Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Corrosive Individualism?

Everyone’s seen this argument a million times: “So what’s the problem with libertarianism? The problem is that if you put two groups one against another, the one who is best able to work together will overcome the group of individualists.”

An example would be nice. Here are the major modern wars of necessity (or existential conflicts) the Anglosphere has been involved in (‘win’ here meaning ‘came out on the winning side’ — conniving to get others to do most of the dying is an Anglo-tradition in itself):

English Civil War (1642-1651) — Protestant individualists win.
War of the Spanish Succession (17012-1714) — Protestant individualists win.
Seven Years War (1756-1763) — Protestant individualists win.
American War of Independence (1775-1783) — Protestant individualists win.
Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) — Protestant individualists win.
American Civil War (1861-1865) — Protestant individualists win.
First World War (1914-1918) — Anglophone individualists win.
Second World War (1939-1945) — Anglophone individualists win.
Cold War (1947-1989) — Anglophone individualists win.

Have I missed any big ones? I’m simply not seeing the “history is the graveyard of failed individualist societies” picture that seems to be consolidating itself as a central alt-right myth.

This isn’t a moral thing. I get (without great sympathy) the “organically cohesive societies should win” mantra. If there’s any evidence at all that it’s a judgment endorsed by Gnon, feel free to bring the relevant facts to the comment thread.

ADDED: “It’s complicated.” — You’re saying that now?

November 5, 2015admin 140 Comments »

35 Today

Shenzhen’s birthday is this Wednesday. I’d have put up a 1980 photo, but there wasn’t anything there.

Shenzhen today:


The Wikipedia profile.

August 26, 2015admin 11 Comments »

Greatness IIb


Are you getting this? (More, and better now you know what’s going on here.)

Background at SpaceX and Wikipedia.

Oh, go on then.

August 20, 2015admin 69 Comments »
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Greatness II

Tim Urban relates the utterly awesome story of the SpaceX boost-phase:

This was a venture few sane investors would touch, and the ability for the company to exist rode largely on Elon Musk’s personal bank account. By the time 2006 rolled around, Musk had decided to revolutionize the automotive industry as a side project, and with $70 million of his PayPal fortune tied up in Tesla, that left about $100 million for SpaceX. Musk said this would be enough for “three or four launches.” SpaceX would have that many tries to prove it was worthy of paying customers. And since the thing paying customers would want is for SpaceX to deliver a payload of theirs into orbit, that’s what SpaceX needed to do — successfully launch something into orbit to show the world that they were for real. […] So the game was simple — launch a payload into orbit in three or possibly four tries, or the company was done. At the time, of the many private companies who had tried to put something into orbit (see the dearth of “operational” companies on this list), only one had ever succeeded (Orbital Sciences).

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August 19, 2015admin 36 Comments »

Quote note (#177)

Snippeted from a “read the whole thing” article on the religious foundations of modernity:

I am not saying that these founders of modernity played silly and wicked blasphemous games, but only that they still had the theological learning and the grandeur of imagination to know what their enterprise resembled.

August 5, 2015admin 13 Comments »

Twitter cuts (#16)

Excited oath aside, this is the perfect framing:

April 27, 2015admin 18 Comments »


The problem with greatness is that nowhere near enough of it comes along to rely on. To assume it, therefore, is a prospective vice, even if it is (retrospectively) indispensable to historical understanding. It would be more convenient for everybody if it could be ignored completely. This is one of those moments in which it clearly cannot be.


The important things to note about Lee Kuan Yew have all been said innumerable times before, and again in the last few days. He was a Neoreactionary before anybody knew what that was, an autocratic enabler of freedom, an HBD-realist multiculturalist, a secessionist Anglospherean, and the teacher of Deng Xiaoping. Right now, it’s tempting to be glib in proclaiming him the greatest statesman of modern times — but he almost certainly was:

In the 1950s and ’60s, Lee traveled from Sri Lanka to Jamaica looking for success stories of former British colonies to emulate. Fortunately, he chose different models instead: He decided to study the Netherlands’ urban planning and land reclamation, and the oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell’s management structure and scenario-led strategy-making. Singapore, it is often joked, is the world’s best-run company. Lee is the reason why. […] … Now the yardstick is not personality but institutions. Lee Kuan Yew-ism, not Lee Kuan Yew. This is why the 21st century belongs to him more than to icons of Western democracy like Thomas Jefferson or even Jean Monnet, the founding father of the European Union.

There are some interesting obituary pieces out there that are definitely worth a look, but mostly even the sympathetic Western media thinks it knows better (1, 2, 3, 4). It really doesn’t.

ADDED: “The evolution of Lee’s racism …”

ADDED: Spandrell and Jim on LKY.

March 23, 2015admin 23 Comments »
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Military Determinism

“That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy,” wrote George Orwell. This is a familiar — and important — argument. (ESR rehearses a slightly different version of it here.) A powerful case can be made for the printing press as the catalytic technology of modernity, but it is the musket that most unambiguously obliterated feudal power at its core, ushering in the age of the armed citizenry — nationalism, revolutionary armies, and the popular will as a matter of serious strategic consideration. Democracy smells of gunpowder.

This raises, by implication, the suggestion that the gathering sense of democratic crisis is a symptom, whose underlying cause is a transition in the military calculus, no less profound than the one that convulsed the world in the early Renaissance. If the infrastructure of democratic advance is the strategic centrality of the armed populace — as epitomized by massed infantry — its horizon will be marked by the technological disconnection of military power from ‘the people’. What are the features of the political landscape opened by the rise of robotic warfare?

Robots are capital. They consummate a trend that has bound hard power to industrial capability throughout the modern age. As they become increasingly autonomous, the popular-political matrix in which they have emerged is increasingly marginalized. Loyalty — a deep place-holder for the assent of the citizenry — is formally mechanized as cryptographic control. The capital autonomization that has spooked the modern world for centuries escalates to a new, immediately self-protective, and ultimately sovereign stage. Mercenaries have always required an ancillary political binding, because people are only weakly contractual, and loyalty cannot — in the end — be purchased. Robots present no such restriction. They conform to an order of unbounded techno-commercial power.

Whether one approves of the Ancien Régime‘s demolition by gunpowder matters little (if at all). The case of impending robotic warfare is no different, in this respect. The strategic dominion of the people is entering its twilight. Something else happens next.

March 20, 2015admin 53 Comments »

Dark Darwin

If this isn’t the best thing Sailer has ever written, it’s right up there, close to the summit.

Darwin’s ascension in recent decades to his current role as the saint of secularism might raise obvious questions about liberal dogmas, such as the impossibility of hereditary differences having evolved among human races. But those seldom come up, because progressivism has evolved a bizarre yet apparently reassuring theodicy reminiscent of Zoroastrian dualism, in which Ahura Mazda represents all that is good and Angra Mainyu all that is bad. […] Similarly, Charles Darwin has come to epitomize everything that a proper progressive should believe, while Darwin’s younger half-cousin Francis Galton embodies crimethink.

The stream of thoughts and information that then flows from this initial insight is truly remarkable.

March 4, 2015admin 17 Comments »


The Outer-Right, in all its principal strands, has a horrified fascination with decline. Is this basic proposition even slightly controversial? It’s not easy to see how it could be. This is a zone of convergence of such intimidating enormity that even beginning to heap up link support seems futile. Taking the Trichotomy as a rough guide reveals the pattern starkly:
(1) Religious traditionalists see a continuous decline trend from the Reformation to the most recent frenzy of evangelical hyper-secularism.
(2) Ethno-Nationalists see a process of accelerating demographic destruction driven — or at least lucidly articulated — by left-wing race politics.
(3) Techno-Commercialists see the systematic destruction of capital by cancerous Leviathan and macroeconomic high-fraudulence, undermining economic incentives, crushing time-horizons, and garbling price-discovery into fiat noise.
In each case, the online-ecologies (and associated micro-cultures) sharing the respective deep intuitions of progressive ruin are too enormous to conveniently apprehend. What everyone on the Outer-Right shares (and I’m now hardening this up, into a definition) is the adamantine confidence that the basic socio-political process is radically morbid, and is leading inexorably to utter ruin.

No surprise, then, that John Michael Greer finds many attentive readers in our camp. His latest (and still incomplete) series on Dark Age America resonates with particular strength. The most recent installment, which discusses the impending collapse of the market system, through quasi-Marxist crisis, on its way to many centuries of neo-feudalism, is bound to raise some tech-comm eyebrows, but it nevertheless occupies the same broad forecast space. If people are stocking their basements with ammo, silver coins, and dried beans for Greer reasons rather than Stockman ones, they might cut back a little on the coins, but they’re not going to stop stocking the basement. Differences seem to lie in the details.

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November 8, 2014admin 27 Comments »
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