Archive for February, 2014

Hard Reboot

As intelligent media begin to interlock with NRx in a serious way, the fundamental problem it poses emerges ever more starkly into view. Compare the analysis of Moldbug in this technology article by Clark Bianco, focused resolutely upon Urbit (and its substrata), with Adam Gurri’s political-economic critique of Moldbuggian ‘technocracy’ and saltation. Strikingly, the technological and political questions are indistinguishable. In both cases, the central issue is the practicality of ‘hard reboot’, or starting over.

Repeating and responding to a point in his own comment thread, Bianco remarks:

“If you start looking for a way to replace our current centralized, hierarchical, public-identities network naming system (DNS) with a Bitcoin-like decentralized, anonymous-but-reliable identity service, you might well end up on the road leading to Urbit.”

We are entirely of one mind on the general thrust here.

The neo-reactionary stuff on Urbit that seems to be decoration is not. It is the whole point.

I’m not going to try processing this topic right now — it’s too vast. Over the next few months, however, it will be a guiding thread. Most prominently: Can a high-level theoretical engagement with Moldbug as political thinker and provocateur not also be an entanglement with Urbit and technological enterprise? My suspicion is that any such attempted cleavage would fail, or at least fall short of an adequate level of abstraction. In particular, any invocation of neoreactionary political ‘practice’ that ignores the back-to-back project to reboot the freaking Internet is in danger of utter misdirection. (More on all this to come.)

(Thanks to @mr_archenemy for the pointer to the Popehat piece.)

February 20, 2014admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , Technology

Zombie Wars

Zombies are targeted in advance for the application of uninhibited violence. Their arrival announces a conflict in which all moral considerations are definitively suspended. Since they have no ‘souls’ there is nothing they will not do, and they are expected to do the worst. Reciprocally, they merit exactly zero humanitarian concern. The relationship to the zombie is one in which all sympathy is absolutely annulled (殺殺殺殺殺殺殺).

No surprise, then, that the identification of the zombie has become a critical conflict, waged across the terrain of popular culture. It implicitly describes a free-fire zone, or an anticipated gradient in the social direction of violence. Zombies are either scum or they are drones.

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February 19, 2014admin 24 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations , Horror
TAGGED WITH : , , , ,

Quote notes (#62)

If you think we’re having fun, the Left (which actually has — you know — organizations) is thrashing out some far more sensitive purge issues:

Richard Seymour, China Mieville, and Magpie Corven have, along with several others, resigned from the fledgling International Socialist Network following an internet row over interracial lesbian bondage porn and its ideological implications. […] As far as I can tell, they are little more than Cliffite Trots who’ve lately supplemented this old-fashioned, weak-tea brand of revolutionary socialism with vogue theories of “intersectionality.” Probably to compensate for the culture of institutionalized sexism that characterized the British Socialist Workers Party following its scandalous coverup of rape allegations about a year ago. […] It’s sad enough that the Left has degenerated to such a pitiful state, where it squabbles over such piddly crap. Did Seymour and co. really need to have their reputations ruined on account of it, though? Tarred as perverts and racists?

February 18, 2014admin 5 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Humor , Pass the popcorn
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Anarchy in the NRx

Arthur R. Harrison (@AvengingRedHand) makes the incisive observation: “Well the thing is NRx is a specific kind of post-libertarianism, or it was. Now it seems to be just a name for reaction post-Moldbug.” There could be people who don’t see that as degeneration. In fact, it seems there are.

Reactotwitter is lurching into sheer delirium (as *ahem* forecast). To begin with, it seems no longer to concur on what it begins with:

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February 18, 2014admin 109 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Humor , Neoreaction , Pass the popcorn
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It’s probably less true with each passing week that Neoreaction can be accurately described as a small, dispersed population of libertarians mugged by reality. Nevertheless, it is part of NRx heritage that such a characterization made considerable sense in the past. There should be no surprise that between libertarianism and NRx a significant zone of complex friction and interchange can be found. Right now, Umlaut is the media motor of such contact.

This is more than a little strange. Partly, it is odd because Umlaut‘s CATO institute parent is the principle representative of respectable libertarianism, feeding ideas into the political process (where they are of course completely ignored), while stressing a non-threatening strain of Statist harm reduction, rather than the rougher anti-state antagonism of the Mises Institute, or even the dope-head dissidence of Reason. Secondly, it seems an unlikely follow up to this.

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February 17, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Media , Neoreaction

Quote notes (#61)

Garett Jones on the Chamley-Judd Redistribution Impossibility Theorem:

Why isn’t Chamley-Judd more central to economic discussion? Why isn’t it part of the canon that all economists breathe in? Why isn’t it in our freshman textbooks? Part of the reason is surely mood affiliation — it’s an uncomfortable result for some to talk about as evidenced by the handwringing I see in most textbook treatments (exception here, big PDF, p.451). The result can’t be waved away as driven by absurd assumptions: It’s not too fragile, it’s too solid. It’s OK to teach Real Business Cycles since we all know (or “know”) that the Federal Reserve and aggregate demand really drive things in the short run. But to tell people that if we care about the long run, the tax on capital income — on interest, profits, dividends — should be zero? And to have only “exotic” counterarguments? Let’s just leave that for the more advanced courses …

(Thanks to Jim for the pointer. “The Chamley-Judd Redistribution Impossibility theorem is economists admitting Ayn Rand was right while trying to sound as if they are not admitting it.”)

February 16, 2014admin 20 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Quote notes (#60)

Fernandez on the coming catastrophes hidden within a surreptitiously gutted world:

The reason why collapse, especially that caused by socialism, is so utterly complete is that the damage remains hidden for so long. The design margin is used up; savings are depleted; the institutions are hollowed out; public morality becomes perverted and education becomes nothing but a credential — and it all happens out of the public eye. Only when everything is used up, as in Venezuela, when the whole edifice implodes, as if by magic, does the cumulative effect become manifest.

Most people are spurred into resistance by a crisis. But they remain lulled into complacency while the crisis remains imperceptible. Progressive tyranny benefits from image management, and takes great pains to keep crisis from view. The most insidious thing about a secret police is its very secrecy, because the mayhem it wreaks is upon the intangibles, among things we call legitimacy. So it goes until only a facade is left. Until the day of death the victim is largely asymptomatic, except for a gradual weakening. When the onset comes he discovers that his immune system is completely gone and the end is sudden.

That’s how disaster sneaks up on a world determined never to see it coming.

February 15, 2014admin 8 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Undiscovered Countries

After (re)reading Adam Gurri’s critical analysis of the core problem of Neoreaction (a tragedy of the political commons), read the surgical response by Handle. The calm intelligence on display from both sides is almost enough to drive you insane. This can’t be happening, right? “In a way, it’s a bit sad, because I can guess that Gurri’s article will be the zenith and high-water mark of coverage of neoreaction which means it will only get worse from here on in.” Enjoy the insight while it lasts.

My own response to Gurri is still embryonic, but I already suspect that it diverges from Handle’s to some degree. Rather than defending the ‘technocratic’ element in the Moldbug Patchwork-Neocameral model, I agree with Gurri that this is a real problem, although (of course) I am far more sympathetic to the underlying intellectual project. Unlike Gurri — who in this crucial respect represents a classical liberal position at its most thoughtful — Moldbug does not conceive democracy as a discovery process, illuminated by analogy to market dynamics and organic social evolution. On the contrary, it is a ratchet mechanism that successively distances the political realm from feedback sensitivity, due to its character as a closed loop (or state church) sensitive only to a public opinion it has itself manufactured. As the Cathedral expands, its adaptation to reality progressively attenuates. The result is that every effective discovery process — whether economic, scientific, or of any other kind — is subjected to ever-more radical subversion by political influences whose only ‘reality principle’ is internal: based on closed-circuit social manipulation.

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February 14, 2014admin 15 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Lord of the Trolls

Mark Shea might not quite be the most ludicrous idiot alive (judge for yourself), but he earnestly shares the following warning — received from one of his readers. I’m putting the whole story here, because Shea’s credulity about it is so radically humiliating I can only assume he’ll want to take it down.

The Dark Enlightenment Exposed

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February 13, 2014admin 83 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Humor , Pass the popcorn
TAGGED WITH : , , , , , ,

Quote notes (#59)

John Michael Greer on the triumph of fascism (spot on):

National socialist parties argued that business firms should be made subject to government regulation and coordination in order to keep them from acting against the interests of society as a whole, and that the working classes ought to receive a range of government benefits paid for by taxes on corporate income and the well-to-do. Those points were central to the program of the National Socialist German Workers Party from the time it got that name— it was founded as the German Workers Party, and got the rest of the moniker at the urging of a little man with a Charlie Chaplin mustache who became the party’s leader not long after its founding — and those were the policies that the same party enacted when it took power in Germany in 1933.

If those policies sound familiar, dear reader, they should. That’s the other reason why next to nobody outside of specialist historical works mentions national socialism by name: the Western nations that defeated national socialism in Germany promptly adopted its core economic policies, the main source of its mass appeal, to forestall any attempt to revive it in the postwar world.

(via @PuzzlePirate)

ADDED: A point of clarification and a question:

Fascism isn’t a problem because it triggers scary feelings about the Nazis. It’s a problem because it’s running the world.

Question: Is there anybody among the critics of this contention who seeks to defend fascism against sloppy criticism and ‘spin’ who doesn’t also want — at least partially — to defend elements of socialist governance?
The sample size of the commentary so far is too small to tell, but it’s looking as if the answer is ‘no’. If so, it would suggest that Hayek and even (*gasp*) Jonah Goldberg are right  in suggesting that the fundamental controversy is about spontaneous social organization, and not about any unambiguous argument of Left v. Right.

February 13, 2014admin 57 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy