Latest travel distraction is the world capital of the technocommercialists. Of course, it’s a city that I adore to the edge of brain-stem seizure. Just seeing the Kowloon container port is almost enough to persuade one that the process on this planet is actually going OK.
Naively, I had expected that Mandarin would have made some obvious inroads since the last time I was here (roughly six years ago). No sign of that, though. It’s quite stunning how much English there is here, and the extent to which English remains the default alternative to Cantonese. That has to have important implications in respect to the cultural foundations of Hong Kong autonomy.
Expeditionary inertialization due to exhausted children prevented exploration getting off the ground today. Nothing too adventurous is likely to happen, but I’ll try to record a few sporadic notes here. Hong Kong is an iconic city, with an exceptional intensity of sociopolitical meaning, so it should be possible to discuss — and even argue about — it.
I’m only here (with family) for a few days, then returning to Shanghai for six weeks of solitary, extremely high-intensity production. After Thursday, if anybody has extravagant demands to make, it’s the time to make them. Whatever is ever going to be possible should be possible soon. Most likely, I’ll learn some crushing lessons about project feasibility, because all my excuses will be gone.
To translate ‘neoreaction’ into ‘the new reaction’ is in no way objectionable. It is new, and open to novelty. Apprehended historically, it dates back no more than a few years. The writings of Mencius Moldbug have been a critical catalyst.
Neoreaction is also a species of reactionary political analysis, inheriting a deep suspicion of ‘progress’ in its ideological usage. It accepts that the dominant sociopolitical order of the world has ‘progressed’ solely on the condition that such advance, or relentless forward movement, is entirely stripped of moral endorsement, and is in fact bound to a primary association with worsening. The model is that of a progressive disease.
Despite the left slant, this examination of Hayek’s involvement with the Chilean Pinochet regime is calm and informative enough to be worth reading (via). Its relevance to numerous recent discussions on the extreme right is clear.
Given everything we know about Hayek—his horror of creeping socialism, his sense of the civilizational challenge it posed; his belief that great men impose their will upon society (“The conservative peasant, as much as anybody else, owes his way of life to a different type of person, to men who were innovators in their time and who by their innovations forced a new manner of living on people belonging to an earlier state of culture”); his notion of elite legislators (“If the majority were asked their opinion of all the changes involved in progress, they would probably want to prevent many of its necessary conditions and consequences and thus ultimately stop progress itself. I have yet to learn of an instance when the deliberate vote of the majority (as distinguished from the decision of some governing elite) has decided on such sacrifices in the interest of a better future”); and his sense of political theory and politics as an epic confrontation between the real and the yet-to-be-realized—perhaps the Pinochet question needs to be reframed. The issue is not “How could he have done what he did?” but “How could he not?”
(I agree with Corey Robin that the ‘Schmittian’ element in Hayek’s thinking remains an unresolved theoretical problem, but his concrete judgments — as detailed here — strike me as consistently sound.)
The shake-down that never ends.
Confession No.1: I generally like Don Boudreaux’s writing a lot.
Confession No.2: I think this is simply insane. By that I mean: I simply don’t get it, at all.
Boudreaux begins by explaining the concerns of a “few friends whose opinions I hold in the highest regard” that “immigrants will use their growing political power to vote for government policies that are more interventionist and less respectful of individual freedoms.” Hard to imagine, I know. Especially if one ignores insignificant examples such as — ummm — the state of fricking California.
It then gets weirder. We learn that “concern over the likely voting patterns of immigrants is nothing new. Past fears seem, from the perspective of 2013, to have been unjustified.” I’m about to poison my nervous-system with my own sarcasm at this point, so instead I’ll simply ask, as politely as possible: What would count as evidence of America moving in a direction that was “more interventionist and less respectful of individual freedoms”? Would it look anything at all like what we’ve seen — in highly-accelerated mode — since the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act?
Then comes the overt celebration of libertarian suicidalism:
But let’s assume for the moment that today’s immigrants – those immigrants recently arrived and those who would arrive under a more liberalized immigration regime – are indeed as likely as my concerned friends fear to vote overwhelmingly to move American economic policy in a much more dirigiste direction. Such a move would, I emphatically and unconditionally agree, be very bad. Very. Bad. Indeed.
I still support open immigration. I cannot bring myself to abandon support of my foundational principles just because following those principles might prove fatal.
The thing is, they did prove fatal. That’s why the neoreaction exists.
Foseti and Jim have been conducting an argument in slow motion, without quite connecting. Much of this has been occurring in sporadic blog comments, and occasional remarks. It would be very helpful of me to reconstruct it here, through a series of meticulous links. I’ll begin by failing at that. (Any assistance offered in piecing it together, textually, will be highly appreciated.)
Despite its elusiveness, I think it is the most important intellectual engagement taking place anywhere in the field of political philosophy. Its point of departure is the Moldbuggian principle that ‘sovereignty is conserved’ and everything that follows from it, both theoretically and practically. The virtual conclusion of this controversy is the central assertion of Dark Enlightenment, which we do not yet comprehend.
Whilst discussing robot evolution in Aeon magazine, Emily Monosson digresses suggestively into the history of digital unlife:
In the late 1940s … physicists, math geniuses and pioneering computer scientists at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University were putting the finishing touches to one of the world’s first universal digital computing machines — the MANIAC (‘Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, and Computer’). The acronym was apt: one of the computer’s first tasks in 1952 was to advance the human potential for wild destruction by helping to develop the hydrogen bomb. But within that same machine, sharing run-time with calculations for annihilation, a new sort of numeric organism was taking shape. Like flu viruses, they multiplied, mutated, competed and entered into parasitic relationships. And they evolved, in seconds.
These so-called symbioorganisms, self-reproducing entities represented in binary code, were the brainchild of the Norwegian-Italian virologist Nils Barricelli. He wanted to observe evolution in action and, in those pre-genomic days, MANIAC provided a rare opportunity to test and observe the evolutionary process. As the American historian of technology George Dyson writes in his book Turing’s Cathedral (2012), the new computer was effectively assigned two problems: ‘how to destroy life as we know it, and how to create life of unknown forms’. Barricelli ‘had to squeeze his numerical universe into existence between bomb calculations’, working in the wee hours of the night to capture the evolutionary history of his numeric organisms on stacks of punch cards.
Outside in‘s favorite AoS blogger DrewM has some (righteously sarcastic) advice for the GoP:
Want to lose Hispanics by a smaller than usual margin? Great nominate a guy like W. who governed as he advertised, “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move.”
Andrew Fox discusses the principal political weapon of the Western Left, and its mobilization against political incorrectness in science fiction:
Coincidentally, the same years which have witnessed the emergency of speech codes on many campuses have also witnessed an accelerated symbiosis between the pro SF community and academia (in that greater numbers of SF/fantasy writers have as day jobs teaching at the post-high school level, and SF literature and film has become an increasingly respectable and popular subject of university courses). … For many individuals under the age of forty who have been through the university system, mau-mauing may seem normative, or at least unremarkable. They have seen it at work through divestment campaigns of various kinds (divestment from Israeli companies or U.S. companies which provide goods to Israel which might be used in security operations against Palestinians, or from companies involved in fossil fuel production, or from companies connected to certain figures active on the Right, such as the Koch brothers) and through shout-downs and other disruptions of speakers invited to campus whose backgrounds or viewpoints are contrary to those favored by student activists. (via)
It’s deeply disturbing, as pretty much everything is these days. (Those who know anything about China’s Cultural Revolution will find their pattern recognition centers sparking up.)
ADDED: Mau-Mauing is the perfect illustration of the fact that political ‘voice’ and ‘freedom of speech’, far from being near synonyms, are closer to antonyms.