Imagine, hypothetically, that you wanted the regime to succeed. Would you recommend Cathedralization? Cynically considered, the track record is, at least, not bad. Planetary dominion is not to be sniffed at. (Suggestions in this direction are not unknown, even in XS comment threads.)

The Cathedral, defined with this question in mind, is the subsumption of politics into propaganda. It tends — as it develops — to convert all administrative problems into public relations challenges. A solution — actual or prospective — is a successful management of perceptions.

For the mature Cathedral, a crisis takes the consistent form: This looks bad. It is not merely stupid. As Spandrell recently observes, in comments on power, “… power isn’t born out of the barrel of a gun. Power is born out of the ability to have people with guns do what you tell them.” (XS note.) The question of legitimacy is, in a real sense, fundamental, when politics sets the boundaries of the cosmos under consideration. (So Cathedralism is also the hypertrophy of politics, to the point where a reality outside it loses all credibility.)

Is your civilization decaying? Then you need to persuade people that it is not. If there still seems to be a mismatch between problem and solution here, Cathedralism has not entirely consumed your brain. To speculate (confidently) further — you’re not a senior power-broker in a modern Western state. You’re even, from a certain perspective, a fossil.

Cathedralism works, in its own terms, as long as there are no definite limits to the efficacy of propaganda. To pose the issue at a comparatively shallow level, if the political response to a crisis simply is the crisis, and that response can be effectively controlled (through propaganda, broadly conceived), then the Cathedral commands an indisputable practical wisdom. It would be sensible to go long on the thing.

If however (imagine this, if you still can) manipulation of the response to crisis is actually a suppression of the feedback required to really tackle the crisis, then an altogether different story is unfolding.

Is reality subordinated to the Cathedral because — and exactly so far as — ‘the people’ are? That is the question.

ADDED: Deeply relevant.

February 16, 2016admin 31 Comments »


31 Responses to this entry

  • Cathedralism | Neoreactive Says:

    […] By admin […]

    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 4:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    Cathedralism strikes me as a response to decay much like democracy: if arresting the decline is too hard, we can have compensatory behaviors that reward us and apply the kindergarten teacher rule of “we all must get along.”


    Blast Hardcheese (@claudeakinsmask) Reply:

    But we had the Cathedral pre-decline, no? Certainly in our Cold War glory days. Perhaps the specific message is different, but the apparatus remains largely intact.

    Did the Academy create the Cathedral, or did all the branches evolve toward it independently?


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 4:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    >The Cathedral, defined with this question in mind, is the subsumption of politics into propaganda. It tends — as it develops — to convert all administrative problems into public relations challenges. A solution — actual or prospective — is a successful management of perceptions.

    Why, this just a definition of democracy. Democracy under the Mosca-Carlyle constraint that there are always elites running things.

    This is why North Korea or the Nazi/Bolshevik stuff were simply the most extreme forms of democracy. The people in theory owned the country, the elites really really wanted to stay in power, so every “owner” who thought the elites may not be perfect had to be shot. Solution: most people shouldn’t be “owners” of countries, just tenants, so nobody gives a damn what they think. No propaganda needed.

    Now of course this is such a basic NRx 101 course that I probably missed something, maybe I misunderstood the depth of the question.

    But it looks simple to me: if you want a democracy, in the sense that even North Korea is democratic i.e. the people are the “owners”, you need a Cathedral. If you have a country that is owned by the few, or one, you don’t.

    Maybe the question is how do you have a country owned by the few, when, you know, pitchforks?

    I don’t know, I always thought a huge a part of Cthulhu always swimming left is military tech determinism, when musket-armed peasants can shoot aristocratic knights, they will.

    Anyhow, so the question seems to be how to legitimize to peasants that they are not owners of the country? That seems to what it boils down to.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    If we would want to repeat history, we’d end up creating a warrior aristocracy of near-invulnerable cyborgs with Gatling lances on hoverbikes. They can really afford not to ensure everybody thinks they are the best rulers ever. They would not care. But is brute-forcing elite property rights over a population in constant state of ressentiment really that ideal?


    admin Reply:

    “Why, this just a definition of democracy.” — I hope it didn’t seem as if I wanted to suggest anything different.


    jay Reply:

    The only real democracy in the world is switzerland.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    “Maybe the question is how do you have a country owned by the few, when, you know, pitchforks?”

    That’s the question cathedralism is answering – but not directly.

    Mobs don’t rise up with pitchforks – mobs watch tv or drink in taverns or whatever unless roused by men who can rally them into a mob. The cathedral specifically co-opts people who have skills at rousing mobs (and ruthlessly destroys anyone who has mob rousing skills who isn’t co-opted).

    The cathedral is optimizing not to dominate the thoughts of everyone – it’s optimized to dominate the thoughts of everyone in an information arm.

    The solution directly suggested by the cathedral’s structure is to have everyone be terrified to be seen in a propaganda role. Of course, the cathedral has pre-poisoned the waters against this and implanted the idea that not allowing cathedral propaganda is a sign of a repressive society (which you should form a mob and burn down). No one ever said evolution wasn’t good at its job.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    The Orwell model ( see my newer comment below) ? The Party exists to propagandize the Party, not the proles?

    Low-statusing propaganda roles would extremely difficult even in clear waters because these roles look pretty much inseparable from intellectualism, it would require a certain willful stupidity. Everybody who is intelligent and values intelligence and erudition is likely to be dazzled by a Voltairean sparkling wit, I think the main reason men like us no longer so is probably having experienced some brutal let-downs, disillusionments, “muggings by reality”, at least that is my case.

    I have seen partial successes in the hacker culture i.e. “shut up and show me the code” i.e. they low-status smart-sounding stuff if it does give practical results. But I don’t know how this could scale.

    Granted, Progs moved away from signalling smarts (Dawkins, Hitchens) and signal holiness now (Dawkins-is-raycis and so on). Temporarily, smarts-signalling could be perhaps brought back.

    But it was smarts-signalling, not just holiness-signalling, that destroyed a lot of old traditions and suchlike. It is not stable.

    Long story short, either multiple status ladders, i.e. do value intellectualism but also do value wealth and manliness, or engage intellectuals in signalling towards something useful.


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 4:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Wasn’t it Hume who said that power was in the end a matter of opinion?

    The question then is how to fabricate opinion. “The manufacture of consent” wasn’t a bad way of putting it.

    But isn’t violence the same thing? Communist propaganda can persuade you. But a rifle in your head can persuade you too. And if you’re smarter you’d be persuaded way before the rifle gets to your head. Why wouldn’t you?

    The point that Power has to make, is make it clear that there is no benefit in resisting. That can be made by co-opting Twitter, or it can be made by running the tanks through Tiananmen. How do you tell them apart? Any sane government will use both, depending on which is cheaper to keep running. Men with guns tend to be expensive.

    But does it work? And why? Let’s take an easy example, that you’re surely aware of. Young college grads in China are totally unpersuaded by the huge propaganda machine of the Chinese government. But why? Because it is inept? Or because they know life is better in the US? If life in China were obviously superior to life in other countries, wouldn’t Chinese college hipsters suddenly all believe the inept propaganda of their government? I rather think they would.

    People are not persuaded by propaganda; they are discouraged by the lack of alternatives. Any sane human would jump to any opposing platform which offered him the chance of raise his status. Chinese kids are all ready to jump into the alternative Western model which promises to give their like more status than the CCP.

    White kids don’t jump to any alternative platform because the Cathedral has made it very clear that there is no alternative platform, that any opposition will be crushed, and they will only lose status by merely hinting of considering defection. The only white men who keep on resisting are those who are so low status they have nothing to lose. And the more that the working class kids keep on making a fuss, the more the white college grads embrace the Cathedral, as much as it abuses them. Because the Cathedral is ready to punish them by any small hint of defection; and in the remote case that the Fascists did win, again there would be nothing for the intellectuals to gain from it. The fascists will take care that the white hipsters are the first ones to be punished.

    By any objective account, all governments in human history have been completely corrupt and inept. Yet many kept going for hundreds and hundreds of years. Keeping power just isn’t that hard when there are no external enemies.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    “People are not persuaded by propaganda; they are discouraged by the lack of alternatives. Any sane human would jump to any opposing platform which offered him the chance of raise his status. Chinese kids are all ready to jump into the alternative Western model which promises to give their like more status than the CCP.”

    That’s a more brittle approach and only works if you fully control the whole world (as seen with the collapse of the USSR and Tiananmin Square). People didn’t like their society (in one case because they were ruling a crappy country that couldn’t supply too many people with as much comfort as they could see existed in other countries – in the other because they weren’t ruling the country) so they coalesced over the Schelling point of “surrender to the State Department”. In the United States they coalesce over the Schelling point of “support the Republican party”.

    Possible outcomes of Trump:

    Co-option of the agenda – build a wall, slow the rate of change, wait 10 or so years until the demographics are more favorable.
    Trump gets crushed by the Cathedral – the Nixon path. Nixon showed what happens when you only have personal popularity. This has been the cathedral’s model in the past – make it personally unappealing to all men who are capable of being Trump. The flip side is that you yell at the fake opposition a lot but don’t really get nasty. So far, the Cathedral has been very very good at not going after the fake opposition to harshly.
    Trump gets crushed by the Cathedral but manages to maintain his popularity and people no longer view any anti-Cathedral party as being sincere. The US goes Soviet and no longer has a fake opposition.
    (In the interests of completeness) Trump wins and is secretly alt-right / DE aware and the red gov is still willing to fight – free helicopter rides for the NY Times!

    There’s a chance we’re soon going to find out what happens when there’s no opposition and no foreign power to which the country can surrender. The real world example is all of pre-modern China – the history of which you likely know better than anyone here – but Chinese people aren’t Europeans (HBD isn’t just test scores) and we don’t know if a European descended monoculture will react in the same way.


    Alrenous Reply:

    The point that Power has to make, is make it clear that there is no benefit in resisting

    Power will always make it beneficial to resist, sooner or later. They cannot help themselves.

    But why? Because it is inept?

    Greece’s great project was philosophy.
    Rome’s great project was engineering, possibly also military organization.
    America’s great project is propaganda. Just as Greece’s philosophy still stands head and shoulders above anything produced since, as Rome’s roads are still used today, America’s liars will stand as the finest liars ever to stride the earth for millennia to come. China can no more defeat American propaganda than Celts could fight off the Legions.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    I find it interesting that this sequence, philosophy, engineering, propaganda corresponds quite closely to the history of technique and technology spelled out in Spengler’s Man and Technics.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    > The only white men who keep on resisting are those who are so low status they have nothing to lose.

    I still think in the majority of cases it is more about how people feel about their status subjectively, rather what their objective status is.

    Status reduces to the opinion of people who matter to you. Not the whole society. A ghetto gangsta boss is high status. The white conservative may think he is a vicious animal and the white liberal may think he is an awful misogynist, but does this matter? And then we have white kids going wigger and rapping Tupac songs because it makes them feel high status in the dominant-macho subset of it even when it is so obviously not about them.

    I mean, ultimately the only thing you really need from “THEM” is a chance to make money and physical security. This later reduces to not be thrown into prison and not be rapemugged by vibrants in your neighborhood. Otherwise you can have your alternative subculture where you can feel high status or you can actually be high status inside it.

    Now, I understand that the above three requirements are constantly under siege, but basically if suitable adaptation can be figured out (shut up and can still make money, obey laws, make it known that anyone who hurts your family gets a visit from a motorcycle club, and so on) it is perfectly possible to “tune out” from the Cathedral status ladder and have alternative ones.

    And this could attract the youth. It could have two selling points. First, in the subculture, you are not hated for being a white male. Second, the subculture has a status ladder that ties directly into behaviors and attitudes that actually help in gaining sexual conquests.

    Reversely, the Cathedral status ladder fucks up at two points. It hates white men for just being what they are and is thus inattractive. Second, it does poorly at cashing out status into sex.

    I mean, “THEY” were doing this all the time back when they were not on on the top of the social ladder! They extremely tightly-knit international Communist movement had its own culture and status ladder, the hippie peaceniks at Woodstock had their own and so on. The second was even good at cashing it out to sex.

    Maybe it is just my bias, I spent most of my youth in subcultures and they worked well enough, the most hardcore members interfaced with mainstream society only through work/money and otherwise their whole life, their status ladder, their GFs, everything was inside it. Their real life was inside it.

    Or other example, back when Christians were low-status in Pagan Rome they could still attract adherents. Their real life, status, everything that mattered was inside it. They just interfaced with society with work and money.

    So there is a real possibility to convince the young to not care about Cathedral status, just like back then they did not care about Sol-Invictus-civic-religion status.


    spandrell Reply:

    Status: position on the power ladder. Low status people can’t access well-paid sinecures. Can’t get elected. Can’t get a job on the media. They can get pussy, sure, but not make a lot of money. That matters.

    This would potentially not matter if the high-status eunuchs went on doing their thing, while the white low-status proles went on doing their thing, marrying, having children, having their sports and movies and whatever. But it’s not. Proles aren’t breeding. They are watching TV shows with gays and fat women telling them they suck.

    The low-status kids maybe already don’t think they are low-status. They may think they’re the salt of the earth. But so what? They’re disappearing.


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 6:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    The Cathedral can no longer control events, so it has taken to controlling/ censoring those who point out it cannot control events.

    Reality is subordinate to the Cathedral. You are in the 1978 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers and slowly the world is turning into pod people. Reality waved bye-bye once all the progs got online and started signaling. Now the signal is drowning out reality. I would pick the whole “reality based community:

    “The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Someone once put forth the idea that history will begin in 1999 because everything that happened IRL will be forgotten and children won’t learn anything except what they are fed online. To the extent the Cathedral can control this, then 1984 can be made real. Are books even a challenge to the Cathedral? No need to erase the past, just create enough distractions so people don’t ever look for something else. Also, paper is lame and kills the planet. Meanwhile, ruthlessly crush dissent online to keep new information from forming. Push young people into “sciency” professions instead of science. The Cult of Global Warming will eventually be followed by the Cult of Equality. Official science will say everyone is equal and if you thought opposing Global Warming made you bad, wait until you oppose official genetic science that proves equality.

    The Cathedral already has the excuse for collapse: white privilege. It deserves what happens to it. Be it rapes, robberies, beatings or murders, the pozzed apologize for inviting the attack. Will collapse be any different?


    Xoth Reply:

    All knowledge can be erased or replaced by its opposite with the incantation “studies show”. This is called the scientific method.

    Examples, of which I have seen the equivalent many times:


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 6:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hostem Populi Says:

    Cathedralism requires as a necessary condition that there had to be a prior order, religion, mythology, what have you, since the Cathedral can only increase entropy, not establish order. (The Cathedral is only concerned about creating a convincing, popular narrative, not solving problems based on facts and reality.) The Cathedral is not a living religion, but vampirism or zombiism, animating the corpse of a dead civilization, and the strategy of using propaganda to maintain legitimacy can only work so long as the tissue of the corpse hasn’t disintegrated too much.


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 9:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Cathedralism | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 9:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jefferson Says:

    I am increasingly convinced that all that is good and right in the world comes from the Catholic church until the Renaissance. What we consider the cathedral is just a stop on the decline that Martin Luther began. As good rules unravel there might be short term gains at the expense of long term stability. The cathedral phase of this unraveling can be defined as a final strip mining of western cultural capital before bottoming out. If the Chinese, Putin, African kleptocrats, Hashemite kings, and Latin American dictators are all part of the Cathedral, I must understand it incompletely.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    The problem with indicting Luther is that everything cancerous in Luther can be traced back at least to Paul the Apostle.


    Jefferson Reply:

    Absolutely, but the church kept that stuff restrained for a good span. Luther broke the power structure, everything since then is Gnon asserting himself.


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 9:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Aeroguy Says:

    Gaps between reality and perception are essential to bubbles. Those that benefit from the inflated value of such become the natural supporters of the power of cathedralization in order to preserve the gap and create new ones that they will benefit from.

    It’s an intoxicating power, anything you like can be inflated within the zero sum games of total capital allocation or relative status. Imagine using the power of perception to spike interest in intelligence optimization.

    To use the power means commitment to your desire, since going back on it, would setup a violent reaction and pendulum swing against both you and your desire. So once decided there is no going back even after things start going horribly wrong for fear of the reaction which gets worse as conditions get worse compelling doubling down. The gap in perception will be maintained for as long as the propaganda remains effective thus also feeding the importance of growing the might of cathedral machinery.

    Thus MM’s deal making, to offer a way out. In exchange for ending the madness and dismantling the cathedral machinery, protection from the pendulum shift, a means to reaching reality with minimal discomfort to the power elite most would have hang. Accomplishable only by rendering all voice irrelevant.


    Posted on February 16th, 2016 at 10:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    “If however (imagine this, if you still can) manipulation of the response to crisis is actually a suppression of the feedback required to really tackle the crisis, then an altogether different story is unfolding. ”

    That’s an important sentence. It encapsulates neoreaction and moldbuggery well.


    wenshuang Reply:

    My thoughts exactly. Cathedral has Darwinian and Misesian morbidity.


    Posted on February 17th, 2016 at 12:05 am Reply | Quote
  • apogee Says:

    “It tends — as it develops — to convert all administrative problems into public relations challenges.”

    & usually by way of unconsensual, eternally-off-the-mark, invisiblist-correlative superimpositions, it seems.


    Posted on February 17th, 2016 at 1:14 am Reply | Quote
  • wenshuang Says:

    “Imagine, hypothetically, that you wanted the regime to succeed. Would you recommend Cathedralization?”

    Of course, but if you want “your regime to win” you’ve already lost. “Succeed” has an expiration date so long as “succeed” is determined a priori. (what’s annoying for me in particular is that the life expectancy is longer than a generation).

    The whole point of Darwin is that “your regime” must adapt or die. And the way adaptation works is that it’s not what you thought of your regime anymore once a mutation shows. The minute you flip that, game over.

    Cathedral is morbid because it cuts off feedback and is doomed to being trapped by monkey impulses and limitations because those are the only inputs it responds to. Awesome for getting power over monkeys, assuming all monkeys are the same. (IQ is the wrench of course and not all monkeys are monkeys. I think the history of esoteric writing attests to this, as does the history of literacy and numeracy in general.)

    So Cathedral is doomed by classic means/ends reversal, it’s like the PUA of the left. Get on board if you have no kids.


    Posted on February 17th, 2016 at 1:36 am Reply | Quote
  • J Says:

    The note suffers from the same problem as Edward Said’s Orientalism, that is, deals with the perception of reality and not reality itself. For Said, the perception of Arab societies (by Europeans) was the whole issue, and forgot that there was also an independent Arab reality. You are focusing on “Perception” of reality (by whom? by Europeans) and propaganda and media, etc., forgetting that independently there is an underlying hard reality. Marx called the reality – infrastructure, and the perception, superstructure. The economic infrastructure defined the perception, and not the opposite, as you are imagining.


    admin Reply:

    I’m not at all forgetting that. You’re getting the entire point upside down. (This isn’t Baudrillard.)


    Posted on February 17th, 2016 at 7:42 am Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    Maybe an opposite idea to my above comment: what Orwell proposed in the 1984 was that the Cathedral exists to propagandize *itself*, not the proles. They higher you are in the food chain, the more fanatically loyal you are expected to be – to be, not just to show.

    What is the core idea in that? Probably that every system is toppled by the lack of unity in its upper and middle classes, not by the lower classes per se.

    Now, this could be equally true for aristocracies, for example. So it is not directly a problem of democracy. From this angle, at least.

    So if the purpose of it is to merely convince the rulers themselves and their middle-class “minions” that they themselves, and their ideology, are good, what does that give?

    This picture looks far darker. It suggests no solution, at first at least. For example if you read Condorcet and Montesqieu, or even back then Cervantes with Don Quijote, and generally that era, you get the picture that former warrior aristocrat elites were engaged in similar signalling arms races, just in different fields – demonstrating martial virtue and chivalrous aggressviity, duelling all the time and so on, and the intellectuals back then believed that if the bourgeoisie takes over and an era of “doux commerce” ensues, it will be far better. It was just too much macho signalling.

    Two solutions, perhaps. One is the 19th Phileas Fogg type gentleman ideal, where you signal on many ladders at the same time and thus don’t overdo one of it. Wealth, education/sophistication, moral virtue, patriotism and manliness, for example.

    The other is to find a really cool goal and engage in a signalling arms race for that kind of direction.


    Posted on February 17th, 2016 at 8:29 am Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/02/21) - Social Matter Says:

    […] considers Cathedralism—which amounts approximately to the power to govern on the back of so-called “public […]

    Posted on February 23rd, 2016 at 8:21 am Reply | Quote

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