Thursday, May 14, 2009 43 Comments

Res Gestae

"Twice I triumphed with an ovation,
And thrice enjoyed a curule triumph,
And twenty-one times I was named emperor..."
Divus Augustus! Could we borrow you now?
Find us in brick? Find us in ferrocrete,
Potholes, aerosol, grease and tangled bar -
"Oppressed by the domination of a faction,"
And the same: eternal Milo; timeless Clodius.
In Rome, man is wolf to man. Abroad
The Parthians demand tribute, and get it.
The Roman wolf, as automated camel-tit.
Men live or rot. Republics rot and live,
And time cannot improve them. What of it?
What: is Earth's belly short of marble?
Find us, Augustus, and your solid silver
Bust, thin nose, sharp and tired eyes,
Shall be set high above the atrium
Of every major North American mall.


Blogger Aaron Davies said...

since these seem to function more or less as open threads, here's a question for the audience in general: is there any good reason for house prices to be multiples of the typical annual income, or is it a side effect of centuries of overly liberal credit? are there any numbers out there on the average price of a house (in a settled, but relatively non-supply constrained, i.e. both non-frontier and non-manhattan) market, say, 150 or 250 years ago? or is it that land really is just that valuable, and the european model of a few gentlemen rentiers and teeming masses of tenants is the natural state of affairs?

May 14, 2009 at 2:11 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


Lose "major" in the last line.

May 14, 2009 at 4:07 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I agree with G.M. Palmer

May 14, 2009 at 5:04 AM  
Blogger Daniel A. Nagy said...

Want to nitpick?, at your service!

May 14, 2009 at 6:04 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Daniel -- Thiblo doesn't support Chrome. Therefore I crap on it and pronounce it poo.

May 14, 2009 at 6:56 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I, once again, agree with G.M. Palmer.

May 14, 2009 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

And you have to register for it? Eff that.

Here are my comments on the poem.

The opening should either be in Latin or retranslated. "Curule" is a crap transliterated word. Chariot, throne, chariot-throne, or my favorite "driver's seat" are all better options -- or on the better path.

The first line should begin "I triumphed twice..." makes more sense metrically (and if you think metrics don't matter, you're not a poet).

"tangled bar" is a little unclear -- perhaps "rebar" is a better term? "tangled rebar" is much more fun to say.

"Abroad" is a widow -- can you fix that?

"The Roman wolf, as automated camel-tit" is a good image but doesn't go nowhere -- and "Camel"?

"live and rot" brings the punch better.

"What of it" is filler, I'd rather have 3 more words about time. . .

Same with the next "what" -- just ask the question.

I think I'd go for the last line either "every major mall" and echo 76 trombones or cut out major and maybe north as well, though you still need a strong stress between "every" and "american."

Good work though -- could be a favorite. I'd buy an MM chapbook of poems.

May 14, 2009 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous PA said...

"The Roman wolf, as automated camel-tit" is a good image but doesn't go nowhere -- and "Camel"? I took camel-tit to be a fuel pump.

May 14, 2009 at 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

For those that care, my guess as to the referents of Milo and Clodius are Titus Annius Milo and Publius Clodius Pulcher. These two were two politicians/faction leaders/gangsters (the categories blend) of roughly 50 BC.

May 14, 2009 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


If that's quasi right it's an image too obscure.

Clarity in writing, man.

May 14, 2009 at 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Patung said...

Would strongly suggest to Mr Moldbug that he create two RSS feeds for this blog, one for the articles, one for the poems. It is such a disappointment to see a new item from UR in my feed reader only to find out that it is one of these damn poems.

May 14, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Aaron, house prices are set by supply and demand. You can certainly see historical growth in house prices, relative to income. I.e., see the date here:

On the demand side, housing meets an actual human need (shelter), not just a want. People love house ownership, and houses are durable -- they'll last a lifetime with maintenance. What else should we spend money on?

On the supply side, it is not land as such that is so costly, it is the materials and labor. Undeveloped land is cheap.

One large factor must be the price of labor. Even today, house manufacture is labor-intensive, both in terms of on-site labor and the labor of various forms that goes into materials, which are themselves a considerable part of the price of a house. Labor prices have risen historically as productivity has risen. So we can expect a long trend of higher house prices.

Of course, if inputs were all that mattered, house prices would not change very fast, because only a fraction of housing is new. And yet we see considerable change, and a very long trend.

There are a number of factors external to the business of house-building that I would guess as causal. One is, as you mention, overly liberal credit, especially in the last 5-10 years. Another would be various targeted government policies, for example, the mortgage interest deduction. But there are other factors as well. Housing price is a legal form of discrimination, and the higher the price, the more discriminatory it is. Thus, we can expect that as other forms of discrimination are abolished, housing prices will rise as housing takes on their economic function. Thus we expect price rises caused by the crime wave and white flight of the 60s/70s. Also, housing price is our modern form of school segregation, which was abolished by race but still allowed by geography.

May 14, 2009 at 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Gronhe said...


Eat a dick. You always hijack these poetry post threads with your terrible taste in poetry and horrible interpretation skills.

May 14, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


Grow one.

What the hell else should we do with these poetry threads?

What specifically is "terrible" about my taste in poetry?

What is "horrible" about my interpretation skills?

You do better, after you grow that dick, Nancy.

May 14, 2009 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Leonard, I am sure you are right about Clodius Pulcher. He represented, within the politics of the late republic, the sort of Learjet leftist that is so common today; born to a patrician family, he had himself adopted into a plebeian one so he could become tribune of the plebs - the Tony Benn of his age. He was a bitter enemy of Cicero (champion of the optimates), the enmity originally arising from Cicero's prosecution of him on charges of having profaned the rites of the Bona Dea in 62 BC. He had his revenge in 58, by driving Cicero into exile. Clodia, the sister of Clodius Pulcher, was a notorious profligate; she is thought to have been the lover of Catullus, identified in his poems as "Lesbia."

We don't have the equivalent of a Milo today - a leader of street gangs on the side of the optimates. "Tea parties" are a milkwater sort of rabble rousing by comparison. Indeed, the whole problem of the American right is that it is too milkwater to accomplish anything lasting.

May 14, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

"Indeed, the whole problem of the American right is that it is too milkwater to accomplish anything lasting." - This is part of the liberating thing about being able to tell people I'm not a conservative anymore. It's deliciously insidious, this Reactionary bug, once it wraps itself around your cerebral cortex. The effect is pronounced: what once seemed profound coming off the lips of Sean Hannity now sounds limp & insipid; one now prays to the ghost of Curtis LeMay, rather than genuflect at the image of the Gipper... Thanks, Mencius!

May 14, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Anonymous douglas said...

Malchus X,

"The effect is pronounced: what once seemed profound coming off the lips of Sean Hannity now sounds limp & insipid"

If you ever thought that anything coming off the lips of Sean Hannity was profound, you must be a real idiot.

I doubt you understand half of what Mencius writes about.

May 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

"If you ever thought that anything coming off the lips of Sean Hannity was profound, you must be a real idiot" - Such sweetness, light and charm! I shall spend five full seconds before I lapse into slumber tonight fretting about your assessment of moi. Promise.

"I doubt you understand half of what Mencius writes about." - Truer words have never been uttered, er, typed, on an anonymous message board, my friend. Have a delightful evening.

May 14, 2009 at 5:34 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

MM, do you agree with Ulpian that "the emperor's will is law"?

May 14, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

@nick: isn't that more a matter of definitions?

May 14, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Douglas, is your last name Gronhe?

May 15, 2009 at 4:46 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Douglas, you should learn from MM. The path for the reactionary is a hard one. You must give the enemy not the slightest means to discredit you, fair, or not fair. Not only must you always be correct, about everything. Not only must you be impossible to provoke. You must also be nice. Obviously, you have got a lot to learn.

May 15, 2009 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

What in the fuck?

Joo! Joo! Joo! Go away troll!

Seriously, at least Malchus and I are happy to say who we are / show our web presence.

Who is this Douglas cockpuppet?

May 15, 2009 at 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Hugo said...


I am English.

You often link to books or other sources that confirm, again, that everything I thought I knew about American history is wrong. From the founding fathers ("[Rothbard's] Conceived in Liberty is full of primary research and original interpretations. Its portrait of George Washington as a bumbling buffoon, for example, may be challenged. But it is neither unsupported nor unmemorable" and Bernard Bailyn's "Ideological Origins of the American Revolution") to Roosevelt's inventions at

Could you please recommend some books and sources that show that everything I thought I knew about British history was wrong.

May 15, 2009 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Hey Mencius, while you're looking up Hugo's English books -- and Hugo, I think Mencius would recommend you start with Hobbes -- can you give us all Doogie's IP address?

Unless he's your clever sockpuppet, trying to chase us all away.

May 15, 2009 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Samefag is fag.

May 15, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Aaron Davies: what is unclear about Ulpian's principle? In the Roman Empire, per Ulpian, and as restated in Justinian's legal code (and thus restated ad nauseum by legal scholars and philosophers in a number of faux-creative variations ever since), the emperor's word was law. This was also true, per Jean Bodin's restatment of the principle, in the Universal Monarchy of Bourbon France that many Jacobites aspired to emulate.

Since MM has declared himself a Jacobite, and positively referred us to Bodin's disciple Hobbes, and now yearns for the return of a Roman emperor, I'm curious if he agrees with this principle of Roman law that was widely emulated by 16th century Spanish Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the Tsars, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, etc. (Google Hans Kesel for the minor variation of this principle used by the Nazis).

Besides the massive theft, murders, and other oppressions that have resulted from this legal principle, which I suppose MM might brush off with a wave of the hand as a price worth paying to reduce crime or teach those nasty Protestants a lesson or whatever, these absolute leaders tended to have rather poor credit ratings. They needed to pay high interest rates to borrow money, which would tend to put a crimp in MM's profit-maximizing ambitions. Nor are such monarchs prone to respect the property rights of their subjects, especially if they are political property rights.

If the leader's word is law, he can't make a credible commitment to keep his promises or to follow any particular law or to respect any particular rights. If his word is law, the resulting legal system is the most *informal* possible -- quite contrary to MM's claims to be a "formalist". At any time the Dear Leader can just change the law to get out of any commitment he might have made.

To come up with a political/legal structure that can make such credible commitments is a subtle and difficult task, but you can look at the relative bond ratings of governments through history to show that some governments have done it much better than others. Governments that follow Ulpian's principle aren't among them.

May 16, 2009 at 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Hugo said...

I've read Leviathan. (Irrelevantly, I've also read a withering summary of his mathematics in "Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science".)

I'm most interested in historical recommendations. MM has recommended and Hobbes' Behemoth. Something like that? Or something else?

May 16, 2009 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

inspiration strikes, but i'm afraid my "talents" run mostly to doggerel:

Higgledus piggledus
Gaius Octavius
We long for your like

Twenty-first century
Sad "ave caesar":
"Barack's my new bike"

May 16, 2009 at 5:10 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

"You think you're some big shot in the Mencian formalism movement."

"you're detracting from our goal of spreading Mencius' ideas and establishing the rudiments of some sort of viable movement."

"you don't have the balls, energy, or wherewithal to advance Mencian formalism or any other of Mencius' ideas."

This is not a cult. It is not Ayn fucking Rand. It is a blog. It is written by a very smart, very interesting, computer programmer who happens to be a very good writer. Calm down. Nobody's forming an army over this shit.

May 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM  
Anonymous nick said...


Scott Gordon in Controlling the State has a good chapter on England in the 17th and early 18th centuries, as well as a number of other good chapters on how coercive power has been controlled in a variety of historical socities:

Charles Adams has two good books on the history of taxes that cover English and early American history:

May I also humbly recommend two of my own articles on English legal and political history, in which I've uncovered important events and ideas that have otherwise been lost:

May 16, 2009 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

So the scientific progressives have been proven wrong (again) today, only this time the evidence is fairly irrefutable (even if that's said in as wishy washy as possible way) -- I'm referring to the APA's admission that there is not only no "gay" gene -- but that they're going to stop looking because the search is totally pointless, i.e. they're not wrong, there's just not one.

This puts to rest a lot of the current progressive bent. Any guesses how it will go?

May 16, 2009 at 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Johnny Abacus said...

G. M. Palmer:

Cochran's argument against the existence of a "gay gene" seems pretty air tight. I am, however, a fan of Welmer's Chimera Hypothesis. Couldn't say if it'll get picked up by the MSM.

May 17, 2009 at 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Johnny Abacus said...

Sorry about that. I meant this Chimera Hypothesis.

May 17, 2009 at 12:38 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Peter Frost has some insight on the origins of male homosexuality:

Origins of male homosexuality - The germ theoryOrigins of male homosexualityHas male homosexuality changed over time?Origins of male homosexuality - ConclusionSee also:

The urinary estrogen theory. Part IThe urinary estrogen theory. Part IIThe urinary estrogen theory. Part III

May 17, 2009 at 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bilderberg Wants Global Department Of Health, Global Treasury"

May 17, 2009 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I think I get it.

With apologies to the one and only Toastyfrog, I present the THUMBNAIL THEATRE version of Unqualified Reservations.

Mencius: So I and my wife were on our way home from an ether frolic when I realized that the Emperor wears no clothes. He's NEKKID, I say!

Andrew Sullivan: 'sup.

Mencius: Also, I have deduced the existence of a sinister, yet suspiciously unstructured conspiracy of Marxist Jews that controls American politics, entertainment, and the banking system. They dominate Western political life by means of didactic propaganda. I call them The Cathedral.

White Nationalists: We've known about it for years. We just call it ZOG.

Mencius: And The Cathedral is really bad, and stupid, and is inexorably falling apart.

Various Rightistists DRIFT IN from the BLOGOSPHERE.

Rightists: HUZZAH! Yay Mencius! Boo Cathedral!

Mencius: And I think I have found a better way.

Rightists SQUEE with DELIGHT.

Rightists: Tell us! Tell us!

Mencius: I want to combine ORIENTAL DESPOTISM with the idea of GOVERNMENT as CORPORATION, and live in a world of INDEPENDENT CITY-STATES in which WEAPONS are controlled by CRYPTOGRAPHIC LOCKS and IRON-FISTED CEOS who have ABSOLUTE POWER and yet are, contrary to all of history, always SANE and BENEVOLENT.

Rightists: Wait, what?

Mencius: Also, I write poetry.

Rightists: ...

Does this about cover it?

May 17, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

again, abusing these as open threads…

anyone have any thoughts on the apparent outright victory of sri lanka over the tamil tigers? watching the dénouement (and more importantly the cathedral's predictable reaction) i couldn't help but think of mm.

May 18, 2009 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous unisisse said...

Did anyone else see this video of "The Obama Youth"?

Apparently it's some volunteer organization called CityYear. But it's obvious from the clip in the link above that this is essentially a more organized form of the shock troops/army force of the Left in America.

So when should we expect to see the "CityYear" militia clash with the "Youth for Western Civilization", which calls itself "America's Right Wing Youth Movement"?

May 18, 2009 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Malchus X said...

"Okay, I think I get it." - Anonymous. *** And then everything you typed afterward negated that first sentence.

May 18, 2009 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

anyone have any thoughts on the apparent outright victory of sri lanka over the tamil tigers? watching the dénouement (and more importantly the cathedral's predictable reaction) i couldn't help but think of mm.

Sri Lanka escaped any punishment from the Cathedral because China Sri Lanka's military.

I assume MM would say China's backing for authoritarian regimes means we are returning to "classical international law":


As well as invaluable diplomatic cover, China gave Sri Lanka about £660 million of aid last year. The country's air force has also benefited from a gift of six of Beijing's F-7 jet fighters, while the army received £25 million of Chinese ammunition and ordnance in 2007.

What has Sri Lanka given in return? The answer is that China has acquired a strategic ally near the crucial Indian Ocean shipping lanes which carry energy supplies from the Middle East. Beijing is now building a port on Sri Lanka's southern coast which could serve as a future naval base.


May 18, 2009 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Sorry, that got garbled

China Sri Lanka's military.

should be

China is BACKING Sri Lanka's military.

May 18, 2009 at 6:59 PM  
Anonymous haha said...

Anonymous on May 17th: thanks for the belly laugh! That sums up UR perfecctly, except that you left out a line from the dialog which I've helpfully put back in:

Mencius: Also, I have deduced the existence of a sinister, yet suspiciously unstructured conspiracy of Marxist Jews that controls American politics, entertainment, and the banking system. They dominate Western political life by means of didactic propaganda. I call them The Cathedral.

White Nationalists: We've known about it for years. We just call it ZOG.

Mencius: Oops! s/secular Protestants/Marxist Jews/g.

May 22, 2009 at 4:18 AM  

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