Casino Royale

Even prior to the twitterization catastrophe, and the terminal disintegration of thought into nano-particles, symphonic orchestration wasn’t obviously emerging as an Outside in core competence. One unfortunate consequence of this deficiency is that highly persuasive blogging ideas get endlessly can-kicked, unless they can be easily pulverized.

“Blogging ideas” doesn’t mean anything grandiose (those type of thoughts splinter anything in their path, and bust in), but rather highly medium-adapted discussion packages, which present things in a way that racks up hits. The relevant example right now is — or rather ‘was to be’ — The X Fundamental Disputes of Neoreaction (‘X’ being an as-yet undetermined number — optimally of surreptitious qabbalistic significance). That puppy would have been clocking up views like Old Faithful, but confusion reigns, and patience has run out. Into the shredding machine it goes.

The principal provocations for this spasm of impatience are two posts on the topic of monarchism, at Anomaly UK, and More Right. The Great AUK post is structured as a science fiction scenario, modeling a future monarchist regime, whilst Michael Anissimov’s MR defense of “traditionalism and monarchism” is organized dialectically. Both serve to consolidate an affinity between neoreaction and monarchist  ideals that was already solidly established by Moldbug’s Jacobitism. It would not be unreasonable to propose that this affinity is strong enough to approach an identity (which is quite possibly what both of these writers do envisage). So the time to frame the monarchist case within a question, as a Fundamental Dispute of Neoreaction, is now.

Perhaps the first thing to note is that, even though Outside in adopts the anti-monarchist position in this dispute, it finds the Anomaly UK description of a future Britain remarkably attractive, and — without any hesitation — a vast improvement upon the present dismal state of that country’s political arrangements. In addition, there is not a single objection to the monarchist idea, among the ten listed by Anissimov, that we find even slightly persuasive. If these were the reasons to refuse monarchy government, any suggestion of republican sentiment would strike us as an obnoxious perversion. Our dissatisfaction with the monarchist solution has other grounds.

The primary concern is abstractly constitutional, which is to say, it arises from considerations of political engineering. For our purposes here, the concept of ‘constitutional government’ can be quite exactly specified, to refer to a blueprint for the mechanism of power that achieves cybernetic closure. An adequate constitution designs a fragmentation of authority, such that each element is no less controlled than controlling, with the result that sovereignty emerges from a distributed system, rather than inhering in concentrated form within any particular node. The simplest model for such a system is a dynamic triangle, comparable to the circuit of paper-scissors-stone, in which power flows nonlinearly, or circulates. Thus conceived, a constitution is a design for the dissolution of power reservoirs, in which the optimum administrative function of each node is a check, or restriction, on the effective authority of nodes downstream (within a circular arrangement). The achievement of dynamically stable governmental self-limitation through strategic fragmentation (of functions and powers) is the constitutional objective.

Clearly, monarchism represents a definitive abandonment of this constitutional ambition. It contends that, since sovereignty cannot be effectively or permanently dismantled, rational attention is better focused upon its concentrated expression. The monarchist case is able to draw great sustenance from the manifest degeneration of republican constitutionalism — most obviously within the United States of America — where its most radically deteriorated possibility, mass democracy, betrays a scarcely contestable inferiority to monarchical government in each day’s news headlines. It needs to be emphasized at this point that any constitutional republicanism which is less anti-democratic than absolute monarchy is, in that regard, contemptible. Neoreaction is essentially anti-democratic, but only hypothetically monarchist.

Republicanism, like monarchy, has a rich and deep historical archive of examples to draw upon, dating back to classical antiquity. The confusion between republican government and democracy is a recent and unfortunate eventuality. The historical reasons for this confusion are by no means trivial, but nor do they point inexorably to the monarchist conclusion. It is especially important to consider the possibility that the demotic destruction of monarchical regimes, and of functional republics, has been a parallel process, rather than a succession (in which republicanism served as an intermediate stage of political disorganization). A detailed historical analysis of the 1848 revolutions would bring out some of the complexity this topic introduces. In particular, it raises the question why the model of the Dutch Republic (1581-1795) was unable to offer a template for constitutional government of effective relevance beyond the Anglosphere. From the perspective of constitutional republicanism, the limited influence of the Dutch example marks a fatal historical bifurcation, exposing the European peoples to a calamitous bi-polar struggle between monarchical and democratic forces (from which our present ruin was hatched). It is also immediately evident from this perspective that the emergence of advanced capitalistic economic organization is inextricable from the propagation of the Dutch model (transplanted into the UK by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and from there to the Anglophone New World). Since capitalism epitomizes cybernetic closure — a system without uncontrolled nodes — these connections should not surprise us.

Because monarchism dismisses the possibility of cybernetic closure, and thus asks us to accept the inevitability of uncontrolled nodes, or concentrated sovereignty, it necessarily compromises on the prospects of meritocratic selection. It argues, soundly enough, that we can do far worse than kings, and have done so, but in making this case it falls far short of the selective mechanism for excellence that capitalism routinely demonstrates. When Moldbug compares a monarch to a CEO, it is with the understanding that — under approximate free-enterprise conditions — business leadership has been socially sifted for rare talent in a way that dynastic succession cannot possibly match. The fact that the outcome of democratic-electoral selection is reliably far worse than the monarchical alternative does not indicate that ‘royalty’ represents an impressive solution to the meritocratic problem — it is simply less appalling than the one presently prevalent among our contemporary political systems. It is capitalism that has found the solution, from which any rational politics would seek to learn.

That monarchy is superior to democracy is a point of secure neoreactionary consensus, but this is a remarkably low benchmark to set. That there is anything beyond it recommending the return of kings remains an unsettled matter of dispute.

October 7, 2013admin 29 Comments »
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29 Responses to this entry

  • Grotto Says:

    A small group of my neoreactionary friends have begun pondering this question on a small scale – how should a neoreactionary social club be organized, and how can neoreactionary principles be put to practical use? The system that resulted has some very strong parallels to monarchy.

    The first organizing principle is an atomized form of absolute sovereignty. Rather then a club president or secretary with far-ranging and hazily-defined powers, each event or task should be discretized, led by a single person with absolute power. For any activity, there should be a single person who is ultimately responsible, and provides final arbitration for any dispute or decision, based on his judgment alone.

    The second principle, making a virtue of necessity, is that authority should be earned by reputation. In other words, de facto authority should be used whenever possible, and fiat authority avoided. As stated before, each activity would have a single leader. The reputation of the leader would inspire or deter others from participating in the event, and participants would give voluntary obedience to the leader for the scope and duration of the event. Further, each member would have the right to exit at any time, for any reason.

    The third principle is that communal property should be avoided whenever possible. Funds and consumables needed to run an event become the personal property of the leader. Capital equipment needed for the event should be owned by the leader, or borrowed as a personal loan from the owner. Should the owner choose to leave the event, his property would be immediately released to him. Should there be anything remaining at the conclusion of the event, it will be disbursed at the leader’s discretion.

    These three principles can be used to create a nested hierarchy much like a feudal system. A leader can appoint subordinates to lead sub-events, who would each have authority over their sub-events, subject to overrule by the leader. The primary aim of such a system is to eliminate voting and consensus as a method for decision making and dispute arbitration, thus preventing the creep of collectivist politics and its attendant leftist ills. The main difference from feudalism is the right to free-exit and private property. Also, this system allows individuals to partition their sovereignty to separate authorities as they see fit. Should the demands of two leaders become mutually-exclusive, the individual must choose which event to exit. Should any differences of opinion become intolerable, this system is designed to split cleanly.

    So far it was worked well for organizing small groups of like-minded people in trivial tasks. It remains to be seen how scalable or stable it is. But as an alternative to monarchy…it might offer some advantages.

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    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 8:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Erik Says:

    It seems to me you’re trying to reinvent American “limited government”, where sovereignty shall be divided among three branches, each of which acts as a check on the other.

    Please specify how your checks will be more effective than the American ones.

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    admin Reply:

    It’s not as if the American experience has been so uniformly disastrous that there’s nothing positive whatsoever to be learned from it. The UP-UK-US succession of commercial republics (and quasi-republics), as Walter Russell Mead describes it, has brought us to the moon and to cyberspace — it has done a lot right. Better defenses against demotic decay, and the machine would still be working.

    Main technical upgrade: a constitutional emphasis on resistance to democracy, significantly more determined than the resistance to monarchical devolution which historical experience bequeathed to the American Constitution (there’s a lot more experience now).

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    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 9:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    The theoretical case for monarchy–the Moldbuggian case–relies on a utopian view of human motivation (enlightened self interest) that, if true, would falsify neoreaction. It also has to assume fairy tale technology to work. I’ve seen progressive projects that were more grounded in reality.

    The historical case for monarchy that Anissimov makes is much more appealing, but I see historical objections to it. Modern dictatorships are functionally absolute monarchies and they don’t work well at all. Yes, they can be distinguished from monarchies, but mostly on the grounds of special pleading. Second, the progressive project emerged from monarchies. The first wave of progressivism was the enlightenment monarch (or maybe the second, if you count the radical protestants). A common criticism of democracy is that even if it didn’t directly fail, it at least enabled the Cathedral to take over. But the same criticism can and ought to be made of monarchy. Any distinction to be made between democracy/republicanism on the grounds of its vulnerability to and likelihood of being succeeded by the Cathedral is also going to be special pleading.

    My instinct is that neoreaction’s concern with the form of government is a theoretical mistake. The form of government wasn’t the corrosive and it won’t be the cure either. From a practical standpoint it may not be a mistake. Any anthropologist worth his salt would recognize that whatever other functions they serve, neoreaction’s racism and monarchism are classic transgressive communions that serve to cement the identity of a countercultural group.

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    admin Reply:

    “The form of government wasn’t the corrosive and it won’t be the cure either.” — It was surely at least a catalyst, with a guiding or piloting role.

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    Lesser Bull Reply:

    So was monarchy. The republics emerged from the monarchies. Many liberal democracies are still monarchies, in fact.

    But if the ideology *creates* its forms, which is, I think, an accurate description, then attacking the form is pointless.

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    Kgaard Reply:

    Speaking of ideology creating forms, Darwinism was gaining widespread traction in the same generation as WWI (which Hoppe tags as the defining moment in the shift from monarchy to democracy) The Scopes Trial was in the 20s, for instance. How was monarchy really going to survive the breakdown in traditional Christianity? Once the Nietzschean critique of received values became widepsread, along with Hemingway-eque thought and cubism etc … how was monarchy going to survive that? Maybe it would have in the ethnically unified states, but beyond that? Wouldn’t you have had the same wars of national independence that you saw in the 20th century anyway (i.e. Vietnam, Africa, Pakistan, India, Yugoslavia). And wouldn’t the fighting of those wars have ignited a democratic spirit in the people who fought them?

    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    Or maybe we are just trapped in the cycle of time as some Greeks though.

    “Kyklos”

    According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governments ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a monarchy. The monarch’s descendants, who because of their family’s power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into mob rule, beginning the cycle anew.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyklos

    A switch to monarchy would be the next phase in the cycle.

    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    I hit reply too soon and meant to include this on Kykos:

    All the philosophers believed that this cycling was harmful. The transitions would often be accompanied by violence and turmoil, and a good part of the cycle would be spent with the degenerate forms of government. Aristotle gave a number of options as to how the cycle could be halted or slowed:

    *Even the most minor changes to basic laws and constitutions must be opposed because over time the small changes will add up to a complete transformation.

    *In aristocracies and democracies the tenure of rulers must be kept very short to prevent them from becoming despots

    *External threats, real or imagined, preserve internal peace

    *The three government basic systems can be blended into one, taking the best elements of each

    *If any one individual gains too much power, be it political, monetary, or military he should be banished from the polis

    *Judges and magistrates must never accept money to make decisions

    *The middle class must be large

    *Most important to Aristotle in preserving a constitution is education: if all the citizens are aware of law, history, and the constitution they will endeavour to maintain a good government.

    Polybius, by contrast, focuses on the idea of mixed government. The idea that the ideal government is one that blends elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Aristotle mentions this notion but pays little attention to it. To Polybius it is the most important and he saw the Roman Republic as the embodiment of this mixed constitution and that this explained its stability.

    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 9:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    Isn’t there a bit of give in the whole notion that monarchy relies on hereditary succession? How many times has the succession gone slightly askew, falling on a more-able second son, or daughter in law, or usurper of some type. Seems to me monarchy does have at least some mechanisms for avoiding the ascension of complete losers.

    Coincidentally (and perhaps slightly off topic) I am reading Hoppe’s “Democracy, the god that failed” for the first time right now. What a fantastic book. There’s a concept in Hoppe that monarchies run better because a country that is OWNED by somebody will seek to maximize the long-term value of the country’s resources. I’m thinking here of the spectacular growth of Emirates Air and Qatar Airlines. Granted they relied on oil money to get the ball rolling. But they also benefit from zero tax rates and lack of crippling fees. Democratic countries could offer something similar to their airlines (say a 15% corporate tax rate and modest fees), but they don’t., so the UAE-based airlines eat the lunch of the European airlines. In Singapore (the world’s other great monarchy), there is just incredible capital investment going on there. Huge buildings going up all over the place …

    [Reply]

    Mike in Boston Reply:

    There’s a concept in Hoppe that monarchies run better because a country that is OWNED by somebody will seek to maximize the long-term value of the country’s resources. I’m thinking here of the spectacular growth of Emirates Air and Qatar Airlines.

    You have anecdotes, I have anecdotes. Hoppe is a partisan of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which is also a rich source of counter-anecdotes. I am thinking specifically of the colossal mismanagement of the province of Galicia, now in Poland and (mostly) Ukraine. Under the Dual Monarchy the place was colossally, even criminally mismanaged. The province included some of the best farmland in Europe, but the aristocracy starved the peasants by levying punitive taxes motivated largely by ethnic spite. The result was crop yields less than regions in the Alps and a massive outmigration to the New World. Was this selection of the fittest, in which the aristocrats deserved to be on top and the peons got squished because they were genetically inferior? Their prosperous lives in emigration as free farmers and craftsmen give the lie to that notion: the tough times had made the locals stronger. That the Dual Monarchy went down the tubes was largely due to property rights being too entrenched in favor of a parasitic aristocracy. Neither the natural nor the human resources of the province were well utilized. But the landowners didn’t care that the overall pie was shrinking as long as their claim to most of it was secure. Sooner or later, that claim was bound to be tested: war and/or revolution were inevitable. Not a bright page in the history of monarchy.

    Perhaps Schumacher was on to something and monarchy works within the family or village but becomes disastrous at the level of empire. Or maybe this is just another argument against diversity: if the Polish landlords had not hated their East Slavic peasants so much, they might not have run Galicia into the ground. Certainly, though, thinking of it as a panacea is naive.

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    Kgaard Reply:

    Good points. I suppose one might say the same about King George and the American colonies: Management of the colonies got sloppy in the second half of the 1700s — perhaps in part because the colonists were, by this time, becoming a distinct society separate from Britain. Certainly the British policy of making the colonies their trade-vassals was not in the best interests of the colonies themselves, and it would seem this example would run counter to Hoppe’s thesis. Look what happened to India, which never rebelled against the mercantilist model imposed by England. We seem to have a sub-set of examples here where the king favors one chunk of ground within his empire at the expense of another. Almost a recipe for rebellion …

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    spandrell Reply:

    If Moldbug despises democracy because it is false, and seeks to formalize the actually existing power arrangements into an openly oligarchic structure,

    then monarchy is too to be despised, as kings almost never had the uncontested power that they law claimed they had. Nobles, consorts, eunuchs, generals, kings have been played, or willingly given away their power for millennia.

    Surely the public manifestations of power are not what matter, but what’s actually happening behind close doors. And those are seldom related.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    The question is how many people understand the actual, instead of formal, power structure.

    Or put it another way, how many people believe the formal power structure is the true power structure? With what degree of confidence, or deviation?

    What is the trend? I think it’s an eroding one in the US.

    Still, perhaps there’s a difference between a particular individual being secure on the throne, and the throne itself being (imagined) secure. If a bunch of nobles and generals are fighting for the crown, then you are some lowly peasant or bourgeois, think, ‘what’s it matter, there’s always ways, and at the end of the day, there’s another guy wearing the crown sitting on the throne. The basic structure of sovereignty / government / society / law / property remains intact’

    Like a changing of Presidents once upon a time.

    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    If there is ‘a bit of give’ then you make popular support valuable, and eventually with Citizen Orleans you’re back where you started.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 9:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Maverick Says:

    I find Anissimov in general to be incoherent. He’s some sort of transhumanist who recently discovered monarchy, “traditionalism”, Julius Evola, and White Nationalism. There’s nothing wrong with these views but ultimately you can’t mash them together without compromising them somehow. Something has to give. If one really supported them, one would support their independent expression, which he doesn’t seem really interested in. Above all he seems to be a control freak. It’s also hard at the end of the day to take the “traditionalism” of any enthusiastic transhumanist very seriously.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 7th, 2013 at 11:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    “The form of government wasn’t the corrosive and it won’t be the cure either”

    Nothing will work with the people in charge left at large.

    Any system would fail with them in it.

    Absent the necessary, the most likely aristocracy and monarch comes from the Cathedral. Power is conserved.

    [Reply]

    Jack Crassus Reply:

    In my social group, there is a habit of referencing tech billionaires as “the aristocracy”. Plutocracy may not be perfect, but it has merits. Commercial competition selects for competence in leaders better than earnest sanctimony or public demagoguery.

    I would much rather have the ~600 richest men in the USA run the government than those that get elected.

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    Posted on October 8th, 2013 at 2:53 am Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    I like an idea I call the taxpayer’s oligarchy.

    Here’s the link to the bitcointalk forum discussion on the same. (Not very enlightening)
    https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=21392.0

    The taxpayers oligarchy idea is this -to establish a negative feedback loop wrt taxes in a democracy, allocate power on the basis of tax collected. The main deliberative body in terms of laws has votes allocated on basis of tax collected. If there is corporate tax, the corporate gets votes. If there are individual taxes, the individuals get the votes. If there is foreign aid, the foreign ambassador gets the votes.

    The cool part comes in when a group seeks to reduce taxes on itself – It automatically lowers its political power in the next assembly. If someone seeks to tax another group, they can’t do that without increasing the power of the others they seek to tax.

    Ideas that I had not explicitly listed out in the forum discussion is that selective regulation to defeat your enemies via government will have to be restricted in some manner, mostly cultural or via a written constitution. The negative feedback loop is the real idea.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Over here, we call that idea commutative tax politics.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    But you can’t measure power like that.

    Power moves between offices, offices are created and modified, agencies appear from nowhere. Any formal system can’t account for that.

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Much of the purpose of the US federal government is to move money around in ways that don’t show up on the budget. The tax code is so complicated not to collect money, but to selectively not collect it. The main reason the US health care system is so screwy is so that indigent care won’t show up on the budget. The costs of regulations don’t show up on the budget. Theatrical issues like gay rights don’t show up on the budget. Government borrowing doesn’t show up in current taxes. The effects of inflation don’t show up explicitly on the budget.

    Taxpayer’s oligarchy is too easy to game. But a push for honest accounting would be nice. It would be interesting if a political party were to draw up a “shadow budget” in which off-budget financial shenanigans were accounted for, possibly with penalty factors for opacity.

    [Reply]

    VXXC Reply:

    @ P. Taylor –That’s a great summary of the Federal Budget and governance. Stolen.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 8th, 2013 at 12:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    The basic structure of sovereignty / government / society / law / property remains intact’

    Except when it doesn’t because noble/eunuch/general X has got influence over the king and has passed the law Y which screws with all this sector/region/whatever he fancies.

    Laws and economies were not more necessarily more stable in the old days, not more than communication technology can account for. See monetary policy in China for instance.

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    Posted on October 8th, 2013 at 5:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Yes Sovereigntry is conserved…except..except..except…just above all no mess. no trouble.

    That’s pure fantasy.

    Ah the eyes that see all but can’t stomach the pudding. Too Bad. It’s done and the Mitochrondrials are all over it. The Drummer Boy is never innocent.

    History’s Ryhmes always find their way.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 9th, 2013 at 12:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jack Crassus Says:

    @VXXC In my social group, there is a habit of referencing tech billionaires as “the aristocracy”. Plutocracy may not be perfect, but it has merits. Commercial competition selects for competence in leaders better than earnest sanctimony or public demagoguery.

    I would much rather have the ~600 richest men in the USA run the government than those that get elected.

    [Reply]

    Posted on October 12th, 2013 at 1:45 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    The people elected do not run the government, the people have not ruled in 80 years.

    The issue with the 600 elect is 550 of them got that way by plundering the nation. Neo-Liberalism is the logical end state of socialism, and here we are…these are not the 19th century magnates who built the nation’s industry. They’re politically connected looters of the productive. In the most bloody and demonstrative slaughters of cities neither Timur nor Chinghis killed skilled artisans. And yet that is what our elites do…

    Look at Detroit, and understand that is emblematic of the Rust Belt, CA, NJ. Elsewhere. The Prog enriches himself through plunder, delights himself in ruin and degradation. Malice beyond Tamerlane is unfit to rule.

    Acela rules this land as a conquered province to be plundered and reduced by the Morgenthau plan with porn. These are our elites. The Robber Barons built cities, these financial Marcher Lords ruin them utterly. Nudus confractione contractus.

    There is no salvation in them, personally or for others.

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    Posted on October 12th, 2013 at 11:12 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    It was made easy to plunder and hard to build for a reason, for they wished plunder and destruction and not to build. . These are your genius plutocrats, the ones who took the easy path to great wealth through legal and subsidized plunder.

    No more deliverance for a people seeking Tribunes than Black Single Mothers would be the cornerstones of renewed family. At any other time their respective depradations would have been marginal and venal. It took GOD [Progressive Theocracy] to make them PLUTO.

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    Posted on October 12th, 2013 at 11:20 am Reply | Quote
  • Casino Royale – Outlandish Says:

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    Posted on July 7th, 2016 at 11:51 pm Reply | Quote

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