Sunday, October 11, 2009 86 Comments

A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 9b)

Okay. So where were we? Oh, right, trying to take over the world.

At last count: we have started by cleansing our heads of trying to take over anything. We have adopted the ideology of passivism - the antithesis of progressive "activism."

Passivism follows directly from the reactionary revocation of the Lockean right of rebellion. The passivist replaces Locke's chestnut with an older, true formula: might makes right. USG has the might, so it has the right. The passivist does not rebel against USG, because he has not the right to do so; he has not the right to do so, because he has not the power to do so.

(Can a person believe that might makes right, and still call himself a libertarian? Easily. The converse of the principle is that where USG has not the might to act, it has not the right. Thus the reactionary libertarian, believing that might makes right, believes it is wrong of USG to ineffectively outlaw a little plant that anyone can grow in his closet. Sovereignty, being absolute, must therefore be boolean.)

Notice how backward and reactionary passivism is. We have popped ourselves right out of the 20th-century Anglophone tradition, and turned the clock back to the 17th - on the royalist side. The conventional intellectual history of the 17th century in England has Locke on the left and Hobbes on the right. Here at UR, we have Filmer on the right and Hobbes on the left. Locke? Dig him up and hang him, like Cromwell.

Royalists must acknowledge the need for an occasional change of dynasty. But they see nothing romantic in the matter. Regime change can only be a question of necessity, never one of "right." Might makes right. No one has the right to rebel, unless of course he also has the might.

Observe the self-stabilizing effect of this political design. When might and right become misaligned, they quickly realign themselves. Contrary to your good socialist education, stability is generally a desirable feature in a political system.

So we are not really trying to take over the world. All we are doing here is studying the lifecycle of the present owner. Said owner believes itself immortal. Some of us disagree. In that case, it seems prudent to have a plan. All we are doing here is writing one.

The Modern Structure - democracy on the American design - is quite stable in one sense of the word. To date, its effective performance in commanding the political loyalty of most of its subjects, and the acquiescence of all, is unmarred. It is very unlikely to suddenly collapse. However, the Structure is unstable in the sense that its quality of government deteriorates progressively over time. No pun intended. Many people realize this; not all have worked through the implications.

(Apparent increases in quality of government across American history tend to follow informal regime changes, as in 1861 and 1933. It is not that the class of people in government improves, but that a new class of people comes into government, where power at once begins to corrupt them. The simple monotonic pattern, as described above, is seen more often in democracy's foreign colonies. In any case, with government in the hands of a clerical elite, there is no prospect of any further nondestructive update. Even if Pat Buchanan's peasants do drop by with their pitchforks, which they won't, they will not leave without setting some papers on fire.)

Therefore, "sclerotic" is probably a better word for the "stability" of the Structure. Sclerotic systems follow the pattern of life: they work until they fail completely, constantly experiencing unidirectional changes. Such is the lifecycle of cars, cats, stars, and Soviet Socialist Republics. There appears to be some principle of institutional entropy at work, common to large, complex, long-lived systems.

If you try to infer the future of any such system - a cat, a star, etc - by looking at the history of that one system alone - you will immediately assume that since this system has never died, it will live forever. Of course this is a completely unwarranted assumption. But it follows logically from the procedures by which even most educated people intuitively predict future from past.

As it ages, the Modern Structure has accumulated stable disequilibria: things that make no sense, but that nonetheless are not about to go away. (Like Obama's Stalin Prize.) When it collapses, these regions of local insanity merge in the mind of all into one general pattern of insanity. It is generally seen that the Structure itself makes no sense. Rather, it is generally realized that the entire American system of government is best understood as an enormous practical joke, which is not at all funny.

This perception is permanent and fatal. And just like that, the entire edifice recomposes itself as a heap of masonry. M. Valdemar recapitulates his deliquescence. Within months the fact that this rubble was once a great building, with spires on top, seems no less dreamlike and fantastic than any other part of the story. All this was seen in the East. Either it will be seen in the West, or the Structure will stand forever. Your choice, glasshoppa!

The first big secret of the Procedure: it is not a way to destroy the Modern Structure. Oh, no! It is quite the opposite. It is a way to recover from the spontaneous failure of the Modern Structure. Airbags do not cause car crashes. The Reaction can simply be considered as a safety measure for a potentially spurious failure mode that will probably never happen.

Should the Americans remain forever content under their good and ancient Constitution, including of course the innovations and institutions now conventionally ascribed to it, they will remain forever in the grips of the Structure. For better or for worse. The Structure is not some nefarious organ within Washington. It is Washington itself. It must be taken or left.

This choice, though few realize it, is boolean. When the Americans repudiate Washington, they are just taking the piss and playing games until they repudiate Washington as a whole. It makes no sense to keep the Constitution but move the capital to Kansas City, ditch the Constitution but keep the Supreme Court, liquidate the Department of Education but not the Department of Energy, etc, etc, etc.

(Generally, it is a mistake to keep operating with any of the same staff in any of the same agencies in any of the same buildings. If any box on the org chart survives, it should be only as some ironic bureaucratic exception - which demonstrates, by sheer pathetic scale, the weight of the wave that has scraped and filled the lower Potomac back to good Chesapeake clay. Imagine if some obscure Unterunteramt of the SS had survived, intact, into the European Union. Would this surprise me? Yes. Would it cause me to totally reevaluate my perception of reality? No. If the Procedure is properly executed, surviving bureaucratic tissues of USG (security forces excluded) should be in the same probability ballpark. USG is not by any means the SS, but sterile is sterile - regardless of bacterium.)

Until you recognize that the whole system has to go, you are a supporter of that system. Period. The choice being so drastic, so outside every man's ken, it is possible that the Americans will remain forever content. In which case: the Procedure is a fun hobby and absolutely harmless. It is also possible that they will not remain so content, and Washington will so abuse them that they declare a case of government failure.

Clearly, there exists some withdrawal of consent after which Washington can no longer continue to govern. No government, as a whole, is incapable of losing the consent of its subjects as a whole. If this is the fate of a democratic government, that government will cease to exist. Indeed, it will cease to exist more certainly than its autocratic competitors, because they are to some extent designed to resist this attack. A democracy is quite intentionally not so designed.

In which case: what comes next? The purpose of the Procedure is to answer this question. If keeping Washington is Plan A, what is Plan B? Obviously, in the case that the Americans do not remain forever content with their noble overlords, something must be done. Clearly, this plan has been entirely neglected and is of considerable importance. Devising it can only be construed as a public service.

If this Plan B is never used, it should at least be entertaining to construct, and at best have some other social utility in the world of Plan A. If it is used, on the other hand, it should work as well as is possibly foreseeable.

The second big secret of the Procedure is that airbags, um, do cause car crashes. (Or, at least, anti-lock brakes cause car crashes.)

How? Because drivers modify their behavior when in a vehicle without these safety features. Although any Plan B is no more than a safety feature, its may also have some indirect effect on political behavior.

Basically, a viable Plan B is like a red "Eject" button in a plane which is appears to be going down. The game-theoretic situation of democratic voters becomes very different if this button exists. Persuading a pilot to push the button, and eject from his plane, is normally quite difficult. It obviously involves pointing out a serious and irreparable mechanical emergency. If there is no eject button, however, it is even more difficult to persuade your pilot to open the window, crawl out on the wing, and try to use his pants as a parachute. He would almost always rather stick with the plane - which generally has some chance of landing in one piece.

The task of the First Step is to build this red button. Which is not, of course, a political weapon. Especially since it must be constructed without any advantage of sovereignty whatsoever, and indeed every disadvantage of it. When the question is evaluated rationally, however, we guess that if the button existed, some force with the power to do so might appear and push it. The exact nature of that force is of an entirely speculative nature, and there is now no reason to speculate on it.

In the '70s, the notorious Edward Luttwak wrote a very entertaining book, Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook. Since the task of the First Step is to figure out what happens after the coup, the product of this work exercise could be called Coup d'Etat: The Sequel. Actual coup planners are notoriously negligent in neglecting this crucial phase.

Let us explore this duality between airbag and coup d'etat a little more closely. Is it quantum? It is definitely quantum. The First Step has this total wave-particle Tao nature:

Since it is only the First Step of a complete Procedure, its ultimate goal is presumably some sort of actual action.

Yet, since the ideology of the Procedure is fundamentally and unchangeably passivist, this Step must also be complete in itself. The State is no green apple to yank from the branch. No! It can only melt into the hand, like a ripe peach.

In case anyone, perhaps not having watched enough Kung Fu episodes, remains morally confused about how sincere passivists can assemble a political weapon, passivism turns out to be just one special case of a more general principle: do not act until it is proper to act. Since it is nowhere near proper to act, the difference is irrelevant - now, and for the foreseeable future.

So the First Step is (a) a fun hobby which enhances, invigorates, relaxes and entertains the soul of man under socialism (*); and (b) an information weapon to be used offensively in the Second Step, and defensively in the Third. It is not a compromise between these two objectives. It is both, at once, completely. But how can anyone succeed in such a daring enterprise?

Glasshoppa! Step outside your linear, Western way of thinking. If we raise a spirit to contend against democracy, it cannot be some half-assed imp cooked up in a bathtub from a dead rabbit, a quart of bleach and 27 boxes of Sudafed. It must be some great ghost from the glorious past - older by millennia than the fad it returns to dispel. One country holds such ghosts: China.

The spiritual core of the First Step is the famous and ancient Chinese principle of the Mandate of Heaven, or Tianming. This can be condensed as the principle that power flows toward the worthy. To attain power: become worthy to rule. Since becoming worthy is a worthy exercise by definition, it satisfies our need for quantum Buddha duality. It is simultaneously harmless and deadly - both, at once, completely. Moreover, no one can laugh at it, because I did not make it up myself. Tianming is quite literally ten times as old as American democracy, and far better proven by experience.

To defeat the Modern Structure, create a New Structure which is more worthy to rule. Much more worthy to rule. Once this (perfectly passive) task is complete, the New Structure has only to wait. The law of Tianming tells us that power will flow to it - as the rains return to the ocean.

Now, if you are still stuck in your linear, Western way of thinking, you might ask: how exactly does this law of Tianming operate? Is it anything like global warming? Is it based on the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, or the black Tibetan opium? When USG's time is up, will there be a comet in Sagittarius, an earthquake in Rosslyn, and a great flood in Rock Creek Park? Your question, glasshoppa - my answer.

Remember the analogy of the eject button. The reason USG is so stable is not that it is (a) is structured militarily to retain power without the broad consent of its subjects. Nor is the regime (b) especially loved by said subjects. Rather, USG is permanent because there (c) exists no credible alternative to its services.

No one can press the red button, because there is no red button. This precludes all forms of effective collective resistance - political or military - to the continued rule of USG. If your goal is to abolish USG and then figure out what to do next, you are crazy and no one will support you. If your goal is to reform USG, you are ignorant, dense or deluded, and you will fail - not personally, of course, but just in achieving your goal.

Whereas for a story with the right ending, consider the fate of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, whose fate some of us would like to see USG share, collapsed because it was a structural disaster. (USG, for its threat to call war loans to the British and French if they continued assisting in the attempted restoration of Russia, and for its general permanent affection for Robespierres, Lenins, Castros and Mugabes around the globe and across the centuries, bears significant institutional responsibility for this disaster.) Bolshevism provided government of a truly spectacular awfulness.

Nonetheless, it is not (as most conservatives believe) true that the Soviet Union collapsed solely because it provided such awful government to its subjects. No. It wasn't just that the Russians were governed incompetently and reprehensibly. It was also that they had a clear alternative which was readily available and apparently superior. Ie: American democracy.

The movement that ended the Soviet Union was not, as it still superficially appears, one of pure rejection and nihilism. It had a positive and constructive plan around which everyone who cared to be a dissident could agree. It had a red button, and under that red button was a little heat-printed plastic strip that said, in Cyrillic: SURRENDER TO AMERICA. Or more precisely, as it turned out, to George Soros.

Which turned out to have its disadvantages. (Frankly, I think the jury is still out on the transition from Brezhnev to Putin; a case can be made for either, but the nadir surely lies between.) But the Soviet Union could fall because this single clear option, quite unsusceptible to any decoration or amendment - surrender to the West - formed a Schelling point around which large numbers of its subjects could trivially coordinate. (Note also the original Bolshevik slogan.)

Since there is no credible alternative to USG, its opponents have no Schelling point. Moscow could surrender to Washington. Washington has no one to surrender to. The East had a West; the West has no West. Thus, its only option is to live forever. And thus, the Tianming strategy for bringing it down: create a credible alternative. Ergo: become worthy, glasshoppa.

The USSR, for pretty much its entire lifetime, had also been indoctrinating its subjects to hate the West like the devil hates garlic. The Schelling point was extant; the target was well-adapted and resistant. Nonetheless, the Soviet youth, educated for three generations to resist Western bourgeois decadence, succumbed instantly and with hardly a whimper.

USG has no possible resistance to a new Schelling point. Therefore, according to some optimists, constructing one should make it at once turn black and drip into the bedsprings, like the corpse of M. Valdemar. Everyone will be amazed in retrospect that this 18th-century relic survived into the early 21st. Even if this rosy scenario does not occur, the device once assembled creates many practical options.

Consider the difference between the Procedure and the democratic strategy of conservatism. Conservatism seeks to either halt the decay of USG where it is, or return USG to some ideal state of the past - restoring, for instance, the Constitution of 1789. Or at least the Constitution of 1932. Or maybe just the Reagan Administration.

But these misty ideals are mummies that disintegrate on contact. They are not true things, but false things - not alive, but dead. You cannot wake them up with a sip of Red Bull. What, exactly, would it even mean to roll back the New Deal in 2009? Answer: no one has any frickin' idea. Not a single flack at a single right-wing think-tank has any real plan for any such thing. Conservatism can never be a coherent alliance, because it is not a single strategy but a blur of good feelings. Thus, irrespective of its many other faults, it cannot form a Schelling point and cannot win.

Ie: it may be obvious to anyone who takes a clear look at the matter that America was better governed in 1909 than 2009. But this study produces neither any consensus on what year is preferred, for what issue, or how to translate that year's form of government into 2009. There is no little blue manual for going back to governing America like it was really America. This would be your conservative Schelling point, if it existed, which it does not and never will.

Again, this is only one of the reasons that the apparent, but false, alternative of conservatism is not a Schelling point. But since it is not, it functions on behalf of the Structure itself, acting as a sort of democratic speed-limiter and political crab-trap. Any opposition that can be redirected into conservatism is not only harmless to the system, but often indeed salubrious. Without conservatives, for instance, Washington could fly much farther into the domain of the preposterous - thus further attenuating the loyalty of its already bored and weary audience.

Conservatives, whose political motive is generally mere human altruism, and whose tightest point of natural agreement is an abstract, ill-defined ideal which has no clear recipe for implementation, is generally stated as vaguely as possible so as to attract the largest possible headcount, and exhibits patterns of error perfectly adapted to deflect the respect of the intelligent, cannot conceivably compete on any level playing field with the self-coordinating progressive movement, which has no ideals at all - being defined only by the willingness to swallow some drop, teaspoon, quart or vat of epistemic ordure, as a ticket to hop on the big bandwagon, inhale the party line and join the winning team. Conservatism cannot focus; progressivism is focus alone. Whatever the party line is today, your progressive will always support it. And thus in the longue duree conservatism loses and progressivism wins, and thus the former is best seen as a sort of decoy, lure, bait or shill for the latter - not a true competitor. The entire democratic complex is defined by its secular drift to the left; those who ask its future must look in that direction; those who could reform it, could educate a snake; those who would beat it must beat it as a whole.

Since anyone with a good intuitive sense of history, which lots of people have, can sense the irresistible nature of the giant, grinding bulldozer that is the democratic movement, they respond intuitively with the natural human response corresponding to passivism: apathy. This behavior is also known as learned helplessness. Contrary to democratic dogma, LH is the normal human response to tyranny. It is almost always far more rational than resistance.

Any of the democratic political theorists of the 18th century, or any practitioner of the 19th or early 20th, would be simply stunned at the official abuses which the Americans (especially, but by no means entirely, the suburban white Americans), not only accept but certify with their votes. The Founders in particular would be amazed at such learned helplessness, which they would find much more reminiscent of the subjects of the Hapsburg or Bourbon monarchies.

Yet this response is perfectly rational. We learn to feel ourselves helpless, because we are helpless. No rational person can avoid perceiving this fact. Therefore, the inference is correct and your mental organs are functioning correctly, at least in a Darwinian sense.

Conservative parties perform a valuable service in slowing the decay of the Structure, moderating the acute, fulminating sepsis of revolutionary democracy, a real danger for any state at any time, into a mere chronic degenerative disease. They can resist, they do resist, and they should resist. No one living today can even imagine the horrors that would have seen America and the world had the US been captured by revolutionary Bolshevism in the 1920s, an event not at all outside the realm of counterfactual possibility. Question: why did this not happen? Answer: conservatives. However, once the ultimate futility of the movement is understood, its attraction becomes quite limited. At the very least, it needs an offense to go with its defense.

The fact that it has no real chance of success, and thus stimulates the innate tribal response of learned helplessness, causes an observer to greatly understate the political force that is latent in the conservative movement. If conservatism - or any other movement designed to defeat the Modern Structure - stood any real chance of success, it would become far more powerful than you can possibly imagine. It could seize the state with ease. It would.

If you identify this as a case of circular reasoning, you are right. More precisely, it is a case of game theory - even more precisely, a coordination problem. The only way to break this cycle is to create a Schelling point: a credible and precise alternative. A red button.

So this is the strategy. What, exactly, is this mysterious device?

In the First Step, we do not replace all of USG. We just replace its brain - the University. With a new device we call the Antiversity, which is pretty much what it sounds like it is. The Antiversity is described more fully in the next post, but here is a summary:

The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity - a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and never be wrong. Where multiple coherent perspectives of an issue exist, the Antiversity must provide all - each composed with the highest quality available.

(If the point must be belabored, compare this to Wikipedia's policy on sourcing, forking, etc. With the exception of the remote loading prohibition, a blatant anticompetitive measure which reflects poorly on the project, Wikipedia's policies are perfectly appropriate for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not designed to be an independent provider of veracity. It is not producing truth at all - just repackaging it.)

The power of a truth service is its reliability. It may remain prudently silent on any point; it must err on none. The thesis of the Procedure is that if we can construct a truth service much more powerful than USG's noble and revered ministry of information, we will be able to use it to safely and effectively defeat USG. Indeed, I can imagine no other way to solve the problem.

Once this device of great veracity, the Antiversity - expressing not only razor-sharp analytical intelligence, not just exhaustive learning, but also great prudence and judgment - is fully armed and operational, it is straightforward to ask it the question: chto dyelat? What is to be done? What is the sequel to the coup d'etat? What is Plan B?

The Antiversity will promptly deliberate, in its accustomed fashion, and churn out a hundred-page report. Probably with a DVD-sized appendix. And this will be Plan B, which describes how the institutions of NUSG are created outside power and installed in it. Plan B, in short, is the constitution of the Second Step.

Once this Plan B is complete, the Americans are finally ready to face the question. Are they happy with their present government? Or would they rather replace it? Once they decide that the answer is the latter and act collectively to make their will known, actual work can begin.

In the Third Step, the Antiversity continues to guide the New Structure toward stability - acting as the brain of NUSG, just as the University acted as the brain of OUSG. However, where the University pretends to advise the Modern Structure but in reality directs it, the Antiversity pretends to advise the New Structure and in reality advises it.

Sovereignty is irrevocable. Power is not being transferred to the Antiversity, but through the Antiversity. However, it must bear the Ring for a time, and even use it. Its hive mind must be built like a fortress; that fortress had better be fully armed and operational. Few institutions indeed are fit for the task of holding power permanently. The Antiversity must design and install an institution which meets this specification - a tremendous task. It itself need not meet it; but even for temporary sovereignty, brick-shithouse engineering is essential.

The problem thus narrows to the essentials of the coup. The coup is a boolean choice: do you support NUSG, or OUSG? Which of these organizations should the police and the military follow orders from? A wide variety of individuals can influence this choice, in a variety of ways. Numbers, of course, are always helpful.

But since those orders filter down from the collective minds of the University or the Antiversity respectively, any reasonable, well-meaning person's answer to this question will depend on the relative credibilities of University and Antiversity. If you find the Antiversity more credible - much more credible - than the University, you are probably ready to at least contemplate a surgical transition of sovereignty. You believe that the police and the military should follow orders that are more sane, rather than orders that are less sane. Otherwise, you can hardly describe yourself as a reasonable and well-meaning person!

Becoming more credible - much more credible - than the University is a difficult task. But it is a task at which the Antiversity starts with considerable advantages, because the University has sacrificed its own credibility in so many ways, which it has absolutely no mechanisms to repair. (For instance, the statistical engineers who derived a global apocalypse from a single tree remain and will remain honored scholars. "Stay thirsty, my friends." McIntyre, like Clapton, is God.)

Nonetheless, it is an eminently solvable problem. At least, it would occur to no one to describe it as an inherently unsolvable problem. Would it? Why should it be?

(We have to start by asking the obvious skeptical question about any strategy for taking over the world: why has it not been used in the past? Quite simply, the past did not have an Internet. Since it's almost impossible to build the Antiversity even with an Internet, we can see how impossible it used to be.)

The Antiversity's task of becoming worthy can be divided into two parts: becoming more right (much more right), and becoming more popular (slightly more popular), than the University. To be credible, one must be (a) right and (b) believed. Esse et videri - though if you have to ditch one, definitely ditch the videri.

Both of these, of course, are extraordinarily difficult problems. I will save the former for another week, and devote the rest of this interminable torrent of drivel to the latter.

So let us assume we have built this Antiversity, and it is much more right. How do we make it slightly more popular? Or at least, popular with whatever set of people is needed to collectively decommission the Structure and initiate Plan B? This, of course, is a large set. But there is certainly no law of politics that tells us who it must contain, or even that it must constitute a majority.

To win, all the Antiversity must do is obtain the personal conversion of this set. It must wrest their souls from the University, and claim them for its own. There is no secret here. There is nothing subtle about the scale or the methods of this operation. It is politics, which is far older than democracy. The Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Inca would understand it perfectly.

Let us begin with the enemy - the Goliath in the sights of this odd little sling. The University.

The basic problem with the University is that it has become part of USG, and has been corrupted by power - thus impairing the high level of veracity it purports to provide. Since any scheme for either reversing this corruption in situ, or excising the University from the Structure, is prima facie impractical, the University is 'totaled' and must be replaced.

Another way to say this is to say that if you want to build a reliable truth service, it is much cheaper and easier to not start with Harvard. If you have Harvard, your best first step is to discard it. Harvard is valuable and wonderful in a thousand different ways, perhaps. It is just not valuable as an initial ingredient in a reliable truth service. You cannot purge it, nor can you assimilate it intact.

That said, it's important to remember that the University remains quite alive and has many points of genuine vitality. It is very difficult to corrupt, say, chemistry. The University survives and rules because it is by far the most reliable, responsible and veracious institution in the modern world. As so often in European history, its clerics are the most intelligent and knowledgeable people of their era. Just guillotining them would be a terrible mistake.

(Potentially, the institutions themselves could be salvaged by rebuilding from the true science and engineering departments. But even the substantive disciplines can only benefit from a savage, existential reorganization. Chemistry is real, biology is real, etc, etc. But the institutional woodwork of the whole edifice is all dry rot and white ants. Burn it! Burn it all! Let it burn! Science, like God before Béziers, will know its own.)

There is no alternative to the fire. Defeating the University means ending its political dominance, which cannot be accomplished without ending its political role, which cannot be done without demolishing the institution in its present form, which cannot be done without either liquidating it or subjecting it to political domination - the former being highly preferable. Someone must rule; no empire is forever. Thus, the cause of the Antiversity is in a sense capital. To conceal this would be to err from day one; and yet, the matter may and must be disregarded on a day-to-day basis.

As is fit, the crime of the University is also capital. Assuming the robe of Pio Nono, it asserted its own infallibility. Unlike Pio Nono, it joined that infallibility to the sovereign power. It held the powers of the Grail. It misused them, and served the Serpent of Lies.

Those who lied, served the Dark One directly. Those who did not lie misled by omission, for they did not refuse to associate with the others. Those who honestly believed were negligent, for they chose not to inquire more deeply into the matter. One fate is meet to all.

If you taught chemistry at a university, you taught chemistry at a university which had a chief diversity officer, a department of African-American Studies, etc, etc. You knew what these people were. You knew what these people did. At least, you knew that whatever it was, it was not scholarship. You said nothing. What kind of servant of truth are you, sir? You served not truth, but the Party. Sign the form, sir.

So the Antiversity is not without some initial advantages. It could not possibly prevail, were it not competing against a deeply power-corrupted and morally compromised institution. Obviously, the University through its great temporal inertia is quite capable of carrying these liabilities, but they are liabilities, which are vulnerabilities, and not about to go away.

We then turn to the playing field: the minds which the Antiversity must infect with its benign countervirus. This need not be everyone. It need only be enough of everyone to initiate the unconditional transfer of sovereignty. Again, this is obviously quite a difficult task, but again when we look at it we find it in the solvable category.

First, consider the existing state of these minds. They believe that when they engage in democratic discussion about what programs and policies the Structure should pursue, they are engaging in meaningful political activity. Therefore, any attempt to engage an unsurprising supporter of the University will make first contact with this module. If the conversion is to continue and succeed, the democratic module must be decommissioned, so that the mind can think about who is sovereign, rather than what they should or should not do. However, it cannot be decommissioned until it is engaged and defeated.

Therefore, the first question our Johnny Appleseed of the good news, our carrier of the countervirus, our Typhoid Mary of truth, will face: okay, so if we have a regime change and replace our old government with your new government, what will your new government do?

The answer, which must of course be given honestly, will include steps like cancelling the Constitution, withdrawing from the United Nations, and imposing martial law. Or other stuff like that. It will not be difficult to portray any such step as taking up where Hitler left off, and we all know how hard it is to go around the office taking contributions for Hitler.

I mention these difficulties because the easiest and most obvious sales strategy for any ordinary right-wing activist is to get as far away from Hitler as possible. In general, on the right it pays to approach the center and maximize the accessibility of the message. Ie, to play the Hotelling-Downs game. This again results in standard conservatism, which may put a flack or two in a nice corner office, but can never actually succeed in its mission.

The Antiversity is especially precluded from winning power through a Hotelling-Downs strategy of gradual moderation. If it starts mincing, sidestepping and kissing up to the left, in the usual fashion, something has gone really terribly wrong and the experiment needs to be terminated.

First, the program of the Antiversity will (unless I am completely out to lunch) be simply too far to the right to derive any benefit from any incremental shift to the left. It cannot sell in the same market as conservatism; it must create its own market. And there will always be a categorical barrier between the two.

Second, moderating its program means diluting its truth service with tactical fiction, a compromise of which it is constitutionally incapable. Unless, of course, it has been corrupted.

Third, and perhaps most important, choosing the Antiversity over the University is a boolean choice - there is no way to split the difference. For this choice to remain clear, of course, the Antiversity has to be right every time it disagrees with the University.

On all three counts, we see a clear separation. Basically, I believe that the Procedure can succeed because I believe there is an isolated political maximum, or island of stability, several orders of magnitude to the right of the present-day political spectrum. If you stay on the island - the Right Pole, as it were - you have a chance of actual victory. If not, you might as well go work for David Frum.

This might be called a Martin Luther strategy. Luther had many predecessors, often quite talented and vigorous, who worked to reform the Church. The result: barbecue. But Luther, who worked to abolish the Church, died in his bed. Not that he abolished the Church, but not that it abolished him either. Why? Because the island of stability is a perfect Schelling point.

The set of all people who want to reform the Church is not a trivial coalition. How do they want to reform the Church? What, precisely, is their agenda? Anyone can say he wants to reform the Church, and mean anything by it. The bishops can be for it. The cardinals can be for it. The Pope can be for it. Reform! Yes, by all means, we shall have reform.

The set of all people who want to abolish the Church is a trivial coalition. Either you are a Protestant or a Catholic. It is not possible to be a Protestant on some issues and a Catholic on others. Neither side will accept those who are lukewarm. The result: cohesion and commitment.

The set of all Catholic reformers is a natural mob. It is fuzzy around the edges. It has all sorts of aims. It can never be defined or precisely constrained. It may be organizable, but it certainly does not lend itself to organization. The set of all Catholic apostates, on the other hand, has exactly the opposite quality. It is a natural army. It wants to organize itself. It contains no inherent internal conflicts, besides the inevitable personal frictions of any organization.

Let's look at this Right Pole, this island of stability, a little more closely. What are its attractions? The island cannot be a Schelling point unless people actually want to move there. Besides the innate excitement of extremism - which you can get any day at Kos or Stormfront (have Kos and Stormfront ever thought of cooperating on some kind of anti-Jew initiative?) - what are the mental attractions of the Reaction?

I see two: one obvious and one not. The obvious one is that, since the Reaction is the Antiversity and the Antiversity is always right, the attraction of truth is always present, and never dispelled by even the smallest injection of fiction. Not everyone has a nose for pure truth, but many do. Moreover, the pattern in which those who have a nose for pure truth come to it and feast en masse, like tadpoles on a dead fox, is recognizable to many of the rest.

The less obvious attraction - though perhaps even more important - is that, unlike conservatism, the Reaction actually has a credible strategy for achieving power. If sufficiently large numbers of people abandon the University and shift their trust to the Antiversity, the Modern Structure will fall, the New Structure will be born, and those who overthrow it will receive power. The details of this transition are completely unimportant, at least for this discussion.

In other words, it is quite straightforward to picture a future in which reactionaries recapture USG. It may not be likely, and in fact it is not; but the picture can be constructed. It is not straightforward to picture a future in which conservatives recapture USG, because conservatives are nowhere near having a plan to attack the University, the Civil Service, the Press, or the structure surrounding them. (What conservatives mean by victory: more jobs for conservatives.) Since no actual attack is contemplated, no victory can be imagined. And since the Structure is not about to go away on its own, no realistic world without it can be portrayed.

Whereas the reactionary narrative is easy: everyone becomes a reactionary. More or less. When there are enough of us, we seize the State - "by any means necessary," as Malcolm put it, although as reactionaries we must at once add and proper - and complete the Procedure.

You start to see why building the Antiversity is such a tremendous task. The Antiversity has to become so credible that it can serve as the definitional backbone of a political movement which could not otherwise exist: the movement to replace the Constitution with the Antiversity. (More precisely, with a transition plan of the Antiversity's design.)

Even once the First Step, which is a tremendous and impossible task, is done, the Second Step, which is a tremendous and impossible task, remains. You cannot change this! Glasshoppa, you cannot change this. Nor can you change the order of the two, nor run them in parallel. The sentences run consecutively - and the Third, too, is tremendous and impossible. Only now see you the true height of these fierce and snowy mountains. Tremble, glasshoppa.

The mountains exist. But there is a path - I believe. And if I am right, if there is a path, this path is the basis for exactly the same type of feedback power generator that was born as the Progressive movement, and grew up to be the Modern Structure. I note, however, that the National Socialist German Workers' Party was plugged into just the same feedback reaction. So the effect is both powerful and dangerous - as we should expect, in any recipe for sovereignty.

Basically, if you see a plausible strategy for domination whose only missing ingredient is the number of supporters, it is rational to join this strategy, especially if it costs you nothing to join. Thus progressives crowd around the supple progressive line, constantly twisting to support whatever policy gives progressives the most victory and power. Watch them twist now, on Afghanistan! It is always sad to see others in mental pain. But they adjust.

Most progressives are socially normal human beings, who in any political environment, would just be choosing the largest, best-appointed bandwagon for their personal conveyance. In Nazi Germany they would be Nazis, in Russia they would be Bolsheviks, in the kingdom of Louis XIV they would be all for Louis XIV. This is one of the many reasons there is no need to guillotine them. Au contraire: one way to know you've actually seized actual power is that these remoras latch on to you. The effect is unmistakable and quite pleasant. It is also useful.

At the beginning of the Second Step, the Antiversity is already a well-established institution which has consumed hundreds of man-years of individual effort. It is, in a word, a success. It cannot be laughed at or ignored. It may still appear improbable that it will defeat the University in the struggle for control over USG, but it can no longer appear impossible. Therefore, some probability factor can be applied to its success.

It is the product of this probability with the magnitude of the success - the expected value - that matters. The feedback takeoff effect should occur when this product, which should be nonzero, exceeds the equivalent product for progressivism, the University and the Modern Structure.

Young supporters continue to be attracted to progressivism, because progressivism offers them impact, ie, power. Very small slices of impact. Very, very small. Ie: bogus internships at second-tier polar-bear foundations. But - still. The magnitude is very small, but the probability is 1 by definition. The Structure rules, and apparently will always continue to rule.

Obviously, after becoming the Establishment itself, our old revolutionaries have very little free power to offer. Everything they could get their fangs on, they have sucked and discarded. The remaining prey is very small, very elusive, and very indigestible. The progressive movement is rapidly experiencing a crisis of power starvation - its supporters, who feed on victory, demand action. But there are precious few victories left to win.

A reboot strategy, such as the Reaction, offers a slice of impact in a more probabilistic way. Although it has a low probability of victory, the magnitude of victory - a whole new regime to construct - is so large that their perceived product is not insignificant. At least, it should be comparable to the starvation rations of the progressive. Let alone to those of conservatism, in which the probability of victory is significant but the magnitude of the victory is negligible.

Thus the Reaction has the ability to become fashionable with amoral elites, which was clearly a prerequisite for any kind of political success in the 19th and 20th centuries. Instead of a tiny slice of power in the existing regime, which is real, it offers supporters a large slice of power in the new regime, which is hypothetical - but which will become real, as soon as enough people support it. This is sufficient to stimulate the chimpanzee power instinct, which is if anything more developed in the most cultured and educated of minds.

If we consider the set of Reaction supporters as a social network, we will see that the core of this social network is the set of extremely intelligent, learned and prudent scholars who have created the Antiversity. Since its strategy for success involves expanding that social network, it must do what all successful social networks do: start with the elites, and work downward.

So, again, the Reaction has two engines: truth and victory. By producing truth and only truth, it attracts those strange geeks who are attracted to pure truth. Because it has a strategy for actual, complete victory, it attracts those normal remoras who are attracted by victory. With the combination, it is built to win - like Kimbo Slice.

In the American context, victory can only be produced by a coalition of civilized unity, ie, a party containing both Vaisyas and dissident Brahmins. Once a sufficient quantity of the latter can be recruited, the former will recognize their natural leaders and fall into line. However, organizing any number of Vaisyas by any method which precludes the recruitment of Brahmins is a waste of time. Even in a democracy, the great contest is for minds, not heads. Once the minds are won, the heads will follow.

Tactically, conservatism concentrates on exactly the wrong side of this problem. It concentrates on recruiting the largest number of Vaisyas, by any means necessary. It goes straight for the democratic bait. The bait is indeed tasty and can generate a very realistic impression of power, but it is a mob rather than an army and cannot organize itself for any real political capture. I would trade the entire red-state population for a quarter of the Burning Man attendees - because, if I had the latter, I could easily get the former back. Again, political actors naturally recognize their natural leaders. Forge the spearhead, and the spear will show up on its own.

If this coalition of the middle and upper classes - the civilized classes - can be formed, victory is certain regardless of the numbers of the underclass. When the civilized classes are united, an underclass population of any size is not a political problem, but a security problem. And not a difficult one in this day and age. If the civilized coalition is outvoted, it can simply bid directly for the loyalty of the security forces, a contest it will always win.

The civilized coalition is politically conceivable. Hints of it, for instance, were seen in the Giuliani era in New York. Of course "Giuliani time" in New York developed orders of magnitude less power than would be required for actual regime change. Nonetheless, it was found possible to appeal politically to the upper crust to perform the normal or healthy role of aristocrats, ie, cooperating to preserve civilized society. Which was admittedly in a somewhat dire condition.

One of the chief features that makes the Modern Structure pathological, in the present era, is the inescapable alliance of the upper class and the underclass against the middle. Rather than a Brahmin-Vaisya alliance, we have a Brahmin-Dalit alliance. As political structures go, this one is quite sordid and inefficient, but also quite stable.

However, observed in retrospect from a future in which the civilized coalition has reasserted itself, the Brahmin-Dalit alliance makes a distinctly negative impression on the student of history. This impression is easily conveyed to impressionable high-school students - sealing, in a generation or two, the historical fate of democracy. NUSG will certainly have no difficulty in making its predecessor look bad.

In short: all the Reaction must do is convince reasonable, educated men and women of good will to support stable, effective and reliable government. If this cannot be done, we are most certainly all doomed.

So there are no real Jedi mind tricks in the Procedure. There is no magic jujitsu that will make Washington go away instantly. There is just a very large amount of extremely hard work. Given the number of people currently devoting their efforts to strategies of resistance that have no change of success under any circumstances, however, this one strikes me as relatively promising. I hope you agree.

(* - the name of this pamphlet (1891) is so catchy that most everyone has heard of it. But few have read it - until now, including me. Who would have thought the author of:
Slavery was put down in America, not in consequence of any action on the part of the slaves, or even any express desire on their part that they should be free. It was put down entirely through the grossly illegal conduct of certain agitators in Boston and elsewhere, who were not slaves themselves, nor owners of slaves, nor had anything to do with the question really. It was, undoubtedly, the Abolitionists who set the torch alight, who began the whole thing. And it is curious to note that from the slaves themselves they received, not merely very little assistance, but hardly any sympathy even; and when at the close of the war the slaves found themselves free, found themselves indeed so absolutely free that they were free to starve, many of them bitterly regretted the new state of things.
would be... Oscar Wilde? I mean, what a crisp reduction of Mr. Aubrey Herbert's book, The Abolition Crusade and Its Consequences. A queer man, our Mr. Wilde.)

86 Comments:

Anonymous pwyll said...

Another fantastic article, extremely fun to read. One pedantic point: Kimbo Slice is not, actually, built to win - my understanding is that once he started fighting real MMA athletes, it quickly became apparent that he was very outmatched.

October 11, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

"the statistical engineers who derived a global apocalypse from a single tree"

Or, as RealClimate put it:

"all of radiative physics, climate history, the instrumental record, modeling and satellite observations turn out to be based on 12 trees in an obscure part of Siberia. Who knew?"

October 11, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

MM

Building the non-string section of physics and chemistry, biology, and hard math "colleges" of the antiversity will be fairly easy -- as well as engineering, which is just the above applied anyway.

I would question the ease of both medicine and law --

but education, the arts & humanities will be a bit of a bear.

Perhaps less education that the second two (there are plenty of educators tired of "theory") and its restructuring will bring about (in a generation or two) a reordering of the arts -- but time...

Well, the real question is how will this sort of thing happen? One hardly needs classes to demonstrate the truth -- one only needs an outlet. Where will the first volley land? "Revipedia" didn't do all that well;

though there is a decentralized opposition working well in spurts (as the exposure of the trees has shown us), how does this opposition move to the island of the right? Who raises it from the sea?

Moreover, how does such a movement avoid Cassandra's fate?

October 11, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Anonymous notuswind said...

MM,

Spectacular analysis as usual.

However, I must admit, I find your idea of the Antiversity to be completely ridiculous and impractical. For one thing, the human capital that you would need to build such an institution is too firmly lodged within the current University structure.

Also, I think we have something like a natural eject button in our state governments, which are currently weak. Or better yet, several coalitions of state governments that reflect the major cultural regions of the lower 48. Developing an idea along these lines seems much more practical than that of the Antiversity.

October 11, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is not (as most conservatives believe) true that the Soviet Union collapsed solely because it provided such awful government to its subjects. No. It wasn't just that the Russians were governed incompetently and reprehensibly. It was also that they had a clear alternative which was readily available and apparently superior. Ie: American democracy.

An additional prerequisite exists: the Soviet leaders had to lose their will to power. It was always true that the Russians were governed incompetently, and they always had the "surrender to the USA" alternative theoretically available. However, before Gorbachev, those attempting to exercise that option would be crushed under Red Army tank treads.

Happily (?) the US political elite appears tired of external empire, which means they may get tired of holding things together at home as well, just as the Soviets did.

Washington has no one to surrender to.

China.

And Washington wants to.

The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity - a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and never be wrong.

That's great, but the vast majority of Americans seem so demoralized (learned helplessness, I guess) that they are unable to recognize the truth even when it's staring them in the face.

A great deal of nonsense that is force-fed to students is not "untrue" so much as it is a stupid, useless waste of time.

The Antiversity's task of becoming worthy can be divided into two parts: becoming more right (much more right), and becoming more popular (slightly more popular), than the University. To be credible, one must be (a) right and (b) believed.

How will this counteract the function of the University as a credentialing machine? If Strayer produced much more truth than Harvard, people will still want Harvard degrees. Strayer can only become more popular than Harvard when its prestige exceeds Harvards.

October 11, 2009 at 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we have something like a natural eject button in our state governments,

That type of eject was tried in 1860. Didn't work. =)

October 11, 2009 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Cinco Jotas said...

Happily, the Antiversity is already being constructed, informally, on the internet. The foundations, rudimentary as yet, are being laid in a handful of influential blogs (and their comment sections) by people who are willing to challenge the status quo of lies.

The continued growth of popularity of the human biodiversity blogs and the anti-global warming hoax blogs and (to a lesser extent) the "Game" blogs is where it is happening. This is where the intellectual cadre of the Antiversity is going to come from, from the readers and writers of these websites.

On one level this sounds ridiculous, but one need only take a look at the intellectual and technical level of these sites, and their desire for truth, to think that it possible.

October 11, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Great post, Mencius. Several comments you've made suggest that the (post 1932/post Wilson/etc) association of the USG with the University is what has caused the anti-truth rot to set in. Certainly it has made things especially bad; but, shouldn't we also keep in mind that in Europe (and early America) universities were established to train clergy by the church? If this is the case, shouldn't we conclude that truth has never been a high priority for them? Where we now have departments of African American Studies promulgating the new moral orthodoxy, we once had professors ensuring students had the proper opinions on transubstantiation or the state of Mary's hymen. Given this origin, I consider us fortunate that science and math departments have been permitted to flourish as much as they have, even if they are now in decline.

October 11, 2009 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

A great improvement over tying together 500,000 houseboats. But your models are proudly conventional when it is convention that has failed, and convention that will consume you also. You will not see farther than others by standing on the shoulders of Carlyle.

What will be formed will be formed on the internet, right enough; but we cannot imagine yet how that invisible hand will form itself. We can only sense it is finally there.

October 11, 2009 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

MM,

You have assumed the existence of angels (the ones who create Antiversity) and declared victory. Rightly so but where are the angels? Needless to say that the next part will be very interesting indeed.

@ Anon 9:14

First, get a nick. You seems to have some goo things to say.

Secondly, on the USSR, you are obviously right. It doesn't matter how bad the USSR governance was or whether there was a credible alternative, as long as the Kremlin wanted to rule, it could. A state may need public opinion of some section of the population but this good will gotten, is easy to maintain through the judicious use of tanks, gunships, and assault rifles, even if these are not all fitted with crypto-locks. Even in the "somewhat unstable" European monarchies, the aristocracy and the monarchs themselves had to lose their will to rule for the populists to take over.

As for the Antiversity against the University's credentialing mechanism, nothing needs to be done to that. Most initial supporters for the Antiversity (assuming that such a thing can be created, which I seriously doubt) will be degree-carrying people. This must be the case simply because anybody smart enough to recognize the truth is probably smart enough to get a degree and realize that doing so is in their best interest. Passivism assures that there is no comflict until the university credentials are useless.

October 11, 2009 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Cinco Jotas says:

"The continued growth of popularity of the human biodiversity blogs and the anti-global warming hoax blogs and (to a lesser extent) the "Game" blogs is where it is happening."

So, the Antiversity is going to come into being from a combination of mainstream genetics, global warming Truthers, and pick-up artists. Don't think so...

October 11, 2009 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Cinco Jotas said...

So, the Antiversity is going to come into being from a combination of mainstream genetics, global warming Truthers, and pick-up artists. Don't think so...

One might think as you do, if one weren't paying attention.

October 11, 2009 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

An alternative name for antiversity would be monoverity, which I believe translates to 'single truth,' or, as I prefer, 'The One Truth.' University roughly means united motion, ironically enough, which means 'antiversity' is basically Latin for passivity.

"The passivist replaces Locke's chestnut with an older, true formula: might makes right."

As long as by 'right' you explicitly mean not moral right but do mean legal/civil right.

"he has not the right to do so, because he has not the power to do so."

You can see this in the above. If the citizen has the right, they can't rebel. If they have no right, they can't rebel. The moral rightness is quite irrelevant.

And again:

"Thus the reactionary libertarian, believing that might makes right, believes it is wrong of USG to ineffectively outlaw a little plant that anyone can grow in his closet."

An unenforceable law is no law at all. If it is morally right, you can grow pot. If it is morally wrong, you can grow pot.

You can assign values all day long, but it simply doesn't matter in this context.

(Note that since an unenforceable law is not a law, punishing a pot-grower ends up being extralegal spite, not justice.)

Mencius does get very close to actual moral right, though. Within certain restriction,* legal rights can entail moral rights.

*(Beyond the scope of this comment.)

"stability is generally a desirable feature in a political system."

And order leads to stability. Although the actual virtue is predictability, which usually entails and is entailed by order and stability, but is not entailed only by stability.

"If the Procedure is properly executed, surviving bureaucratic tissues of USG (security forces excluded) should be in the same probability ballpark."

Actually the army's bureaucratic tissue is probably one of the most important. The NYT is probably a keystone - if you managed to take it, you can probably take the entire system. The army top brass is the same thing. If you managed to replace them with reactionaries, the NYT would become irrelevant overnight. Especially if Washington keeps burning their loyalty with middle east adventures.

"Until you recognize that the whole system has to go, you are a supporter of that system. Period."

It would probably be a good idea to prove this, rather than just state it. Sure, nobody changes their mind from argument, but at least proofs reveal their hypocrisy.

"No government, as a whole, is incapable of losing the consent of its subjects as a whole."

Unless the subjects, as a whole, accept that might=right.

Which is probably a decent starting point for straightening out that Steel Rule thing. Reactionaries can't reject sclerotic governments, unless they've self-terminated, which makes the question moot regardless. Hence, passivism.

"This behavior is also known as learned helplessness."

Learned helplessness normally refers to a false belief, a helplessness that exists due to learning, whereas with tyranny helplessness is just true.

"...the rest of this interminable torrent of drivel..."

Hah! Ownage.

October 11, 2009 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

G.M. Palmer,

Reconstituting the arts is actually dead simple. For each area, decide on a purpose. What is 'literary analysis' for? Generally, most people agree on which purposes are noble and which base. Then, simply hold literary analysis to that purpose, and declare anything that doesn't serve it as non-literary.

For example, is poetry to be enjoyed? To strive for some technical height? To sell well?

Naturally, I'd think of poetry with a philosophical bent. I think of each poem as a single word, a single concept or sensation, but a very complex idea or subtle sensation that can never be communicated in a single regular word. If you disagree, perhaps yours would be called 'poetry' and we'd think up another name for mine. Or perhaps poetry is the union of all these things.

And by the way, I suspect people would fail to find a purpose for literary analysis that isn't patently ridiculous.


The first attempt at Revipedia didn't work. Does that mean it's contrary to human nature, or does that mean revipedians didn't know what they were doing?

__
Actually, I want to bring the arts thing to Mencius.

In that case, it seems prudent to have a plan. All we are doing here is writing one.

This purpose clashes with the purpose of making obvious the absurdity of modern academia. UR cannot be both. (Unless that 'here' actually refers to the post series specifically, not UR in general.)

__
In other news, the AGW crowd actually put out a testable prediction.

"Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.

It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998)."


__
Final note, I'll be forever bothered. Did UR recover because you complained, or was I right and it was going to recover anyway? Was, in fact, my prediction already rolling in the inevitable complaints? (Beware post hoc ergo propter hoc.)

By the way, UR will decline again in the future. So, if you can, refrain from complaints next time, just to see if it rights itself inevitably. If not, of course, by all means do complain.

October 11, 2009 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

It's fun to read this stuff, but even if an Antiversity were created that managed to locate and focus upon genuinely corrupted disciplines, and it became palpably clear that the Antiversity's take was right and the Cathedral's take was wrong, does anyone think this would constitute a legitimation crisis for democracy, or that the universities would simply implode? The universities would purge themselves and hire the Antiversity stars, that's all.

The emerging idea here is romantic in the worst sense of the word, namely, divorced from reality. Apparently the alleged intellectual vices and follies of the American university system are so profound and integrally linked that there is no possibility of internal reform even when these vices and follies are indubitably shown to be such in a (hypothetical) public information forum. But I thought the original sin of intellectuals under democracy was their willingness to cater to the whims of the mass mind? And surely, if the mass mind shows itself to be leaning towards a new position, and if this intellectual class is as full of craven yet cunning opportunists as it is alleged to be, won't they get out in front of the mass mind's bold new march towards political reaction, race realism, and opposition to string theory? (Or whatever it is that defines truth under the new order.)

I suppose the premise is that today's intellectuals, in the key disciplines like economics, constitute an irreparably discredited class. Analogies with professors of Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union, and with the cloistered metaphysicians of medieval Europe, have been made here. They are just too identified with a highly specific tissue of falsehoods to ever credibly reinvent themselves as exponents of (e.g.) Austrian economics, Jacobite politics, and Griffe-du-Lion genetics.

But enough. The whole thing is looking very John-Galt-like. In Atlas Shrugged, the one interminable speech broadcast to the world irrevocably exposes the hypocrisy of the social order and its supporters. The idea here seems to be that similarly, a coalition of geek iconoclasts will create their own pirate mind-radio station, beaming forth podcasts in which they ineluctably demonstrate the falsity of various key propositions defining consensus reality. Oh, and among their prescriptions will be a recipe for a new, non-democratic social order which can start working any time we choose to abandon the ballot box. It sure is fun to paraphrase this stuff in your own words, but does anyone out there think this is going to work?

October 12, 2009 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

One final thought. For Mencius, the endgame here is the end of democracy. All the refutations of AGW, HNU, and KFM are only preparations for the final big step, in which all these intellectual pathologies are shown to be mere symptoms of the core problem, democracy itself... I will not at all assert that democracy is here for all time. But I do assert that it will never cease to be in the way imagined here, namely because some anti-democratic alternative intellectual meta-institution has managed to achieve superior credibility and charisma to democracy's supplicants. If democracy goes it will be because mass opinion has turned away from it, but there will be nothing rational about it. People are more likely to abandon democracy out of boredom than out of a dispassionate conviction that it constitutes an inferior system of government.

October 12, 2009 at 12:48 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Mitchell,

MM's thrust is that Universities are so closely tied to American-style governance that their implosion will do permanent damage to the ability of USG to govern.

We may all have assumptions and concerns about the veracity of that claim -- but that's the jist of MM's argument here.

Alrenous,

"Dead simple" it may be (see my post on defining art*) but whereas in, say, physics, one only has to kick out or retrain about half the weirdos (a process that is happening now without truthipedia). With the arts, I would venture that the charlatan to sincere ratio is much more like 9-1 against.

Now about revipedia/antiversity/whatever -- people flock to "coolness" and power. From where will that come?

*the definitions are the simple part -- the convincing (Schelling point?) is the difficult part -- e.g. art is work of quality made for the indulgence of others; poetry is the syzygy of sound, content, and form (my original definition used image instead of content, but I think content is more accurate).

October 12, 2009 at 4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With the combination, it is built to win - like Kimbo Slice."

Haha.

"my understanding is that once he started fighting real MMA athletes, it quickly became apparent that he was very outmatched."

Yes. He was knocked out in 14 seconds by a jab from pudgy light heavyweight UFC washout Seth Petruzelli. Most recently, on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, he was TKOd by (obese) Roy Nelson.

October 12, 2009 at 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even before getting into MMA, Kimbo lost to overweight Boston cop Sean Gannon in a bare knuckles fight under rules stipulated by Kimbo (despite the fact that Kimbo proceeded to break his own rules several times in the fight).

October 12, 2009 at 7:27 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

So now we have the new MM plan for world domination as follows:

(1) using Internet, cleverness, and duct tape, build oracle aka "antiversity".
(2) ask oracle, "what is to be done?" Since it knows enough to answer that, and is never wrong, it tells us the answer, X.
(3) X, being singular and true, becomes a Schelling point and reset become inevitable.

I have no problem with (1), although being never-wrong strikes me as impossible for anything human. Nonetheless, the antiversity is already here, in nascent, distributed form. That's what UR is (does MM have a PhD in history? Would it matter if he did?), and the steveosphere, and the non-left blogosphere in general. Of course, picking the truth from among the untruth, even among the non-progosphere, is difficult. But it is out there.

(2) is where the big leap happens. Because there is no reason at all that an oracle should answer a question as hazy as "what is to be done" with anything other than "42". To get a sensible answer, you must specify clearly the parameters around what you want done. For example, "what is to be done to reduce the world population to 100m people?" presumably has a very different answer to "what is to be done to transition to a neocameral system of government?", and again different to "what is to be done to transition to true socialism?".

Even assuming people are generally on board with MM-style reaction, the question still makes a big difference. I.e., consider the question "what is to be done to transition to a neocameral system of government where Leonard owns at least 10% of the shares?". Obviously that may have a different answer than "what is to be done to transition to a neocameral system of government?".

Thus, the assertions in (3) are not true. X is not singular. Not being singular, it cannot serve as a Schelling point.

Now, if everyone (or 51%, or many highly-ranked USG military officers) can agree on what question to ask the oracle, then the answer does become singular, and the MM plan goes through. So I am down with it as far as that goes. But this is no complete plan. You still have to convince people that neocameralism (or some other post X state) is more desirable than what we have, as well as all other possible post X states (as weighted for likelihood).

That is to say, all this casting about for an oracle/skyhook strikes me as an attempt to evade the hard problem. The hard problem (in addition to getting the truth out there in mass-accessible, easy-to-use form, preferably using words of no more than 3 syllables) is ideological. We must convince people that:
(A) democracy is broken, permanently
(B) neocameralism works
(C) no other system of govt offers as good a deal as neocameralism

It seems to me that MM realizes this. That is why he spends so much time writing essays asserting (A), (B), and (C), instead of just coding up revipedia or antiversity.com or whatever.

October 12, 2009 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

note that galt's speech didn't actually accomplish much--america still collapsed, leaving him, rearden, and dagny to move to their seastead^Wcanyon and start over from scratch. does this make mm more ambitious than rand, or less realistic? hmm....

October 12, 2009 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Leonard,

My assumption is that MM either still wants or believes that people will want crowd credibility.

There can't be a reset without the "important people" giving up on the current government.

October 12, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Chris: The westerns created universities to educate the clergy, yes. This was not so in the East.

Most of us would love to see Theology taken from the university back to the monastery.

October 12, 2009 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

RE: the arts - if you're missing religion, the arts will not make sense. Some will have an ear or an eye for it being artistic, but art is basically 'extra' - beauty is essentially 'purposeless', it is an expression of love. But not in the sense of the debased 60's 'love', but closer to the old word, 'charity'. Kenosis.

October 12, 2009 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 12, 2009 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

MX

Government learned from that. That's why the cops were well-armed and on the bridges after Katrina.

October 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

Malchus's story makes me wonder why the hell that gas station owner didn't price gouge. Stupid.

October 12, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger AMcGuinn said...

The Empire, strong as it seems, is doomed, and therefore we must create some foundation that will preserve scholarship and thereby become the core of a future government structure.

Where do you get these ideas?

October 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Allen Short said...

Fun stuff as usual, but I should point out that there was a big difference between the Magisterial Reformation as led by Luther and Calvin, and the Radical Reformation of Karlstadt, the Anabaptists, and the Mennonites. Abolishing the church was never on Luther's agenda.

October 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Moses said...

Home school.

October 12, 2009 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

Vaguely on topic:

A guy at superconductors.org is reporting a new superconductor which works at 254 K.

A lot of commentators at slashdot and hacker news and such are saying "refs in a peer reviewed journal or it didn't happen".

I don't know if this result is real or not, but I do know that plenty of bogus results have led to publications. For those of us who don't have the resources to confirm or refute these results, if there's something more reliable than peer review for checking this I'd like to know what it is.

October 12, 2009 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

I would disagree that wikipedia's rules are conducive to truth. Wikipedia runs on consensus and "verifiability, not truth."

October 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Empire, strong as it seems, is doomed, and therefore we must create some foundation that will preserve scholarship and thereby become the core of a future government structure.

Where do you get these ideas?


Heh heh heh.

October 12, 2009 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Rather than trying to kick people out of fields, re-create them elsewhere and allow the good ones to join you.

The contrast between your well-defined, disciplined, useful field and the weirdos' field should do all the hard work for you.

Although I'd suggest raising a debate on how exactly to define these things, to help flesh out the various definitions, what they actually mean in practise, and the arguments pro and con.

Does your definition of poetry ring true with people, and do they find what you've defined to have value? Assuming that, then does your poetry conform to the definition? If so, you've achieved poetry tianming. Become worthy of audience, and audience will find you.

Marketing can't hurt, though.

October 12, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. You should collect them and publish them as essays in a book.

Your idea that conservatives should focus on dissident brahmins reminds me of William Buckley's project, of making conservatism something for intellectuals too, focusing on the classics. I`m all for it, but it didn't go forward. The religious "revival" (witch was aimed at vasyias" did a lot more. Can there be a conservative movement with no religious element in the mix whatsoever? I`m not saying that just because I`m a catholic, but because reaction that is not revolutionary in itself (that is, not nazi) usually only thrives where the element is there. Look at Franco, and at the movements in Latin America that stopped communism. Could Brazil in 1964 have happened without millions of old ladies in the streets with their rosaries?

October 13, 2009 at 5:13 AM  
Anonymous Mencius Moldbug via email said...

(posted by Leonard; I emailed MM my posting above at 8:01am, and he answered me in email as follows:)

One of the easiest mistakes for a philosopher to make is to think that most people believe in ideas. That is, that they weigh ideas, judge them, and select them, as a philosopher does.

The philosopher who makes this mistake realizes that most people are not as smart as him. Therefore, he strives to make his ideas as easy to weigh, judge and select as possible, expressing them in words of 3 syllables or less.

But he is still making a mistake - because most people believe not in ideas, but in institutions. They do not place their faith in democracy, the idea, but in the Church of Democracy - the Cathedral - the institution. To capture their political support, it is necessary to remove them from this church. This can only be done by attracting them to another. And this can only be done by creating that other.

October 13, 2009 at 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Your response is somewhat cryptic to me. Yes, I agree with all of it. So I am guessing you are criticizing me for being too philosophical, and not "institutional" enough. Presumably this is your glancing way of saying that the antiversity is not here yet, even if its output truths are, because there must be an institution for it, a red-pill wikipedia. One-stop idea shopping for the masses.

I suppose I agree with that. People's reaction to wikipedia is instructive.

But this still not answer the other argument. You are assuming that the antiversity will give out some unique X. I don't see that. In fact I do not even see it coming up with "democracy bad, neocameralism good". These are statements that depend on values. People currently get their values from the Cathedral, including as an axiom "democracy good". Do you think the antiversity will proffer values beyond perhaps "truth good"? Even if I grant you "violence bad" and "efficiency good" (the normal things you use to argue with), then that still does not get us a unique X. There is a big difference between neocameralism where the owner is me, and neocameralism where the owner is you.

October 13, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous togo said...

But he is still making a mistake - because most people believe not in ideas, but in institutions. They do not place their faith in democracy, the idea, but in the Church of Democracy - the Cathedral - the institution. To capture their political support, it is necessary to remove them from this church. This can only be done by attracting them to another. And this can only be done by creating that other.

Geert Wilders seems to be building an alternative institution in the Netherlands. Although not a rejection of democracy, it is a rejection of democracy in its latest-transnationalist-form.
http://www.nrc.nl/international/opinion/article2268138.ece/Call_Wilders_what_he_is_a_racist

http://abbink.blogspot.com/2009/06/geert-wilders-anti-eu-party-biggest.html

October 13, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I'd be ecstatic if just the people who say they weigh ideas did so.

October 13, 2009 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

togo -- GW is an interesting chap.

Leonard -- I think MM's assertion is that with the maxims "truth good," "order good," "efficiency good," "violence bad" the Tavern (what else is the opposite of a Cathedral?) will surely conclude that democracy can not provide truth, order, efficiency, and (prevent) violence.

Will the Tavern come up with such a claim? Perhaps. The question is whether or not it will also decide that a Republic will devolve into a democracy. Or if it will provide any alternative system of governance.

Certainly that's yet to be seen.

October 13, 2009 at 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Mencius Moldbug via email said...

(posted by Leonard; I emailed MM my posting above at 7:17am, and he answered me in email as follows:)

Yes - by "institution" I mean an actual organization. The ideas, unpackaged, are wholly insufficient.

As for the other, we shall see!

October 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

That superconductivity thingie is bullshit. I was writing vanity homepages that looked like it in 1995.

Moving on:

Like the NP-complete problems, it's hard to find a solution, but we know one when it works. In this case, the verification algorithm is - that other sites and universities would be linking to the Antiversity's findings without comment, and to the Cathedral / University system under provisos like "warning: Brown University is subject to interference by a Diversity Officer, use at own risk".

My solution -

The Antiversity must reside in nondescript buildings with armed private guards. The aim is to make them impervious to Alinskyites, so they are not annexed like Cornell and Columbia in the 1960s.

No humanities are permitted here. Sociology requires prerequisites of statistics, biology, and history. Economics, also, requires statistics first.

The buildings should be hooked into a distributed network of sites. A diploma gets you limited write access to their servers: submitting articles, commenting on articles, etc.

The diploma is revokable; publishing propaganda based on bullshit will get you tossed off their system. I have in mind here Joseph Stiglitz.

October 13, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger nazgulnarsil said...

it should probably be based wherever stability and respect for contract law is highest. I'm assuming this is hong kong or singapore.

October 13, 2009 at 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

The diploma is revokable; publishing propaganda based on bullshit will get you tossed off their system.

For some reason I can only picture this being used against us.

October 13, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Zimri,

The humanities are imperative as they are "fully integrated" into the Cathedral. Cathedral-free work in the humanities will be invaluable in mass de-programming (for lack of a better term).

October 13, 2009 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Thus the reactionary libertarian, believing that might makes right, believes it is wrong of USG to ineffectively outlaw a little plant that anyone can grow in his closet.
It can't prevent all sorts of crime. Legalize murder, rape, burglary and grand theft auto! Thoughtful libertarians like David Friedman see that it is a question of how to have only an efficient amount of crime.

Sovereignty, being absolute, must therefore be boolean.
Logic is great for imaginary constructs we create in order to be simple and tractable, but reality above the quantum level is better characterized as continuous than discrete. That goes for the hard physical sciences, social organization is even fuzzier and makes for fuzzier logic. Rationalists attempting to construct superior forms of social organization are afflicted with the fatal conceit. The kings Mencius admires were not philosophers who constructed ideal systems, and often ruled in a system of feudalism of sovereignty ambiguous enough that Kropotkin, the founder of anarcho-communism, held it up as the ideal system of governance to return to (which is not to say I think he was accurate!). The ideal of absolute monarchy Mencius seems more fond of is a later invention of modernity (hell, the system of nation states after the Peace of Westphalia is horribly afflicted by Protestantism, right?), was more an ideal than practice, and was accompanied by the creation of the bureaucratic state. The most well known demonstrator of the continuity between the French "absolute" monarchies and the Jacobin regime is de Tocqueville.

Filmer on the right and Hobbes on the left
For the gaggle of atheists such as yourself here, what's preferrable in Filmer?

Observe the self-stabilizing effect of this political design. When might and right become misaligned, they quickly realign themselves.
For a positivist, there is no "right". We've arbitrarily identified some term, "right", with might and so it is tautologous that the be align and impossible for them to be misaligned. It's not a "political design" at all. Joseph Stalin had plenty of might, whether we might subjectively prefer the Tsars is irrelevant and cannot by the force of "right" realign power to our satisfaction. To believe otherwise is to endorse divine providence, which you aptly mocked applied to the W-force.

Apparent increases in quality of government across American history tend to follow informal regime changes, as in 1861 and 1933.
Aren't those decreases? Does anyone believe both that A: those were increases in quality and B: the quality of our government deteriorates progressively over time?

Sclerotic systems follow the pattern of life: they work until they fail completely, constantly experiencing unidirectional changes
North Korea is about as bad as it gets, but quite stable. The Soviet Union was actually improving when it broke apart (typical "crisis of rising expecations"), the worst years were under Stalin.

stable disequilibria
Like a periodic orbit?

things that make no sense, but that nonetheless are not about to go away
In economics that would usually just be referred to as an inefficient equilibrium.

October 13, 2009 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

When it collapses, these regions of local insanity merge in the mind of all into one general pattern of insanity.
Are you saying that the system has already collapsed? You jump from past-tense in the previous sentence to present-tense in the following. It would be simple enough to say that the system is recognizably irrational well before collapse.

This perception is permanent and fatal
I would say instead that weakness of will in the Powers That Be combined with empowered disruptors is fatal. They can keep up a recognizable farce indefinitely. Satirists can thrive in any period because stable farces abound.

All this was seen in the East. Either it will be seen in the West, or the Structure will stand forever.
China under Mao was quite insane, its evolution toward "communism with Chinese characteristics" was blessedly gradual. It is often compared to the change from the "License Raj" in India, a situation that can hardly fit in your boolean straitjacket.

This choice, though few realize it, is boolean
Urgh.

It makes no sense to keep the Constitution but move the capital to Kansas City, ditch the Constitution but keep the Supreme Court, liquidate the Department of Education but not the Department of Energy
So you don't approve of such changes, whoopity-doo. You can argue that changing one feature is unlikely without chucking the rest, but you haven't done so. Your statement consists of nothing but a fallacy of the excluded middle, resting on nothing but your own opinion (which nobody else has reason to give a shit about) obscured behind pseudo-logical verbiage.

Generally, it is a mistake to keep operating with any of the same staff in any of the same agencies in any of the same buildings
That mistake is actually an essential step in Luttwak's Coup Detat.

Until you recognize that the whole system has to go, you are a supporter of that system
Are the severely retarded supporters? Are inanimate objects? Most people are apolitical, and one may even argue that the majority of the populace function as leaches.

October 13, 2009 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Washington will so abuse them that they declare a case of government failure
Again, compare modern North Korea to numerous cases of internal regime change. Abuse has little discenernable connection to any sort of revolutionary consciousness.

Coup d'Etat: A Practical Handbook
A good back, which I have placed portions of online.

Since the task of the First Step is to figure out what happens after the coup, the product of this work exercise could be called Coup d'Etat: The Sequel.
Actually, Luttwak's book does contain advice for what to do after the coup.

Is it quantum? It is definitely quantum.
Holy shit, Mencius Moldbug is Deepak Chopra!

do not act until it is proper to act
Since "proper" is normative and therefore subjective, you've created an exception the size of Chevron deference. Congratulations, you're an antinomian.

October 13, 2009 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

It is both, at once, completely
I smell Hegelian dialectics. Smells like sun-baked manure.

Tao [...] Step outside your linear, Western way of thinking
The only thing worse than Objectivist-style pseudo-logical political philosophy is multiculti pop irrationalism. I can enjoy Hegelian bullshit from Stirner, because he's up front about bullshitting his audience for his own enjoyment and mocking Hegelians. If you strive to be worthy, you should also strive be free of bullshit. Clearing away the obfuscatory bullshit, I don't see too much left in your latest offering.

power flows toward the worthy
Divine providence again, there must have never been communist revolutions or succesful demagogues in a democracy.

Moreover, no one can laugh at it, because I did not make it up myself.
I guess we can't laugh at acupuncture either.

Whereas for a story with the right ending, consider the fate of the Soviet Union.
It might have been a good deal for the many sattelite states, but Russia itself really took it in the pants. That's why they hate Yeltsin and like Putin for turning the clock a bit back to the good old days.

collapsed because it was a structural disaster
North Korea is a disaster, Russia had significantly improved from its nadir under Stalin. I generally lean toward heavily-determined rather than contingent explanations, but for a single case like the U.S.S.R I agree with Mesquita and Caplan. If Gorbachev had acted differently, it could have survived today.

October 13, 2009 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

USG, for its threat to call war loans to the British and French if they continued assisting in the attempted restoration of Russia, and for its general permanent affection for Robespierres, Lenins, Castros and Mugabes around the globe and across the centuries, bears significant institutional responsibility for this disaster
I recall not too long ago you mocking Chomsky for claiming Obama was objectively pro-"coup" because it didn't do enough to help Zelaya. Rereading your evidence for blaming America for bolshevism, we see again it is a failure to do enough. If the allied nations were broke, they would have been broke had America not existed.

the West has no West. Thus, its only option is to live forever.
The Roman empire collapsed without a credible alternative. Collapse happens sometimes, and generally isn't pretty.

Nonetheless, the Soviet youth, educated for three generations to resist Western bourgeois decadence, succumbed instantly and with hardly a whimper.
It wasn't the youth, it was old elites. Do you think bringing MTV to North Korean youngsters would topple Kim?

Therefore, according to some optimists, constructing one should make it at once turn black and drip into the bedsprings, like the corpse of M. Valdemar.
The U.S pre-existed the Soviet Union, where the hell are you getting this bit about instant collapse in the face of an alternative from?

What, exactly, would it even mean to roll back the New Deal in 2009? Answer: no one has any frickin' idea.
Funny, because I read lots of manifestoes by libertarians in which the lay out what will happen come the revolution in a lot of detail. They are of course cranks whose plan has no hope of coming to pass, but in that respect they're no different from you.

Conservatism can never be a coherent alliance, because it is not a single strategy but a blur of good feelings.
Worked for the Spanish Nationalists (one might argue that even pure fascist movements never had a coherent set of ideas for governance).

October 13, 2009 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Without conservatives, for instance, Washington could fly much farther into the domain of the preposterous
You've said that Europe doesn't really have conservatives like the U.S does. So does that mean it would be strengthened by conservatives?

Conservatives, whose political motive is generally mere human altruism
The altruistic generally stay out of politics. Not even you would deny that the modern conservative movement is brimming with venality.

progressive movement, which has no ideals at all
Sounds a lot like the conservative movement!

Conservatism cannot focus; progressivism is focus alone
Though the stereotype about Republicans and Democrats is the opposite. That meshes with your earlier statement that progressive movements are naturally fractious (splitter!), which I would attribute to the simple fact that there are a billion stupid things you could find it imperative we do, while its easier to agree on doing nothing (to the extent that conservatism actually does mean sticking with the status-quo).

The entire democratic complex is defined by its secular drift to the left
You may be too focused on the U.S, worldwide neoliberalism continues to make healthy gains, as Scott Sumner won't shut up about.

Contrary to democratic dogma, LH is the normal human response to tyranny. It is almost always far more rational than resistance.
Exactly. Gordon Tullock laid out how irrational revolt is. The exception is when there are enough people revolting that it's unlikely the authorities will punish you,

October 13, 2009 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

an event not at all outside the realm of counterfactual possibility
A general strike in Seattle could bring about the fall of USG? Sounds far-fetched to me. Sorel's myth of the general strike is just that, a myth. It worked against the Kapp Putsch, but that was a new unstable regime that never gained real control of the bureaucracy.

it would become far more powerful than you can possibly imagine
I actually did not notice the Star Wars reference the first time I read that.

any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective
How can there be non-factual matters of truth?

It needs to always be right and never be wrong
Which has never occurred for any oracle beyond the trivial.

Indeed, I can imagine no other way to solve the problem.
A simple military coup would do the trick. That has quite a track record, antiversities have none (outside of Ender's Game, as a commenter pointed out before).

What is to be done?
A normative question. You've endorsed Hume's is-ought gap before, so you know you can't get there from here. It is a matter of arbitrary subjective opinion, not objective truth.

Once they decide that the answer is the latter and act collectively to make their will known
Collectives do not have wills. Cue the Arrow-impossibility theorem, which any detractor of democracy should be familiar with.

Sovereignty is irrevocable
Except it has been revoked numerous times (many times in short succession for some coup-afflicted countries).

The coup is a boolean choice: do you support NUSG, or OUSG?
Mu.

October 13, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

You believe that the police and the military should follow orders that are more sane, rather than orders that are less sane.
Antinomianism rears its ugly head! The pronomian says the police and military should obey the orders their superiors give, we can only hope those superiors give good orders (we'll leave psychiatric terminology out of this).

statistical engineers who derived a global apocalypse from a single tree
Both McIntyre and the Real Climate gang agree that the "hockey stick" isn't actually that important for making the case on global warming, it just works as a good symbol. Furthermore, the hockey stick rests on more than Yamal. McIntyre acknowledges that there are other studies, involving bristlecone pines or something, that he rejects for reasons I can't remember off the top of my head. At any rate, you've just bullshitted again. Good luck on that prudently remaining silent so that you never make an error thing.

McIntyre, like Clapton, is God.
I haven't read that much of his output (and I'm certainly not qualified to evaluate it), but I like McIntyre. He lays out lots of empiricism and is much less polemical and dickish than the Real Climate gang. However, the McIntyre I see on Climate Audit makes much more modest claims than the one I read about on UR.

Or at least, popular with whatever set of people is needed to collectively decommission the Structure and initiate Plan B?
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita calls them the "selectorate".

It is very difficult to corrupt, say, chemistry
Doesn't chemistry play a major role in the greenhouse effect, the building block of your hoax of the 21st century? Arguably physics, but it's not like controversial string-theory physics.

Assuming the robe of Pio Nono, it asserted its own infallibility
Aren't you know claiming the Antiversity must be infallible or silent?

October 13, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

What kind of servant of truth are you, sir?
A compertmentalized one who focuses on their own area of expertise? If only Noam Chomsky did so as well. In the ideal formalist society the citizenry will not be expected to have any political views. Here you are damning chemists for behaving in just such a healthy manner.

It could not possibly prevail, were it not competing against a deeply power-corrupted and morally compromised institution
I suppose every government is power corrupted and compromised, but the revolutionary movements that have replaced them seem invariably to make them look as pure as the driven snow.

something has gone really terribly wrong and the experiment needs to be terminated
Are there safeguards to ensure it actually is terminated?

unless I am completely out to lunch
Always a distinct possibility! As is weirdtopia.

choosing the Antiversity over the University is a boolean choice - there is no way to split the difference
Unless the university faculties latch on to the antiversity and the public continues supporting them because of college athletics.

the Antiversity has to be right every time it disagrees with the University.
People are plenty of willing to believe there is a clear choice between the two political parties, and bullshit flies without notice all the time.

Luther had many predecessors, often quite talented and vigorous, who worked to reform the Church. The result: barbecue. But Luther, who worked to abolish the Church, died in his bed.
Hus was arguably as radical, and Luther's theses were proposed reforms. It's called "the Reformation" for a reason.

It is not possible to be a Protestant on some issues and a Catholic on others.
Ever heard of "Anglo-Catholicism" aka the Church of England? And let's not forget the word "fundamentalist" originally referred to conciliatory moderates who wanted to find fundamental ground that Catholics and Protestants would agree on.

It contains no inherent internal conflicts, besides the inevitable personal frictions of any organization.
Yeah, what was Defoe talking about with that problem of Dissenters?

have Kos and Stormfront ever thought of cooperating on some kind of anti-Jew initiative?
Unlikely, many Kos contributors are Jewish and of course Stormfront is secretly run by Jewish Masons.

October 13, 2009 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

the attraction of truth is always present
Be more cynical.

those who have a nose for pure truth
Leprechauns and unicorns I suppose.

like tadpoles on a dead fox
?

It is not straightforward to picture a future in which conservatives recapture USG, because conservatives are nowhere near having a plan to attack the University, the Civil Service, the Press, or the structure surrounding them.
It's completely straightforward (though unlikely) to picture a future in which everyone simply recognizes that conservatism is correct. Many conservatives presumably hold out hope this will happen, just as liberals do for their own beliefs.

Whereas the reactionary narrative is easy: everyone becomes a reactionary.
Converse tells us that in a mass democracy the general public do not have ideologies at all, or even recognize what the competing ideologies are. Outside of a democracy, nobody is bugging them to have an opinion.

necessary [..] and proper
That did just the ticket in the Constitution!

Nor can you change the order of the two, nor run them in parallel.
Is that a Monty Python's Holy Grail reference?

Although it has a low probability of victory, the magnitude of victory - a whole new regime to construct - is so large that their perceived product is not insignificant.
People engage in hyperbolic discounting (or scale invariance), that's why increasing the severity of punishment fails to make up for reducing the probability of punishment.

those strange geeks who are attracted to pure truth
Fictional geeks, that is.

I would trade the entire red-state population for a quarter of the Burning Man attendees
I think liberals already have enough burners, but they complain all the time about how they can't get the red-staters to vote for their self-interest (properly understood, of course!).

this one strikes me as relatively promising
I think seasteading is the only remotely promising one, frontiers and policy competition being things we've already observed.

October 13, 2009 at 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The humanities are imperative as they are "fully integrated" into the Cathedral. Cathedral-free work in the humanities will be invaluable in mass de-programming (for lack of a better term).

I think a lot of high-quality truth-seekers will be attracted to the Antiversity precisely because there is no humanities requirement, which they regard as a waste of time even when it isn't lying liberal propaganda.

Your statement consists of nothing but a fallacy of the excluded middle, resting on nothing but your own opinion (which nobody else has reason to give a shit about) obscured behind pseudo-logical verbiage.

That's pretty funny coming from a guy whose tagline is "entitled to an opinion". Who gives a shit about yours, copious though they are?

Most people are apolitical, and one may even argue that the majority of the populace function as leaches.

Such people are essential supporters of the system. Duh!

Again, compare modern North Korea to numerous cases of internal regime change. Abuse has little discenernable connection to any sort of revolutionary consciousness.

Which is why I said earlier that regime change can only occur when the government is no longer willing to massacre its citizens. The DPRK does not suffer from this lack of will.

power flows toward the worthy
Divine providence again, there must have never been communist revolutions or succesful demagogues in a democracy.


Communists and demagogues succeeded precisely because they convinced people they were worthy.

Do you think bringing MTV to North Korean youngsters would topple Kim?

It's worth a try!

You've said that Europe doesn't really have conservatives like the U.S does. So does that mean it would be strengthened by conservatives?

Absolutely. Of course, the allergic response to conservatism is even stronger in Europe than here.

The altruistic generally stay out of politics. Not even you would deny that the modern conservative movement is brimming with venality.

The altruistic cannot stay out of politics, because politics won't leave you alone if you ignore it.

Collectives do not have wills.

Progressivism sure as hell does.

Both McIntyre and the Real Climate gang agree that the "hockey stick" isn't actually that important for making the case on global warming, it just works as a good symbol.

Which, uh, tells you that it is politics and not science that is the issue. You need a "symbol" if you're trying to sell something to voters, not if you're trying to establish scientific truth.

the Antiversity has to be right every time it disagrees with the University.
People are plenty of willing to believe there is a clear choice between the two political parties, and bullshit flies without notice all the time.


The real problem is that lots of people will simply refuse to believe the truth, and will believe the University over the Antiversity simply because of the prestige of the former.

I think seasteading is the only remotely promising one, frontiers and policy competition being things we've already observed.

Bwahahaha! Shoot me an email from the boat ("Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids, I'm never coming back!").

October 14, 2009 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

LastAnon --

Zimri's comment was the humanities are not permitted here.

I don't think the Tavern (that name's just more fun) should have any sort of prerequisites. You can either do the work or you can't. However, it should certainly include the humanities as a field of study.

October 14, 2009 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous October 11, 2009 9:14 PM:
Don't comment as anonymous.

I agree with you on Soviet leaders losing their will. That was the important bit.

the vast majority of Americans seem so demoralized (learned helplessness, I guess) that they are unable to recognize the truth even when it's staring them in the face.
I don't put much hope in people recognizing truth regardless of demoralization. The highly moralized are often also highly deluded.


Cinco Jotas:
Very funny. You remind me of someone from the Mises blog. Roissy is not going to cause regime change.


newto311:
Agreed on everything you said to anonymous.


Mitchell:
I am probably closer to your viewpoint than many others here, but it's intellectually lazy to call people "global warming Truthers". It's a conflation of unrelated viewpoints in order to borrow the negative connotation of one. And going back to McIntyre, I'm not aware of him actually denying AGW.


Cinco Jotas:
What has Mitchell overlooked in his inattention?

October 14, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Alrenous:
The moral rightness is quite irrelevant.
Precisely.

An unenforceable law is no law at all.
Is this the law/legislation distinction? Like how going 1 mile over the speed limit never results in being pulled over?

Note that since an unenforceable law is not a law, punishing a pot-grower ends up being extralegal spite, not justice.
The positivist perspective, even one that maintained the law/legislation distinction, would consider it law to the extent it is enforced. If it looks like a law, walks like a law and quacks like a law, it's a law.

Although the actual virtue is predictability
Very good point.

The NYT is probably a keystone - if you managed to take it, you can probably take the entire system
Carlos Slim rules the world?

The army top brass is the same thing. If you managed to replace them with reactionaries, the NYT would become irrelevant overnight.
Agreed. The Revolutionary Officer Corps would presumably shutter the NYT and other media in the early stages of the coup anyway.

It would probably be a good idea to prove this, rather than just state it.
Agreed. That could apply to a great many things.

Learned helplessness normally refers to a false belief, a helplessness that exists due to learning, whereas with tyranny helplessness is just true.
I thought learned helplessness was often used for true beliefs. The reason it's learned in the first place is because it's true. It may become false when the conditions that caused the learning are removed, but the helplessness was still learned prior to that removal.

Generally, most people agree on which purposes are noble and which base.
I don't think so. Rand thought self-interest was noble, Kant thought any ulterior motivation poisoned the act, there's debate over whether communists had good intentions and so on. Personally, I try to avoid talk of good/bad and teleology.

For example, is poetry to be enjoyed? To strive for some technical height? To sell well?
Descriptively, I'd say there are examples of all three. The poetry which can be reduced to one purpose is not the true Tao^H^H^Hpoetry.

I suspect people would fail to find a purpose for literary analysis that isn't patently ridiculous.
But they'll do the patently ridiculous anyway.

The first attempt at Revipedia didn't work.
There was an attempt? I thought he just bought a domain and then nothing happened.

October 14, 2009 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Mitchell Porter:
The universities would purge themselves and hire the Antiversity stars, that's all.
Robin Hanson has a different model of academic opportunism.

in the worst sense of the word
There's a good sense?

But I thought the original sin of intellectuals under democracy was their willingness to cater to the whims of the mass mind?
MM seems to flip-flop between hating democracy/demotism/populism and its bureaucratic neutering. Here he's claiming that academia's sin is subversion by the Powers That Be. He's proposing a change in public knowledge resulting in a Timur Kuran style informational cascade which delegitimizes those powers in very quickly creates a critical mass that will topple it. The difference is that in Kuran's view there is already massive "preference falsification", but individual disloyalty is private information yet to be revealed. Presumably, academics really do believe in the University right now though they may have a few gripes.

If democracy goes it will be because mass opinion has turned away from it, but there will be nothing rational about it. People are more likely to abandon democracy out of boredom than out of a dispassionate conviction that it constitutes an inferior system of government.
There have been a number of examples of "one man, one vote, one time". Generally people weren't that invested in democracy in the first place. And it tends to take place in rather un-boring places. I agree that rationality has little to do with it though.

Griffe-du-Lion genetics
He's really a sociologist, not too much genetics in his output.


G. M. Palmer:
That's a good summary of Mencius' position.

a process that is happening now without truthipedia
Could you shed some more light on that?

October 14, 2009 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Leonard:
Of course, picking the truth from among the untruth, even among the non-progosphere, is difficult
I think the whole point behind his proposed Antiversity is to make it simple.

Because there is no reason at all that an oracle should answer a question as hazy as "what is to be done" with anything other than "42".
That's both funny and a good response.


Alrenous:
Rather than trying to kick people out of fields, re-create them elsewhere and allow the good ones to join you.
It's worked in the past.

Become worthy of audience, and audience will find you.
Does anybody really believe this?


MM via email:
Right on, ideas don't matter.

The philosopher who makes this mistake realizes that most people are not as smart as him.
Probably true, though whether the philosopher himself actually believes in ideas is arguable.

To capture their political support, it is necessary to remove them from this church. This can only be done by attracting them to another.
There has been a recent increase in the "unchurched" who don't identify with any religious organization. This isn't because they've been converted by atheists.

Leonard:
You are assuming that the antiversity will give out some unique X. I don't see that.
I agree when it comes to subjective questions, unless of course there's somebody enforcing dogma.

People currently get their values from the Cathedral, including as an axiom "democracy good".
I disagree on modeling most people's beliefs as depending on axioms.

October 14, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Zimri:
The aim is to make them impervious to Alinskyites, so they are not annexed like Cornell and Columbia in the 1960s.
They were already controlled by progressives, its questionable how much of a change there was. Take a case where university administrators stood up to trouble-makers (and was politically rewarded). The end result today looks the same.

The diploma is revokable; publishing propaganda based on bullshit will get you tossed off their system. I have in mind here Joseph Stiglitz.
An amusing idea. The babble about tenure and "academic freedom" always got on my nerves. Accountability now!


G. M. Palmer:
The humanities are imperative as they are "fully integrated" into the Cathedral.
Grievance studies and diversity taskforces are fully integrated too. Abolition should be sufficient.

mass de-programming
One of MM's major gripes about the current system is that it is driven to manipulating public opinion. In his utopian ideal the government doesn't care what people think.

October 14, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous:
Again, stop posting as Anonymous!

I think a lot of high-quality truth-seekers will be attracted to the Antiversity precisely because there is no humanities requirement, which they regard as a waste of time even when it isn't lying liberal propaganda.
That describes me pretty well. I tried to make sure I didn't have to take anything outside math/science courses.

That's pretty funny coming from a guy whose tagline is "entitled to an opinion". Who gives a shit about yours, copious though they are?
That's the name of the blog, inspired by this op-ed. The tagline is "Everyone has a blog and they all stink". The actual content of the blog is more than just my opinion, I present a lot of GSS data for instance. A lot of it is just links to what I find interesting though.

Such people are essential supporters of the system. Duh!
There can be people who leach of those we might deem virtuous producers, and also support the system. There can also be people who leach off the system itself and provide no support.

Which is why I said earlier that regime change can only occur when the government is no longer willing to massacre its citizens. The DPRK does not suffer from this lack of will.
Or maybe it wasn't you but just some other Anonymous, how do we know? Anyway, whoever said it is right.

Communists and demagogues succeeded precisely because they convinced people they were worthy.
MM makes much of the distinction between seeming worthy and being worthy. Being worthy without seeming worthy does not attract power.

The altruistic cannot stay out of politics, because politics won't leave you alone if you ignore it.
And I'll die eventually if I don't sacrifice puppies to the Sun God, but I'll still die if I do. Nothing good can come of political participation, so the rational & altruistic don't participate. They might even recognize that participation inevitably corrupts their thinking.

Which, uh, tells you that it is politics and not science that is the issue.
Yes, politics is why anyone cares.

The real problem is that lots of people will simply refuse to believe the truth, and will believe the University over the Antiversity simply because of the prestige of the former.
Not much to disagree with there.

Shoot me an email from the boat
Whether I myself will move to a Seastead at some point in time remains to be seen, but the benefits of policy competition flow even to those who don't change their behavior. Daniel Nagy mentioned earlier how his salary went up when his employers knew he had the option of going abroad, taxes on capital are lower than taxes on labor because politicians know it's more mobile.

October 14, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

TGGP,

Perhaps I should have said "fully extractable from the Cathedral."

I know you guys hate all that faggot poetry shit but it serves a purpose of educating, shaping, and informing,

and you're totally missing the point if you don't think that the Tavern (come on, just say it once -- so much better than Antiversity) is all about re-education or (to use homeschool parlance) unschooling.

October 14, 2009 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

re: kicking the weirdos out of physics -- my brother is an eternal physics ABD and runs the physics labs at a large institution. The string theorists and their ilk, once revered as like unto gods on the earth, are starting to be laughed off of campus because their ideas are the hard science equivalent of marxist literary scholarship.

October 14, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Zimri said...

Don't get me started on the string theorists. Oh hell, why not.

I mentioned NP-hard algorithms already. It's a start to show that the means for testing one's theory will require a hollow titanium donut the radius of Neptune's orbit. But here we are decades later, and the string theorists are still getting paid for doing, essentially, Soduku puzzles. WTF?

What physics needs is a Stephen Cook: a computer scientist who can define a class of intractible physics problems (let's say it needs >1,000,000,000,000,000 eV), and who can prove that string theory belongs in that class.

At that point, we can start treating string theorists like we treated the guys who solved traveling-salesman in linear time on UseNet. Or, we can demand that string theorists come up with their version of "approximation algorithms" = tests that show how likely string theory is.

Until the Stephen Cook of physics comes along, I'm in agreement that it's intuitively clear that the string-theorists are in Internet kook territory.

October 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 14, 2009 at 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

GMP: I think for most Moldbuggers it's less that we hate the poetry than that we love the essays, and poetry in lieu of an essay is depriving us of our fix.

That said, my gut feeling is that poetry is a part of the antiversity (no, I don't like the "tavern"; perhaps the "bazaar"?). To prevail, the antiversity must have full-spectrum dominance, not just scifi, economics, and porn. MM as poet is a tiny step in that direction, should he become part of an antiversity.

October 14, 2009 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger juantblanco said...

Humanities tell the story of what and who someone, something, some group of people is... if the Antiversity/ Tavern/ Baazar/ Reactionary Antidote does not have any humanities then it is simply a bunch of technicians.

Taking the humanities out of a counter-university is just the same as a libertarian that dislikes progressive ideology and wants to take the State out of government and somehow banish all State-like entities to Sheol. Its autistic, simplistic, and, frankly, retard.

The cure for the progressive story isn't found in making all stories impossible (doing away with the humanities) but repackaging them by retraining them to their original purpose -- that as repeater of the virtues of the culture. Nowadays most of this takes place in film or other spheres rather than simply books but it is an important area if not the most important.

Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus is about as reactionary as humanly possible. Updating Lycurgus' vision to modern technology would be a most excellent idea for a blog. (MM is concerned with, like most Americans, the commercial aspects of the regime, though.) The role of the technicians would be to implement a vision that comes from the humanities, from philosophy, from political economy rightly understood. A world ran only by technicians would look like rather bleak and Soviet in its materialism which should be an aesthetic to be avoided.

Which brings up a good point, appealing to the mind is fine. Appealing to the senses, appealing to the finer things in life -- that is more powerful. A brahman can be seduced by the right aesthetic, especially if it is radical enough to challenge both the status quo and the avant guard as well as pleasing to the eye.

Most people that study math and science do not care for these things or even how to speak the same language of those that do. This is a cultural war not simply a technical one.

October 14, 2009 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Zdeno said...

A sovereign government doesn't have the practical ability to criminalize pot? Whatever happened to grasping the nettle?

IIRC, traces of THC hang around in your system for a month or so. Random testing + stiff penalties = effective criminalization.

Sovcorps would still implement roughly libertarian policies, including legalizing pot and any other substance, because of the profit motive. The right to smoke pot is valuable to many citizens, and limiting their "right" to get high would cut into the bottom line of sovcorp owners. I wouldn't be surprised if a niche market of puritanically prudish charter cities catering to the DARE-brainwashed operated as well, but then that's kind of the idea. "Let a thousand cities bloom."

October 14, 2009 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

juant -- sounds like we should talk more.

Leonard -- I like Bazaar as well.

Malchus -- my Latin's fair to middlin but I'm working on it.

GMP

October 14, 2009 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

TGGP,

Is this the law/legislation distinction? Like how going 1 mile over the speed limit never results in being pulled over?

Take the limit. A law with utter unenforceability; "It is illegal to think the word 'elephant.'" You can't even read the law without breaking it. Clearly, this isn't really a law.

Taking the other limit, of perfect enforceability, shows no absurdity.

Without going into exact definitions of 'law' for now, I contend that somewhere south of 50% enforcement, a law ceases to be justifiable as a law. That's all I really mean.

I don't think so. Rand thought self-interest was noble, Kant thought any ulterior motivation poisoned the act, there's debate over whether communists had good intentions and so on.

All three examples can be converted to means instead of ends. Rand thought that self-interest lead to people harming each other less. Kant thought that ulterior motives lead to people harming each other more. (Moral harm, if not physical harm. We both disagree with Kant that moral harm is an existent entity.) People disagree on the communists' intents, they do not agree on intents and then disagree about whether they're good.

What I mean is that most people generally agree on what constitutes 'harm.' So, "...and then disagree on whether the communists' intents constitute harm or not."

On tianming,

Apparently the ancient Chinese believed in tianming. I also believe in it.

I do find, however, that a lot of people don't really know what worthiness really is, and indeed I'm one of them. However, near every time I analyze a popular entity, there is indeed something worthy about it - it serves some purpose for its audience, often one that no one would ever think of unless they specifically look for it. That characteristic makes worthiness candidates doubly hard to think up in advance.


Ultimately, though, I think you're misunderstanding what MM thinks by sovereignty. 'Course, I'm not entirely sure myself, waiting on further elaboration.

For example of how it might be true, my wallet. Someone is definitely sovereign over it, and their opinion of what should happen to it goes. It appears to be me, but this is just because the real owner is apathetic.

If you could run parallel worlds, you could test changing each person's opinion and seeing who has ultimate authority. For example, the PM has no power but the Supreme Court can definitely confiscate it. But perhaps there is a committee that could overrule the Supreme Court...but then that committee will have a de facto leader.

What leads to your perspective, I think, is that my wallet may have one sovereign but my house will have an entirely different one, even if my wallet is contained inside my house.

You can also make the case that the Court and so on are constrained by procedure - the need for evidence and so on - but in practise these things tend to bow to power rather than the reverse. For example the Supreme Court can confiscate my wallet, but they're supposed to use it for evidence. However, if they're actually sovereign, you'd find that if they really want to buy candy with my cash, they'll find a way to impose a tax or otherwise legitimize otherwise overt theft. (Ref; TSA) If you find a sovereign who is not doing so, often it's not because they can't, but because they have better ways to enrich themselves.

And from how long this has already gone, you can see why MM may be loathe to delve into the issue just yet.

The kicker is that in the real world, sovereignty exists but is in doubt, which means people will waste time and lives contending for it. Confused further in that sovereignty can indeed change hands by force, although most of the time this leads to an equilibrium where the sovereignty holder is the one who can and has fended off all contenders, and so I've reached the starting point; might == right, to the point where right = might.

October 14, 2009 at 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A sovereign government doesn't have the practical ability to criminalize pot?

Of course it does. If Singapore can do it, anyone can.

Take the limit. A law with utter unenforceability;

The speed limit is utterly enforceable. Put a GPS unit in every car, and you know location and speed, and with the right software you could automatically send a ticket to everyone who exceeds the limit by so much as one mph. You can buy this to monitor the location and speed of your teenage offspring as they drive. It would be simplicity itself for the government to require this type of device in every car. The government is already talking about using GPS to levy a mileage tax. They decided not to do this - for now - but it's only a matter of time. They'll do it for the planet and for the children!

October 15, 2009 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

As usual, you can write between the lines of this article over at Thiblo.com.

October 15, 2009 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger juantblanco said...

G.M. Palmer; we should, and I should get off my ass and write a blog.

October 15, 2009 at 9:34 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Malchus X wrote of "Be more cynical", "...how do you say that in Latin?"

"Esto cynicalior" if addressing one person. "Estote cynicaliores" if addressing more than one person.

Oh, and the Latin for tavern is taberna, as in "taberna est in oppido", "there is a tavern in the town".

And Malchus is a Latinised form of a semitic word meaning king (literally, owner).

October 16, 2009 at 2:51 AM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 16, 2009 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

MX,

I think "esto acerbior" is a bit more Latin-y.

October 16, 2009 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 16, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Tavern Bazaar
est 2010
Home of the Passive Reactionaries
ESTO ACERBIOR

October 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Only, "acerbis" means acerbic, not cynical. Since cynical ultimately comes from the Greek, you're bound to end up using a Latin loan word from Greek. Of course, when Romans said "cynicalis" they did mean cynical but not what we now mean by cynical, because the English meaning has shifted since it first came into English... you can't win. Maybe "Fi(te) incredulior(es)" would give the right sense: "Become less believing (credulous)", or maybe "Noli(te) ponere (magnam) fidem in aliis", "Don't put (great) faith/trust in others".

October 16, 2009 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

From an expert(published translator): "Acerbus, a, um" is a Latin adjective that (unfortunately) covers a lot of ground (as applied to persons, it could mean harsh, bitter, pitiless, severe, etc.), including "cynical"

October 16, 2009 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

"semper acerbus"?

October 16, 2009 at 8:17 PM  
OpenID sanxiyn said...

The Antiversity idea reminded me of works of Bourbaki in modern mathematics. A handful of French mathematician in a jokingly named secret circle literally changed the course of modern mathematics by writing a set of college level textbooks. Just by being an alternative (of "rigorous" faction, opposed to then dominant "intuitive" faction), when the time came, they could capture the education system and thus future generations of mathematicians.

October 17, 2009 at 5:42 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

The comments about the Antiversity remind me that there was a period in the past when the then-extant universities did not address substantial aspects of intellectual endeavor, and those who wished to address them formed alternative institutions. These were literary and philosophical at first; the late fifteenth-century "Platonic Academy" at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent, for example, and its many imitators formed throughout Europe in the sixteenth century to discuss the rediscovered works of classical antiquity, at a time when the universities remained firmly stuck in their old mediæval curricula.

As the universities eventually took up the classics, the pattern was repeated in the natural sciences with the foundation of the Accademia dei Lincei, the Royal Society, etc. Serious scientific research was centered in these learned societies for two centuries. Laboratory research and instruction in the sciences as a function of universities can't really be said to have begun until Justus von Liebig's establishment of a public laboratory at the university of Giessen ca. 1825.

For most of the early modern period, literature in contemporary languages, the arts, and music, formed no significant part of the university curriculum, but were the purview of the salon and the subscription concert. The term "academy" was often used in connection with the latter.

If enough people with taste, influence, and money today felt that the university system were not meeting society's intellectual and cultural demands, there is no reason they could not form their own institutions to do so. It might take some time for the form of those institutions to become apparent, and those involved in them at the time might have no idea of their ultimate issue. Nonetheless the effect might be considerable. Look what has become of the once-mighty newspaper industry at the hands of the bloggers and of Craigslist's subversion of their ad revenues. Who'd have imagined?

October 19, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger dbk_999 said...

Do Singapore and Dubai represent Existing Viable Alternatives, a West to the West so to speak?

October 21, 2009 at 2:58 PM  

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