Friday, January 28, 2011 122 Comments

Egypt: US foreign policy at the nadir

Egypt a century ago, under the firm and inspired hand of Lord Cromer, was a boomtown, a miracle and a paradise. A multicultural paradise, even, with Frenchmen and Brits and Greeks and Jews and Turks and Armenians - all of whom the Century of Fear would later send fleeing with a single suitcase. But as late as the '30s "Alex" was a city of the civilized world - a place where boho trustafarians, like Lawrence Durrell, would move as if to Prague, just because it was a fun cool cheap place to live. Architecture from this period can still be seen, chipped and obscured by smoke, behind the howling mobs and growling tanks in your YouTube clip.

There are many old Egypts. Stray bits of some survive. But somehow, now, Egypt has offended the gods. They have ordered her to pass through the fire - and slowly. In the last century she got a taste. In this she bids fair to endure the full ordeal. At full heat, even the pyramids will burn. There is nothing, nothing, that politics cannot reduce to ash.

For we have seen this movie before. When the student of history contemplates the "Jasmine Revolution," applauded deliriously by the entire "international community," by Americans right and left, Brahmins and rednecks, neocons and paleocons and progressives, post-Trotskyists, post-Maoists and post-Stalinists, not to mention every human being on Earth who has so much as heard of Egypt, all serenading pure chaos with gladiatorial bloodlust - CNN had become so boring lately - the student does not even need to set his time machine. The pattern is simply too familiar. The autopilot can see it. The pony knows his way back home.

The student is at once in Russia, February, 1917: the archetypal exported revolution. Whose results are familiar - though seldom ascribed to their obvious cause. Solzhenitsyn, in From Under the Rubble, put it best:
The intelligentsia proved incapable of taking action, quailed, and was lost in confusion; its party leaders readily abdicated the power and leadership which had seemed so desirable from a distance; and power, like a ball of fire, was tossed from hand to hand until it came into hands which caught it and were sufficiently hardened to withstand its white heat (they also, incidentally, belonged to the intelligentsia, but a special part of it). The intelligentsia had succeeded in rocking Russia with a cosmic explosion, but was unable to handle the debris.
Power, like a ball of fire! Solzhenitsyn will look pretty prescient when al-Zawahiri, or similar, catches his ball of fire. A Salafi is not quite the same thing as a Bolshevik, but history is never quite the same. What would you do, as an anonymous face in one of these mobs? Your hands would strain upward of their own volition, reaching for the fire. Will the liberals give it to you? They can promise it to you. But they are already sold to Hillary and Soros.

The reactor explodes. Power, radioactive, is everywhere. Everyone who can scrape up a piece of it will never have to scrape again. After the revolution, he will be a dignitary, his belly will swell, his children will be well-educated. Power! Who offers power, raw and clear like new whisky, smoking slightly with the devil's breath?

Granted, the greatness is gone. All the players in St. Petersburg - a great city in a great country - were great men. There is no greatness on CNN. But there is plenty of bathos, incompetence, barbarism, ignorance, bureaucracy, and involuntary black humor. When the devil was strolling around St. Petersburg, when he saw it was time for a change, as a student of history I can assure you these essential human qualities were all present in full quantity. Along with the greatness, which has, again, vanished.

In Egypt especially! But Hamlet can be played by pygmies, and history rhymes even as farce. Mubarak can play Nicholas II, Mohammed El-Baradei can appear in the role of Pavel Milyukov, Charles R. Crane can be performed by George Soros, and Hillary Clinton (who has as I write just knifed Mubarak in the back, a deed which can surprise no one over the age of three) does a marvelous Sir George Buchanan. All the details are different, of course; the thing is the same.

We find among the most perspicacious American commentators something extraordinary, an awareness of reality which approaches actual moral consciousness. The power conservatives at Powerline, for instance, write:
My guess is that Arab dictatorships, like autocracies elsewhere, will prove surprisingly brittle once they are challenged. What the current unrest will lead to is anyone's guess, but there is no reason to think that more popular input will lead to friendlier regimes. Instead, we may see more Irans and Gazas. Be that as it may, there is a certain relief in seeing the dam finally break and the ossified, archaic, anti-free enterprise ruling elites of the Arab world come tumbling down.
Here is the true arsonist's logic, approaching real mens rea - almost, but not quite, a conscience. Of course, if I throw a Molotov cocktail into this church, it will burn down. Lives may be lost. Lives will be lost! But, I mean, what a flammable building. Look - the whole thing is made entirely of wood. Even the siding. And it's such an ugly, cheap, common little building. And besides, those horrible snake-handling Pentecostalists...

On so many issues today, especially in foreign policy, this is the difference between the American liberal and the American conservative. The liberal delights in the fire - he hates the church, this church, any church, all churches. Once it is burned down, he thinks, it can be replaced by a modern, handicapped-accessible and well-stocked library. His reforming impulse is founded in cupidity, in the human lust for power, but above them he has built a charming little cottage of delusions and good intentions.

The conservative knows that burning the church is wrong. He knows that nothing will be built on the rubble, that it will remain a heap of charred bricks and snake corpses for years and perhaps decades. But he also knows that some liberal will burn the church if he doesn't; he, too, is human and delights in the sight of flame; and he's not a Pentecostalist. So he goes right along and flicks his Bic.

And in this way, "human rights imperialism" has spent the last two centuries doing its best and damnedest to reduce the entire planet to a charnel house, using this same old playbook to smash every genuinely independent locus of sovereignty which rules two sticks that can be rubbed together - from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Gladstone's "negation of God"), to Rhodesia and South Africa, to these boneheaded and criminal petty dictatorships of North Africa - themselves installed by American diplomacy, which 50 years ago so cleverly euchred North Africa out of French and British hands and handed it to the Bourguibas, Nassers, etc. Just sticking up for American interests, boss, same as always!

Last time I was in Naples, God seemed pretty absent. Evidently He did not, after all, come in with Garibaldi and the British navy. I haven't seen Him on any of these Youtube clips either. In His place, Hillary Clinton and her extensive staff seem more than happy to settle the destiny of these lands. Let's hope the State Department only rules Africa for another century, not two. There would be nothing left but the scorpions, and pretty miserable scorpions at that.

But what could be done differently? Is the State Department really guilty of supporting these demonstrations? Aren't they, rather, guilty of the opposite - of supporting the ruthless dictator, Mubarak? The truth is that every regime in the world today must be either pro-American, in which case its "support" from Foggy Bottom is existential and its State desk officer can pull its plug with a strongly worded memo, or anti-American - meaning that it has already been revolutionized and remains revolutionary, and State is its best friend, "engaging" it by any means necessary. After all, why would Americans need a State Department if everyone already loved America?

Thus, Washington can do nothing to undermine the dictator Assad, and the dictator Assad makes sure it stays that way. If this strikes you as an incentive for signing up with the axis of evil, you're not exactly wrong. Mubarak is no doubt kicking himself for not being evil enough, and signing up or at least flirting with the Iranians. But alas, it's almost certainly too late. Thus, the daily bread of the "international community" is destroying herbivorous autocracies, harmless to the American taxpayer, in order to create carnivorous ones which justify more diplomacy. And this, of course, with your tax dollar.

In case it isn't obvious how this policy could be changed, let me briefly juxtapose Secretary Clinton's paragraphs with the words that would emanate from Secretary Moldbug's office:
I would like to say something about the unfolding events in Egypt. We continue to monitor the situation very closely. We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces.
I would like to say something about the riots in Egypt. We are watching this on TV like everyone else, but we are deeply concerned about the threat to public order. Egypt is a foreign country, nowhere near America and of no economic or military importance to us. Its legitimate government for us - in the words of President Monroe - is the government de facto. At present there seems to be only one government operating in Egypt, the existing Mubarak regime. A stable, orderly world is the only interest of our foreign policy. We hope the Egyptian security forces can suppress the riots quickly and with minimum bloodshed.
At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully. As we have repeatedly said, we support the universal human rights of the Egyptian people, including the right to freedom of expression, of association, and of assembly.
We call on the rioters to obey all official instructions, and return to home and/or work. The United States no longer practices democratic imperialism. We have returned to our historic foreign policy of continental neutrality. We do not believe that political power is a "human right." We are not the "leader of the free world" - free nations need no "leader." We do not export revolution, we do not operate satellite states or amuse ourselves with puppets, and we deeply regret having played this game in the past.
As a partner, we strongly believe that the Egyptian government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing needed economic, political, and social reforms.
Not that our advice matters - since Egypt is a sovereign country, it can and should do whatever it has to do. But we believe it is imperative for any sovereign to avoid concessions in the face of force, whether foreign or domestic. If the rioters make unreasonable demands, their demands must be denied. If they make reasonable demands, these reforms must be withheld at least until the rebellion has failed and its participants thoroughly regret their actions, so that they appear as the gifts of the government and not the fruits of victorious rebellion.
We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications. These protests underscore that there are deep grievances within Egyptian society and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away.
We urge the Egyptian authorities to consolidate their security structure by arranging a legitimate succession for President Mubarak. We also suggest a titled nobility and a civil list, so the dignitaries of the ruling party can secure their financial futures and not have to steal so much. We also recommend indefinite separation from the global Internet, which Egypt is clearly not ready for, and severance of international cultural links such as NGOs, tourism, and educational exchanges. The policies of Bhutan might approach an example.

Egypt does not have a healthy relationship with the West. Egypt does not need our revolution; we don't need its terrorists. The government of Egypt, if it survives these riots, should end this bad marriage and focus on reconstructing a healthy traditional society, preferably one which funnels the talents of the best young Egyptians into constructive work rather than emigration or rebellion. Even trade should be restricted to the extent consistent with human nutrition.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

constructive work rather than emigration or rebellion

for a moment I read that as "construction work" and thought you were making a pyramid joke

January 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Contemplationist said...

HAH! I was wondering all day at work what you would think about the events in Egypt. Love this post.

My only quibble is the unfalsifiability of the explanation. If the Cathedral supports both secular autocrats (Saddam, Mubarak) and religious fascists (do they support Taliban? how? why r they fighting against it?) then how can we know if they are actually doing so? What is the reason for such madness?

January 28, 2011 at 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Egypt protests: America's secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

"The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned."

January 28, 2011 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like always, your analysis is excellent, but your perspective is off.

Once it [the church] is burned down, he thinks, it can be replaced by a modern, handicapped-accessible and well-stocked library. His reforming impulse is founded in cupidity, in the human lust for power, but above them he has built a charming little cottage of delusions and good intentions.

Actually it comes from the desire to simply be left alone. That "innocent" metaphorical church has actually been asserting ownership of me, and what I desire in its place is simply another house or storefront.

January 28, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a regime has little legitimacy to its people, is that always because the people are insufficiently propagandized?

I don't know anything about Egypt, but if the people living there are willing to go to this much trouble to oppose those ruling them, I'm inclined to assume Egypt is managed incompetently. Mubarak is no asset to Egypt.

January 28, 2011 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

"We call on the rioters to obey all official instructions, and return to home and/or work."

I think you should explain again why you see effectively no middle ground between popular obedience and rioting in the streets. Important things bear repeating, you know?

It would of course be obvious if we all read those books you've linked to. But if we'd done that, most of the blog would be redundant.

To help sharpen this, a question; would your ideal state legally permit nondisruptive, officially scheduled protests? Or perhaps encourage a some substitute for hard-to-forge public support?

For a second pass on the honing block, yes security force should either enforce its laws or take them off the books.

"we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces."

Egypt should tell America: "Well, we tried. Wasn't in our power. Sorry!"

I doubt it would work, but I think the lulz would be worth it.

"Mubarak is no doubt kicking himself for not being evil enough, and signing up or at least flirting with the Iranians. But alas, it's almost certainly too late. Thus, the daily bread of the "international community" is destroying herbivorous autocracies, harmless to the American taxpayer, in order to create carnivorous ones which justify more diplomacy."

Just want to say thanks for this 'ah ha!'

The American military, as it so obligingly displayed in Iraq, is quite capable of destroying North Korea. It could probably raze every building and plane down the grade six inches without any noticeable risk.

By the rhetoric, you would think that NK is perceived as a threat. The military isn't acting as if it's a threat. Ockham suggests NK is more useful to America's leaders alive than dead, in parallel to the perception that Mubarak is more useful dead than alive.

January 28, 2011 at 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Pals said...

You're completely misreading this. You Honduran analysis is more suitable to Egypt and Tunisia. What we're seeing here are some of the world's first post-American rebellions.

The US had their puppets safely installed in these countries. Like everything USG does, these puppets were absolutely shit, as anyone with a passing knowledge of Egypt and Tunisia will testify. The people got sick of them, as people tend to do, and took to the streets asking for the puppets to leave. Inarguably, the constant US bleating about the joys of freedom and democracy must’ve helped put the idea in the masses’ heads. There is such a thing as too much, and the lie that all was great under the dear leader has simply become untenable for anyone of the people or the regime. This is far more Russia in 1989 than in 1917.

Now the US is caught with its pants down: it wants its puppets to do what it wants (support Israel, IMF, WTO, dollar-based monetary system, etc...) but at the same time would love for them to do it while getting the people on board. Hence, the bleating about economic and democratic reforms. You see, if only those fucking wogs would attend enough State Department workshops about Good Governance, they will be able to run their countries properly, just like we do here in America, as you can all see. I’m sure you’ve met State Department types and this is exactly how they think.

Hillary did not turn the knife into Mubarak—on the contrary, USG is doing all it can to attempt to salvage his regime. The regime was toast by nightfall—the rioters had routed the police who either gave up or joined the protestors. The army did not fight the protestors and only the presidential guard (Mubarak’s bulldogs) was out there keeping the feeble flame alive. Everyone was expecting to hear of Mubarak fleeing the country, but then he got on the phone with his US masters and a last-ditch plan to salvage the country has been arranged. Egypt is simply too important to let fall into uncertain hands.

Clinton’s bleating about human rights and reforms is not an attempt to fuck Mubarak over—on the contrary, it’s an attempt to keep him around by pretending that the problems can be fixed through State department workshops. Given the fact the president was disappeared, his loyalists were routed and the people were dancing in the street, what the fuck would you expect an ally of his to do? They’re not going to call for his return, they’ll try to sugar-coat this by not specifically asking for his removal and changing the terms of the discussion into democracy and economic reform or whatever. After you wrote this very wrong analysis, Obama’s late-night speech came as a massive boost to Mubarak and has given his loyalists hope. Had Obama or Clinton wanted to really turn the knife, all it would have taken was one thinly-veiled reference to the need for new blood in charge, or his age, or new presidential elections, or whatever. The fucker would’ve been toast.

What we’re seeing here is State’s World crumbling. For once, there is no discernable enemy (Communism, terrorism) to justify our rallying support for this scumbag. The cant of democracy-promotion and freedom, which had served us so well when we wanted to screw enemies over and replace them with faithful clients, is back-firing. The wogs have turned these rhetorical guns on us and we simply don’t know what do. Invasion isn’t quite an option, what with all the voting US public that needs to be brainwashed and the costs and the drama.

But you’re generally correct about the course of what the US should do. An even better press release would simply say: “What Egypt? We don’t do Egypt.” Leave the Egyptians alone, and some fucker will eventually capture power. He won’t fuck with America as he knows they’ll pulverize him. Without State fucking with him and running democracy workshops in his backyard, he’ll have the power and security to establish order and the country will do ok.

January 28, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


You're giving a non-Formalist reading.

In the Formalist view, State is making such "post-American" riots possible.

I would like to add that:

But Hamlet can be played by pygmies, and history rhymes even as farce

may be the best thing Moldy's ever written.

Also, the "human rights imperialism" article is a great find.

January 28, 2011 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

Best MM in a while. The church bit is a nice touch.

But never blame malice where stupidity is a sufficient explanation. USG has no grand plan for Egypt. State is trying to preserve the status quo because that's what bureaucracies do, though it's doing so it its usual self defeating way. At one point, State was motivated the way MM describes, but today it runs almost entirely on bureaucratic inertia.

January 28, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


I didn't mention intentionality. . .

January 28, 2011 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Pals thanks for giving your read of it. I am also conflicted in my feelings, but also due to basic ignorance about the quality of governance in Egypt or elsewhere. I doubt those leading the protests are anything other than ambitious for power and clueless how to exercise it. I believe Authority should be conserved, rather than diffused.

But when Rome is run by crooks who permit speculative ramp jobs on the price of basic food staples... something is deeply wrong. There is no sovereignty to conserve... I guess we'll see what happens.

Whatever else, it's one more hysterical bullet point for the continuing oil price ramp job. I'm sure lots of people in NYC will make a lot of money selling 160 oil to their dumb money clients as the inner circle clients exit.

January 28, 2011 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Of course, its fine writing, G.M. But what exactly is MM saying? Is he a fan of US empire and its local autocrats? Isn't that a typical conservative type position? Lesser of two evils, like "repeal Obamacare and restore civilization," Austerisms?

I don't see how Mencius can have anything but disdain for the protesters or the toppled autocrats. Nothing good comes from Washington. Or does he feel we do a better job governing our possessions and dependencies than we do domestically? I'm confused.

January 28, 2011 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


He has disdain for disorder.

January 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


That is all good and well within a certain bounds. Order within a state, community, country, empire. But there will always be disorder during periods of transition. If US power exits, some disorder will occur, followed by order.

I don't think Moldbug is naive. Therefore he cannot possibly believe that Order is some kind of first and last principle. That would be End of History type talk.

Between the end of the Roman empire and the rise of European monarchy and feudalism, there was great disorder. Quite necessary, natural, important. We owe our whole culture to the tremendous disorder of that time, don't we?

The settlement of Moldbug's beloved England was a product of chaos and disorder. So was the formation of most of the rest of western Europe after the retreat of Roman power.

Moreover, disorder and free play of forces is the fundament of all historical evolution, and all pre-historical evolution.

Anyway... Shit will sort itself out, as always. Disorder doesn't last very long, unless there is a US occupation government playing with its dick. Without enforced chaos (Iraq, Af), something will fill the power vacuum.


January 28, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


from 2009:

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

January 28, 2011 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


yeah I remember reading that. It's a good rule of thumb when talking about governance. It really has no bearing on a revolting against bad governance.

Prisons are orderly. You know?

Here's something that should make your brain hurt. Would Moldbug have spoken against the Hungarian uprising in '56?

January 28, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

According to these demands, possibly.

January 28, 2011 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

"The truth is that every regime in the world today must be either pro-American, in which case its "support" from Foggy Bottom is existential and its State desk officer can pull its plug with a strongly worded memo, or anti-American - meaning that it has already been revolutionized and remains revolutionary, and State is its best friend, "engaging" it by any means necessary."
Earlier you had claimed that China and Russia were independent, with Iran close to independent (speaking of Iran, what did Mencius think of the so-called "Green Revolution"?). MM has said positive things about Paul Kagame, who has received $10 billion since 1994.

"If this strikes you as an incentive for signing up with the axis of evil, you're not exactly wrong"
On the downside, there is the possibility of being fished out of a spider-hole and hanged. But that's what you get for NOT having WMDs.

I'm surprised no mention was made of Joe Biden's statement.

I think true neutrality might entail saying nothing other than "pass the popcorn".

Daniel Larison displayed a surprisingly positive attitude towards events in Tunisa, but on Egypt he beseeches democratists in the bowels of Christ that it is they who be mistaken.

January 28, 2011 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Studd Beefpile said...

JKR> There is a difference between order and stasis. Capitalism is anti-stasis, but it does have order to it. Ditto for evolution. MM seeks political systems that tend to order, democracies try to create stasis and end up creating chaos.

January 28, 2011 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


or click my name for link if you're too lazy to copy and paste. i'm definitely too lazy to make a proper hyperlink.

January 28, 2011 at 10:11 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

here's a link TGGP will probably like

January 28, 2011 at 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

There is a difference between order and stasis. Capitalism is anti-stasis, but it does have order to it. Ditto for evolution.

Evolution has developed rebellion. Rebellion is an evolved behavior. It is part of the natural "order":

January 28, 2011 at 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Apologist said...

Opponents of democracy should reflect that without democracy, when regime change comes - and it always comes, even in the absence of democracy; no political order lasts forever - it comes in violent forms like war and revolution. Democracy leads to the pervasive low-level politicization of everything; anti-democracy leads to peace, interrupted occasionally with rivers of blood.

January 28, 2011 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Oceansoflemonade said...

Apologist, Kennedy said it snappier; "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

The problem is, I'm not seeing it. Did the Weimar Republic make peaceful change too difficult for NDSAP-leaning folks, who then had to resort to violent conspiracy to find succor for their grievances? Oh right, I forgot; NDSAP-leaning folks don't count. Their views are Not Legitimate, and the fact that they seized power doesn't reflect badly on the weak government that allowed them to seize power. It just means Fascists are bad and Democracy is good.

Likewise, the fact that Siad Barre, to select a random example from an extremely long list, instituted a coup d'etat against the new Somali Republic despite a vigorous and healthy public interest in politics (to quote la wik!) doesn't count either. Siad Barre was, of course, a dictator, and dictators are bad, and Democracy is good. Therefore any time a Democracy falls to a dictator it is bad, and perfectly congruent with the theory that only Democracy allows healthy, gradual change.

See the problem? This whole idea that Democracy somehow facilitates peaceful compromise does not survive contact with actual history. It can only be defended by special pleading, and that is surely a sign of something.

January 29, 2011 at 2:48 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

Interesting thoughts on Egypt. Can't say I disagree.

But here are two general questions for all you Moldbuggists. Maybe the answers are straightforward, but I've read most of this blog, and the more I read, the more confused I become. So -

Q1. We see America as an imperial power, dictating policy around the world with the intention of serving its own interests. We see this sometimes causes problems. How is this different from an America operated as a joint-stock corporation by CEO Steve Jobs? Wouldn't such an America also act in this way?

Q2. We see that America doesn't really operate as a democracy because all political influence is actually vested in the civil service of USG. How is this different from the Moldbuggist ideal, where all political power is concentrated in the hands of those who can obtain it?

To summarise - how is the current "left liberal" situation actually different to what Moldbug advocates?

January 29, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vlad, if you've read most of the blog, you need to read it again. Your questions are moldbuggery 101. Have you read all of the gentle introduction?

January 29, 2011 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

Pals makes sense. El Moldicon is increasingly ossified and unrealistic with his sinistric monism ('all leftism comes from Anglo-America').

> [Pals] For once, there is no discernable enemy (Communism, terrorism) to justify our rallying support for this scumbag

I think fighting communism really was an end in itself. Terrorism, eh, sort of.

> Leave the Egyptians alone, and some fucker will eventually capture power. He won’t fuck with America as he knows they’ll pulverize him.

How about Israel. Nasser fucked with it when he apparently should have anticipated getting pulverized (I guess it's debatable). Again, Sadat couldn't resist. The assault plan was certainly brilliant, downright gleaming. But arguably Sadat only pulled the trigger because he knew one couldn't very well invade and hold Egyptian population centers in any case.

We know the US likes Israel so I suspect threats to the latter are the bigger determinant of US policy, rather than threats to the US.

January 29, 2011 at 1:01 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

Are the bigger determinant of US policy on this Egypt thing, I mean.

January 29, 2011 at 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Oceansoflemonade said...

Vlad, coherent government in the Moldbuggian sense would have no incentive to continue the empire of dependency because it freaking wastes money. It's a power/status game played by one part of the country to reinforce their primacy over the rest. Furthermore, it's not the only time this sort of things has happened; most of the European colonial empires hemorrhaged money too.

An enlightened, absolute despot has no incentive to play this stupid game because, being absolute, they have no need to impress people. Being self-interested, they have every reason to save money.

Imperialism would not be out of the question, certainly. It would, however, have to be profitable imperialism.

January 29, 2011 at 3:13 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

To answer both your questions:

What we have is a corporation run for the benefit of its employees, not for its shareholders. Hence, and individual or a division of this corporation can profit more by making "side bets" rather than maximizing the value of the corporation. In particular, they can benefit individually from maximizing their own importance within the organization by expanding the base of people who have power, eg growing the size and status of the EPA if you are in the EPA.

How this differs from Apple is fairly clear. While democracy may be an adaptive fiction corporations
that are intended to exist for the benefit of their customers end up operating for the benefit of their employees.

January 29, 2011 at 3:33 PM  
Anonymous B said...

I wonder if, now that Tunisia is a free and democratic place, France will deport the gents in this video there:

January 29, 2011 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Singer said...

I was thinking of Lord Cromer a couple of weeks ago (partly because MM had introduced me to Cromer and partly because Elie Kedourie is a big fan):

Anyway, I'm still not convinced we shouldn't be in the democratic imperialism business -- the problem, from my standpoint is we don't have the balls to act like the British at the turn of the 20th Century. Since we don't, maybe MM is right -- time to retreat. But how realistic is isolation in our global economic 21st Century world? Why shouldn't we support our friends and stick up for our values around the world?

January 29, 2011 at 4:15 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Joseph Dantes blog:

Why Moldbuggian Formalism Doesn't Work

January 29, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


corporations operate under the laws of the government. and they still manage to lose money, blow up, and commit fraud all the time. what law would the corporate government follow?

January 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

> It's a power/status game played by one part of the country to reinforce their primacy over the rest.

I doubt that's all it is. Even in ancient Greece regimes wanted to see lots of 'philosophically' similar regimes exist in other polities.

Not mention that we have foreign interests like oil, Israel, free-ish trade, and not seeing 51% of the world's economic power eventually come under some sort of Chinese bloc.

> Furthermore, it's not the only time this sort of things has happened; most of the European colonial empires hemorrhaged money too.

They may have lost money (on a fiscal level) and gained value. Trade was none too free, I think, at most times. The colonizers gained access to raw materials, and they gained big markets (a very good thing for economies of scale in industrial production in the metropole).

January 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Singer said...

To answer my own question above, I guess this is why:

We better hope the military takes control of the situation fast.

January 29, 2011 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

uhh, so wait. the revolution will be televised?

is nothing sacred? is there no truth we can count on?

January 29, 2011 at 6:04 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

Great article there.

I admire the anti-modernism of the Brohood. However, I like Israel a lot and the Bros would be bad news for Israel.

It's amazing that dem idealism has survived all the results presented in that article.

January 29, 2011 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Protests spread to S. Arabia

January 29, 2011 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

With recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, it may be time to turn to Crane Brinton’s 1938 work on The Anatomy of Revolution, which studied the English Revolution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution, and found that revolutions tend to move from the Old Order to a moderate regime, and then — typically — to a radical regime...

January 29, 2011 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

I love it when you're timely, Moldbug.

Oddly, your statement's none-too-different from this one of Obama's, which I thought, on its face, damn-near pitch perfect.

You're mistaken to lump in all the paleocons. Larison & Hadar are two I've come across acting like adults and not "applaud[ing] deliriously" nor "serenading pure chaos with gladiatorial bloodlust".

January 29, 2011 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

I shouldn't forget libertarian Daniel McAdams dissenting over at LRC.

January 29, 2011 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous P.T. Barnum said...

But never blame malice where stupidity is a sufficient explanation.

I've always wondered why so many believe in that it is impossible for Dear Leader to be maliciously stupid.

I for one no many people who are quite capable of being both malicious and stupid at once. So long as they don't have to walk to.

January 29, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger J said...

America, once more, betrays its ally and friend - Hosni Mubarrak. At least King Saud had the courage to come out and support the Egyptian regime.

January 29, 2011 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

I realize now my gross error! The statement "none-too-different" from Obama's was Clinton's, not yours. Mystery solved.

G.M. Palmer and other fans of the "human rights imperialism" article might also enjoy this piece on human rights "What Rawls Hath Wrought" by the anti-humanist philosopher John Gray.

January 30, 2011 at 1:01 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

Thanks for your replies to my question, the difference is somewhat clearer now.

The current system is beset by power battles within USG, which cause chaos around the world as the various actors fight for more power and influence within USG. Whereas the hypothetical "New USG" does not have these issues because it has a strict hierarchy of power, and the hierarchy eliminates politics - much like how a soldier does not try to give orders to his superiors. Have I got this right?

January 30, 2011 at 5:42 AM  
Anonymous josh said...


Natural law. Don't serve me up beach balls.

January 30, 2011 at 9:47 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...


i have no idea what you're talking about. if you believe in "natural law," you're beyond my help.

January 30, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, an excellent, timely post that cuts to the heart of the matter, and sums it up precisely.

Once again, the body of comments that follow are, with some notable exceptions, the equivalent of squealing little chihuahuas nipping at the treads of a rolling Tiger tank.

I only waste my valuable time addressing one:

"Actually it comes from the desire to simply be left alone."

Bull. Fucking. Shit. The American Left, the nuclear core of radioactive evil in the modern world from which radiates nothing but poison, has never been for one second about simply wanting to be "left alone": it has consistently been about telling Mississippi what Mississippi can and can't do, even when Mississippi did not need or want its oversight.

No one ever forced anyone to live in Mississippi or its many "Red State" equivalents across this vast, phony pseudo-democracy - just as no one has ever forced anyone to step foot in that metaphorical church that you claim has "asserted ownership" of you. But those churches have still been razed to the ground, anyway, and its members subsequently told they should be grateful to the arsonists who laid the torches. That was Moldbug's point.

January 30, 2011 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous josh said...


Do you believe in gravity?

"a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore holds everywhere."

Seriously, read Vattel. It's surprisingly short and readable. He's trying to discover the natural laws that govern the interactions of nations, not create a set of laws to govern the interaction of nations. It's the nomos.

January 30, 2011 at 3:15 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


do i believe in gravity?

what does that have to do with how a corporate government would behave?

corporations operate under a state law backed by coercion.

states do not operate under said law.

if you believe in natural law/natural rights, you have to back this up somehow. natural law is a board term, and could reference any number of philosophical ideas.

as far as i'm concerned, belief in such things belong in the realm of religion.

you have to be more clear about what you mean by natural law.

January 30, 2011 at 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Ron Potato said...


USG demands policies, which are motivated by a demented religion and spread with missionary zeal, and yet deleterious to the political and economic interests of both the colonized population and the American republic.

USG leaders and staff themselves believe in this religion, or are required to follow it. This ideology has the effect of a permanent revolution in residence, though in combination with the venal, stagnant, and expansive bureaucracy.

January 30, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Ron Potato said...


Any sovereign government has no de facto external controls.

Yet it does, because the power is limited by law, constitutions written and unwritten, the ideas all around him.

Fundamentally, the power is limited by natural law. This natural law is not merely maxims to live by, it is maintained by nature: property is owned exclusively, private secrets and private arms maintain rebellions, various factions must be satisfied.

If either the people or the nobility are considered a sufficient control over the government, surely the shareholders have use property no less prudently.

Indeed, Moldbug's argument is that they will maintain it better, because they have actual ownership over the state, and will maintain their property, enforced by the natural law of losing it.

January 30, 2011 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Faré said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 30, 2011 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

ron potato i get all that. there are always checks on a sovereign authority. sort of. the world has changed a lot though, and since around 1930s totalitarian modern governments in advanced economies have had tremendous staying power (i include usa under totalitarian.) what i mean is, the modern state, with mass media, industrialization, public-private partnership mixed economies, fiat money, etc. the kinds of checks on state power that existed in previous eras are largely nonexistent or impotent.

my point was, the modern corporation is a product of modern law. its structure, how it operates, how it interacts with the government, the bankruptcy process, accounting standards, are all the outcome of the interaction between corporate lawyers, the judiciary, and the state.

the "corporate government" doesn't operate under such a rules-of-the-game legal environment.

i agree with the hoppeian analysis, that a single-owner government has better incentives for maximizing the economic value of the country, and would provide better governance at lower cost and with less encroachment on private liberties. to a degree. the single owner would not be likely to tolerate politicis as such, including any democratic tendencies in private media. this is a good thing in my opinion.

but when you extend that basic hoppeian analysis to the construction of a corporate owned government, one of divided/diffused authority, i do not see a stable outcome. the modern corporate structure is a function of its legal status within the modern state. paper shares in a corp exist only within the rules-of-the-game provided by the modern state.

the joint stock company idea of government translates roughly into an oligarchy, a distributed ownership of the state by a small group. but historically these oligarchies were composed of independently powerful units. perhaps because the individual units owned lands, and followers, commanded loyalty of battle-ready soldiers. the unity of the oligarchy was just a recognition of roughly equal power among independent groups, operating jointly.

but the modern corporate structure operates within a complex legal framework, and is not a natural entity. limited liability, bk laws, etc., aren't natural entities outside the modern legal framework.

anything is better than the democratic caretaker government laid out by hoppe. but i don't see a joint stock corporate government as necessarily feasible or stable.

January 30, 2011 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I've just put together a round-up of links on the merits of Mencius' favored Fnargocracy (without any mention of King Leopold!) here.

I recall Kenneth Anderson discussing Moyn's boox a little while back. I don't know how many "neos" you have to append to Anderson's conservatism, since he was a New Lefty/liberal even into the 80s, which in this context might make him "present at the founding". Probably more palatable to the joohaters since he's not only a goy but ex-Mormon.

January 30, 2011 at 9:30 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

tggp have you joined in with the gay cheapshots against imaginary joohaters?

i don't imagine that in mencken's day insufferable PC teacher's pets went around calling people joolovers.

stop kissing ass. it takes balls for anyone to publicly say anything jews don't like.

January 30, 2011 at 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:29 said:
Bull. Fucking. Shit. The American Left, the nuclear core of radioactive evil in the modern world from which radiates nothing but poison, has never been for one second about simply wanting to be "left alone"

you've completely misread 5:18. he's defending an anti-state perspective, not a progressive liberal one.

and it really was a mendacious analogy. between that and pals excellent critique, this is one of moldbug's weakest posts in a long time. it's misplaced reactionary chest-beating.

January 30, 2011 at 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pals critique isn't a critique at all. Go read the link above on Soros and the Egyptian activist training. Shit, go read the primary goddamn sources on Wikileaks, and then read up on their consequences:

Moldbug's paradigm is correct and the old right wing analysis of the world is outdated and wrong. The naysayers on this thread are the typical braindead right wing types that are butthurt that Moldbug has called them out on their democracy worship (and thus have been co-opted by the very meme that they hate).

January 31, 2011 at 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

January 31, 2011 at 1:24 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

I'd just like to point out one of the most absurd things I've seen for a while, the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" as determined by Foreign Policy magazine in 2009 and again in 2010. Or maybe it's not so absurd, if "global thinker" means, not "a person who thinks and who lives on Earth", but "someone who has an ideology and who affects the headlines".

January 31, 2011 at 2:19 AM  
Anonymous RS said...

1:02, what exactly are we debating?

The Soros slash human rights imperialism article was great. Probably no one here would disagree that that sort of thing generally goes on. And Pals agrees that democratic idealism exported from the West has contributed to the Egypt situation.

However, MM was wrong about the valence of the Hilly and Obama statements. That was the very specific point Pals made. The statements were neutralish to pro-regime - certainly not a knife in the back. As he said, USG has concrete aims to which the regime is conducive. Therefore, it feels conflicted.

The Pentagon also had concrete aims during the Cold War, and it felt that the Cold War was urgent. Therefore it backed dictators who would deliver the goods, and the hell with whatever other, lesser consequences might transpire. The exception was President Carter who felt and acted otherwise. Bush/Cheney was at least as idealist as Carter, in its more militarily activist way. We are looking at the same dialectic and the Washington regime is coming down in the middle, somewhere not too far from total indecision. Their concrete desires in this case are salient ones.

January 31, 2011 at 2:45 AM  
Anonymous RS said...

For example, consider the case where the Brotherhood takes the helm over there, one year from today, or seven months from today - and adopts a posture somewhat on the harsher side of the spectrum of guessed-at possible postures. What, then, happens to Mr Obama and his Secretary of State in November 2012, barring an economic miracle? Hopefully you don't need hours to mull this over.

It's the Army that decides. Washington might have some intel about what they are deciding, but I doubt they can really narrow it down that much.

January 31, 2011 at 2:53 AM  
Anonymous josh said...


I misunderstood your point, which seems to be specifically about whether joint stock ownership of a sovereign state is stable. I thought you were just asking "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Your point is better.

January 31, 2011 at 3:06 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

jkr, I've been mildly philosemitic (anti-anti-semitic?) from the beginning, and I'm pretty sure I've engaged in the same mocking while you've been here. I'm also fairly tolerant of the intolerant, as you pretty much have to be to hang out on blogs like this one. I don't think Jews should be exempt from criticism, and I agree with Sailer that P.C around that issue has harmed out discourse. But I get irritated (I suppose this might happen more often at Sailer's comment section) when people just point out someone is Jewish and leave it at that. Anderson is a smart representative of an ideology and can be responded to on that basis rather than reducing things to ethnicity.

January 31, 2011 at 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

This is all very intersting. One thing I think is being overlooked is the Egyptian Army. I think they are neck deep in this whole coup. When the second day of protests were ending the police seemed about on the brink of saying "we tried to be nice, but now the bullets are real." As that was about to happen the army rolled into the streets, surrounded the protesters, and *pointed their guns at the police*.

Could the army be using the civil unrest to stage a coup? If that's not what's going on them I'm just dumbfounded by their behavior.

January 31, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


Interesting read. Thanks.

January 31, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

cool tggp.. let's just drop it before it becomes one of those discussions again.

January 31, 2011 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger J said...

Hillary Clinton "knifed Mubarrak in the back" (sic), agreed, but is she an arsonist? Or is she a Nietzschean heroine kicking down a dying man and embracing inevitable change?

January 31, 2011 at 9:09 PM  
Anonymous ttv said...

That's not fair for the people who are the true inhabitants to that place.

February 1, 2011 at 5:53 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Buchanan on Egypt

February 1, 2011 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous chebek said...

How come Menicus was so quiet when the demonstrations were going on in Iran? "Law and Order" trumping all was a little too uncomfortable even for him, I guess.

February 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous chebek said...

Mencius things EVERYTHING, god damn near EVERYTHING bad in the world occurs at the behest of the American "Mainline Protestant" Liberal Elite.

It's fun as rhetoric, but i don't believe it.

February 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, your doubt is carefully based on reason, and you have admirably proposed a better explanation.

February 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


that's because, for mencius, people outside the english-speaking world aren't real. if you look over the authors he's suggested over the years, almost all anglo. that's a big gap in his thinking.

February 1, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jrk, i don't mean to put you on the spot, but your comment intrigues me.

1. Do you consider Hoppe anglo?
2. What non-anglo author would you recommend that mencius hasn't?

February 1, 2011 at 2:55 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

i would say hoppe is a part of the american Austrian school tradition, starting with the relocation of mises to NYC, and centering on rothbard and the mises institute, etc.

of course, hoppe's nationality is german, and mises was a jewish citizen of the austrian empire before relocating to geneva and then america.

hoppe is a unique thinker due to his work on the economics of governments, his criticism of democracy, etc.

but his intellectual genealogy goes back to rothbard and mises, especially mises during his american period. i don't know exactly how you would classify mises' intellectual lineage; he certainly had substantial differences with austrians like menger, weiser, etc., which became more pronounced during his period in america and with the mont perelin society.

rothbard was largely homegrown anarcho-libertarian philosophy which put its own spin on the mises branch of austrianism. he threw in some made up ethics of liberty, ayn randism and crackpottery on the fraudulence of banking.

i think moldbug is generally anglocentric. i doubt he's read any nietzsche or spengler, for example. not in any depth. i don't know this for fact, but besides mises and de maistre i can't recall any continental authors he has referenced. and his knowledge of economics seems limited to mises/rothbard. i doubt he's read hayek, let alone franz oppenheimer.

someone correct me if i'm wrong.

i guess we are all partial to our own intellectual pedigree, though.

February 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

my impression is that moldbug got his education from the american old right, as opposed to the european new right.

from there he likely found his way to the anglo-french old right, via carlyle, froude, etc. to burke, de maistre, the ancien regime Reactionary conservatives.

that's one lineage.

he seems to have detoured through the american Austrian school,

rothbard > mises
hoppe > Kuehnelt-Leddihn

as opposed to

nietzsche > spengler, schmidt, ludovici, levy, mencken, etc.

just a few european new-right names you won't see moldbug mention.

he also seems to have missed the whole sociobiological/human evolution leap forward in right-wing thinking and philosophy generally.

i confess i haven't read everything moldbug has written.

as always i stress that there are different "Rights" just as there are different "Lefts," something which the fine people who read this site seem unable to comprehend.

February 1, 2011 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Bertrand de Jouvenel is a life-long continental he's recommended, and there was a minor mention of Pobedonostsev. But I agree that his viewpoint is Anglo-solipsistic.

Ludovici (who I hadn't heard of before) and Mencken were Anglos who happened to read Nietzche. One might as well include Carlyle as a Teutonophile among Anglos (not that unusual among progressives, as Mencius oddly neglected to mention with reference to Lipow).

February 1, 2011 at 4:34 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

I definitely read De Jouvenel on a moldbug recommendation.

February 1, 2011 at 4:44 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

thanks, tggp, for the reference.

i realize mencken was an american, but his thinking was colored by continental influences, sort of like hoppe, a german, was a rothbardian.

as i said above, it's hard to define mises, although i'm sure somewhere in rothbard's thousands of words of (often impeccable) scholarship, he traces mises back through who-knows what school.

rothbard was so prolific he unearthed schools of thought almost everyone else had forgotten about. too bad his ideas on banking were crankish. but he was a master of history, and a great intellect, if often operating on mistaken premises.

as i said i haven't read everything on UR, but i think the moldbug intellectual pedigree i laid out above is pretty much accurate. i don't think moldbug would deny that he has ignored huge areas of possibly relevant philosophy, disproportionately non-anglos. everyone has their cutoff. and we all notice where we think others are deficient. isn't that the whole basis for disagreement?

February 1, 2011 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger James A. Donald said...

chebek said...

Mencius things EVERYTHING, god damn near EVERYTHING bad in the world occurs at the behest of the American "Mainline Protestant" Liberal Elite.

And converts, most of whom are Jewish and Catholic, or rather ex Jewish and ex Catholic, since progressive Jews are not very Jewish, as illustrated by their position on Jerusalem, and ex Catholics not very Catholic, as illustrated by their position on abortion.

February 1, 2011 at 5:39 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...


If I had to recommend three short essential works, they would be On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche, The Fatal Conceit, Hayek, and Man and Technics, Spengler. You could bang those out in a week, and they will help fill in the gaps of a purely UR education, and broaden your perspective greatly.

And of course a basic evolutionary psychology understanding is essential.

You gotta buy The Fatal Conceit.

February 1, 2011 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Bryan Caplan on the difference between left vs right (broadly speaking) dictatorships. I should also link to this from Mark Wadsworth (don't know who he is, but linked via Ilkka) a few years ago on the same theme.

February 1, 2011 at 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Kermit Le Frog said...

February 1, 2011 at 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

A general point about King Mubarak:

In Starship Troopers Zin laments letting his guard down and accidentally taking a shiner from a recruit. He gets chewed out by his superior for running a good man out of mobile infantry by his incompetence.

King Mubarak cultivated the second most vile and cruel secret police in the Arab countries (We'll see how the Iranian secret police rule Iraq now that Saddam is gone). He made lame if any effort to educate his people or set them about industry. Is anyone but Mubarak responsible for the millions of men with "college degrees" and no job who now revolt against him?

And now he is so pathetic to say that in the few months he has remaining in his term he will try to do what he has not done in twenty nine and a half years, despite an ongoing opportunity, as ruler, to do so.

The people of Egypt are insanely irresponsible to revolt against Mubarak, but Mubarak is such a failure as a king that he has only himself to blame. Their needs to be a new king that seizes power.

I have a slim, very fleeting hope, that what we're seeing is far more complex than meets the eye; that Egyptian elites have spent the past three years planning this revolt, that the army has played a key role from the start, that the court is replacing the king. But of course, they're being foolish, they're replacing the king with a parliament.

Well, here's a state department wire you wouldn't have read but for wikileaks:

Say it is so, good, bad, neutral? This is an experiment, it is science in the works.

February 1, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Arab world's 1989 revolution?

February 2, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I disagree that MM has not cited or been influenced by continental European thinkers. He has, for example, recently mentioned Vattel, and in past posts has made it evident that he is familiar with the historic jus gentium, which was largely expounded by continental thinkers such as Grotius and Pufendorf.

MM's discussion of the BHD-OV conflict, and particularly the ascendancy of the Brahmins over the Optimates, seems to me to have a great deal of similarity to the ideas of Vilfredo Pareto in his "Rise and Fall of Elites" and Gaetano Mosca's "The Ruling Class" - needless to say, both non-Anglos.

At heart I think MM is a Hobbesian, and Hobbes was of course an Englishman - but his thinking was a reaction to what Lord Dacre called "The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century," and this was as much in evidence on the continent as in Britain. Indeed, to the extent there was a bifurcation in political philosophy between the continent and Britain, it took place as a consequence of that general crisis; the Hobbesian prescription was adopted on the continent, whereas Britain went in an opposite direction. As far as MM is concerned, ergo sunt lacrimae rerum.

February 2, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Anonymous RS said...

Gomez Davila is also largely continental, which is not to say that he was not Colombian.

Mencius has mentioned reading at least some Nietzsche, and finding it much too abstract and difficult to pin down, like poetry - he mentioned that one of the virtues of the 20th-century gorefest was to force political philosophers to become concrete and clear. For my part I don't think Nietzsche was over-abstract in the least. It's true that his writing is very stylized, and that most of his pages need to be interpreted in light of his entire organic corpus.

February 2, 2011 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

Add Julius Evola to the Nietzscheans and continentals.

February 2, 2011 at 3:12 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Michael, you're probably correct about the continental lineage of the ideas, although Moldbug's citations have been predominantly English. But I think the distinction I made between the Old Right and the New Right intellectuals stands, and MM's lack of familiarity with European New Right ideas is most likely an outgrowth of an Anglocentric education. This is a consequence of the fact that there really was no intellectual Right in the Anglo-American world after the 19th century. Or hardly any. The 'Right' there were Liberals. I should have tried to articulate it more clearly. The true distinction is Old Right and New Right, with the Anglo factor being incidental. If you study the Right with a classical Liberal starting point, you can easily trace your way back to the old Right and entirely miss the New Right.

RS, I strongly agree.

Kalim Kassam,

Certainly Evola, although I haven't really given him his due, finding Revolt hard to follow. Easy to read, hard to follow the reasoning. I guess his outlining of Tradition doesn't strictly follow any 'reason,' which is why I find it hard to evaluate and easy to dismiss. I'd have to read more.

LeBon, Pareto, Gobineau...

I know MM pays lip service to HBD, mainly in connection with Black criminality, but I get the sense his worldview is not rooted in any real understanding of the evolutionary underpinnings of human psychology and behavior, thought and action.

For someone with a different background, Moldbug seems limited to a narrow set of thinkers. It's definitely a unique perspective in the modern world, whether correct or not.

February 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Another thing. Although Mencius is an atheist, he hasn't really grappled with Christianity itself. His critique of some Protestants makes it sound like egalitarian ideas aren't inherent in the text of Christianity.

The New Right is decidedly un-Christian, not just theistically, but ethically and philosophically, having gotten over that hurdle in the 19th century with Nietzsche. All the ideas contained in liberal Protestantism are waiting to be read out of Christianity proper. Hence revolutionary Protestantism emerged once the Bible got into the hands of "the people," as both Nietzsche and Carlyle noted. Nietzsche took this to its logical conclusion, while Carlyle sort of wavered in my opinion. You can't retain Christian ethics once you've done away with the Christian god. It's all of a piece.

Of course, the old European Right did not tread this ground. They were defending a political order tied to a religious order, and so to the extent they commented on religious and deeper moral issues, it was just to defend the political order. Therefore it was really purely political, and purely pragmatic.

There are deeper issues that had to be dealt with, and this didn't happen until Nietzsche's time and revolutions in human biology and advances in psychology etc.

You won't glean those things from studying 17th century defenders of a particular political order.

Once you recognize that the old order is dead and gone and couldn't come back, all that pragmatic defense of the old order goes down with it. Hence the New Right. And Mencius has missed that entirely, tying to construct a coherent ideology based on bits and pieces of Austrian economics and Carlyle, if I can overstate the point a bit.

February 2, 2011 at 4:56 PM  
Anonymous jkr said...

The Joy of Curmudgeonry's Deogolwulf has a simply amazing post on the agenda of the United States government to promote diversity, that is the promotion of minority groups at the expense of the majority, along with extensive propagandizing of the latter, in... France. Deogolwulf's source is Wikileaks, and the cited words are all from the American Embassy in Paris, the "Minority Engagement Strategy". Here's a sample, see the link for the rest:

“[W]e will continue and intensify our work with French museums and educators to reform the history curriculum taught in French schools, so that it takes into account the role and perspectives of minorities in French history.”

February 2, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Caplan has long evinced appreciation for the elitist school of Mosca, Pareto and Le Bon. He also likes one of Mencius' favored Victorian Englishmen, James Fitzjames Stephens.

Nietzche was a continental rather than "analytic" (which Anglos are more familiar with) philosopher, but unlike most of that tradition Austin Bramwell deems him a clear writer.

The current spin is that Mubarak's faction are the antinomians.

February 2, 2011 at 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

JKR, I suggest that egalitarian ideas in fact are NOT "inherent in the text of Christianity," but do arise from the Protestant - specifically, Calvinist - reading of it.

Nietzsche (who was a son of the manse) is as much a product of the crisis of Reformed faith as the fathers of American liberalism - New England Puritans who had lost their faith - were. It is notable that this crisis of faith never took place outside the purview of Calvinism or its sphere of influence. The Prussian Lutheranism of Nietzsche's father was fatally infected with it - it was a non-episcopal Lutheranism, with roots in the crypto-Calvinism of Melancthon.

The theological roots of the problem have much to do with the problems of predestinarianism. Protestant denominations that accepted free will (ranging from high-church Anglicans to Southern Baptists) never experienced the falling-away from orthodoxy that New England Puritans or north German Protestants did in the nineteenth century. There is also the point that Protestantism, and especially Calvinism, amounts to a "Judaizing" of Christianity, which disregards the admonition of St. Augustine that the Old Testament must be read typologically rather than literally.

Indeed, we may gain a great deal of understanding of the nature of modernity from seventeenth-century defenders of the old order. That bumptious but learned monarch, Jamie Saxt and First, summarized it all in one sentence - "No bishops, no king!"

It may be that the old order cannot be revived - I am inclined to think so. But there are better guides through the reasons for its fall than the barking madman Nietzsche, or his saner sort-of-equivalent on this side of the pond, Emerson. They are best understood as specimens of the malady rather than exemplars of its cure.

February 2, 2011 at 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Some random guy said...

"US foreign policy at the nadir"

Moldberg is an optimist if he thinks that US foreign policy has reached its nadir.

Personally, I think it has a long way to go, but it sure is moving fast.

February 2, 2011 at 9:50 PM  
Anonymous chebek said...

Since we're discussing 'random' continental authors, anyone wanna offer an opinion on Ortega y Gassett?? I just read Revolt of the Masses a few months ago. It seems some consider him a "Liberal"...

February 2, 2011 at 10:20 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

The New Right is decidedly un-Christian, not just theistically, but ethically and philosophically,


But, how is the richard spencer led "New Right" going to appeal to the 99.99999999999999% of American conservatives who are not "alt-righters" and who generally consider themselves Christians with a policy platform that is "Un-Christian"?

I mean, doesn't spencer realize that all those white evangelicals are going to have a hard time buying into spencer's "let's exterminate baby Jesus because he's Jewish and replace him Aryan baby Thor!" policy platform?

From a purely marketing perspective, it would seem Jesus extermination (and Israel extermination, frankly) is poor way to win over the pro-baby Jesus volk in Texas megachurches, non?

What is spencer's marketing plan to wean pro-Zionist and pro-baby Jesus white American conservatives off of baby-Jesus worship and towards spencer's baby-Jesus extermination plans?

February 2, 2011 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

An Al Jazeera English host asks the former head of the Egyptian state media if they're a propaganda arm. He says of course not, they're modeled after the BBC!

TUJ, I don't think Spencer is aiming for the masses. Keith Preston has pretensions in that direction, but he's explicit about not believing in the stuff fit for the rabble.

February 2, 2011 at 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, how is the richard spencer led "New Right" going to appeal to the 99.99999999999999% of American conservatives who are not "alt-righters" and who generally consider themselves Christians with a policy platform that is "Un-Christian"?

The exoteric message isn't going to be "Un-Christian" or anti-Christian by any means. The esoteric message will be non-Christian.

February 2, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Just as Mencius sees the State department running its own foreign policy regardless of the White House, "omar" commenting at BrownPundits thinks Mike Mullen is independently acting on behalf of Mubarak.

February 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

TUJ, I don't think Spencer is aiming for the masses.

Didn't spencer write in one of the inaugural alt-right articles that the alternative right was needed to displace mainstream conservative ideology because the paleocons had failed to get any political traction?

If spencer isn't writing for a mass audience then what target market demographic is Thor/Odin/Siegfried worship supposed to appeal to?

February 2, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

The esoteric message will be non-Christian.

The pro-Christians Republican voting base will equate "non-Christianism" about as morally acceptable as pro-Satanism.

February 2, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pro-Christians Republican voting base will equate "non-Christianism" about as morally acceptable as pro-Satanism.

That's why it will be esoteric. The exoteric message will not be non-Christian.

February 2, 2011 at 11:19 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

That's why it will be esoteric. The exoteric message will not be non-Christian.

Umm, from what I know of old secret knowledge societies such as the alchemists and Rosicrucians, esoteric knowledge was supposed to be a secret knowledge kept from the masses.

But alt-right's true non-Christian message isn't a secret (and thus by definition cannot be esoteric) because everyone can read their non-*cough*(anti)*cough* Christian policy platform on alt right's non-secret/esoteric website.

Does spencer know his "non"-Christian ideas are not an esoteric secret and that, in the unlikely event he is ever interviewed by a mainstream Christian conservative, spencer's not going to be able to fool the Christian conservative into thinking spencer's message is Christian compatible, right?

February 2, 2011 at 11:39 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

> spencer's "let's exterminate

Oh, be civilized.

Anyways, one can be non-Christian -- or one might even believe in the necessity of a non-Christian vanguard -- without necessarily campaigning against Christianity. I think a fair number of WNs have that point of view.

February 2, 2011 at 11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alt Right isn't a political party. In appealing to Christians, practical political action will be taken by parties, groups, individuals with a pro-Christian message.

February 3, 2011 at 12:05 AM  
Anonymous RS said...

> But there are better guides through the reasons for its fall than the barking madman Nietzsche

I've mentioned my differences with him on the other thread. The thing about him is, no one else could possibly make virtue ethics half as attractive as he does, over against utilitarianism, for the agnostic. Though he certainly has a lot of different ideas and attractions, I think it's above all as a stimulus nonpareil to virtue ethics that he has become the philosophical Maximo Jefe to so many people.

Of course he did not cultivate all the virtues - only the faustian ones that are painful but sort of a blast, plus a few others. His assertion that the sick/decadent side that taught him everything about indulgence, decadence, nihilism, and their opposites, had yet not ultimately harmed or tainted him in any way, may be dismissed at a glance. For his pyroclastic imbalances of cultivation the ancients would frown on him, and refuse to reconsider on account of his unmatchable talent. Heraclitus would whack him -- Joshu would zap him... Tarkovskij would tackle him. Elihu would lasso him... Tallis would flog him, and Cato Maior, mob him.

February 3, 2011 at 1:10 AM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

Richard Spencer's appeal to the Christian masses looks something like this, but that's evidently not the mission of

Keith Preston wondered if it shouldn't look like this.

February 3, 2011 at 5:22 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

TUJ, not all the alt.right contributors are neo-pagans, and those that are appear to think of their "esotericism" in a less than completely secretive way. But, then, if esoteric groups were completely secretive, we wouldn't know they existed. You mention the Rosicrucians. Have you any idea how many pamphlets and tracts were published by or about them in the early seventeenth century? Whomever they may have been, the Rosicrucians were so widely known in their day that even old Izaak Walton mentions them, in a mildly jocular way, in part I, chap. XVII, of "The Compleat Angler." If alt.right ever gets as much free publicity, I'll be greatly surprised.

The only thing that keeps the secrets of any supposed esoteric group at all private is the utter indifference felt toward them by the vast majority of people. Consider the Council on Foreign Relations. Its existence is quite overt, and it publishes a journal so excruciatingly dull that anyone seeking its esoterica therein will be kept from them by its guardian angel, Morpheus. Yet the CFR's private deliberations are as securely tyled as those of the 97º of the Rite of Memphis and Misraim, and unlike the latter, could conceivably have some effect on your life or mine.

February 3, 2011 at 9:08 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Humanity is 'mad.' Which is one of the things that makes in interesting. To call Nietzsche a madman is silly. He was a civilized, mild mannered, well educated philologist-cum-philosopher. A little too honest, maybe. I don't get the "Nietzsche as madman" meme. I know he had a mental breakdown, but I don't see anything insane about his intellectual output. Enlighten me. Michael, RS, the two best commenters on this site, by far, I'm listening.

February 3, 2011 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Hieronymus Goat said...

FYI: "Aspirations" is the new shibboleth for the USG democratic take over.

White House: “immediately in order for Egypt to transition to a democratic government that addresses the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

State Department: "He’s doing his best to respond to this growing aspiration" (on Jordan)



"articulation of the aspirations" of Egyptian people for "reform"

UK: "haven't met the aspirations of the Egyptian people"

UN: "bold reforms that are needed to meet the people's aspirations."

We see this is clearly the result of colonial inspiration.

February 4, 2011 at 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Ron Potato said...

They under-say:

'The Egyptian people are justified not by right or ability, but by aspiration.

'You need only demonstrate your aspirations. Your hope, allied with awareness and inspired by your faith in democracy, will set you free.

'We will assist you in your progress. We will teach you how to live as we do, in comfort, and chained only by our own hearts.

February 4, 2011 at 8:17 AM  
Anonymous RS said...

[me] Nietzsche, who repeatedly fantasized about colossal wars of extermination against 'decadents'.

[jkr] I wonder what you're referring to here?

Ecce Homo, section four on Die Geburtstag der Tragoedie.

Kaufman's Anglais: A tremendous hope speaks out of this essay. In the end I lack all reason to renounce the hope for a Dionysian future of music. Let us look ahead a century; let us suppose that my attempt to assassinate two millennia of antinature and desecration of man were to succeed. That new party of life which would tackle the greatest of all tasks, the attempt to raise humanity higher, including the relentless destruction of everything that was degenerating and parasitical, would again make possible that excess of life on earth from which the Dionysian state, too, would have to awaken again. I promise a tragic age: the highest art in saying Yes to life, tragedy, will be reborn when humanity has weathered the consciousness of the hardest but most necessary wars without suffering from it.

Unlike Kaufmann I take it for granted that 'Ecce' is a markedly manic and probably very lightly psychotic book, in the most literal clinical sense. Compare the level of control throughout the book to the level of control in 'Jensiets'. Therefore I would not take the book authoritatively. But Kaufmann's view shows that talented people are capable of taking it authoritatively or seriously (the latter in the cause of Kaufmann, since he called himself a non-Nietzschean).

Let us get on down in fine. Kaufmann, again: including the relentless destruction of everything that was degenerating and parasitical

Another rendering: the ruthless destruction of all that is degenerating and parasitical

Another rendering: the pitiless annihilation of all degenerates and parasites

The ursprunglich: die schonungslose Vernichtung alles Entartenden und Parasitischen

In an etymological sense: the unsparing annihilation/be-nothing-ation of all those that are losing their form/nature or are parasitic.

There is also this note from 'Will to Power'; scroll up just a few lines. It is about a hoped-for movement of culture-'purifying' mass suicide by 'decadents'.

February 4, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

A very interesting gloss on the first quote is found here. Scroll up at least one page, to the top of page 304.

This Ernst Nolte has expressed his especial admiration for David Irving, though he also criticized him on certain points. Naturally, then, he's about as popular as gallstones in today's mainstream Deutschland, with the Kanzelorin herself even joining the struggle against his fame. I don't know how much I'll eventually adopt from these fellas' views, but they seem like really important reading. Unfortunately, I think Nolte's book on Nietzsche(anism) is only available in German and Spanish (though I'm not exactly certain). I may try reading it auf deutsch, but my velocity and odds of ever finishing would be limited.

February 4, 2011 at 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Thanks to RS for his interesting and extensive quotations.

Psychiatric diagnosis of a figure who died more than a century ago and half-way around the world is difficult, but we can say that Nietzsche had more than a mere "breakdown." In all likelihood he suffered from paresis. His serious madness dated from 1889, but given the long-term aetiology of the disease, it is likely he was partially affected much earlier. This seems evident in "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (1883), an almost unreadable torrent of portentous hogwash. Could a man entirely sane have written "Thou goest to women? Do not forget thy whip!" (I, xviij)?

The great problem with Nietzsche is that he is so often contradictory. His self-contradictions betray his mental confusion. Nietzsche presents us with Schwärmerei, not analytical thinking. It is perhaps a misfortune that this has permitted the ignorant and the unscrupulous to borrow selectively from him. He loved Wagner's music, then he turned against it. He repeatedly expressed his distaste for anti-Semites, renounced his Prussian citizenship, and scorned German nationalism, yet his notion of the Übermensch allowed him to be embraced as a sort of forerunner of the Nazis, and seems to have a following today amongst those of the "new right" who are nostalgic for der Führer. There does not seem to be a sound foundation here for a successful political philosophy.

February 4, 2011 at 9:56 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

Schwaermerei - I think Don Colacho agrees with you. Wik suggests that encountering Nietzsche was important to him, and I think he has him in mind here:

Defending civilization consists, above all, in protecting it from man’s enthusiasm.

Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 97

Taken from, of course,

February 4, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous RS said...

Hey poets, have you ever read Hafiz?

In the morning I strayed to the garden, drawn by the scent of the roses, that, like the desolate nightingale, I might find balm for my brain.

I gazed on the face of a red rose, which lit the darkness of the night like a lamp.

So proud was she of her own youth and beauty, that she banished all repose from the breast of the harmonic nightingale.

The palm of the exquisite narcissus was filled with tears from a companion : the tulip
in her grief displayed injury in her heart and soul.

The lily thrust out her tongue in reproof like a sword: the anemone opened her mouth like a gossip.

Now with flagon in hand, be like sippers of wine!
now like cup-bearers attend to the drinkers with cup in hand.

Count gaiety and pleasure, youth, as plunder, like the rose : for, Hafiz, the messenger hath no more to do than deliver his message.

February 4, 2011 at 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus jkr, when you aren't yabbering on about joos you actually have a coherent and well thought out position.

Do you have any other suggested readings for the anti-Christian new right?

February 5, 2011 at 5:41 AM  
Anonymous jkr said...

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, RS and Michael. I'll try to respond later.

anon, thanks. Alain de Benoist comes highly recommended, although I have not read more than an essay of his. He's considered by many the summa cum laude of the European New Right, from what I gather.

February 5, 2011 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it can be replaced by a modern, handicapped-accessible and well-stocked library"

"Library" is entirely the wrong word here. "Community Activity Center" (with ping-pong tables) would be more like what "liberals" actually want.

CAPTCHA: "feremi" - an operetta sung by Fermi.

February 10, 2011 at 4:32 AM  

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