Saturday, May 8, 2010 106 Comments

Strange rumblings in Dollarstan

I disappear into the garage for a while, and what happens? Wall Street types rm -rf *, Europe melts down, and Harvard kicks off the midget race war.

And now, we hear, JP Morgan is being investigated for evil deeds in the precious-metals markets - more or less confirming, or at least rendering plausible, the longstanding charges of GATA, Ted Butler, etc. Frankly, this doesn't surprise me. But the converse would not have surprised me, either. These markets are extremely opaque.

When I first hypothesized the spontaneous remonetization of gold, way back in 2006, I remember clearly how wacky an idea it was. While not exactly conventional, these days it is not at all hard to find, not even in the official press. (I have no joke - I just like saying "the safest of all investments, gold." I have been telling my mother this for quite some time, but I am still surprised to see it in the Times.) And the basic idea of remonetization was not at all unusual in those days, at least in the goldbug media. Completely unfiltered, this stream contains all good ideas about gold, and all bad ones too.

Remonetization is pretty simple: you have two neighboring countries, Goldenstein and Dollarstan. If Dollarstan systematically dilutes its currency, its savers will move their savings to Goldenstein, whose currency will therefore deflate. If Dollarstan is relatively large relative to Goldenstein, Goldenstein's currency will deflate relatively a lot.

There is no Goldenstein today, but that doesn't mean people can't use gold as money - ie, buy it now for the purpose of selling it later. (If there was a Goldenstein, and capital flight to gold meant capital flight to Goldenstein, all Goldenstein's industries would disappear and its citizens would just be rich for a living, like Kuwaitis. But fortunately, there is no Goldenstein.)

So people move their savings to Goldenstein because gold is going up. And gold goes up because people are moving their savings to Goldenstein. At the end of this cycle, gold is the standard medium of saving and dollars are a kind of soft, hot-potato currency - a North American Peso.

But while this effect - perhaps best simply described as capital flight to gold, or CFG - now appears to be occurring to some extent, it is occurring much less than my evil theory would predict! And it has not yet devoured the entire financial universe. Although that's certainly one of the things that could happen on Monday. But all this talk of gotterdammerungs does leave one a bit blase - does it not, Maurice?

The problem with my evil theory, as of 2006, is that it predicted that either (a) the dollarsphere had already exploded, or (b) would explode, spontaneously, as soon as the theory was properly stated. (a) was inherently false; (b) did not happen.

Therefore, there was some unknown variable in my evil equations. Ha ha! I would have to try again. Egg again, on Dr. Lizardo's face. But surely, any day now, the universe will end! (And it will come, to Dr. Lizardo it will come, and ask him to rule. Laugh while you can, monkey-boy.)

In fact it turns out that whatever JPM was alleged to be doing, it has a considerable resemblance to one good candidate for the missing variable. That is: the gold price is (or was) being managed by the production of artificial gold.

Since the price of all goods is set by supply and demand, the price of any good can be managed down by the creation of arbitrary supply. Who would buy artificial gold? Simple - someone who wanted to make a dollar when the price of gold went up a dollar. Who would sell it? Simple - anyone willing to lose a dollar when the price of gold went up a dollar.

In other words: to a gold investor, ie, someone betting on the gold market, artificial gold is just as good as regular gold. Actually, this is not quite true. But at a crude level, it is true. And to all conventional financial analyses, it is true. Thus, you can expect there to be a fair amount of artificial gold ("paper gold") around.

Even (perhaps especially) among the goldbugs, there is a considerable confusion between two kinds of artificial gold. Let's call them virtual gold and synthetic gold. Moreover, the (now highly suspect) London gold market itself does not distinguish between these types of claim, considering both unallocated.

Virtual gold (VG) is artificial gold that's backed, on the balance sheet of the issuer, by some kind of future gold receivable - eg, a gold forward. This is typically maturity-transformed, a stupid and dangerous practice, but one that is conventional in both bullion and regular banking. So, for instance, Buns & Buns of London might have written a promise to deliver gold in 3 months, backed by a Barrick promise to deliver gold in 36 months.

Again, if this seems dangerous, that's because it is dangerous. In a gold maturity crisis, as all holders of artificial gold demand allocated gold, gold interest rates spike - gold now is much more desirable than gold later.

But gold interest rates are tied by arbitrage to dollar interest rates. So what happens when this irresistible force meets that immovable object? Come on. In nature, what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? What happens is a giant sucking financial death-vortex singularity, that's what. Don't ask these kind of things if you don't want the answer.

And even if it wasn't, that's probably still what I'd predict! But that's virtual gold - artificial gold backed by future gold production. Dangerous - but not lethal. At least, not especially lethal.

Now we turn to synthetic gold. This is also described as a speculative or naked short. A writer of synthetic gold is willing to lose a dollar for every dollar that gold goes down, and has collateral to back it up. Unlike the writer of virtual gold, who gets that dollar back when future gold rises (assuming gold interest rates do not decouple from dollar interest rates), the synthetic alchemist by definition has no gold to back his Mephistophelean paper.

The creation of synthetic commodities and/or securities is a normal aspect of a modern financial market. There is nothing inherently unhealthy about it. However, derivatives are not as safe as conventional theory would make them.

First, it is a fallacy to assume that collateralization can render any loan, however short-term, risk-free. There is no such thing as a risk-free loan. The possibility that the price of the collateral will fall faster than it can be sold, resulting in negative equity, always exists. This is especially the case when the collateral protects, or purports to protect, the lender against systemic risk. Collateral cures systemic risk like a good hot shower cures AIDS.

(The same is true of "clearinghouses." The modern term "clearinghouse" is actually derived from the Old German klarenhaus, a bit of Hamburg wharf argot meaning "too big to fail.")

Suppose you buy a CDS that pays you 1 euro if Greece defaults. Greece defaults. What do you have? A euro? No - a piece of paper, saying someone is supposed to pay you a euro. Who wrote this piece of paper? Who does it obligate? Do they even still exist? You didn't used to have to worry about this stuff. You didn't used to have to worry about Greece! Idiot. Or at least: if you mark this piece of paper at 1 euro on your balance sheet, you're fooling either yourself or someone else. Its expected value may not be much less than 1 euro; it is certainly less.

The government, of course, could pay off on private credit-default swaps. Typically this is the implicit solution - better mathematical finance, through fiat currency! And it has been done before. But not so much again, I think. What saved the world, or purportedly saved the world, in 2008 was a lot of one-off tricks - emergency authorities that could not possibly become routine. This time, things will have to get worse. The old emergency powers are dissipating rapidly, as emergency powers do.

And more practically, if you are one of the people who bet on the collapse of Greece, the people who are going to pay off on that bet are under the thumbs of the people you bet against! No one in Brussels wants to print a bunch of euros, just to pay off speculators and Jews like you.

But this is a minor quibble, compared to the real problem with synthetic gold.

The real problem with synthetic gold is: gold is not wheat. Demand for gold is monetary demand, ie, reservation demand. It is not consumption demand, as in wheat. Therefore, the creation of synthetic wheat by wheat traders should not have a substantial and predictable effect on wheat prices. This is not the case for gold.

Assuming for simplicity that all gold is held as monetary gold, the gold-dollar exchange ratio is set by the size of the gold stockpile and the marginal desire of gold and dollar holders to exchange their loot. If you expand the gold stockpile, you dilute the demand for gold. If you create synthetic gold, you lower the price for gold - just as if you were minting it in a nuclear reactor in your basement. Since your synthetic gold is (almost) just as good as physical gold, it passes perfectly well for the stuff.

A more sophisticated game can be played by minting arbitrary amounts of synthetic gold to move the physical market around, then buying it back to manage the size of the short position. As far as I can tell, this is what is alleged in the case of JPM. This is probably not profitable unless there is some external way to profit by manipulating the price. But here, great opacity descends.

The short takeaway is that in principle, synthetic gold can manipulate the gold market down, so long as the creator of the synthetic gold either (a) profits asymmetrically from success, or (b) is willing to accumulate a large naked short position. Whether (a) or (b), is the case in the case of JPM (or even whether this announcement is real) we cannot say at this time.

What remains puzzling, however, is the existence of any synthetic gold at all, in a world in which gold prices have been rising more or less steadily for a decade. Over this time, everyone who has issued these derivatives has been, on average, losing money. So why do they still do it? How can they still do it? It is not clear to me that quantitative finance can make money flow upstream. But then again, there is the government to consider.

In any case, if JPM has large naked short positions in gold and silver, and now is forced to close them, there will probably be trucks of chanting, machete-waving militia driving through your neighborhood by Wednesday or so. Short, dark men - speaking something that isn't Spanish. Arabic? Mayan? Kenyan? Have the Bilderbergers have been breeding them, in camps in the Sierras? Is this the New World Order, as Rush foretold? Alas, the television is already off. Arm yourself. Go to the window. Soon, the midget race war will begin.


Anonymous jkr said...

This all sounds a lot like Antal E. Fekete's work.

See for youself what he's been writing about:

Read some of his 08-09 pieces on backwardization in the gold market.

Read his article on The Marginal Productivity of Debt. A lot of great stuff in the archives.

I think Fekete has something valuable to say, though I'm not fully sure what.

What I've heard is, "watch the gold basis."

Just browsed this article,

It all adds up to a sort of sudden "gold unavailable at any price," rather than a long, drawn out inflation induced dollar collapse.

It's been a while since I read his stuff, but you should if you're interested. Or if you don't like to read, just buy physical gold.

May 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger nazgulnarsil said...

qualitative predictions aren't that useful if the time periods don't mesh in any useful way with your demand for consumable goods.

May 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Bron said...

There is also virtual gold backed by straight physical bullion, which is a different risk compared to one backed by gold receivables.

I see no realistic case for sustained synthetic gold positions by bullion banks. If they were willing to take such a short position would they not just create as much synthetic gold as necessary to prevent gold rising above $400? Only plausible scenario is Government involvement.

May 8, 2010 at 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Devin Finbarr said...

perhaps best simply described as capital flight to gold, or CFG - now appears to be occurring to some extent, it is occurring much less than my evil theory would predict

I'm not sure why Moldbug feels the need to delve into conspiracy theory in order to explain why the remonetization has not happened.

The obvious reason is that while people are putting more money into gold for safety and diversification, people do not want to risk putting their entire portfolio in gold. For instance I put about 5-10% of my portfolio in gold, as a hedge against the fall of the dollar. Another portion of my portfolio is in stocks, which have many of the same benefits as gold (in terms of being a hedge against dilution), but have better political protection, better tax treatment, and

And of course, there is a limit to the amount of capital flight to gold that can occur. There is still tens of trillions in outstanding dollar denominated debt. As dilution occurs, capital gains and other tax revenue increases, driving up tax revenue. As tax revenue catches up with (and perhaps exceeds) spending, dilution is halted, and dollars may be too scarce to pay off private debt, and there is a deflation.

The risk of this deflation is great enough to prevent myself from dumping by CD's and bonds altogether. Thus I maintain my portfolio spread across bonds, stocks, and gold. If others think like me, the result is a slow rise in the price of gold, but no spontaneous remonetization.

May 8, 2010 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

"You didn't used to have to worry about Greece!"
It's been in default roughly half the years since independence.

"if you mark this piece of paper at 1 euro on your balance sheet, you're fooling either yourself or someone else. Its expected value may not be much less than 1 euro; it is certainly less."
CDS are typically bought by people who are hedging existing investments exposed to said default, so they probably didn't expect that 1 euro to ever be paid and of course paid less than 1 euro for the CDS. And you may, as Goldman Sachs did, buy CDSs on the party that sold you other CDSs (since we don't know who they bought those from, we don't know if they also bought CDSs on them!).

The only place I've heard Fekete mentioned before is Usually very critically. Apparently an adherent of the Real Bills Doctrine, whose only exponent I've actually encountered online is Mike Sproul. The Real Bills Doctrine is blamed for the failure of the Fed during the Great Depression here and here.

May 8, 2010 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

I'd be surprised if MM doesn't understand the reality of credit deflation and the giant sucking sound emanating from all the credit markets, destroying dollars as it were, faster than any printing Bernanke would dare.

I think what worries MM relates to what I posted above, as posited by people like Antal Fekete.

All these shenanigans with paper gold and manipulation could lead quickly to a sudden rush for physical gold and a total loss of trust in anything but actual gold. That is, a rejection of gold futures in favor of physical, a breakdown in the ETFs, etc. No gold at any dollar price. Hoarding of gold by the powerful and informed people.

What that would mean, I don't know, but it wouldn't bode well for the dollar system.

Gold has never become truly and permanently de-monetized. It has always been in the background, shadowing the dollar system as a possible anchor of stability, and always available to the wary investor.

If all that breaks down, it could spell the certain decline of the US dollar standard system, even if it wasn't immediate and sudden. Certain in the sense of, irreversible.

It may seem cliche, but no fiat currency has ever lasted, and none ever will. Whether you realize it or not, today's US dollars will be quaint artifacts, museum pieces, or wallpaper at some future point. That is a guaranteed inevitability, and anyone who doesn't know this is so childishly naive and myopic as to be not regarded seriously.

If the buck is not anchored to gold at some point before America's fall from grace, from, err, full spectrum dominance, haha, it will shortly thereafter join the French assignat and Argentinian peso in the graveyard of fiat currencies.

May 8, 2010 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Well, TGGP, Fekete's been pretty critical of the mises crowd too.

And investor Erich Sprott had a sponsoring relationship w/ Fekete for a time. He's no bullshit.

He might be wrong, be he's not a crank.

He knows a lot more of what the mises crowd doesn't know... just as the mises crowd probably knows a lot more about what it is interested in, which Fekete might have overlooked.

None of us are completely right. We all just have a grasp at a piece of the thread, none of us knows ultimately what it is we're grasping at.

May 8, 2010 at 7:40 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


Here are some of the articles I remember reading, related to your comments. For some reason they're pdf, but they're not long articles.

Detractor's of Adam Smith's Real Bills Doctrine, by Antal E. Fekete

Where Mises Went Wrong, by Antal E. Fekete

Real Bills: "Waggon-way in the air"

Open the Mint to Gold! by Antal E. Fekete

Article archives:

May 8, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Off-topic: South Korean class projects on Thomas Carlyle: 1 2 3. Behold the 21st-century neo-Victorian revival! Via Vichy F.

May 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM  
Anonymous jhl said...

" So what happens when this irresistible force meets that immovable object? "

One of my least favorite expressions. High School physics: a = F/m ... Every force is irresistible, every object is movable.

May 8, 2010 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I'm kind of frustrated with this style of reasoning, as if the forces that obsessed me were the only forces acting. Are there not great numbers of influential people and entities that would be greatly inconvenienced by a remonetization? They exert some back pressure, and so a balance is achieved. And this is surprising, surprising enough to require a conspiratorial hypothesis? I have a feeling that goldbuggy arguments could have been made to seem as convincing in 1960 as they do to us today, and we would then have waiting for the big crunch that never came for 50 years.

May 8, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

I do not see how gold can ever become the "standard medium of saving" - there isn't enough of it!

The twentieth century saw many instances of radical currency devaluation. They did not lead to the readoption of the gold standard anywhere that I can think of. Instead, a new currency is issued, the old currency is deemed almost valueless against the new currency, and lots of people find themselves poorer than they thought they were. Gold is an asset but it's not going to be a currency, except in the sense that cigarettes in prison can also be a "currency".

May 8, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


Check out the zerohedge blog archive on the gold manipulation going on in the nixon admin. You're correct.

That doesn't mean it can go on forever. The problem today is Debt. It will continue to strangle the economy. Gold is just a way of wiping out the strangling debt in a one-off shot, and having a stable monetary base thereafter.

All things depend in the end on political realities, of course. Governments aren't going to give up their ability to print (steal) as they deem needed.

What's so disgusting is how frivolously they squander this sovereign right in the most shameless, self-serving ways.

The problem with our 'sovereigns' is that they're squatters and interlopers, who should be tarred feathered and shipped off on a rail car. They're like the King and the Duke in Huckleberry Finn.

May 8, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

"They're like the King and the Duke in Huckleberry Finn."

That's just so perfectly apt an image I had to LoL.

May 8, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Currencies that collapsed in the 20th Century were not the U.S. dollar. For example, during the Wiemar hyperinflation, the U.S. dollar exchange rate was a frequent topic of discussion and that was before Bretton Woods.

When the U.S. dollar weakens, Americans will not be up at night wondering where they can get their hands on some Japanese yen or Vietnamese dong. Neither will anyone else be. Their looking at their POS paper and thinking, if the greenback is dead, why not this? Let alone that much of their paper is actually backed by U.S. dollars.

It's entirely possible that the Europeans, Americans, Russians, Indians, Chinese and Japanese will agree to make SDRs the new global currency, but how much damage will have been done before then?

Gold is very unlikely to be the transaction asset again, there will always be a form of paper, now digital, to take care of transfers. Add in the silver and other precious metals, and there is really plenty of metal to do the job. In fact there is too much, and the smart money will already be trading their metals for property and other assets before the greatest bubble in world history fully inflates.

May 8, 2010 at 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been in default roughly half the years since independence.

Yeah, but until very recently, nobody had to give a shit.

May 8, 2010 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

Huh huh. Huh huh. You said "dong".

May 9, 2010 at 1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me the connection between a midget war, and the movie MM is linking too. I read it, and there is a midget in it, but I have no idea what the hell metaphor he is alluding to.

May 9, 2010 at 2:22 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

The argument that paper gold is distorting its price would be a lot more credible if the forward curve were flatter, ie if lease rates were higher. In fact they are very low (negative for much of the past year.) This isn't as you say a function of interest rates alone, but also of insurance and vault expenses. In short, the market is more keen to sell physical gold than forward gold, even though forward gold is worth more. this can only happen when there is a lot of physical gold hanging around in vaults, slowly losing its owners money, information confirmed by COMEX warehouse statistics. ie, if paper positions are distorting the price, they're distorting it upward.

There are dozens of ways to hedge fiat currency inflation other than buying metal slabs that sit idle in a basement. Real estate, infrstructure assets, shipping, any of these kicks off more income than a bar of gold.

There is zero incentive for JPMorgan to manipulate the price of gold, nor could they sustain such a conspiracy. All their forward gold positions I'm sure are marked to market, and we would see large losses on their quarterlies if they were holding any big "unmatched" short positions.

May 9, 2010 at 4:11 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...


Make any headway with Fekete's stuff?

Surely you're busy, just wondering if you checked any of it out.

May 9, 2010 at 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic: my new yahoo widget says this blog has pagerank 6. That's pretty impressive. If mencius ever falls on hard times he could build an amazon affiliate seo empire..

May 10, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger godescalc said...

Anonymous: the midget from In Bruges fantasises about a coming race war of blacks vs. whites. (That the race war should exclusively involve midgets is a touch added by Mr. Moldbug.)

May 11, 2010 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's being done by the Gnomes of Zurich and the Bildeburgers, under the direction of the Boy Sprouts.

May 11, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Are all comments now moderated or just on the TFS thread?

May 14, 2010 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

I don't think *any* comments are actually moderated.

I suppose if we all started spewing nothing but swear words and venom with no content he'd turn comments off. If a total troll decamped here and made such a constant nuisance of themselves and simply wouldn't relent he might find a way to ban them.

Other than the occasional fly-by freakos we haven't had that to excess, so anarchy is loosed upon the UR comments section I think.

Which means we're occasionally jerks to each other but the comments are generally-passably-substantive because of the self-selecting nature of the participants.

If UR got a whole lot more popular the comment threats would pass through the usual stages of Undermoderated Forum Degeneration.

Then either moderation would be imposed (I don't think he wants to waste his own time on imposing order) *or* all the good people would leave and the comments devolve into worthlessness, *or* and thus *probably* he would simply turn off comments.

So far it's actually a model of his preferred dynamic: A small self-selected elite that uses its liberty more-or-less wisely* can be trusted with freedom, but if it became a mass thing order would ultimately have to be *imposed* because a sufficient number of people would just be jerks. The imposed order can consist of dispersing the mob with grapeshot (closing comments and forcing us all off to our own venues) or by authoritarianism (moderator or moderators imposing rules as they see fit).

*(there are numerous exceptions of trolling, mini-minor flame wars, &tc but they haven't gotten out of hand to the point of ruining things.

May 14, 2010 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I suppose I should delete the above post--but The Froude Society comments are definitely modded.

May 14, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

I hadn't noticed that, but I'm oblivious half the time.

May 14, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Yeah they're modded, hence no comments in days. I posted two short comments in reply to Mitchell, referencing Spengler. I guess Spengler isn't on mencius' list of worthy writers.

I don't know what the Froude society is supposed to be, other than works mencius has specifically read and likes. That's pretty lightweight, hence the need for moderation. It's definitely not a matter of date or period, or region. It's all a bit arbitrary.

What's the criteria, what's the definition of a Froudean work, other than a work by Froude. Does Froude consider himself part of an intellectual continuum with Maine or Carlyle, the way Spengler thought of himself as indebted to Goethe and Nietzsche? Or are they just English conservatives, and hence failures. They did not preserve the British Empire and its dominions.

I understand that these works may be good and valuable works, but I don't see how they're distinguished from other good and valuable works.

May 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Yes, I noticed this weekend too, after I had blithered on here that it was unmoderated as far as I knew, that he had turned moderation on.

I posted a reply to Mitchell, with my own poor interpretation.

Perhaps MM is going to answer Mitchell himself

May 17, 2010 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Maybe if you post here, the censor won't notice.

May 17, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

I loved this quote from Nietzsche's The Joyful Wisdom (Gay Science, 1882), Book Four, 338.

And although silent here about some things, I will not, however, be silent about my morality, which says to me: Live in concealment in order that thou mayest live to thyself. Live ignorant of that which seems to thy age to be most important! Put at least the skin of three centuries betwixt thyself and the present day! And the clamour of the present day, the noise of wars and revolutions, ought to be a murmur to thee! Thou wilt also want to help, but only those whose distress thou entirely understandest, because they have one sorrow and one hope in common with thee thy friends: and only in the way that thou helpest thyself: I want to make them more courageous, more enduring, more simple, more joyful! I want to teach them that which at present so few understand, and the preachers of fellowship in sorrow least of all: namely, fellowship in joy!

May 17, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

I've finished two of the books and have no idea what I'm supposed to say or do. Maybe we need a topic or something for discussion.

May 18, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

josh just post a long verbose agreement w/ mm about something and it'll go up. or try to get carlyle to speak from the grave about the future of search, like a tech seance.

May 18, 2010 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

MM's biggest mistake, part of a long tradition of a noble mistake, is to assume that the flimsy weapon called "education" can foster a new elite and recapture the institutions thereby in some manner, as if the elite we have today, or at any time in the past, is the product primarily of its education or even of its mis-education.

Since the end of the enlightenment we've had a long line of such noble gurus, at least since the mid-nineteenth century, with all the supposed facts in their arsenal, proclaiming the goal and object of their work as the capturing of the elite or rearing a new elite, and ignoring the sentimental masses.

When has this ever worked? When has the primary motivation of an elite ever been the facts, rather than sentiment, public taste, status and tangible interests, and following the mood and direction of the times? Today's elite is as much the product of propaganda and sentimental appeals as are the lowest masses.

How is an intellectual or educational movement supposed to create anything that could compete with or replace an organic elite, bound and united by its common interests, rules, and dogmas?

The elite today is as timid as the masses, no, more so. The poorest and dumbest and those with the least to lose are today the class with the best voting record, the most 'traditional' attitudes, the strongest families (power over their women, large families), the most contact with politically incorrect realities. They're the least exposed to and infected by intellectual propaganda, being only exposed to k-12 and the crudest entertainment propaganda thereafter. The elites are the most indoctrinated and most impervious to intellectual conversion from any quarter.

No, education won't do the job with elites any more than with masses, so let's stop fooling ourselves with that line of thinking, which infects so much of the intellectual Right. The elite is just as much under the sway of visceral propaganda and social indoctrination as any other strata of the society, in fact much more so, in order to be able to swallow the official line in the face of such immense scientific and historical evidence to the contrary of democracy and equality. The masses are mostly ignorant of the scientific and historical evidence that contradicts the official religion of Democracy, the Cathedral, etc. They just have ground-level and personal knowledge of the contrary realities, as well as different social pressures, and are closer to their parental education, lacking as they are in any University level re-education.

Does MM think he's the first noble ass with the idea of using the blunt, flimsy instrument of education to counter the Age and it's elite, it's Idea, and all the images, pressures and winds of the Age that created them?

When MM acquires major financial backing, buys 2 television networks, 5 major cinema studios, 2 top newspapers, and 5 top private universities... maybe some defense contractors, and raises an army of mid-level flunkies to churn out his propaganda... let me know.

Education isn't going to raise that army of bureaucrats and desk-sitters, either. Nor would it raise an army of soldiers.

May 18, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


The only thing that's going to reverse the present trend of decline and disintegration is the entropy of its own disorder and collapse, a brilliant thing most of us will probably behold in our lifetimes. This means, the raw self interest of large communities organized, or reorganized, for physical and economic self-defense, made stronger and stricter by danger, want, and collapse; new organic elites formed by necessity, conflict, and resolution of conflict with new powers on top. Only new conquerors create new religions. Power is the first condition, every thing else follows from that. If the present elite was 'doing is job,' so to speak, keeping the trains running on time, it wouldn't have to worry about this eventuality for a long time yet. Maybe it still won't for a while yet; none of us knows how much more life can be squeezed out of the present absurd order if necessity (survival) dictates it.

Does MM have any other weapons in his arsenal than intellectual conversion, ... 'education' ?

May 18, 2010 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Dear Ms. Rowling,

I believe you misunderstand MM, or at least as I have interpreted his intentions regarding "The Froude Society."

That is, I think that MM is using "education" to bring in a group of folks who can then do all of those taste-making things to which you refer.

My supposition is that MM is trying to ape the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Whether it works or not remains to be seen--but it's a more effective idea that simple "education."

May 20, 2010 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Mopenhauer said...

One useful way to revive obscure books is to record audiobooks on librivox. I know that it has lead me to listen to tons of obscure public domain literature I never would have met.

They have Carlye's kings of Norway now.

So the best thing the Froude Society can do now is volunteer to read out loud Victorian books!

GK Chesterton and Belloc did some interesting work on rehabilitating feudalism and monarchy compared to parliament.

Thats something how the Anglo-Catholics recaptured the Church from the Evangelical low church.

What do you make of Carlye and Froud's support of Oliver Cromwell's original Republicanism?

May 20, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I still haven't read any Fekete. There are so many other distractions.

"The poorest and dumbest and those with the least to lose are today the class with the best voting record, the most 'traditional' attitudes, the strongest families (power over their women, large families)"
You are just plain wrong. Richer, more educated folks have lasting marriages, keeping their sons of the pipe and their daughters off the pole. The "traditional" attitudes of the poor should be thought of as analogous to the puritanism of the famously pederastic & feuding Pushtuns: they know they can't behave properly by themselves and so need a strict code to adhere to. Similarly, recovering alcoholics don't allow themselves a drop (they also frequently fall of the wagon). Poor uneducated men may also beat their women, but functionally their families are more characterized as absent-father matriarchies. And if by "better voting track record" you mean voting Republican, then of course the poor have a worse record. Read Andrew Gelman.

Regarding MM's strategy: He's made a number of suggestions. An initial one was to convince the right to give up, convince the left they had nothing to fear and could hence begin governing like stable monarchies/benevolent asian autocracies. Riding the eXile/Vice wave of "orange" journalism mocking liberalism as the new ultra-atheist anti-clericalism was supposed to play a part as well. Later on he placed his hope in Uberfact/Revipedia or other online sources of correct & trusted information that will cause everyone to reject the University. I still don't see how those would be any better than Wikipedia or avoid the fate of Conservapedia. Later on he floated the possibility of some way for military officers to communicate with untraceable but trusted identities and so coordinate to carry out a coup. His most recent, and awful in my view, suggestion is a "True Election" where Obama/Palin is declared dictator and gets to recreate the small-c constitution from scratch.

May 20, 2010 at 6:56 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Ms. Palmer said:

"MM is using "education" to bring in a group of folks who can then do all of those taste-making things to which you refer."

That's exactly the thing to which I objected. I stated that the strategy of cobbling together an elite or vanguard of intellectual renegades or independent thinkers or whatever name they might be called by, is a tried and failed piece of naivete. A patchwork of intellectual converts as the means of forging an organic elite committed to political (i.e., backed by force, the will to sacrifice lives) goals... How played out and beaten into the ground is this little supposition, this presumptuous, vain, self glorifying absurdness, late as it is in the 21st century.

How many intellectual giants have labored away their decades attempting this with no effect? Don't answer, none of us knows, because they're all as obscure as MM. Why would anyone expect it to be different? Religions may once have worked this way, sweeping over large areas with the force of power behind them, and gathering up power as they spread, in very different times, but not what mencius is preaching.

NONE of the intellectual waves of change (with political consequences) that were successful during the past century were so because they had the "better facts" on their side.

Ms. Palmer said:

"My supposition is that MM is trying to ape the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood."

Whether it works or not remains to be seen--but it's a more effective idea that simple "education."

I read the wiki, I don't see the comparison you're trying to draw. What does this artist's retreat have to do with the Political. Artists make art. Intellectuals don't make political decisions! Nor do they create or steer the elites that do, which was the point of my comments. You can't create or convert a political elite with "better facts." Few people care about facts! It's vanity to think you can. It's almost megalomania to actually believe you can, pleasant mm though it may be.

Even a whole TEN MMs, of all colors, could not hatch enough encyclopediasts of the Victorian to make a dent in the Cathedral, or any kind of power moves, or even try to put their hands on the present elite, if only as gentle instructors and tutors.

How is this not understood? What am I missing?

May 20, 2010 at 7:49 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


"Richer, more educated folks have lasting marriages, keeping their sons of the pipe and their daughters off the pole."

Anecdotal... Let's talk about fertility rates, divorce rates, by region and socioeconomic status, within specific ethnic cohorts. Bear in mind, in my comments I'm really only talking about Americans. Any group in America that identifies foremost with its own co-ethnics as an outside minority, falls outside my comments, especially groups genetically set up for failure and who'd all be in gutter poverty without talent scouts and sports agents at their high schools. But...

"The "traditional" attitudes of the poor should be thought of as analogous to the puritanism..."

People who haven't been to university or who work with their hands, aren't necessarily synonymous with rabble or peasantry. All I'm saying is that today, when the upper classes are so inverted and turned inside out intellectually, and the sub-upper classes merely escape as powerful a brainwashing by escaping higher education and journalism... its clear that our elites aren't open to "better facts" as a source of incentive for their behavior and actions. They're moved and motivated by the same thing as their lesser brethren, and often spun around even worse, as far as their attitudes and political beliefs go.

I'm not advocating the poor-as-ideal, my god, far be it from me to glorify the Redstates, nascar, or talk about Texas, or praise evangelicals... et al... please don't get me wrong.

I'm only trying to make a limited point about the behavior of elites... and how futile "educating" them with our facts could be as a means of making political waves of change of our own.

"...functionally their families are more characterized as absent-father matriarchies. And if by "better voting track record" you mean voting Republican, then of course the poor have a worse record."

Remember, I'm really only talking about conditions within white ethnic groups who fully identify as American... Outside the American majority, all groups identify foremost with their group... they don't count toward any meaningful analysis, they'll NEVER be on the "conservative" side... in fact, the "conservative" impulse for them -- ethnic cohesion and solidarity, cultural tradition -- plants them on the left and with the Revolution.

"Regarding MM's strategy: He's made a number of suggestions."

None of which fall outside what I described as "educating elites with better facts so they Do The Right Thing according to Our Ideology," in which they have no interest, to which they have no connection... etc. How naive is that?

May 20, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I happened to come across this via Radley Balko on divorce, a lucky coincidence that saves me the troubling of googling such stats:

I don't have time now, but will try to respond to your comments this weekend.

May 20, 2010 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Ms. Rowling,

As the author of the Harry Potter series, one would expect you are aware of the ability of a small group to influence the larger world.

Perhaps you are not taking a long enough view. As progressives have demonstrated, education/indoctrination and style win out in the end.

Gina Melinda

May 21, 2010 at 6:28 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

lol... thanks for the fine compliment mangina.

May 21, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

You guys are funny.

May 21, 2010 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

"Perhaps you are not taking a long enough view... education/indoctrination and style win out in the end."

Yea, style is so enduring generation to generation. How'd I miss that.

Indoctrination and education are massively different things. Indoctrination depends on power, works through propaganda and social pressures. Education, ala mencius, is a fact presenting contest. Presentation, style, is important, but pretending to be cool and cutting edge with your political incorrectness doesn't make it catchy.

May 21, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

As I feared, you're missing the point entirely.

Education is indoctrination.
Fashion changes, but the coopting of style is imperative to anything aspiring to a "movement"

Or did Obama win on ability?

May 21, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


Obama's your key witness?

Did Bush win on ability?

So they must have the same style, which explains it all. I was missing the point. The sheer charm and style of Bush/Obama indocrinated, or should I say, educated, the voters. Potato, pototo.

If only Mencius could harness the Bush/Obama style-power, he could be true elected in 2012. Is that what the Mayans were talking about?

May 21, 2010 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Successful troll is successful.

May 21, 2010 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Non E'Ofyour said...

I'm looking forward to the next post..

May 22, 2010 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

The next post in this comments thread?

Well, this is it, and was it all you hoped it might be? (If so, you have low standards).

Or the next blog post? That's what I'm hoping for, and hoping it will contanin more brilliant insights (even if askewniversely not quite right - but attempting to be correct!) and less crankery...and especially less wire-pulling by the Gnomes of Zurich and the Bavarial Illuminati acting under the direction of the Boy Sprouts.

May 22, 2010 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Non E'Ofyour said...

The next blogpost. Now I'm reading yours tough.

May 23, 2010 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MM stirring the pot at abu muqawhatever:

May 24, 2010 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks anon!

May 24, 2010 at 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some interesting data...

Vienna tops list, Baghdad and Port au Prince in bottom 10, out of 221.

I wonder why the discrepancy between the German vs Anglo area. All the top cities are on the continent.

"Seven cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been ranked among the 10 best in the world for quality of living, according to a survey published today.

Vienna has the world's best quality of living, according to global consultancy Mercer, with Zurich and Geneva just behind it and Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Bern also in the top 10.

Only five British cities made it into the top 100 – London is the highest at 39 followed by Aberdeen (53), Brimingham (55), Glasgow (57) and Belfast (63).

Popular cities including Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh were omitted from the list on the grounds that they are not popular with companies as relocation bases. Baghdad and Port-au-Prince were in the bottom 10 of the 221 cities that the survey compared, with Baghdad at 221..."

May 26, 2010 at 5:58 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Did mencius get popped? I heard he took a bunch of Tweeds into the hood and started flashing gang sings.

He was last seen driving in a pimp'd out hoopdie loaded wih tweed bedecked midgets, shouting viva la pre-revolution & long live the king. The long awaited race war commences.

Let us know you're alright, MM. We need you.

May 26, 2010 at 8:25 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

The BBC picked up the story. MM was seen shouting "Rise and rise again, until dwarfs become Brahmins" as he lunged into the fray.

In a related story, MMMA: A pre-revolutionary condition?

May 26, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Gulf oil spill really puts the movie "Armageddon" in perspective... Harry Stamper, my ass. We'd all have been dead.

May 27, 2010 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we dispirited the poor man with our constant condecending hectoring, and this blog is a dead blog. It's passed on. This blog is no more. This is an ex-blog.

Either that or MM is pining for the fjords.

May 28, 2010 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Hopefully he's taken some time off to brush up on ideas and works outside the echo chamber of English cant. Going from Mises/Rothbard straight to Carlyle and his circle, kind of skips a lot of important material.

Mises talked about building an ideology without all the bricks, or something like that, and the sooner you realize you don't have the damn bricks, the sooner your should stop building. Maybe MM is out looking for better bricks.

He'll be back and better than ever, and his thought might actually become intellectually defensible. One can hope.

Also, for all the talk about converting an order of elite Brahmins to spread his good news, very few readers seem capable or intent on defending his system or framework of thought. It's just flapping in the wind, shot through with holes.

For all that, it's definately one of the only interesting blogs out there. "One should not be too much in the right if one wishes to have the laughers on ONE’S OWN side; a grain of wrong pertains even to good taste," someone said.

Carlyle's criticism of Emerson certainly can't be applied to MM. He gives us more than enough to "chew on," whether it's nourishing or not.

May 28, 2010 at 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss this blog.

May 28, 2010 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

I keep clicking for my pellet every day.

"A man's got to know his limitations," someone said. MM has his and I pick them to death, but he's always a worthwhile read. Well, except for some of his econ posts, but who knows: On Econ I tend to be able to identify what's wrong far easier than I can define what's right.

Though it certainly is possible that those Gnomes of Zurich and the Bildeburgers are fixing the gold market under the direction of the Boy Sprouts. FACT!

May 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Everyone knows at present that the ability to endure contradiction is a good indication of culture. Some people even know that the higher man courts opposition, and provokes it, so as to get a cue to his hitherto unknown partiality." (Book IV, Sanctus Januarius, 297., The Joyful Wisdom, F. Nietzsche)

May 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

'Karsten' in the comments section at below link has an interesting question...

"At least Germany has an excuse for its dissolution -- it was conquered, occupied by a foreign military (and still is), and subjected to a deliberate program of cultural lobotomization. But what created the wasteland that is modern Britain? That the nation of Byron and Baden-Powell and Cecil Rhodes, the nation that conquered the world, could be reduced to this in half a century, is staggering. Has any great culture ever declined so precipitously?"

Seriously, what is the answer to this?

The only answer I could suggest is that the English made a huge mistake in WWII, and because they lost EVERYTHING they had in opposing Europe, they can never admit their mistake, and thus lose even the fake honor of their supposed victory.

That tremendous loss of real power and prestige left them with nothing to hang on to but the dubious moral honor of having defeated the racist and undemocratic Germans.

Power itself had passed to America's psychopathic elite and budding politically correct tyranny. The few remaining British of honor were drowned out and pushed aside and had no moral ground to stand on, as their father's empire was dismantled and foreclosed by the noteholder, USA.

How could they hold on to both that dubious moral honor of having shredded Europe and defeated fascism, AND hang on to their hard-won imperial possesions, torn from the poor and colored races by force? How could anything of Anglo pride, culture and imperial power survive the moral commitment to the Allied war aims and political ethos?

Does anyone else have thoughts on Karsten's disturbing question?

May 29, 2010 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger drank said...

Though it certainly is possible that those Gnomes of Zurich and the Bildeburgers are fixing the gold market under the direction of the Boy Sprouts. FACT!

Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow and the Orbital Mind Control Lasers have to be in play here somewhere!

May 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


[ Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, the president of America
[ Crowd Cheering ]
[ Announcer] President Obama
[ Laughing ]

Obama: Shut up. Shut up. Sit your monkey ass down. - Chill out.

Shiiit. I know shit's bad right now, with all that starvin' bullshit.
And the dust storms. And we runnin' out of French fries and burrito coverings.
But I got a solution.

[Rep. Wilson]: That's what you said last time, dipshit!

I got a solution. You're a dick!
- South Carolina, whats up!

Obama: [fires ak47. crowd silent]

That's what I thought!
Now, I understand everyone's shit's emotional right now...but listen up.
I got a three-point plan to fix everything.

[ Rev. Wright ] Break it down, Obama!

Obama: Number one, we got this guy, Bernanke.
- Number two, he's got a higher I.Q. than any man alive. - [ Cheering ]
- And number three, he's gonna fix everything. - [ Applause]
I give you my woord as president.
He'll fix the problems with all the dead crops.
He's gonna make 'em grow again.
And that ain't all. I give you my wooord.
He's gonna fix the dust storms too.
I give you my wooord.
He's gonna fix the ''eeecomony.''
And he's so smart...
- he gon' do it all in one week. - [ Crowd Cheering ]

[ Narrator] President Obama stood before the world and promised everyone...
that Ben would solve all their problems.
He would not only end the dust bowl and heal the economy...
but he would cure acne and carsickness as well.

May 31, 2010 at 11:07 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

some more idiocracy lines...

"wheres your tatoo? tatoo. why dont you have this?

why come u dont have a tatoo. youre not unscannable are u. ur unscannable. unscannable!"

"extra big ass fries"

carls jr. "fuck off, i'm eating"

cop: is this paricular individual [joe] the unfit mother?

payphone: welcome to aol-time warner-taco bell-us government long distance... please deposit 2,000 dollars be connected.

cop: ok sir... we're engaged in procuring your tatoo.

ok sir, now we will begin to proceed to obtain your iq and aptitude tests.

ok sir. this is to figure out what your aptitude is good at and get you a jail job while youre being a particular individual in jail.

"Go away, i'm baitin!"

you broke my house...

about the time machine... "and it breaks all the time cuz some smart guy made it a long time ago."

"listen.. i, i supersize with you, but didnt you go to jail for not having enough money?"

police: open the door. we're looking for an escaped individual. he seemed to be headed for this particular domistile.

welcome to costco, i love you.

...yeah i know this place pretty good, i went to law school here.

dangerous fugitive in aisle 16,702...

president camacho:
"so you smart, huh?..... i thought yo head would be bigger. god damn, look like a peanut. lets get ya sworn in."

May 31, 2010 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Nolo said...

I've been a reader of UR for maybe four months now, but I've never commented before. This post doesn't have anything to do with Dollarstan, but I figured I'd slap it up on the front page so that people have something of a chance to see it. I've read all of your current works dating back to perhaps the beginning of the year, and I've also swallowed the sodium core of your Gentle Introduction, and have started to pick away with my feeble pickaxe at your blog from the beginning, and I have gotten so far as August 2007.

Anyway, my question, which comes after reading this:
is, do you think that Christianity, which extolls the virtues of a suffering, sacrificial hero, inherently tends towards democracy? Because Christians are taught to emulate a hero who's sole purpose was to suffer and die, does that perhaps tend towards a system that does just that? Contrast that with, say, Nordic or Greek mythos where children grew up admiring characters like Thor or Heracles, who performed dashing deeds of smiting, building, and getting the girl.

I'm especially eager to hear Mencius' opinion, but anyone else's is welcome, as well.

May 31, 2010 at 11:51 PM  
Anonymous josh said...


I think the right way to think about democracy is as a virus. It has simply overwhelmed the host, destroying the last of Britain's medieval social capital and sense of nationalism. Obviously the same thing is happening in the US.

June 1, 2010 at 4:27 AM  
Anonymous josh said...


I don't think MM would answer that question in the affirmative.

1) He believes the relationship between government and subject should be formal. Security should be through formal physical control, not informal mind-control.

2) He has cited a Canibals All multiple times. A Christian defense of slavery.

3) He associates a form of "orderly" Christianity with Carlyle.

4) His writings on Islam seem to indicate that he believes that germs of various religions are cultivated and exploited for political gains. Hence Christianity could just as easily be Carlyle's Christianity.

5) MM recognizes post Westphalian Christian Europe as the high point of government. He also seems to believe that this system could be made more stable.

6) Its fairly clear that he believes governments drive opinions and not the other way around. He has said multiple times that progressivism owes its popularity to its attachment to power. This would also be the case for democracy.

7) According to MM, modern democracy is the descendant of only a few of the non-conformist sects of Christianity. Both non-conformity and hierarchy can be found in the New Testament.

June 1, 2010 at 4:43 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

"Its fairly clear that he believes governments drive opinions and not the other way around."

A Moldbuggian distinction here needs to be pointed out between the formal structure of government and the informal or "actual" structure of government.

MM has asserted throught that it isn't, for example, the formal structure of the USG that have the most influence on public opinion, it's the informal structure, what he calls the Extended Civil Service, that ultimately rules. (Well, the Supreme Court ultimately rules too, but they tend over time towards the ratification of the positions of the ECS).

The ECS are staffers, regulators, journalists in the Official Press (that which the current Administration wants to formally officialize and pipeline money to), NGOs (the ones already on the public tit as "grant recipients"), public employees unions, the more sociopathic university professors, teachers, &tc.

The ECS is generally composed of members who define the mainstream, and define it as that position held by ~30% of the country, while opinions held by the remaining 70% are declared extreme or reactionary.

They can do this because they're the sail that moves opinion: Where they were 30 years ago, the public will be now. Their opinion now is where the public (such as it is) will be 20 or 30 years from now. What was unquestionable 30 years ago is unthinkable now, and vice versa.

June 1, 2010 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

The above is meant to be what MM states, as best I can describe it in one comment.

IMO while their might be some flaws in it, it's among his best/most useful insights.

The formal institutions (elected representatives &tc) are meant to sedate the public while the real government, the ECS, performs 90% of the acts of governance. The formal laws (such as the laws restricting immigration and discriminating between legal and illegal immigrants) are meant to sedate a public that would react more strongly if the real/actual rules were made explicit (that is, all-but-open borders, with enforcement as a sort of "Security Theater" that the elites would rather do without entirely if they *completely* had their way): That for example is why the ECS's reaction to the Arizona law, which is actually milder than the comparable Federal law, was and is so strong.

They know the Arizona law was intended by those who passed it to be enforced, while those who took an oath to uphold th laws of the United States at the federal level have no intention of enforcing it.

Likewise the strong reaction to people expressing the same position on Gay Marriage that Candidate Obama, now President Obama, supposedly has: They know such people sincerely mean it, while he does not. (Current Gay protesting of Obama notably is not on this issue, but on "Don't Ask/Don't Tell," and is intended to drive policy in the direction Obama was already going anyhow, just not fast enough for them...which follows from the theory, because the ECS & affiliated "groups" *lead* opinion, they don't follow it. The later is the job for the rest of us).

Note that as it turned out, and was obvious at the time to those who understood, the deeply hostile reaction of the ECS to Bush was mainly due to his complete rebellion on Iraq policy. It turns out that the vast majority of his other policies that they opposed they really have no objection to continuing forever (thus the "disillusionment" of spearcarriers/footsoldiers/prole supporters who do *not* understand over the fact that these policies are, rather than being reversed, being refined and extended; but the momentary disillusionment of these minor players don't matter much because in the end they'll do what they're told in the voting booth and mass-mobilization efforts &tc: The memory hole is large, and much can be dropped into it by the willing).

That's right, return to your simple lives, just forget this ever happened. Forget... FOR-GET

June 1, 2010 at 6:31 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Anybody else finding MM increassingly prescient on the Israel/International Community situation?

June 1, 2010 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Josh: Yes, but tbh that one is almost a "gimmie;" even fail people like myself among a minority, but a sizable one, of people could see that coming since the trajectory/vector has been going on for awhile now.

Returning to my earlier babbling, because I just can't help it:

At the UW-Madison about 15 years ago I took a Sociology course taught by a youngish but obviously up-and-comming professors. A few memorable things stand out from his class: 1) That he was greatly interested in the late-19th century Populist movement, which to him formed a sort of "Lost Cause" beside which Progressive reformism was pale by comparison. Secondly in talking about programs and projecting into the future he kept telling us of things that "would happen," whether we liked it or not, such as being on the hook for paying much much higher taxes to fund various programs. Now, this was a UW Madison crowd and thus largely liberal (I myself considered myself a moderate liberal at the time, though already drifting from it), but a sizable number of students (he took questions frequently during lectures &tc) obviously disagreed and even those who agreed with him in principle were dubious things would go that way.

Today this professor, Joel Rogers, is helping write huge stimulous bills, comming up with "green jobs"/"green economy" blueprints, is the (one of the) intellectual force(s) behind programs aimed at promoting increased unionization, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had a hand or at least a finger in the crafting of health care policies. He is after all only one man, a member of a movement that could be described as a machine.

It was from him also that I first learned of the real Williams Jennings Bryan, as opposed to the cartoon version caracatured in "Inherit the Wind" (still an excellent movie/play, regardless): The man was more than a oratorical religious fanatic, he was also brilliant and thoughtful...but also rather Left.

June 1, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

(The remainder here I figured out myself, rather than from Prof. Rogers): Indeed, despite the trends MM identifies and which hold true for most (that historical figures who were on the Left in their day would be conservative today if they held the same opinions), Bryan would rather comfortably fit within the modern Progressive movement, probably right alongside Rev. Jim Wallis. (So there are exceptions to MM's guideline, even though it holds true in most cases).

But the movement threw him on the railroad tracks even so, when it was of utility for them to do so. The machine is more than willing to grind its own individual members, even its leading lights, if it serves its purposes. This is the most chilling, inhumane aspect of a movement that considers itself the vanguard of compassionate, enlightened humanity. If it will grind its own leading lights when it serves its purpose to do so, how caring do you think it will be about *you*.

(One true line in Inherit the Wind that reflects the Movement's attitudes: WJB was, to them, a great man *once* - he served his purpose, and now using him up as a caracature in a modern morality play or in the progressive press at the time, effectively defaming his memory, serves their purpose, so they'll do that; he can be used as a whip against right-wing fundamentalism, as a stand-in for the right-wing fundamentalism in what MM calls an old religious war, even though he was actually *on* *their* *side* *throught* *his* *life* *in* *that* *religious* *war*...welcome to MiniTrue, leave your memory at the door).

Thinking back, I think Professor Rogers was one of the people who shoved me across the line firmly to the conservative side, as thoughtful and engaging as he was (his class was rather good in many ways and he was a nice, if ideological, Professor. Like I said, he readily accepted questions and nobody was shouted down or treated personally wit distain, and though I don't know anyone else's grades, mine didn't suffer for my views, which is not something I can say about a few other Professors whose courses I took): These people are not personally demons necessarily (some are sociopathic, or the political equivalent of sociopaths), no more card-board caracatures than the real WJB was. But their movement - which they willingly and happily not only participate in but guide - is sociopathic, again despite its claims to be the most caring, compassionate force for good in the world today.

If the time and circumstance is right, even the momentarily-mighty-but-largely-invisible Joel Rogers will be thrown from the train and the machine will roll over him and grind him down, too.

June 1, 2010 at 7:33 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...


Maybe the printing of the Bible in large quantities and the spread of literacy to the the populace is responsible for the apparent change in culture. The market for culture is different today than it was when literacy was restricted to a small elite. And the new consumers elected new producers of culture. Ideas must make their appeal to the taste and sentiment of "the people" now, which was never the case before mass printing and mass media, industrial society, etc. The whole traditional structure of society was shattered.

Guns also dramatically shifted the balance in favor democratic trends. Before guns, the strong had some influence to check the power of the sharp, crafty and business-minded, who now rule unchecked and purvey both product and idea to the mass-consumer. Christianity alone can't explain this.

When we talk about books, ideas, religion, culture, etc. at any time before the 18th century, and compare it to today, we're comparing the thoughts and impulses, pleasures and pains of a dominant elite to that of a mass market which never before had the privilege of culture prior to mass-literacy. It's comparing apples to oranges.

There is no longer any RULING CLASS... society, the world is unhinged, strays aimlessly in whatever direction the competing mob of interests, power/money groups, etc. can push/pull it in. No one is really in control anymore. We're just drifting with no one at the rudder... technological developments make their impact and influence, corporate power is unloosed from any oversight and exerts its influence, mass-stupidity and lowest-common denominator taste plays its role, the sharp and money-oriented exert their influence, various ideologies and ethnic interest groups exert their influence, and others push back and try to influence things in the other direction, but at the end of the day no one with any real goal or vision for society has firm control over anything, even if they think they do. The ship has no captain.

June 1, 2010 at 1:17 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

josh... yes, once you fire a king, its hard to get him back again. he doesn't even want the job anymore. he's learned to get by in the chaos without the responsibility of the kingship. maybe the kings abdicated because they realized they could rule their slice of the world fine without the danger of losing their heads on behalf of an ungrateful mob. we're the ones who are f'd, not him. now he's the ceo of bp. haha.

so democracy, or the Buearacracy, won't yield an inch to any potential king, nor are kings lining up waiting for the job. the king wouldn't want the job if offered. so the inertia or entropy of the whole thing leads toward disintegration, like soviet communism. like a virus, but seemingly without political antibodies, something rather which feeds on itself and tends toward greater and greater disorder and disintegration. the Bureaucracy as a whole is a lot like the individual bureaucrat or civil servant, lazy, slow to act, a little obese. but still hard to move or reverse course. not at all like a whip, the form of a lively state.

anyone have any thoughts as to where all the kings are today concentrated? are they ceos, are they criminals, are they cops, are they in asylums? where do the frederick the greats and other born commanders today find their niche and pleasure in life, in their retirement?

June 1, 2010 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Nancy Pelosi recently rambling about enacting The Word as policy is the whole racket gone full-circle, after decades of denouncing religious people trying to "force their views on others" through government and having dropped the overt theism themselves.

But really these roots have never quite gone away; it emerges every time they are in power, from the absurdity of Sharpton and Jackson sitting in moral judgement over us all on any social matter, to Bill Clinton clutching a Bible to his breast, to Jimmy Carter talking about his born-again faith. I have no doubt the later at least was sincere, and even I hesitate to question the faith of Pelosi, only the dubious and overtly political way in which she uses it - but, then, she's never been the mistress of subtle rhetoric. Crude and cudgel-like it has always been, because her constituency, which MM no doubt knows so very well, is entirely undemanding so long as she spreads the One True Faith; they can and will deficate in a Catholic Church while happily pulling the lever for this Catholic who now claims she's motivated by translating The Word into policy, because, as with Obama's stance on Gay Marriage, they know which faith she truly adheres to.

June 1, 2010 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 1, 2010 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Btw, lest the above give the wrong impression, I myself am not one of you atheistic nutters; I'm a theistic nutter, and I also support gay marriage (lest my comments alluding to the use and misuse of that cause be misinterpreted*).

But I'm not so blind I cannot see.

*However I do know that, under the current regime, if it were ever enacted, the imperitives of non-discrimination would mean forcing people who do not approve of it to participate in the practice, that is provide even Church services, not be able to turn down I.E. jobs photographing the wedding, the later of which also happened, &tc. This is deplorable and intolerable, and so in effect I get torn between my support of it and my understanding of what will inevitably be required of third-parties by the current regime if is ever implemented.

June 1, 2010 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

do you think that Christianity... inherently tends towards democracy?

Christianity - like any other religion - can be used to justify many different political systems.

It is arguably easier to use Christianity and bible quotes to argue in favor of a global, Papal run theocracy than it is democracy.

People will latch onto any ideology or religion to justify supporting a policy they were already inclined to support.

June 1, 2010 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Heather said...


Caesar and his posthumously adopted son would be our examples


we need the Gracchae and a Sulla first


June 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Heather I'm not sure I follow. You're saying we need our counterparts to Caesar, Augustus, the Brothers and Sulla? You're saying our political situation is analogous to the Roman republic before the empire? Maybe you can elaborate. I'm not computing.

June 1, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Caesar himself was fail, though Octavianus Augustus is a better example.

Note that by MM standards and probably ours the structure of the Principate and subsequent Dominate and even into the Byzantine era was hardly ideal: Succesful long reigns that produced some periods of peace camouflage the fact that the government was not secure; that's why there were alternating bad Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (probably Nero and Caligula were as much driven by the same sort of honesly-come-by-paranoia as a Stalin or a Hitler; that is they were less conventionally insane rather than pushed by the instability of their position. Almost certainly this is true of Tiberius, most of the excesses of whom are probably well exagerated anyhow, and he was almost certainly sane before taking the throne, but his status as Emperor was not secure...even Augustus himself did certain things, brushed under most carpets, because *his* innovative position was not as secure as we look back on it being).

Even - especially - past them, circa 70% of Roman Emperors and over 60% of Byzantine ones died violently, not counting many pretenders, usurpers-not-aknowledged-on-historical-lists-of-Emperors, local rebels who got themselves proclaimed Emperor but were never successful in seizing the capital, &tc.

There were good *periods* of Roman rule throughout the 1500 years of the Empire (if you go back to Caesar), long stable governments with little internal violence and an orderly succession, but it always ultimately broke down (I say this as someone who obviously admires the period).

One can compare such periods to the period of parliamentary rule in Britain from the end of the American Revolution to the present: A fairly long period of success, which only later appears less-than-successful and less-than-successful (just as Marcus Aurelius, possibly the most admired of Roman Emperors, ended up spending most of his reign putting out fires on the frontiers, as Rome's internal strength had actually eroded - probably as a result of plague - and he broke the Antonine System by appointing his son).

Btw, I don't really think MM's solution to the instability problem really solves this problem, cryptographic locks &tc. or not, for reasons too long to go into in an already long comment.

Btw, MIR, if you're here: I responded to your comments posted to "Politics and the Arab Language" at my blog.

June 1, 2010 at 9:46 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Hey undiscovered jew,

If you take away the theological packaging and secularize the moral essentials in the new testament, as many European intellectuals attempted in the 19th century, you're left with something that looks an awful lot like Modern Ideas, progressive nonsense, etc. There are some pretty frightening, revolutionary concepts couched in theological terminology throughout Christian doctrine.

Early Christianity, as embodied in the gospels, has to be looked at as a social and political phenomenon, independent of what the Church and Europe's nobility made out of it for a time. Certainly the NT, once in the hands of "the people," the historic subjects and slaves of that nobility (composed of barely converted Germanic barbarians, warriors, spiritual pagans), was a powerful source of ideological material for all manner of political and social movements. After Luther, and widespread Bible reading, this explosive material was free to form the charges of endless of revolutionary social and political movements, which it did, even if often stripped of its Christian-religious symbolism. Are you familiar with the NT?

I wouldn't discount Nolo's question, Christianity must have some tendency to degenerate into its basic underlying ideas and themes, given enough time. Taken at its word, the NT is in clear sympathy with what we might call socialism or egalitarianism, quantity over quality, revolution by the underclass and have nots of the world. You know, the meek shall inherit the earth.

Of course centuries are needed before a book like the NT is taken at its word, in its full meaning, by "the people." For a long time "the people" weren't able to read anything, the Book belonged to the Church, and was used by it to sustain its own power and influence. Different groups will use a Book, a concept, a religion, for different purposes. But the true spirit of the early Christian movement is clear in its meaning, and must exert some influence in the long run.

June 1, 2010 at 10:18 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Consult the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morals, also "What Is Noble?" from Beyond Good and Evil, and of course, Nietzsche's The Anti-Chirst, to know where I'm coming from with the above comments.

June 1, 2010 at 10:35 PM  
Anonymous jkr said... if you're interested.

June 1, 2010 at 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Perhaps you should get a blog?

June 3, 2010 at 3:14 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Porph. - your points about Bryan are in line with what I know of the man. An additional one is that at the beginning of the New Deal, there was - though I can't recall more particulars at this point - a revival of Bryan's proposal to allow the free minting of silver at a ratio of 16:1 with gold, i.e., at a nominal value of $1.29/oz., at which the bullion content of U.S. silver coins would be equal to their face value. This was in practice a devaluation of the currency, since the market price of silver was something like 30 - 35 cents an ounce.

Franklin Roosevelt did not elect to use this method of devaluation/inflation, since it left gold at $20.67/oz., choosing instead to reprice gold at $35.00/oz., to cancel gold redemption of paper currency, to nullify the gold clauses of outstanding bonds, to remove gold coins from general circulation, and to ban (with the exception of jewellery, objects of vertu, and dental restorations) the possession of gold. Nonetheless, this Bryanite measure at the beginning of FDR's administration affirmed its historical continuity with the populist "Silver Democrats" of the Bryan era.

Another point that "Inherit the Wind" carefully circumnavigates in the portrayal of its Mencken character (E.K. Hornbeck) is the real Mencken's reason for supporting evolutionary theory. Mencken was an admirer of Nietzsche, and his first translator and exponent in the United States. He was an unabashed elitist, an exponent of human biological diversity, and to some extent a believer in eugenics. Bryan's populism and egalitarianism was, on the other hand, a natural outgrowth of his religious belief. In this, he resembled Henry Wallace and George McGovern.

JKR - your points about the democratizing influence of printing and gunpowder are straight out of Carlyle. MM would approve!

June 3, 2010 at 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Further to JKR on Christianity and the Bible:

The religious left has for many years distorted the concept of "social justice" as understood by Christianity. The left's "social justice" boils down to economic and social egalitarianism. It advocates the redistribution of wealth to reduce, if not eliminate, the distinction between rich and poor. It fails to distinguish between inequality that arises from wrongful deeds, and that which is simply the natural order of things.

The biblical standard of justice is equal treatment under law, not equalizing of condition. Cf. Leviticus xix:15 - "Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty." Nobody is to be persecuted because he is wealthy, nor favored because he is not. Nobody should be taxed at a higher rate than his neighbor, nor should anyone receive special handouts from the state.

The evidence of all our senses is that we are unequal in native intelligence, drive, social skills, and the order of our priorities. If we are Christian believers, we must conclude those inequalities are God's handiwork. Natural inqualities inevitably result in some acquiring more wealth than others, some becoming the masters of many, whilst others remain hewers of wood and drawers of water. One can hardly read Proverbs without seeing that some people become or remain poor because of their vices and follies. There is nothing unjust about people reaping what they sow, whether the result be wealth or poverty. "The rich man in his castle,/The poor man at his gate,/God made them high and lowly,/And ordered their estate."

Jesus did not condemn economic inequality. He did warn against the snares of material wealth and commended charity to the widow, the orphan, the aged in their dotage, the lame, the halt, and the blind. Yet he reminded us that poverty was an inevitable part of life - "ye have the poor always with you" (Matt. xxvj:11). In the parable of the talents (Matt. xxv:24-30) the master reprimands the wicked and slothful servant who has not put his talent to use, and takes it from him to give to the servant with ten talents - thus increasing economic inequality.

As the Credo reminds us, Christ came not to redistribute property, but to redeem sinners: "for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven..." He explicitly refused to undermine property rights or call for economic equality. To the man who wanted Jesus to tell his brother to share an inheritance with him, Jesus responded (Luke xij:14): "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?"

There are those who, by selective quotation from the bible, have attempted to repackage Christianity as a sort of political utopianism, which would bring about a paradise upon earth. This wish and tendency was present in the Judaism of the time of Christ, as exemplified by the Zealots. But Jesus rejected it - as he told Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John xviij:36).

Utopians who seek, in Eric Voegelin's famous phrase, to "immanentize the eschaton," do not represent Christianity, but rather, a peculiar modern version of Gnosticism. Unlike the ancient Gnostics, they do not wish to carry out this design at an individual level, but on behalf of the whole society, whether it likes it or not.

Voegelin in his "New Science of Politics" identified the first stirrings of modern Gnosticism in the Puritanism of the English civil war. I'd probably put it a bit earlier, in the regime of John of Leyden as king of Münster, 1534/5. Certainly the Roundheads had a more lasting success, and most importantly, their political legacy survived in New England. MM has traced the lineage since that time with considerable accuracy.

June 3, 2010 at 2:28 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Michael S.,

Interesting analysis. Do you remember where in Carlyle?

June 3, 2010 at 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy shit this is awesome...

obama's got a half brother named samsom obama, who was refused entry to UK for link to sex crime...

shit's too good to be true. too bad he isn't named sambo.

reality is a tasteless joke.

June 3, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more info w/ pictures of samson w/ O.

June 3, 2010 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


Utopians who seek, in Eric Voegelin's famous phrase, to "immanentize the eschaton," do not represent Christianity, but rather, a peculiar modern version of Gnosticism. Unlike the ancient Gnostics, they do not wish to carry out this design at an individual level, but on behalf of the whole society, whether it likes it or not.

Voegelin in his "New Science of Politics" identified the first stirrings of modern Gnosticism in the Puritanism of the English civil war.

Cassandra Goldman would like a word with you.

Moreover, it is imperative NOT that we use Voegelin's crushingly misused "Gnosticism" but rather the far more accurate and historical Protestantism. As MM has shown (and he's done nothing but ape a Time article from the 1950s), Progressivism is simply Protestantism without Jesus/God.

June 4, 2010 at 5:31 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

"and he's done nothing but ape a Time article from the 1950s"

that's some intricate apeage. is the time article online.

June 4, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Where is zee moldbug???

JKR, I believe this is the one:,9171,930945,00.html

June 4, 2010 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Actually, I don't think that is the right one. Let me see if I can dig it up.

June 4, 2010 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Here she is:,9171,801396,00.html

June 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...,9171,801396,00.html

June 4, 2010 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

G.M.P. - I'm aware of the difference between the original Gnosticism and what Voegelin called Gnosticism. I have read the Corpus Hermeticum - I at least tried it in Greek, and have read several translations (Brian Copenhaver's recent one seems the best). When I first heard Voegelin speak back in the '70s at a meeting of the Philadelphia Society, my academic acquaintance with Neoplatonism and Gnosticism from Festugière and Scott, as well as Frances Yates's book on Giordano Bruno, was already sufficient that his application of the term surprised me. Yet he was such an august and formidable scholar that I didn't have the confidence to question him at the time.

Since then there has been independent confirmation of Voegelin's derivation of modern political utopianism from Gnosticism. See Glenn Alexander Magee's "Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition" (2001). Magee finds the intellectual roots of Hegelianism in the tradition of Swabian mysticism (the Tübinger Stift, where Hegel began his education, had two centuries earlier fostered Johann Valentin Andreæ, author of the Rosicrucian manifestos) and thence back to Bruno, Paracelsus, and other Renaissance Neoplatonists and neo-gnostics in the Hermetic tradition. Magee appears to be unaware of Voegelin's work - at least, he doesn't mention it.

Hegel's law of historical process (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) is a deeply metaphysical idea and shows the particular influence of Jakob Böhme on Hegel. It is of course foundational to Marxism, and it also plays some role in the development of evolutionary theory, which in turn underlies Nietzsche's "Man and Superman" and thus Nazism. There is also a good deal of direct occult-gnostic influence both on Fascism (cf. Julius Evola) and on at least some Nazis, particularly Himmler and Hess. See Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, "The Occult Roots of Nazism" (1993).

I have a feeling that Voegelin, who was a prodigiously learned man, had some knowledge of the background Magee discusses in his book. Voegelin's writing was so voluminous that perhaps I just haven't found any published reference to it yet. In any event it is interesting to see that Magee has independently traced at least one part of the Gnostic lineage of modern political utopianism. As a refugee from Nazi Germany Voegelin would also doubtless have been aware of the pullulation of vulgar occultism at that time, its influence on the Nazis, and of the ultimate roots of that occultism in the decadent paganism of the first and second centuries A.D.

June 4, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

gracias alex. i think that was the month i stopped reading time. :-P

June 4, 2010 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Michael S.,

"Hegel's law of historical process [...] is of course foundational to Marxism, and it also plays some role in the development of evolutionary theory, which in turn underlies Nietzsche's "Man and Superman" and thus Nazism."

Those are some pretty big leaps. I'm not sure Darwin, Nietzsche or Hitler would have agreed with the lineage proposed here.

"As a refugee from Nazi Germany Voegelin would also doubtless have been aware of the pullulation of vulgar occultism at that time, its influence on the Nazis, and of the ultimate roots of that occultism in the decadent paganism of the first and second centuries A.D."

Do you have any examples of occultism or paganism which you don't consider vulgar or decadent? We should be cautious about mixing value judgments in with objective analysis. Maybe you're right to regard them as such, but you haven't shown this merely by stating it. You seem to be coming from a believing Christian perspective, if I'm not mistaken. Or maybe I am mistaken. It's not uncommon. [/modesty]

June 4, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

JKR - The paganism of the ancient Greeks and Romans did not start out decadent, but it became so by the first or second centuries A.D. I suppose the last real exemplar of pure old-fashioned pagan religiosity and virtue that would occur to most classicists is Virgil. If you compare the representation of pagan religion and magic in the Aeneid to that of (say) Petronius or Apuleius, you will see what I mean about decadence.

I do not think the occultism of Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, whoever was the author of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (presumably Colonna), Bruno, Trithemius, Postel, Le Fèvre de la Boderie, Maier, Van Helmont, Ashmole, Moray, or Borrichius - to name a few - is vulgar or decadent. In many respects it is exalted, and it is highly learned in its own way. These thinkers' works must be viewed as integral parts of Renaissance classicism. It was not Ficino's fault that he followed St. Augustine in attributing great antiquity to the Corpus Hermeticum. He was a prodigious scholar who lacked the tools to know that this was mistaken.

By the early eighteenth century this type of thinking had fallen into discredit amongst serious people, and became fringe or rejected knowledge. See James Webb's "The Occult Underground" for further discussion. Those who became its exponents in the nineteenth century occult revival were of a distinctly lower level intellectually and spiritually than the hermeticists of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Eliphas Lévi, Mme Blavatsky, and Aleister Crowley don't hold a candle to Pico, Bruno or Maier. And the kind of pulp-magazine occultism that flourished in Germany 1890-1930, as described by Goodrick-Clarke, is a step yet below Crowley & Co.

Evolution as a concept and a word occurs in Hegel before it occurs in Darwin. By the way, no one was under any delusion about the meaning of Darwinian evolution in Darwin's time. His cousin Sir Francis Galton was a pioneer of eugenics. "Social Darwinism" was a natural extension of Darwin's theories and no one - so to speak - made any bones about it. Nietzsche was probably misinterpreted by many of his followers - Mencken included - but his intent was far less important than his effect. That effect was to persuade people that by means of science they might take charge of the evolutionary process and select their way to the Übermensch. This could be accomplished both by selective breeding and by culling. As to the latter, Mencken, for example, speaks of "hanging out" crime. The Nazis practised both methods, though the efforts of the Ahnenerbe are less well known than those of the SS.

The Marxists had a similar conceit about creating New Socialist Man, though as adherents of Lamarckian rather than Darwinian evolution, they thought it could be accomplished by radical change in the social and economic environment, rather than by selective breeding.

June 5, 2010 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Do you have any examples of occultism or paganism which you don't consider vulgar or decadent? We should be cautious about mixing value judgments in with objective analysis. Maybe you're right to regard them as such, but you haven't shown this merely by stating it. You seem to be coming from a believing Christian perspective, if I'm not mistaken.

Welcome, JKR, to invalidating your argument with bias 101.

If you can't find the vulgarity and decadence in occult and pagan societies, then you're simply not looking.

June 7, 2010 at 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why so testy Palmer? I thought the same thing, btw

June 7, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Michael S.,
I've been meaning to read Petronius. Thanks for the remind. I'll try to see what you mean.

June 7, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

JKR - when you read Petronius, the comparison to bear in mind is the Odyssey, and its theme of Ulysses facing many trials because of the hostility of Poseidon, or Pindar's fourth Pythian Ode, with its tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, in which the favor of Hera and Aphrodite play such prominent roles.

The extant text of the Satyricon is a fragment of a much larger work. It's hard to know what it was like, but the overarching theme appears to be that its protagonist, Encolpius, has incurred the enmity of a god. That god is Priapus, and such of the novel as we have is an account of Encolpius's picaresque quest to regain his potency. Magic is represented not by a Circe or Medea, but by the hag Oenothea. I'll leave you to find out about her treatment of Encolpius's problem.

It's an obvious parody of the ancient epic (though it is written for the most part in prose), just as "Don Quixote" is of the chansons de geste, Ariosto, or Tasso. The difference is that Petronius is frequently obscene, a charge that cannot be levelled at Cervantes.

Petronius was a courtier of the emperor Nero, given the soubriquet "arbiter elegantiarium." He was the Beau Brummel to Nero's George IV, until (like Brummel) he fell out with his patron. One may imagine Nero and his sycophants sniggering over the learned smut their fashionable companion had written. Such an obvious lampoon of the epic and its inherent pieties could not have been written if both the literary form and its religious implications had not fallen into decadence.

June 7, 2010 at 5:28 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home