Archive for September, 2013

Cladistic Meditations

Neoreactionaries have a thing about Puritanism. Whether or not this trait is conceptually essential is a question for another time. The important point, right now, is that it serves as a cladistic marker. Whatever it might be that neoreaction speciates into, it bears this trait as an indication of cultural ancestry, bookmarking the root-code archive of Mencius Moldbug.

When reconstructed as an argument, the Moldbuggian clade proposes a species of ethnographic categorization on a loosely Darwinian (and strongly evolutionary) model, according to which cultural phenomena are logically nested, in tree-like fashion, revealing a pattern of descent. When considering an English Darwinian Evolutionist, who is also an example of contemporary political progressivism, Moldbug makes this mode of analysis explicit:

My belief is that Professor Dawkins is not just a Christian atheist. He is a Protestant atheist. And he is not just a Protestant atheist. He is a Calvinist atheist. And he is not just a Calvinist atheist. He is an Anglo-Calvinist atheist. In other words, he can be also be described as a Puritan atheist, a Dissenter atheist, a Nonconformist atheist, an Evangelical atheist, etc, etc.

This cladistic taxonomy traces Professor Dawkins’ intellectual ancestry back about 400 years, to the era of the English Civil War. Except of course for the atheism theme, Professor Dawkins’ kernel is a remarkable match for the Ranter, Leveller, Digger, Quaker, Fifth Monarchist, or any of the more extreme English Dissenter traditions that flourished during the Cromwellian interregnum.

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September 4, 2013admin 73 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Dark Acceleration

There’s been a virtual post on the worse, the better* simmering in the kitchen here for a while, without reaching the stage of being ready for the table. ‘Max’ exuberantly pre-empts the topic in this comment thread. How deeply is this speculative position insinuated into the DNA of neoreaction? (The provisional Outside in response: very deeply.) There’s no longer any keeping it off the ‘to do’ list.

Also (on the same thread): don’t miss the trial application of the Lesser Bull / Gnon terminological creation Ruin Voting. It has a dazzling future, because it so exactly captures a devastating empirical reality. (If successfully slogan-synthesized with one or two additional words, it will be despatched immediately to the T-shirt  factory. Perhaps antagonistic ghetto punks would be prepared to pay for a ‘Ruin Voter’ shirt already?)

*Wikipedia attributes the origin of the phrase to Nikolay Chernyshevsky, who seems to have been systematically lexo-pillaged by Lenin. (Chernyshevsky was also author of the novel What is to be done?)

September 3, 2013admin 35 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Border Follies

Bryan Caplan’s latest on the open borders question illuminates an imaginary world. Perhaps the strangest thing about this fantasy earth is that it corresponds almost perfectly with an achieved libertarian utopia, marred only by pesky borders that impede the frictionless completion of labor contracts.

In Caplan World there are two significant levels of social organization: private owners — fully secure in their property rights — and the human race as a whole, struggling to sort itself into productive relationships of voluntary cooperation. In his figurative simplification, there are households, and there is the planet. Nothing done to de-fragment the planet could negatively affect households to any significant extent. In fact, they could only benefit from open-access to several billion potential tenants. On Caplan World, open-borders is a no-brainer.

On Sol-3, unfortunately, things are not nearly so simple. The most obvious reason is that nobody on this planet enjoys secure property rights. Freely-contracting Caplan World ‘tenants’ are — in reality — also voters, and what they vote upon, most substantially, is other people’s property rights. In this, real world, geographical fragmentation means that a whole bunch of (once) non-random other people do not have any voice in regards to your business. In an age of rampant democracy, the only way to maintain this situation is to keep them on the other side of a border, at least formally (polite visitors don’t get to decide whether your house should be expropriated). Eliminate the borders, and the only property rights remaining are those that the global population, as a whole, are willing to grant. Does it really need to be spelt out that this is not the recipe for a libertarian society?

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September 3, 2013admin 48 Comments »

Quote notes (#26)

Optimize for intelligence isn’t a rallying cry that Chip Smith is succumbing to:

…  high intelligence may very well be an evolutionary dead-end. I’m certainly at a loss to come up with a good reason as to why a once-adaptive trait that you and I happen to value should enjoy special pleading before the blind algorithmic noise that is natural selection.

But even if the brawny-brained do figure out a way to defy gravity before the sun explodes, I think there are yet reasons to question whether the galloping ascent of mind is really worth cheering on. Futurist geeks will inform us that there are myriad tech revolutions afoot—all spearheaded by smarties, we may be certain. And I would suggest that such of these that converge on the gilded promise of quantum computing and nanotechnology might advise a second reflective pause—one that comes by way of Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” and settles at what grim solace remains in the darkest explanations that have always surrounded Fermi’s Enigma.

Maybe I’m being cryptic. What I mean to consider is simply that the evolutionary trajectory of intelligence can, has, and may yet lead to very bad things. It may one day be possible, for example, to create sentient experience—let’s not be so bold as to call it “life”—not out of gametes but in the deep quick of quibit [sic] states, and if this much should come to pass, it isn’t so far a stretch to imagine that such intelligent simulations—okay, they’re alive—will be capable of suffering, or that such will be made to suffer, perhaps for sadistic kicks, perhaps in recursive loops of immeasurable intensity that near enough approximate the eternal torture-state that’s threatened in every fevered vision of Hell to render the distinction moot.

Utilitarians have no sense for fun.


September 3, 2013admin 24 Comments »

Obamanation …

… isn’t an insulting name for Obama, or even for what he has ‘wrought’. It’s a name for America, and thus for the leading spirit (or Zeitgeist) of the world. A country where support for a Harvard Law presidency ‘bottoms out’ (repeatedly) at something above 40% knows what it wants — and is getting it (good and hard). Blaming Obama for any of this is like blaming pustules for the bubonic plague.

The world deserves Obama almost as much as America does, and in many cases, even more. If the Cathedral is basically to be applauded — and who doesn’t believe that? — there’s every reason to mainline it, by putting the authentic voice of the academy in power. As the chrysalis-husk of a universal project, America is duty bound to abolish itself as a particular nation. If it defers to its own ‘propositional’ ideals, how could it not? There are even chunks of the Tea Party who kinda sorta felt it was the right thing to do. The conservative establishment certainly did, including the Republican campaign machines of the two last presidential elections. The Idea necessitates blood sacrifice, which Obamanation consummates.

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September 2, 2013admin 13 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , World
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Yesterday’s News

“The missile strikes the White House is contemplating would advance Syria’s dissolution,” writes Steven A. Cook in the Washington Post.

What is this ‘Syria’ of which you speak?

Such senseless language should have been dismissed from the practical lexicon by now. It belongs strictly to history books.

Between the Mediterranean coast of the northern Levant and the Iranian border, the internationally-recognized state system exists only as a set of tokens in diplomatic games. It isn’t coming back.

This article (and book) will be seen as astonishingly prescient soon, and deserves to be already.

September 1, 2013admin 4 Comments »