powers That Be, and Romer is bad because he's one of the Powers That Be. If you opposed the creation of charter cities, I could understand your complaint, but as it is your only comprehensible motivation is the enjoyment of casting insults.

paladins of the new system, such as Dewey and Lippmann
Dewey and Lippmann were intellectual opponents. Dewey believed in democracy, Lippmann didn't. I read Public Opinion on Mencius' recommendation, and I didn't see where he advocated handing power over to professors. MM has claimed that under FDR the universities seized control over government, I have long argued that the far more plausible interpretation is that universities have always been the creation of the Powers That Be and FDR simply enlisted some of their ranks.

what Voltaire did for the Catholic Church
I don't think that worked out very well.

fsckers
Fuck, bad, nigger and faggot, good?

No church can endure mockery.
All churches have endured mockery. Academia and the New Deal State are mocked all the time.

What puzzles me about the TSI approach is that its entire premise seems to assume that USG is totaled.
No, they think that innovations in governing technology remain to be discovered if the industry is open to entry. That's pretty much what I believe. I expect the USG to outlast me even if Seasteading starts up in the near future (the Singularity would of course throw all bets off if it occurred), but just as capital mobility has resulted in the reduction of taxation on capital (what liberals lament as "race to the bottom" and libertarians cheer as "policy competition") I think the majority who remain in the US will get better policies as a result.


Aaron Davies:
New germ theory is not an example of belittled heretics eventually being proven right. Most people who cite such examples in defense of their own heterodoxy are simply cranks.

September 21, 2009 at 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Moldy's moldy said...

Look at all the little fanbois getting their panties wet! waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!!

Mencius called Romer a faggot. Do you seriously expect Romer to stand up there next to him at the conference? Should the Seasteading institute have people that make vicious personal attacks at their conference?

Seasteading institute's biggest mistake was to invite a two-bit blogger with delusions of grandeur to its conference.

All you little fanbois can go back to masturbating to the printout of Moldy's American caste post hanging on the wall above your bed.

September 21, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

I don't know why, but MM's tone has become much more bitter and angry lately. I'm a relative newcomer to this blog (I've been reading it only since early this year), but I've read through most of the archives, and his old posts were written in a far more agreeable, polite, and overall much better style. The blog is still better than almost anything else on the internet, but the quality of writing has definitely gone downhill. As Zdeno remarked above, it's cringe-inducing when someone with such spectacular writing skills as MM sprinkles his text with retarded trashy vocabulary like "my niggaz." There's nothing wrong with occasional well-placed good English profanity, but people who actually use such retarded hip-hop expressions are almost invariably obnoxious idiots.

At the same time, the comment section has completely gone down the toilet. I don't know why MM has decided to stop participating in comment discussions -- from reading the archives I see that he apparently stopped a long time ago -- but as recently as 3-4 months ago, one could still find some excellent comments and interesting discussions. Nowadays, however, I skim through threads with 50+ comments of which perhaps two or three have anything intelligent to say. Most of the best contributors from the past are either dormant or have been repulsed by trolls and the flood of compulsive commenters that have nothing interesting to say (and perhaps also MM's changed style?). For example, an average comment by Nick Szabo was more worthwhile than 99% of the stuff that fills the comment sections now, but he has apparently withdrawn because he didn't want to suffer further abuse by otherwise inconsequential trolls.

I don't believe that MM really doesn't read the comments any more. (Also, what's the point of such scoffing at his readers? Another inexplicable negative change in his attitude.) So, I'd urge him to consider these facts if his main concern with this blog is really "the quality of people who read it," as he claims.

September 22, 2009 at 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you so scared of fellating Romer that you only feel safe when despising him?
Escaping one stupid extreme by running into the other is dumb. The real trick is to treat him appropriately, somewhere between gentle fellation and hard biting.

September 22, 2009 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

^

That's more or less what I'm about to say, but you've reminded me that there's also the issue of making sure nobody thinks MM wants their approval. This saves time - for example, fewer comment on how to make MM-reaction more palatable or attempt to find common ground - and ensures that his moral condemnation is not misunderstood. By and large, professors are extremely ill and you don't want any on you.
Especially so as their contagion so obviously ignores the usual barriers intelligence puts up - quite the reverse. Better to lose healthy tissue than to miss some gangrene.

September 22, 2009 at 5:02 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Re: Comment section.

People. Internet forums decay. Deal.
Or solve it yourself, but know it's a class-A tough problem.


Vladimir, (in particular)

"For example, an average comment by Nick Szabo was more worthwhile than 99% of the stuff that fills the comment sections now,"

"I don't know why MM has decided to stop participating in comment discussions"

MM debating Nick may be worthwhile. MM debating people much further down the pole is not. Not for him, not for them, and not for us.
I've read the old comments section. An example pathology: he ends up repeating himself. A lot.

If he has something to say, there's a bigass post section above this in which to say it.


River Cocytus,

It seems the problem you're highlighting is that measures of merit, once useful for improving standards and wealth, must change as wealth and standards improve, else suffer decay into perverseness. Do I perceive rightly?


_
The 'niggaz' comments are off-putting intentionally. You're basically congratulating MM on a job well done. If you want him to stop, address his reasons for acting so.

_
The seasteaders may think they're serious, but they don't act like serious people. They act like Romer - like their goal is approval and cheers, not results.


MM,

See, problems with the steel rule. Your mission is to oppose their spiritual rule. The steel rule only can apply to the temporal realm - where rather than codifying it as a separate rule, acknowledge, as you have, the simple truth that their temporal grip is indeed the strongest iron.

The bit about no reactionary actually taking office still still has mileage.

New topic: Mencius, you point out that gaining the approval of professors or the NYT just nets you resources dependent on their continued approval. This is an awesome point! I'd never thought about it that way before.

However, you seem to be continuing to market your blog, seeking a wider audience. Is this not a contradiction? Wouldn't it be better to have a thousand people fanatically devoted to making reactionary philosophy...well, whatever it is, exactly, it's supposed to do?

Do you want it right? Do you want it to rule? Do you want it to spread? (And thus possibly lead to rulage?) Earlier, you stated the blog is for entertainment, and yet now it's also about making laughingstocks of official mendacity.

I'm saying, here, one person is not an intellectual movement. One person is pretty entertaining, though.

Less critically...I have the same problem with your professor revilement as I do with the Steel Rule. Certainly, I also leap quite happily when someone even tangentially appears to agree with me. However, I also accept only the finest vintage of truth, and it usually takes me about ten seconds to taste the cork in the vintage of a professor. I need not artificially revile; I simply refute. They tend not to like that, so I tend to refute their
style of response as well. I consider this sufficient. (Most don't know the first thing about debating with integrity; barrel fish, meet gun.)

And now...I hear complaints about MM being verbose, so let's compare Carlyle.
I find the diction mostly impenetrable, but it seems that Carlyle just took three monster paragraphs to say:

"There was a good pope, who wanted to stop the Church from being full of shit. Everyone was overjoyed at the news. Sure enough, it turns out the reason none of the other popes did much is because the Church is held together with spit and hope - there's no good wood under there to find. Your options are add more spit or destroy it."

My version lacks any prosodic flair, but as far as I can tell that's all the facts covered.

Presumably Carlyle goes on to say much the same thing but pertaining to democracy.

Since there's no actual field of 'writing good, yo' I expect writing will continue to advance - there's no profs for the state to corrupt.

September 22, 2009 at 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Openworld said...

>>[MM] No one can revoke the powers of the Times

Except, perhaps, Craigslist and the blogosphere?

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-new-york-times-bankruptcy-update-2009-5

September 22, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Alrenous,

I think Mencius has pretty openly stated that he'd like to at least have the influence of a Voltaire.

And that Voltaire was instrumental in dismantling another, equally powerful Cathedral.

Pretty tall order, though I understand the sentiment (I feel similarly wrt poetry).

M

September 22, 2009 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I like that reading. Thanks.

So yeah, get 1000 (or any sufficient n) people fanatically devoted to figuring out how to be influential, like these household names. In the course of experimenting, it should basically happen by itself; there doesn't need to be an explicit execution stage.

I kind of know the answer though. Bellcurve. Far right side aptitude plus far right side luck.

Still, there's a lot of question about what 'aptitude' in this context actually means.

September 22, 2009 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Still, there's a lot of question about what 'aptitude' in this context actually means.

That's a helluvan important question.

September 22, 2009 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Alrenous and GM Palmer

So yeah, get 1000 (or any sufficient n) people fanatically devoted to figuring out how to be influential, like these household names.

But why should these thousand very smart people advocate reactionary enlightenment? That is the problem with going for influence by the standard means: the most effective way to do so is to advocate idiotic solutions like socialism, communism, fascism, nationalism* etc... That is the central problem with the democratic process.

The path you suggested leads straight to Nazi Germany. MM's interest here seems to be purely intellectual. He isn't interested in influence. Rather, he just wants to destroy whatever influence the progressive establishment has (or barring that, convert it into publicly recognized authority which the proffs. can then be held responsible for).

The end result may not be that different but the kind of people that the second goal attracts compared to the first are completely different (and far fewer, unfortunately).

* Note that I am not stating that one can not argue for any of these philosophies on principle. There is no limit to how delusional people's principles can be.

September 22, 2009 at 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://seasteading.org/blogs/main/2009/09/21/conference-schedule-ground-rules-the-market-for-ideas-and-reality

September 22, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I've had an orphan idea, and I'm just going to birth it, because it segues nicely.

If there really is any essence to 'left'/'progressive' and 'right'/'conservative' it's the following.

Demand schedule for leftists:
1. Power.

Demand schedule for rightists;
1. Something.
2. Power.

The something varies depending on the variety of conservative - tradition, morality, religion, etcetera...

This idea matches two data very nicely. First rightists rarely gain power. As a leftist, all I have to do is to put the rightist in a situation where they have to sacrifice morality or tradition or whatever to defeat me. Unlike the rightist, no tactics are barred from me, which means this is nearly always possible.

This is logically impossible for enemies of the left; how are you going give them the dilemma of giving up power to gain power?

Second, 'no friends right, no enemies left.' If we both want power over all other consideration, it's easy to make a pact where we both gain power. (Though of course betrayal is common if there's enough differential in power.) Whereas a bipartisan pact just weighs down the leftist with 'traditionalist' or 'moralizing' baggage.

My demand schedule, by the way, is kind of fight club.

1. Truth.
2. Truth.

3. Moral health.
4. Physical health.
5. Power.

I will never gain power.


So, newt.

Why should n fanatics work on the aptitude problem with regard to reaction? Because their demand schedule looks like mine; the top one is truth. They don't do it for advocacy or for praise or to attain high office, but because they fanatically want to be right for right's sake. Perhaps for them #2 is telling people about it.

And, of course, because a good debate is what's necessary to properly hone the truth.

For my own part, without seeing serious challenges to Moldbug vision, it seems a ghost, half-finished. All I can do personally is wait for a complete manifesto and check for contradictions; I am not a historian.
(My usual method is to compare the data integrity of the two debaters and, where necessary, spot fact checks. I find it saves time.)

But, as MM points out above, debate is not likely forthcoming. The fanatics idea seems more accessible.

September 22, 2009 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Alrenous:

The conundrum is that in a kind of basic existence, you need *things* - such as for instance, people who can teach you language, materials with which to learn, books, etc, to learn what virtue is, much less how to attain it. There are some outliers here, but most can not be tacked down historically.

In this regard possessions help only so much, as for instance it is simple for those born into wealth to take it for granted. Those who have all they need, or at least, all they think they need, are unlikely to willingly endure suffering, insults, and so forth, which are required to acquire virtues like humility, patience, continence, etc. Courage, indeed, requires fearful things to be learned.

My point, if there were one, is that Civilizations in general are self defeating; civilizations are generally built by worthier people, only because necessity forced them into it, and are ruined by unworthy people, because the success of the civilization made it easier for them to live with less merit, or nearly none at all. The idle rich are the perfect stereotype of this problem.

To some extent the nobility of the old world (the Kings) kept this intact because part of the essence of high culture was for it to be highly demanding of the individual, but this was not universal, since a family with one son will still find a way to have him be Lord or King even if he is unwilling to be virtuous, or has some kind of affliction outside of his or others' power to remedy that makes him unfit.

To have a proper government, you need people who are worthy to govern. If all are worthy, no government is required. By worthy I mean thing such as possessing wisdom, discernment, patience, generosity, compassion, courage, temperance, justice, etc. The problem with most groups is they replace 'worthy' with 'whoever follows me' which means instead of worthy people, you get people who like whatever movement or revolution they're leading.

For example, if you lead a movement whose key platform is anti-semitism, whether or not you get anyone of virtue, you will certainly get anti-semites. Hitler's success was all about opportunity. You get people with the power to make a king who have a bunch of grievances, you pander to those grievances, and they make you king. In Germany, it cut across class lines; and even with that there were bumps in the road. Obama, in this sense, followed the same model. The grievances were different, so the resultant Dear Leader(tm) was as well.

But I'm rambling. It struck me that one of Mencius' earlier points was that Virtue is required for rule. I would go so far to say that if all men were virtuous you could have any form of government (or, at least, any of a wide variety) and it would work. Men who are worthy, we are told, place themselves below their fellows, which is humility, therefore a man of virtue rises to his station according to his gifts and circumstances, and not by ambition.

Wealth then, is not the point; there is no point to being wealthy except to use it to attain virtue, the easiest way being to give it away.

The only hitch is, of course, willingness. What is twisted about the welfare state in the modern world is that it takes money from you that you never saw and gives it to needy people you also never saw. If the point was getting, which is what the Social Gospel is all about; Getting Yours(tm), this would be optimal. But the point is the voluntary giving.

This fails as a Mass Movement because it is not a mass movement. Thus it is rejected by and large by both sides of the aisle in the mass age; both see populism of different kinds, bigness, broadness and so forth, as the means and the source of great power. Thus virtue hides in plain sight from them.

September 22, 2009 at 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

The natives are getting restless. Too much "niggaz", and too little "step 2".

As for strategy of the TSI, TSI needs to find those 1000 hardcore prison-loving whackjobs first. Then it can tell the New York Times to buzz off. It is true that TSI does not absolutely require the Times to find its people. But coverage in the Times makes the process much faster. The Times has great reach. My assumption here is that TSI is still unknown to many of those 1000 whackjobs, and that the Times can reach them. This does not strike me as unreasonable.

In fact, it seems to me a smart strategy to don the Ring, and ride the novelty factor while you can. Find your 1000. Once the novelty dies, you're not getting any more coverage anyway, except possibly hostile coverage if successful. So, you can say the magic word (perhaps "liberty") and watch the Ring melt away. You're free! You played them!

Of course, this does require the self-discipline to stick to the mission and take off the Ring. What is it you are always saying? Get a Man, and put him in charge. So, call this strategy a test of Patri Friedman. If it works, he uses TPTB and comes out ahead. If it fails, he leave on the ring -- and becomes irrelevant.

It is regrettably true that a speech by MM and attempting to appear respectable to the Times are mutually incompatible. (Although I am not sure a NYT reporter would really know what to make of MM: I am not sure the Wraith could really smell you accurately insofar as you lay off the "niggaz" in your crypto-public persona.)

September 22, 2009 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

As a parting comment for now (work calls) I'd like to say that MM can probably do whatever he wants for whatever reason he wants.

The liquor store can refuse to take your money.

September 22, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Alrenous

I have no problem with getting intellectuals to engage in reactionary thought. What I have a problem with is getting intellectuals to engage in reactionary thought to/and gain influence. The moment influence enters into the picture, you will attract people whose sole goal (unlike yourself) is to gain more power.

Also, I think that your demand schedule for leftist and rightist is much too coarse. Leftist don't want just power, they want influence as compared to authority. If there was a proposal to give absolute perpetual sovereignty to a council of 9 professors (chosen by the universities, or more professors, or judges, lawers, etc..., or even the entire DNC), I am certain that most leftist would be adamantly against this proposition. Obviously, this is not because of a lack of power -- you can't get better then absolute perpetual sovereignty. Rather, it is because this carries with it too much responsibility. It translates the current influence that the DNS has for authority.

I also think that this could serve as a valuable test for right-wingedness. Is a person for authority and the responsibility that inevitably follows are are they more comfortable with irresponsible influence?

September 22, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Newt> MM is wrong about the right left divide, but close. The conflict is not about order/chaos, but hierarchy. For the right hierarchy may or may not be a good thing, but it is inescapable part of the human condition. The left, by contrast, seeks to tear it down. Of course leftists, being human, want to be the ones in charge of the glorious re-arranging of society, but they always intend to fade away when their good work is done. That they never do is beside the point.

So while you're right that they'd never accept a permanent council (as opposed to a revolutionary vanguard) it isn't because they don't want responsibility, but because it would mean accepting that some must rule and some must obey.

September 22, 2009 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Studd

Not quite. First off, MM's idea of order vs. chaos is quite compatible with my idea of influence vs. authority. Order, as MM defines it, is that there is one sovereign and everybody knows who said sovereign is. From there, the ideal sovereign would delegate authority and cut back on the laws to allow as much liberty as possible. Note that this is very easily translated as the sovereign has absolute authority and then delegates said authority in a stable manner through property law.

Note that as MM defines order, order is hierarchy. You have drawn a false dichotomy.

Furthermore, leftists already implicitly believe that some must rule and that other must obey. Why else do they use state power with such abandon? If they say anything else (like the famed communist dream of having the state wither away), they are simply deluding the audience and possibly themselves.

The leftists may say (and believe) whatever they want but their actions clearly imply that they love hierarchies as long as these hierarchies are a confused jumble with the top echelon (which consists of hundreds if not thousands of irresponsible bureaucrats) occupied exclusively by themselves. If nobody realizes that this really the state of things, even better.

September 22, 2009 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

(cont.)

I believe the EU is the closest example of what the leftist dream state would be like. It is a hierarchy certainly with progressive intellectuals somewhere near the top, politicians in the middle, and citizens as the dirt that the previous two try their very best to ignore. However, you can't really be certain of that (there isn't much that you can be certain of when it comes to the EU).

Nobody quite knows who runs the thing. Some particularly naive fools are inclined to say that is the member states or what not but that is clearly not the case. The EU clearly has quite a bit of power, enough at least to compel citizens to use a certain kind of light-bulb (though none too well) even in a country which has yet to ratify their insane charter (the UK). There are two things you can be sure of though:

1) The group that runs the EU is very very large and

2) is composed solely of progressives.

Of course, most normal people think that the UK is just a trade consortium without any real sovereign power. All the better as far as the leftists are concerned.

The love the leftists feel for the EU is easy to observe when one considers how fervently the leftists here in the US advocate for any policy that will move the US closer to the governing model of the EU, whether it be monstrous bloated agencies and civil departments or hate-crime and hate-speech laws.

September 22, 2009 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Cleanthes said...

Demand schedule for leftists:
1. Power.

Demand schedule for rightists;
1. Something.
2. Power.


'Something' needs to be military glory.

Napoleon had a twenty year run as a rightist, sorta. He ran from his connection with Robespierre the whole time, but he ran fast and successfully.

Seriously, nothing is more satisfying than dispersing one's enemies with a whiff of grapeshot.

September 22, 2009 at 5:40 PM  
Anonymous CVD said...

Everyone complaining about Mr Moldbug's use of a few bad words is ridiculous.

The type of person who is into Mr Moldbug's ideas isn't the type of person who will be turned off by the word faggot.

If they are, they are too thin-skinned to matter anyway. Plus he busted Professor Romer big time. If a professor condemns another person's ideas and then turns around and advocates the same ideas under a different name, then it is fair game to call said professor anything.

September 22, 2009 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

CVD:
Everyone complaining about Mr Moldbug's use of a few bad words is ridiculous. The type of person who is into Mr Moldbug's ideas isn't the type of person who will be turned off by the word faggot.

It's not at all about being turned off by profanity, which can be an effective literary device when used properly. It's simply about not sounding like an idiot. If I recommend this blog to people and they open it and see that the author uses obnoxiously retarded hip-hop jargon and inane insults, I can't blame them if it makes them instantly decide that he's probably unworthy of their attention. Certainly, anyone who thinks he's cool for using phrases like "my niggaz," regardless of any ironic intent, deserves to be considered an annoying idiot until strongly proven otherwise.

I can't imagine what MM could possibly be trying to achieve by crippling his writing style that way. With his intelligence and writing skills, he can easily deliver spectacular rhetorical blows while sounding supremely witty, cool, tasteful, and audience-friendly at the same time, which he's demonstrated many times in the past.

For whatever reason, lately he's been sounding less and less like his traditional irresistibly witty, caustic, erudite, and clever persona, and more and more like a bitter, angry, shouting ranter, even if one who still has a whole lot of interesting stuff to say. It will be sad if it turns out that for some reason, anger and bitterness have gotten the better of him. In any case, it seems to me that the recent changes in his style and attitude are bound to alienate the high-quality audience that he supposedly aims to attract.

September 22, 2009 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I'm going to be oot'n'aboot sans internet for about a week, and so won't be able to reply to any comments in the meanwile. So I don't forget, some things I thought might be of interest to other readers. First, I played Devil's Advocate for reaction against democracy at Scott Sumner's blog a little while back. He's continued on the theme in his most recent post. At Distributed Republic, LeninOfLiberty writes In Defense of Democracy against some of his co-bloggers, with specific reference to Mencius' writings.


Alrenous:
Good to know I'm not alone in my lack of appreciation for Carlyle's writing style.


G. M. Palmer:
And that Voltaire was instrumental in dismantling another, equally powerful Cathedral.
Voltaire was a fan of enlightened monarchy. The monarchs had been kicking the Church's ass since the Peace of Westphalia. Mencius does not have a similarly powerful patron. I'll also note that the Church was finally smashed by revolting masses, which was not something Voltaire was angling for.


Alrenous:
This blog once claimed to be grabbing some of the far right side of the bell curve. Nick's disgusted departure and this niggaz stuff doesn't bode well for that. I personally prefer Overcoming Bias, but Less Wrong has done a good job of getting young, smart, ambitious folks thinking in a somewhat cohesive manner.


Leonard:
As the seasteading page the anonymous commenter linked to said, Patri completely rejects the prison model. I actually got in an argument at Distributed Republic over whether the broader seasteading society would permit the existence of prison-steads. Patri is not quite as hardcore a pluralist as I.

September 22, 2009 at 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Sean Hastings said...

MM,

If you have any balls at all you will show up at the conference and give a talk anyway. The hotel is open to the public and there may be a spare conference room you can rent - or restaurant space - or you could just use a hotel room. Just pick a time and place to give your talk, and publish it. I pledge $50 towards your expenses if you choose to do this (perhaps others will do the same?) and I will definitely come listen to you speak, provided the time of your talk does not conflict with my own speaking obligations.

I hope to see you there.

September 23, 2009 at 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Unkle said...

Mencius,

There's a new thing over at Bloggingheads.tv called "Apollo Project" where non-professional bloggers debate one another in Bloggingheads format. It's video but the identities of the bloggers are somewhat altered so you can't identify them.

Since you've been purged from the Seasteading conference, I thought this would be an excellent way for you to get your ideas out there and debate someone.

The first Apollo Project diavlog is here.

September 23, 2009 at 1:32 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Thanks Cocytus. I enjoyed your elaboration. I still think, though, that having identified the problem, a solution is not far behind.


newt0311,

"Also, I think that your demand schedule for leftist and rightist is much too coarse."

That's certainly much less critical than I was expecting. Refinements are welcome!

I'm also quite sure the leftists would be adamantly against a council of nine. However, I think this is mostly because it would involve stripping a lot of leftists of power - they oppose it out of self interest. I have trouble seeing the council of nine itself actually turning down the appointment, were it to occur.

Also, they'd immediately start granting power to their allies, inevitably leading to fragmentation. (Hmm...does that mean power is relative?)

Your point about responsibility is well taken.

And yes, I have to say the order v chaos thing still pops up, but as a consequence, or more precisely a means, rather than a driving force.


Me:
The 'niggaz' comments are off-putting intentionally. You're basically congratulating MM on a job well done. If you want him to stop, address his reasons for acting so.

Vladimir:
"It's simply about not sounding like an idiot. If I recommend this blog to people and they open it and see that the author uses obnoxiously retarded hip-hop jargon and inane insults, I can't blame them if it makes them instantly decide that he's probably unworthy of their attention."

TGGP:
"This blog once claimed to be grabbing some of the far right side of the bell curve. Nick's disgusted departure and this niggaz stuff doesn't bode well for that."

Like that.
"You shouldn't" "Okay...why not?"

September 23, 2009 at 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

TGGP:
This blog once claimed to be grabbing some of the far right side of the bell curve.

At certain points, it did manage to attract some formidable minds. Some of the best posts I read in the UR archives also have comment sections full of razor-sharp insights. Even in one of his recent posts, MM claimed that his primary goal is to maximize the quality of minds in his audience. However, the recent changes for worse in his writing style and general attitude are unsurprisingly driving off the cream of his readership (and possibly many others as well).

September 23, 2009 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

Alrenous:
"You shouldn't" "Okay...why not?"

Well, why yes? I'm not talking only about the "niggaz" and "faggot" stuff, but also about the general shift in MM's attitude from his former witty and acerbic, but still cordial and likable approach to a much more angry, bitter, and ranting style. MM has nothing at all to gain from any of this. Eventually, it's going to drive away his entire non-loser and intellectually worthy audience.

As a fan of MM, you seem to have an urge to justify these developments by contriving possible rational reasons for them. Yet, it makes no sense at all. If the point is to "mak[e] sure nobody thinks MM wants their approval," then taken to its logical conclusion, it means that a drunk homeless guy shouting obscenities on the corner is enjoying an ideal platform for idea dissemination. By pissing off and alienating people, MM is merely squandering the capital of his previously acquired reputation, not building any new one -- certainly not with anyone of any worth or consequence.

September 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Not quite. First off, MM's idea of order vs. chaos is quite compatible with my idea of influence vs. authority. Order, as MM defines it, is that there is one sovereign and everybody knows who said sovereign is. Note that as MM defines order, order is hierarchy. You have drawn a false dichotomy.
We may be arguing semantics. My problem with order vs. chaos is that it implies that the right is inherently opposed to change and the left always in favor of tearing down existing structures. It would be more accurate to state that the right supports hierarchies that are transparent and accessible while the left seeks to tear them down. You can even see this idea even in ostensible apolitical leftist writing. For example, progressive educational theory for at least the last 100 years has been rife with exhortations to democratize the classroom, involve students in the learning process, or to have them discover the lesson rather than be taught it.


Furthermore, leftists already implicitly believe that some must rule and that other must obey. Why else do they use state power with such abandon? If they say anything else (like the famed communist dream of having the state wither away), they are simply deluding the audience and possibly themselves.
Leftists genuinely see democracy as collective decision making, not the 51 ruling over the 49. They see the state as a vast charity organization which we all agree to give money to, not as the people who own the country. They do not believe that their programs are coercive because they believe, deep down, that if only everyone was raised properly, like they were, we would all agree. This is part of the reason they get so apoplectic when they lose elections. If everyone really and truly wants what you want, but most people voted for the wrong thing, the only ideologically acceptable explanation is the work of dark forces and secret cabals that are literally poisoning people’s minds. To admit that different people might want different things would undermine their whole worldview.

The leftists may say (and believe) whatever they want but their actions clearly imply that they love hierarchies as long as these hierarchies are a confused jumble with the top echelon (which consists of hundreds if not thousands of irresponsible bureaucrats) occupied exclusively by themselves. If nobody realizes that this really the state of things, even better.
If that were the case, the left would be much less fond of centralization and federalization than they are. After all, 51 governments means more jobs than 1. But the left remains overwhelmingly fond of centralization because their primary desire is to make sure sure everyone is treated the same. Of course, you and I as rightists know that people are NEVER treated exactly the same, especially when they are rulers, but if a leftist were to admit that, he would no longer be a leftist. There is certainly a leftist desire to broaden the decision making process, but it is never allowed to interfere with the egalitarian impulse.

September 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

I believe the EU is the closest example of what the leftist dream state would be like. It is a hierarchy certainly with progressive intellectuals somewhere near the top, politicians in the middle, and citizens as the dirt that the previous two try their very best to ignore. However, you can't really be certain of that (there isn't much that you can be certain of when it comes to the EU).

Bureaucracies have tendencies that are completely independent of the desires of the people who run them, and while they often overlap with progressive tendencies, they are not identical. The EU is a victim of both. The progressives like the EU because it is centralizing (let's treat everyone in Europe the same), because it is nominally democratic, and because it is entirely run by progressives. Bureaucrats like that it is vague, enormous, and well paying. Both bureaucrats and progressives tend to feel that the more people involved in making a decision, the better (as long as they make the right decision) but the EU’s insane structure is as much a result of hardball politics as ideological politics. I am fairly certain that a broad plan to simplify and centralize the EU institutions would be bitterly resisted by bureaucrats (including the people who run the member states), but mostly welcomed by progressives.

September 23, 2009 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Forgot one point I meant to put in. Progressives don't like confused authority structures for their own sake, it's just that confused authority minimizes the differences between people. The ultimate progressive organization is, of course, the committee. Bureaucracy, by contrast, deliberately confuses org charts when both grasping for jurisdiction and seeking to avoid responsibility.

September 23, 2009 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

http://seasteading.org/stay-in-touch/press-releases/tsi-receives-501c3-tax-exempt-status

TSI received tax exempt status, leading to many new benefits.

"New areas of development are open to us, such as GOVERNMENT and foundation grants."

The picture becomes clearer.

September 23, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Cleanthes,

I shouldn't forget you. Yes, glory can stand in well for a rightists' #1 priority. I wonder what specie of rightist that identifies?


Vladimir,

Amusement. I was wondering if there'd be misunderstanding.

I was complimenting you, saying you did exactly what I was talking about.

Also, if you read carefully, you'll notice I neither endorse nor condemn MM's diction. I'll continue to do so, as well.

"As a fan of MM, you seem to have an urge to justify these developments by contriving possible rational reasons for them."

A fascinating thing to say.


(Incidental warning - pedantry ahead.)

"mak[e] sure nobody thinks MM wants their approval,"

In context, that 'their' refers to professors, not 'nobody.'
I've seen numerous debates started over content or style, regarding the approval of some arm of the establishment or another... which ends up wasting tons of time, because the commenter and author disagree fundamentally about whether such approval is valuable.

Again, I've not weighed in on whether the technique is effective, or about possible downsides - because I don't know and don't much care. (I do something different altogether.) Another option, for example, is to be almost unctuously polite, and then simply ignore people who've missed the point. Again, upsides, downsides...

My point is simply that there is a justification. Address it, rather than simply saying "You shouldn't." You in particular haven't been terribly bad about this on the crassness issue (also newt) - I can clearly see that your position is that intelligent people are not likely to look past the crassness.

MM's position is probably that only serious people will bother to try to look past the crassness.

(USS Pedant, full steam ahead! You may wonder - why write? Answer; it helps me think.)

And really - this is going to be a bit harsh - are you going to stop reading, or are you just going to keep whining? If you're not stopping, then your actions belie your words, to some extent.

However, again, there may indeed be many interesting people who stop reading for that reason. I don't know, nor do I care. My point is just that this thread's actions so far mainly support his position - that people are put off, but people seriously interested in the issues are not going to let it stop them.

(BTW, I'm unilaterally dropping the Szabo issue. Reason: the available information about why he left does not warrant further discussion. Further, his comments are not exactly civil either, and address entirely different issues than MM's lapses in civility. Addressing his actual arguments should, according to me, be far more interesting.)

Assuming this is trying to be serious debate, then show (more) evidence and argument that your actions do not indicate exactly what MM expects. For example, it may be interesting to know why you think that potential new acolytes will take one look at the word 'niggaz' or similar, and stop reading.

Alternatives would be a bonus. MM is probably trying to solve a problem. The contrast created by simply stating alternative solutions can often be enough to illuminate why the alternative is better.

September 23, 2009 at 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Dos Equis said...

TSI received tax exempt status, leading to many new benefits.

"New areas of development are open to us, such as GOVERNMENT and foundation grants."


No big surprise here.

This kind of thing seems to run in the Friedman family.

Rothbard wrote about this. See here: "Milton Friedman Unraveled"

The Friedman family modus operandi seems to involve positioning and portraying oneself as some kind of independent and radical libertarian to the Establishment and thus to the wider public. While basically taking ideas from more genuine and sincere individuals and passing them off as one's own. And ultimately being bought by and beholden to the Establishment and allowed some minor prestige, honor, and pecuniary success in exchange for being the good, quirky, Court libertarian, false opposition.

Looks like the family business is alive and well in Patri's hands. Can't really blame him though. It's a great racket - pretend that you and your buddies are going to become hi-tech pirates 'any day now' and build some snazzy looking websites and host some respectable conferences while collecting fat government and foundation checks for the rest of your life. It's funny how this mirrors almost every government program, bureau, NGO, etc., ever established.

September 23, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Studd

For the most part, it seems like we are indeed arguing semantics. However, a few points stand out:

1) You seem to care about what progressives think. That way leads to chaos. The progressive movement is distributed and evolutionary. I.e., a bunch of people get a bunch of random ideas and then the most adaptive ones win out. One striking feature of this is that no individual ever need realize where the whole is headed. Thus analyzing the motivations and goals of the individuals involved in this movement is a singularly colossal waste of time.

2) You seem to think that order and change are fundamentally incompatible. While I may agree that conservatism and change are incompatible, order and change definitely aren't. After all, don't we want to change the current system and replace it with a bunch of monarchs/corporate boards etc...?

Also, you seem to think that the left is always obsessed with tearing down existing structures. However, if that was the case, progressives wouldn't like the EU particularly, after all, isn't the EU an "existing structure"? Or, how about the current US bureaucracy? I don't seem many leftists intent on breaking that down. Most of them just want to make this existing structure bigger.

The classroom isn't existing structure or at least a large part of it. Also, no progressive will ever consent to tearing it down so that children can be taught say... Christian values or say... HBD. The tearing down only goes so far as to eliminate authoritarian elements. To remove the authority of teachers and replace it with the influence of (leftist) professionals.

3) 51 governments mean a lot fewer jobs than 1. The bigger a government, the easier it is to obfuscate its structure and besides, it would be easy to add in 50 sub-departments for each state. Also, these 51 governments would, at best, have the same revenue as the big 1. Central hierarchies are generally much larger than lots of independent distributed hierarchies and can spread influence among many more people -- exactly what the leftists want.

This is easily verified when one considers how large the EU bureaucracy is starting to become and how large the US Federal government is compared to all the state governments put together.

4) Most leftists believe that they want everybody to be equal but once again, this is usually a case of self delusion. Their actions -- perverse dependence on university-certified professions, insane use of state power, "civil rights", etc... -- indicate strongly that equality has little to do with what they really want. I advise you again to stop listening to what leftists say and start looking at what they actually do. 99.99999% of what leftist say is utter trash and the rest is just composed of basic articles of speech.

September 23, 2009 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

(contd...)

5) Perhaps I was sloppy when I said "run them" in relation to progressives. Progressives run bureaucracies by ensuring that all the bureaucrats are progressives. It tends to work well. The EU doesn't have much in the way of politics, at least not the electoral kind. What is does have is lots of influence mongering but that's just internal strife. It may play a part in determining the structure at the atomic level but it has little effect on the basic design.

6) I don't think that progressives would go along with a plan to simplify the structure of the EU. Their probable reply would fall into the following two categories:

a) Acton: "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Simplify means that some people have more power (i.e., approaching authority) which is BAD!!!.

b) Department X or Committee Y is obviously essential to the EU for reason ... and therefore should be kept. Apply this to all departments X and all committees Y and pretty soon, there isn't much simplification going on.

Let me clarify my point when I said that leftists hate authority and like influence. I just meant that these are unifying themes across the broad spectrum of leftists. Leftists in general cannot really be said to like or want anything because as mentioned, leftism is a distributed movement.

September 23, 2009 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Angleterre said...

Peter Thiel is one of the guys that heads TSI. He's gay, so it's possible that he got pissed off at Mencius Moldbug's use of the word "faggot" and so isn't allowing him to speak. Fairies are pretty sensitive and touchy about this kind of thing, so it's plausible.

September 23, 2009 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I absofuckinglutely endorse and encourage the use of profane language, I must say that its one real drawback is that it allows dolts like Romer to pretend they're offended by your hurtful language in order to avoid debating you. In reality, of course, their real problem is that they know you'd butt-fuck them in an honest intellectual debate. So they bitch about the profanity and politely withdraw. If you could just restrain yourself from using this language, theyd be in an awful pickle.

It's worth noting, however, that MM was invited AFTER patri had read the original posts and insults. The withdrawn invitation only came after Romer withdrew. Hmmm...

September 23, 2009 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger hobbomagic said...


1) You seem to care about what progressives think. That way leads to chaos. The progressive movement is distributed and evolutionary. I.e., a bunch of people get a bunch of random ideas and then the most adaptive ones win out. One striking feature of this is that no individual ever need realize where the whole is headed. Thus analyzing the motivations and goals of the individuals involved in this movement is a singularly colossal waste of time.


Progressivism is the ideology that runs the world. It makes sense to learn to understand it, especially if you hope to oppose it in some way.


2) You seem to think that order and change are fundamentally incompatible. While I may agree that conservatism and change are incompatible, order and change definitely aren't. After all, don't we want to change the current system and replace it with a bunch of
monarchs/corporate boards etc...?


I don’t think that, but the stated purpose of MMs blog is to convert progressives, who likely will think that. Of course, this point is entirely semantic.


Also, you seem to think that the left is always obsessed with tearing down existing structures. However, if that was the case, progressives wouldn't like the EU particularly, after all, isn't the EU an "existing structure"? Or, how about the current US bureaucracy? I don't seem many leftists intent on breaking that down. Most of them just want to make this existing structure bigger.


The reason that leftists like the organizations that you mention is not because they are large or badly run, but because they are seen as increasing equality, i.e. removing more hierarchy then their existence generates.


The classroom isn't existing structure or at least a large part of it. Also, no progressive will ever consent to tearing it down so that children can be taught say... Christian values or say... HBD. The tearing down only goes so far as to eliminate authoritarian elements. To remove the authority of teachers and replace it with the influence of (leftist) professionals.


You’re looking at this from a rightwing, Darwinian perspective, while I’m trying to explain how they see it. We rightists realize that there is a teacher, and there are students and the purpose of the one is to inform the many. This relationship is obviously a source of power, one which the leftists use to further their goals. But this idea is foreign to the leftist mind, or at least deeply unpleasant. So they keep inventing nonsense like Constructionist Teaching in an attempt to do away with this little bit of nastiness. These methods are mostly ineffective (even at indoctrination) but the total leftist domination of education means that Darwinian forces are less prevalent. Read any leftwing thought on education from the last 100 years. Words like “instruct” and “teach” never show up in a positive light. Instead you find words like “discover” and “explore.”

This is obviously a sham, but that they believe it tells us something about them.

September 23, 2009 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger hobbomagic said...


4) Most leftists believe that they want everybody to be equal but once again, this is usually a case of self delusion. Their actions -- perverse dependence on university-certified professions, insane use of state power, "civil rights", etc... -- indicate strongly that equality has little to do with what they really want. I advise you again to stop listening to what leftists say and start looking at what they actually do. 99.99999% of what leftist say is utter trash and the rest is just composed of basic articles of speech.


I agree completely on the outcomes of the progressive project, but understanding why they say the things they say and do the things they do is important. We live in the world they created, it makes sense to know what motivates them.


5) Perhaps I was sloppy when I said "run them" in relation to progressives. Progressives run bureaucracies by ensuring that all the bureaucrats are progressives. It tends to work well. The EU doesn't have much in the way of politics, at least not the electoral kind. What is does have is lots of influence mongering but that's just internal strife. It may play a part in determining the structure at the atomic level but it has little effect on the basic design.


It has absolutely affected the institutional design. Countries are constantly scheming to stack the representational deck in their favor. Just look at how they keep changing QMV.


6) I don't think that progressives would go along with a plan to simplify the structure of the EU. Their probable reply would fall into the following two categories:

a) Acton: "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Simplify means that some people have more power (i.e., approaching authority) which is BAD!!!.

b) Department X or Committee Y is obviously essential to the EU for reason ... and therefore should be kept. Apply this to all departments X and all committees Y and pretty soon, there isn't much simplification going on.


They wouldn’t want an EU dictator but they are definitely in favor of European Federalism, if only to increase the power of the EU over the member states.

September 23, 2009 at 5:14 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Last time I talked with MM about diction (I think he said "suppose" or "prolly" or some shit like that) he said that he felt free to use the current interwebs vernacular.

I see what he did there,

but I don't know how valuable it is.

Of course, it does show how many people are trapped in PC/Progressivist thinking.

September 23, 2009 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Stoic said...

Palmer,

"Of course, it does show how many people are trapped in PC/Progressivist thinking."

Not sure what you mean here.

Are you saying that people are using poor diction here because of PC/Prog thinking, or that people here are indignant about poor diction because of PC/Prog?

September 23, 2009 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

If "niggaz" and "faggot" offend you, you must still have proggy brainworms.

Ha! My captcha is "lables."

September 23, 2009 at 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Angleterre

Thiel also specifically defended someone for saying "Faggot." Or at least for saying "Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS." So I kind of doubt that.

September 23, 2009 at 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Angleterre said...

Anonymous,

Yeah, I bet Thiel defended him. Defended him real good and hard up the ass while giving him a double fisted reach around.

Rabois and Thiel were dating at that time.

As far as I can tell, Mencius and Thiel are not dating nor romantically/sexually involved, so it's a different scenario. It's quite possible Thiel got pissed. Especially since he's probably extra stressed since his fund has been tanking lately.

September 23, 2009 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@hobbomagic

Progressivism is the ideology that runs the world. It makes sense to learn to understand it, especially if you hope to oppose it in some way.

I absolutely agree that understanding progressivism is important. What I am saying is that listening to them is the worst way to go about understanding them. Looking at the policies they advocate in fact and the effects is far more effective, once again, because most leftists have managed to utterly delude themselves about reality.

The reason that leftists like the organizations that you mention is not because they are large or badly run, but because they are seen as increasing equality, i.e. removing more hierarchy then their existence generates.

There you go again listening to progressives and using their Orwellian language. Progressives (some significant number at least) think that their policies advance the cause of equality. In reality, most of their causes just create a new bureaucratic overlord class (often composed of the already rich and influential now made even more rich and influential). They have managed to change the meaning of "equality" from same rights to guaranteed same treatment to guaranteed preferential treatment all without batting an eyelash or even noticing their transition. If you continue to use their vocabulary (which of course is self-consistent, just not constant or consistent with traditional english), you will just end up confusing yourselves. Instead, it is much better to ask the question "What do progressive policies end up doing?" The answer is overwhelmingly: "get more progressives more influence." Statistically, that is then the best metric to use to try to model and predict progressives.

You’re looking at this ... “discover” and “explore.”

Same criticism. Don't try to analyze progressives by their own dictionaries. They have no problem with wielding power during diversity conferences and the like. Of course, thats not "teaching", that is carefully "guiding students down a path" or some such bullsh*t. Once again, if we use the fluid vocabulary of the progressives, we end up in a morass of contradictions.

This is obviously a sham, but that they believe it tells us something about them.

Absolutely. It tells us, among other things, that progressivism is an inherently religious movement. However, it also tells us that we should touch their language and words only when we are equipped with the literary equivalent of a Class A Hazmat suit. You just wade right in naked.

September 23, 2009 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

(contd...)

I agree completely ... it makes sense to know what motivates them.

We already know what motivates them: power in the form of influence.

Why do we know this? Because all the policies they advocate lead to progressives getting more power and influence while all the stated goals just fall by the wayside. Once again, why the progressives think they do this is completely irrelevant because this has no predictive power. Once again, if you want to fight an enemy, you need to know what he is going to do next, not why his drug-addled sorry excuse for a brain thinks he has done what he has done up till this point.

It has absolutely affected the institutional design. Countries are constantly scheming to stack the representational deck in their favor. Just look at how they keep changing QMV.

The QMV is at the atomic level. The fact is that there is a QMV. If the QMV were to be replaced by an auction, that would be news. QMV change is nothing. QMV changes are like the EC in the US. Lots of progressives froth at the mouth at it but ultimately, it is irrelevant and changes the final outcomes not one whit.

They wouldn’t want an EU dictator but they are definitely in favor of European Federalism, if only to increase the power of the EU over the member states.

Ah, but European Federalism would just increase the net total of bureaucracy in Europe. It would bring in even more influence mongers (all leftists of course). It would also tremendously complicate the governing structure of the European governments as a whole -- you can be almost certain that the original bureaucracies will stay in place for some rationale or another and a whole new layer (layers?) will be added on top. The result will be lots more jobs for even more progressives to occupy at cushy salaries.

To borrow a technique from MM, you are trying to analyze earth as an earthling. In doing so, you are inviting endless confusion. Try to analyze it, instead, as an alien. If you want to really have fun and really get an understanding of politics, make up your own language.

September 23, 2009 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

In the course of verifying my comments here, I ran across this;

MM:

"Lord CROMER:

First, I'd like to apologize for our young, excitable promoter, Mr. Moldbug. His heart may be in the right place, but his tongue could use some soap."


How anyone can read this and not think that MM's diction and its effect is entirely conscious and intentional, is a how clearly above my pay grade.


Dear anonymous-a-handle-would-be-nice,

"I must say that its one real drawback is that it allows dolts like Romer to pretend they're offended by your hurtful language in order to avoid debating you."

(First, remember people, it's tactics, not morality. Also continue to note I'm debating details; I neither endorse nor condemn any tactic in particular.)

This isn't a drawback; it's an advantage. First, Romer in all likelihood cannot debate anyway, so it short-circuits a corrupt interaction.* Don't pretend, skip to the point, and the point is no communication is actually possible. Second, you can then nail them for committing ad hominem in reverse - ignoring real arguments due to perceived insults.

*(This is great because if for some reason Romer were to take this comment as worthy of response, he could disprove it simply by honestly debating the point - showing up is winning. He, er, wouldn't do that.)

Here's the rationale: of all smart people who know things, some are going to be jerks. Are you going to deny yourself their useful insights just because they irritate you?

If you have a Ph.D, the answer is in all likelihood yes. Unfortunately this automatically means you're out of date - irrelevant.

Heisenburg, I recently discovered, became a total crackpot later in life. This does not cause us to give up the uncertainty principle. Edison is accounted as a total douche, yet we still use lightbulbs. MM may be rude, but Romer is still a crypto-colonialist.

Further - and I love this part - many leftists basically cannot help using ridicule on the owners of ideas they think are wrong, and so the logic goes:

(1) You (leftist) think that rudeness/ridicule invalidate a speaker's ideas, regardless of how true they are.

(2) You ridicule people.

(3) You therefore think your own ideas are valueless.

(4) I happily respect this conclusion.

Usually you don't have to look very far. Don't forget that you don't have to personally accept (1), the problem is their worldview, not yours.

Often, they'll insult you for insulting people...cracks me up every time.

So for our example,

"In the spirit of a constructive exchange of ideas,"

So, if one word out of a couple thousand happens to be 'faggot' then the work is not 'constructive.' TSI has set itself an incredibly stringent standard - to logically hold onto any credibility, they will have to be flawlessly polite henceforth. For example if Romer ridicules MM, at all, anywhere, and TSI doesn't (symbolically) uninvite him too...they're toast. (Logically, not politically.)

September 24, 2009 at 4:13 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Re-reading Patri's response to charter cities, it's clear he is aware of the dangers existing governments pose to the idea.

"Seasteads require relationships with governments as well, for a number of reasons." [...] "Autonomy requires that seasteads not offend the few major nations that can project power around the globe." [...] "a seastead at least has a chance of being regulated loosely or not at all."

MM thinks Patri seriously overestimates the chances of seasteads being loosely regulated. After all, Africa is, officially, entirely unregulated by USG laws, and yet...

Which is why understanding MM's perspective is important - if true, there are wide ranging impacts.

September 24, 2009 at 4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Angleterre

I had not heard that. re: Thiel and Rabois. Source?

September 24, 2009 at 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the decay of the comment's section is from the moronic roissy commentator crowd spreading out and the influence of the 4chan memeplex on the entire internet.

give it five years and the sailer-sphere's primary communication among commentators will be interspersed by calling each other 'betas' and the use of 'FAIL' to describe something they don't like.

September 24, 2009 at 3:16 PM  

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