Archive for March, 2016

Order and Value

A piece of machinery that reduces (local) disorder has value. It might be a functional police force, a catallactic economic arrangement, or a sociopolitical mechanism implementing dynamic geography (or Patchwork, 1, 2, 3, 4). Others might be listed. Any complex adaptive system works like this (until it ceases working). Since Schrödinger, it has been taken as an abstract definition of life. In certain strands of philosophy, it has also been taken as the complete, rigorous meaning of a machine (as counterposed to a ‘gadget’ – which works only within a larger machinic assemblage). Only by exporting entropy does anything of even minimal complexity get to continue its existence. The production of order is functionality in its most elevated, teleological sense.

A piece of rhetoric which merely celebrates order, as something nice to have, is worth nothing in itself. “We want order” is the “give us free stuff” slogan of intellectually degenerated reaction. When examined closely, it is indistinguishable from political pan-handling. (Democracy has taught everyone how to beg.) It is unlikely that even the most radically degraded libertarian would be shameless enough to consider “wealth is good, poverty is bad” anything more than an expression of sub-comic emotional incontinence. “Order is good, chaos is bad” is a slogan of exactly equivalent merit. “We want order” is just “we want money” at a superior level of generality. Monkeys want peanuts, but we are reluctant to dignify their hungry hooting with the label ‘political philosophy’.

Entropy dissipation is a problem. It might quite reasonably be considered the problem. Any serious social theory is respected insofar as it elicits the question: So how is entropy dissipated? The main current of Anglophone intellectual culture focuses tightly upon it, in a broad lineage from Newtonian mechanics, the Scottish Enlightenment, the science of heat, classical economics, and Darwinian naturalism, into theories of complexity, distributed systems, dynamic networks, and productive multiplicities. Spontaneous order is the consistent topic. ‘Spontaneous’ means only: Does not presuppose that which it is tasked with explaining. If the genesis of order is not being theorized, order is merely being assumed, and then consumed. The difference is between a supply side problematic (“how is order practically produced?”) and an empty demand (“we want more order”). The former is industrial, the latter simply tyrannical, when it is anything at all beside vacuous noise.

Unless a pol-econ. theory can contribute to an explanation of the production of order (dissipation of entropy), it is wasting everyone’s time. “But I really want order” is just silliness. It’s astounding that it could ever be thought otherwise.

March 7, 2016admin 48 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Quote note (#227)

Douthat (whatever his status quo sins) is participating in our conversation:

… Others, especially in the intelligentsia, have a kind of highbrow nihilism about our politics, a sense that American democracy’s decadence — or the Republican Party’s decadence, in particular — is so advanced that a cleansing Trumpian fire might be just the thing we need.

March 6, 2016admin 10 Comments »
TAGGED WITH : , , , ,

Chaos Patch (#104)

(Open thread + links)

Time horizons. Accountability (and a modest suggestion). Principles. Heartiste on the JQ (Jim comments), also highly relevant (plus response), then, for the full triad. Against direct democracy. The last straw. Finding RF too deranged to specifically link right now, but there’s lots going on there. The weekly round, in the Cathedral.

“If there’s a global emotional illness related to economic decline, my suspicion would be that it’s a form of collapse-impatience.” Heidegger’s revolutionary children (note). “… freedom, to be more powerful than terror, must be successfully protected.” American identity, also. Ideological sorting. Net-centric warfare. WN rising.

Lessons from Malaysia. Examining Egypt, and Yemen. Oh, Canada. Good and bad passports. France is stuck. A Eurabian horror story. “After nearly 60 years of European integration, we are entering the age of disintegration.” Raspail’s prophecy, and more (1, 2, 3). The Swedish diaspora. Over-stretched liberals (video).

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Analysis. The Dugin endorsement, and more (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), including black ministers from Virginia (video), and hmmm. The brown scare gets old. The lectures aren’t working (1, 2, 3). Neoconservatives head home. McArdle corner(ed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and other reservations. Barn-burners will be disappointed. Cascades and games (did he swerve?). Democracy did it. (“Democracy, not even once.”) Trump’s twitter operation. “There is no hope for the future of capitalist prosperity and a free society at home and world peace abroad unless the Republican Party is destroyed.” GOP suicide watch (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Did they get baby Trump yet?

The Zuck cops, plus. Sticking with Twitter.

Feminist glaciology.

Blockchained culture markets (plus). A scalable implementation of Schor’s Algorithm.

Time and black holes. Surreal trajectories. Viral anti-virus. Sexual function. Old lizards. Deep ancestry. Chimp religion? Your brain on VR. More Right science links. Viscous populations. Nootropics. Physics of space battles.

Prestige economies (and note). Computational theology. Disreputable math. An awkward Koran.

March 6, 2016admin 16 Comments »
TAGGED WITH : , , , , , , , , ,

Sentences (#46)

Anne Applebaum on our interesting times:

Right now, we are two or three bad elections away from the end of NATO, the end of the European Union and maybe the end of the liberal world order as we know it.

March 5, 2016admin 16 Comments »

What is the Alt-Right? II

There’s a Wikipedia answer to the question now. It doesn’t strike me as obviously dishonest, or any more inchoate than the phenomenon itself. Building Trump-adoration into the definition will ensure that it dates fast — but it’s not hard to see why that seems necessary.

There’s a lot of Wikipedia disdain around, in our neck of the woods, but I’m usually hard-pressed to find serious cause for complaint. After taking a look at RationalWIki — which folds the Alt-Right into its “Neoreactionary movement” rant presently — returning to Wikipedia is like taking a bath.

(Alt-Right at XS, for future reference.)

March 5, 2016admin 19 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Quote note (#226)

It would be gratuitously provocative to summarize this as ‘Conrad on HRx’ — but still. Here he is, in The Secret Agent (Chapter VI), exploring the thought-processes of the unnamed aristocratic “lady patroness of Michaelis” (an anarcho-communist):

It was as if the monstrosity of the man, with his candid infant’s eyes and a fat angelic smile, had fascinated her. She had come to believe almost his theory of the future, since it was not repugnant to her prejudices. She disliked the new element of plutocracy in the social compound, and industrialism as a method of human development appeared to her singularly repulsive in its mechanical and unfeeling character. The humanitarian hopes of the mild Michaelis tended not towards utter destruction, but merely towards the complete economic ruin of the system. And she did not really see where was the moral harm of it. It would do away with all the multitude of the “parvenus,” whom she disliked and distrusted, not because they had arrived anywhere (she denied that), but because of their profound unintelligence of the world, which was the primary cause of the crudity of their perceptions and the aridity of their hearts. With the annihilation of all capital they would vanish, too; but universal ruin (providing it was universal, as revealed to Michaelis) would leave the social values untouched. The disappearance of the last piece of money could not affect people of position. She could not conceive how it could affect her position, for instance.

Conrad understood why Tories are even less trustworthy than Whigs.

March 4, 2016admin 19 Comments »

Cnut the Great

According to legend, at least, Cnut was the wisest of all kings, precisely because he ironized the attribution of sovereignty.

“Surely, Great King, you are ominipotent Fnargl himself!”
“Let us then test the claim, shall we?”

Modern macroeconomics is the systematized refusal to learn from this story. Sovereignty does not rise above the waves.

March 3, 2016admin 12 Comments »


This is well-done, insightful, and even comparatively civil.

The diremption:

Moldbug, by laying an immense foundation, was complex enough to be interpreted in very distinct manners. NRx concentrates on his economic writings and proposed solutions: stockholder sovereigns, Patchwork, block-chain protocols, exit, financial incentives, Austrianism, [Bitcoin], ‘the reset’. Alternatively, HRx concentrates on his reading suggestions and historical/international writings: Carly[l]e worship, high-Toryism/Jacobitism, classical international law, Absolute monarchy, generalist historiography, imperialism apologia, political theory, and the general aesthetic. It’s fair enough to say that neither side is willing to embrace the whole package; unless Mencius comes back and picks a side we’re going to keep on squabbling over who are his true followers. Regardless, we all agree on MM’s critiques of Democracy, bureaucracy, progressive morality, and the dominant institutions. […] I believe this dichotomy is fundamentally spiritual. NRx is a materialist ideology, post-Ancap in essence, it’s no surprise then that many Neoreactionaries started out as Marxists or Libertarians. Conversely, HRx places the metaphysical at the root of all civic affairs. With raw power politics also superseding catallaxy.

It’s not quibble proof, from the XS PoV, but it’s far closer to a cold, realistic assessment than anything we’ve seen yet. (It’s impossible for me to avoid observing, in passing, that the descent into spittle-flecked vulgarity seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of these ‘higher souls’. Is it too much to ask for just a little loftiness of tone from our political metaphysicians? Quite apart from anything else, it would actually work better.)

There are many other points of interest in the Froude Society piece. Worth noting in particular:

They reject the hero, they reject the sublime, and thus any exoteric link to the Holy on High. Moreover, they do not even pretend to have any solutions for non anglo-civilizations, we speak truths that ring true for all peoples by historical precedent, that good governance and order is always Good.

It wouldn’t surprise me, in the least, if the author of Unqualified Reservations would tilt more to the HRx camp today (although, rather weirdly, the Urbit innovator seems to have pushed even further into ‘protocol’ territory). There is certainly no assertion on our (Tech-Comm) side, that he would subscribe to the usage of his work that we find important. Nor do we, to any serious extent, care whether he would do so. Neocameral-Patchwork formalism, the theorization of fungible primary (sovereign) property, and Exit-oriented geopolitical disintegration is the commitment we have here — and without Moldbug none of that would have reached its present state of articulation. The Jacobitism, monarchist theater, objective Anglophobia, ahistorical contempt for emergent trustless governance systems, hyperbolic anti-modernism, and romantic humanism we can do without.

(The original #HRx post here might be relevant.)

March 2, 2016admin 109 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Political Chicken

As a preliminary, a little XS background, which I’ll aim not to repeat.

The take on Trump’s advantage that seems under-emphasized: He credibly signals a refusal to swerve. I’m not arguing here that it’s realistic to trust that. The point is only, the Trump candidacy looks to a substantial swathe of the electorate — at least comparatively — like the strategic choice for not losing at chicken games. As noted in the linked post, when democratic party politics becomes highly polarized, that’s the game being played.

Anyone playing chicken through an agent prioritizes certain definite virtues. Trump’s rhetoric reflects these uncannily. “Winning” — for instance — is a word to watch.

To see what it is to be a chicken game loser, there’s no better model than recent GOP presidential candidates. John McCain appeared to positively delight in the honor of being defeated by Barack Obama in 2008, and Mitt Romney followed quite faithfully in his footsteps. In both cases, which can be extended to the GOP establishment generally, respectability is defined by the sentiment: “Sure, winning would be nice, but we’re not going to be crazy about it.” If there’s a single key to winning at chicken, however, ‘crazy’ is it.

The greater the media onslaught against Trump, given only that he doesn’t flinch, the stronger the signal that he’s not a swerve kind of guy. In this respect, the specific content of the attacks is almost irrelevant. The nastier the better. Best of all, if the message gets communicated that this maniac would take us over the cliff, he’s already won. From the perspective of this analysis, there’s simply nothing else he has to get across. It translates to: With Trump we either win, or at least don’t lose. (Objection: “But ‘everyone dies’ is losing isn’t it?” — Thanks GOPe, but you’re not getting this at all.)

Cruz and (to a parodic extent) Rubio look flexible next to Trump. It’s not that people think they might swerve — it’s what they firmly expect. They seem bendy, and specifically prone to compromise, concessions to media-fabricated realities, back-downs, apologies, and pre-emptive cringe.

Never, ever, even for a moment back-down, laugh at demands for ‘disavowal’, double-down on offense, concede nothing, and never swerve. Regardless of what one thinks about this orientation, it’s the one hungered for by the Trump constituency right now. Trump’s instincts, if not perfect in this regard, are impressively sound. We’ll know within 24-hours or so how it’s working out.

ADDED: It’s chicken all the way down.

ADDED: Trump poker.

March 1, 2016admin 26 Comments »