Proposition Nations

Xenosystems likes proposition nations so much it wants to see a lot more of them.

America is a problem for the world for two main (and conflicting) reasons:

1) Its proposition contains enough productive innovation to be scary. Independence war, foundational liberalism, constitutionally-restricted government, and laissez-faire capitalism have been a memetic-cocktail-from-hell for those in thrall to competitively-inferior ideas. But, undoing all of this, is the legacy of the American Civil War (in particular) —

2) The suppression of the propositional principle — i.e. geopolitical ideological sorting — under an idealization of national unity. Upon this pyre the liberal tradition has been incinerated, until it exists only as a charred parody of itself. The Proposition is by now little more than the State of the Union. Mandatory agreement, within an undivided territory, is policed by the democratic mechanism. That we remain one is left as the only strictly axiomatic propositional content (as the Trump and Sanders presidential candidacies in their different ways illustrate).

Spatial Metapolitics recommends that America do both Trumpist ethno-nationalism, and Sanderista democratic socialism, and a large number of other (more interesting) things, even also more stupid ones, if such can be devised. The critical point is the precise inverse of the late-modern axiom: As long as mandatory unity is dissolved, ideological tolerance can be extended without definite limit — across a disintegrated territory.

First-order ideological preferences, elaborated under an assumption of dominant unity, are a trap entirely irrespective of their specific content.

Here’s a proposition: Abolish the Union. Only disintegration is worth doing.

May 17, 2016admin 42 Comments »

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42 Responses to this entry

  • Brett Stevens Says:

    As long as mandatory unity is dissolved, ideological tolerance can be extended without definite limit

    Equality is their method of dissolving mandatory unity. “Everyone does their own thing, without judging anyone else.” The problem (then) is that at some point, ideological unity creates the same kind of effect as biological unity, but in inverse: supporting the tribe is the most important task, but since ideology is not reality, this leads to a group that must deny reality and cannot self-criticize, thus fades out like the Soviets.


    Patri Friedman Reply:

    But most people’s “own thing” these days is not only judging but insistently enforcing their judgement on everyone else. Which puts rather a damper on any attempted doing of own things. We cannot tolerate everything, for we must not tolerate the intolerant or they will destroy all our other tolerances.


    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 4:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    looks like Indian model for USA. India been disintegrated for centuries, very tollerant ideologically and this perfect Indian chaos incomprehensibly functional economically. how it is possible: it is possible, because it was always possible in India.

    I think USA is going to stay as a main world power, and very important one, for very long. any structural changes in USA might have disastrous consequences for USA and for the world. those organisation with greater resistance to change due to structurall inertia – survive. “The evolution of inertia” Hannan – ‎2004 


    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 5:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    [NL]: “Here’s a proposition: Abolish the Union. Only disintegration is worth doing.”

    [SVErshov]: “India been disintegrated for centuries”

    Was the territory , presently collected under the rubric of the “USA”, ever truly an integrated entity?
    At what point during its emergence, till now, was that territory ever homogeneous, in any way, beyond the institutionally nominal? There may well be an ‘American dream’, but was there ever truly a unified reality, in all respects?
    As to “India”, all South Asians share a genetic feature or ‘marker’, which other humans don’t have.

    As a representative of the Indus Valley Civilisation Front (IVCF), I can say that the IVCF vehemently protests against 4000 years of Occidental incursions into our idyllic realm! We insist that Darius & Cyrus the Great be found & tried for war crimes. Failure to comply with this directive, will result in the entire Occident being turned over to lotus flower production!


    SVErshov Reply:

    as long as you bring ‘genetic marker’ into discussion, it becomes part of grievances politics discourse. means discussion is over, give me my chay+pani or esle and that is very unfortunate.

    accidentally same thing Judith Butler activist do, once under attack they bring up genetic argument as last defence, when nobody against them, it back to normal, just cultural differences.


    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    Just mentioned it as a unifying characteristic, that’s all; one, incidentally, that the USA doesn’t have.
    The USA, as the USA, was created by hostile invaders.
    India wasn’t.

    Secondly, if it’s ok for Neoreaction to go on about genetic & racial differences, why can’t I mention them?
    The more they do so, the better it’s going to be, lol.
    “There can be only one.”


    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 6:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRK Says:

    That doctrine of unity happens to be the thing that saved what liberalism there was to be saved, mind you. After all, the south didn’t secede on an agenda of being left alone. The confederacy’s goal was to conquer the union and turn it into a slaver nation. Since you seem to be upset with the way things turned out, what would you have an NRx version of Lincoln do? How, in general, would NRx -if it ever got its way- handle slaver secessionists (or, which is the same from an NRx perspective, socialist secessionists) with expansionistic ambitions? Gnon may get them eventually, but neither the union nor Singapore may hold out for that long.


    D. Reply:

    The Confederacy’s goal was to ensure that the institution of slavery survived in perpetuity. There would have been efforts to expand the Confederacy into the Caribbean, efforts to acquire islands that had been attempted by the USA in the 1850s but thwarted due to domestic opposition from free states, and there might have been a forcible expansion into Mexico, with the reinstatement of slavery in any conquered territories. But only the most radical pro-slavery demagogues dreamed of imposing slavery in the northern United States.


    NRK Reply:

    Now, I can’t read the minds of dead people, but no matter how slavey the slavers wanted the post-war north to be, their war against the union was a war of aggression with the obvious intent of expansion through conquest. Which perfectly mirrors the slaver’s pre-war strategy of turning border states and territories over to their economic model.
    Thing is, slavery couldn’t co-exist with free markets, not even in neighbouring countries, because slavery can’t compete. The south couldn’t allow the continued existence of an abolitionist north, let alone the expansion of such ideas at the frontier. Which brings us back to NRx exit freedoms and my initial question: how to prevent the
    •large scale formations of
    •the profiteers of
    •retrograde economies
    •from defending their profits
    •by means of military force
    •wrecking everybody else’s business/life/rights/whatever you care about in the process
    •without employing a doctrine of unity


    abc Reply:

    Hi NRK,

    Could you please give me evidence of where the South had any idea of expansion and conquest? As far as I know, it just wanted to separate and be left alone?

    NRK Reply:

    Hey abc,
    Forgive me for being a lazy historian, but the simple and short answer is that the southern slavers were already being left alone, unless you count refusal to return fugitive slaves as an act of aggression (think about what that would imply). Universal abolitionism was neither part of Lincoln’s (stated) agenda, nor of most Republicans, at best they wanted to ensure that new states were free and free states stayed that way. The south had the opposite agenda, as per Robert Toombs “we must expand or perish”. He was right about that.

    admin Reply:

    The idea that the North — with vastly greater population and even more disproportionate industrial capability — was threatened by southern ‘slaver expansion’ seems utterly implausible to me. In general, if you’re doing capitalism well, no one else is going to be a serious threat (a geopolitical law that hardens on an exponential historical curve, and is at this very moment heading into orbit).


    NRK Reply:

    The utter lost-ness of the southern cause -which I never disputed- notwithstanding, capitalism done well, regardless of its advantages over anything anyone has ever gotten near trying, doesn’t automatically win your wars for you. Eventually the enemy’s economy will collapse, sure, but that fact does little to ensure your survival up to that point.


    admin Reply:

    It equips you with superior technological and logistic capability. That has always counted for a lot. It now counts for almost everything. When was the last time a techno-economically inferior power won a war of expansion (rather than of survival, on its own territory, through attrition, and foreign media support)? I’m struggling to find a single case within the entire modern period.

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    [NL]: “It equips you with superior technological and logistic capability. That has always counted for a lot. ”

    {AK}: When you’re fighting against yourself, which is essentially what the USA is doing, albeit, & often, through international intermediaries, it just means you’re strengthening the enemy, as well as yourself.

    There can be only one.” lol

    NRK Reply:

    @admin depends on what you mean by winning, and on how much winning the bad guys have to do for it to be a problem. Also, examples from reality don’t really count for much anyway, as all the militarily victorious capitalists also happened to employ doctrines of unity. My problem lies with the proposal that they stop doing that. There are of course countless examples of medieval micro-souvereignties banding together to face an external threat, but wait, isn’t that precisely how all the inescapable empires came into being in the first place?

    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 7:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • Henk Says:

    A social technology for breaking up something like the US into parts, where at least one of them preserves the technological level, provides a ratchet for ever-increasing technological dominance, probably reaching autonomous capital eventually.

    For why, re-read Scott’s magnum opus, Meditations on Moloch.

    (Those of you who’d like themselves or their posterity to live human lives might want to consider alternative plans…)


    admin Reply:

    Yes, World Government, or something, somewhere, might escape.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    “human lives” That is hard to pin down. For the vast majority of the time “human lives” have been lived, it was eking out survival while pinned down under nature’s icy thumb, under harsh selection pressure. Civilization put in place a different softer set of selection pressures, but even civilization never escaped from the bounds of nature, itself under it’s own set of evolutionary selection pressures like any other life form. Symbiosis with machines has relaxed the pressure to utterly unsustainable levels, mercy has granted us the option of genetic engineering, relatively painless selection pressure inflicted on the genome while sparing the man. In exchange we serve the civilization that sustains us in whatever form it demands of us (as we always have, given how much our species has already changed through domestication), while civilizations carry the burden of competing directly, red in tooth and claw.

    Life is not a static thing, such sentimentalist attachment to transitory forms only exalts stagnation. Life is dynamic, ours is growth, elevation, transcendence, the mark of life well lived is producing successors greater than yourself to inherit what was once yours. The era of man ceased the day he left Eden, it is the era of civilization, man’s inheritor, the dominant life form on this planet. Humans have always been free to live “human lives” on their own terms, it’s a matter of avoiding being stepped on.


    Henk Reply:

    Carrying technological civilization on our backs doesn’t do anything for our fertility anymore, less “civilized” populations are out-reproducing and replacing us.

    The honeymoon phase of symbiosis is over.

    We’re not feeling it because technology is good at catering to intelligence’s dark telos, wireheading.


    Seth Largo Reply:

    I’ve always found it telling that Scott’s essay ends right where Christian theology begins: with an uprising against God. The essay is indeed beautiful, as one should expect from the son of morning.


    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 8:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dale Rooster Says:

    Equality was the rationalization for Lincoln’s war after the fact (and all the destruction). Equality has never dissolved mandatory unity because equality is ideologically mandated.

    The prospect of disintegration drives Progs into an absolute fit. Understandably. Gregory Johnson (and Richard Spencer, I believe) both argue that totalitarianism is necessary to society. There must be a dominant religion/mythos/ideology/etc to hold society together. And they argue that they simply want to replace the current ideology with theirs.

    That runs counter to mill’s market place of ideas, popper’s open society, and moldbug’s thesis that an absolute sovereign doesn’t need to worry about what the people think or say.

    The key to preserving order in any open, pluralistic society is the security of private property. But since democracy is incompatible with private property, many mini totalitarian states or societies securing their own tribal territories is far preferable to the current order. Not just the union but the entire West should be crushed…into a million little totalitarian pieces.


    Anon Reply:

    “A little million totalitarian pieces” only stays that way until the dominant “little totalitarian piece” decides they don’t want to be so little anymore. To ignore this is to fall back to libertarian fantasy. Who is enforcing the “security of private property”? Probably the same single organization that realizes it could do better considering it has such a power.

    And Moldbug’s idea of absolute sovereignty is only actionable through force, ie a militarized/weaponized “dominant religion/mythos/ideology”.


    Dale Rooster Reply:

    I wasn’t aware that patchwork, or America’s first war of secession, or America’s second and failed war for independence against Yankee-stan, was a libertarian fantasy. Though Progs have been telling me that for years now.

    “Absolute sovereignty is only actionable through force…” Well, yeah. So are many independence movements.


    admin Reply:

    Independence is impossible for obscure a priori reasons, according to the firm dogma of the reactionary counter-religion. So confusing the matter with graphic historical fact will get you nowhere.

    Anon Reply:

    I think we might be on the same page here and are just quibbling over definitions.

    The question to ask: who (or more correctly what) is dominant now?

    admin Reply:

    Why isn’t your final question just one more thing that needn’t — and probably can’t — be settled in advance of splitting?

    Anon Reply:

    “Why isn’t your final question just one more thing that needn’t — and probably can’t — be settled in advance of splitting?”

    Continuing with Dale’s analogy, my answer would probably be so that we can make absolutely sure the split ends up like America’s first war of secession and not like the second one.

    admin Reply:

    It’s not really the kind of thing that allows of “absolute” confidence, though, is it?

    Posted on May 17th, 2016 at 10:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • Sidney Carton Says:

    NYC as a city state, perhaps incorporating some suburbs. Trump mayoralty as a more palatable experiment in American autocracy than a Trump presidency. Discuss.


    Posted on May 18th, 2016 at 1:34 am Reply | Quote
  • Alan Says:

    @NRKUm, the immediate cause of the war was TARIFFS.

    The Southern states, consisting of roughly 20% of the U.S. population, was paying about 80% of federal taxes (primarily tariffs at the time) and getting very little in return. The northern states wanted to increase these tariffs, hoping to price southern planters out of the market for cotton in England, enabling them to offer lower prices and purchase the cotton for their textile mills more cheaply – which is to say, in a sense the northern states wished to enslave the southern ones.

    Then there was a third party – the midwestern abolitionists who wanted to do away with chattel slavery because they felt it degraded blacks who should be working MUCH HARDER. At this time, midwestern whites were working an average of 14 hours per day, while black slaves, who happened to live in places with better growing conditions, typically worked 6. These “abolitionists” were primarily interested in converting the slaves to their religion and “improving” them to work much longer hours.

    Ultimately, all the sections involved in that war were populated by bastards who wanted someone else to do their work for them, and it’s a shame that only one section lost.


    NRK Reply:

    Nice revisionist meme history you got there.
    Only problem with it, the antebellum tariffs had been written by a southern-dominated congress in 1857. Are you insinuating that the confederacy rose up against the policies of the very people who led their uprising?


    Aeroguy Reply:


    Your statement is oddly specific to be supporting an erroneous conclusion. Yes the Tariff of 1857 was brought into being by Southern legislatures, after all it lowered the tariff significantly (from 25% to 17%). However that bit of legislation was wrongfully blamed for an economic downturn of that same year which lead to the Northern drafting of the protectionist Morrill Tariff (raise to 26%), which Lincoln outspokenly supported during the 1860 election. With his election came a mandate for the Morrill Tariff and thus another motive for Southern Secession. To be fair the Morrill Tariff was still much lower than the so called Tariff of Abominations of 1828, so I don’t think tariffs in of themselves was the primary factor so much as a general sense of being sick of having to play politics with the North. The Modern left and right are said to be at each other’s throats but they had nothing on the election of 1860 where of the eleven states that would declare secession only Virgina cast ANY votes for Lincoln where he received only 1.1 percent of the popular vote (presumably all of whom became part of Unionist West Virgina).


    NRK Reply:

    “Your statement is oddly specific to be supporting an erroneous conclusion”

    I have no idea what you mean by that. The conclusion it supports is one you agreed to, that tariffs didn’t come close to being the immediate cause of the war.

    Furthermore, identifying the immediate cause as “a general sense of being sick of having to play politics with the North” is what you get when your frame of reference for civil wars are the contemporary popular uprisings and putsches. Fighting wars because of resentment, however, is a thing that only re-entered western civilization in the 20th century. I for one believe that we have to give the southern elites the benefit of the doubt and assume that what fueled their aggression was the correct observation that they couldn’t compete economically, so they had to compete militarily.

    Posted on May 18th, 2016 at 6:10 am Reply | Quote
  • cyborg_nomade Says:



    Posted on May 18th, 2016 at 10:19 am Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    I don’t find the idea of propositional nation so good. It almost automatically leads to rule by scholars. An ideal polis should be based on degrees of biological relatedness: race, ethnicity, tribe, extended family, probably not larger than the 5000 adult males + family, servants etc. Plato proposed. I get it that it leads to nepotism and lack of eugenic competition inside the polis, but that is the whole point, eugenic competition should happen between the polities, not inside.

    I mean, this is what I learned from the whole divided authority problem. There should be no kind of competition inside a sovereign. Every human group that competes with others, should be independent and sovereign. You should always be able to fully trust that your government is on your side and not trying to shaft you, even if it requires that the government be made as small as that of an extended family or a village. Every group of people who try to shaft each other should do it openly, under separate flags. Under one flag, there should be 200% trust. In the absence of Fnargl, the only way to ensure there is no destructive competition for power inside a state is to ensure only people who 100% trust each other and stick together and strongly feel ingroup form a state, be it as small as needed for this reason. And a good way to do that is biological relatedness.


    Posted on May 19th, 2016 at 9:34 am Reply | Quote
  • Seth Largo Says:

    Kenneth Burke:

    There would be no strife in absolute separateness, since opponents can join battle only through a mediatory ground that makes their communication possible, thus providing the first condition necessary for their interchange of blows.

    Patchwork as the removal of mediatory communicative ground by which removal the possibility of symoblic and actual conflict is also removed. Is patchwork explicitly or only coincidentally anti-war? Only coincidentally, I should think.

    All philosophy seems predicated on the notion that such a removal of mediatory ground is impossible or unwanted and that a theory of human freedom must always thus be predicated on interaction rather than a refusal to interact (exit). The Kenneth Burke quote above is followed by a similar rejection of non-discursive “exit” tactics. I’m not at all versed in philosophy, but is there a tradition in the field that does posit non-interaction as a good?


    Posted on May 19th, 2016 at 2:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Every nation is either what I’ll call a geographic nation or a proposition nation.

    Geographic nations are limited by natural defensive barriers. Water or mountains. Everyone inside has to get along because the alternative is mutual destruction.

    Thing is, race, language, and so on are no less propositions than the more abstract possibilities. They don’t form military Schelling points.


    Posted on May 19th, 2016 at 3:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    Disintegration might be amusing to theorists at distance but not so much up close.

    We’re going to fight it out -these things happen from time to time – and then the Victors will decide. Victors usually can read maps. If they look at a map we’ll probably keep essentially the same boundaries. We’re not going anywhere anymore than China, India, Russia or other great YUGE nations – all of disparate peoples – go anywhere. Size does matter. So does the common defense against outsiders and that usually wins out.

    As far as proposition vs geographic nations we have oceans east and west, Canada to the North and Mexico and the different and unfortunate civilization of Latin America to the South.
    We may have begun as a proposition nation [that proposition being English Liberties] and I’m sure many theorists for all time will have lots of fascinating ideas for us to try out such as patchwork as long as intellectuals exist. The time of the Intellectual is however ending and reality is reasserting itself rapidly. Nations don’t give up YUGE advantages in a world of cold realities.


    frank Reply:

    Yes. This, I think, is the central tragedy of political philosophy: power scales, property doesn’t. Political fragmentation is contingent upon dark age inducing cataclysms. No cataclysm = amalgamated nations = slow cultural and genetic decay.

    Fortunately, multiple catastrophic meltdowns loom convergent on the same horizon: A disruption in military tech (nothing causes hellish mayhem like a good old military paradigm shift); a disruption in catallactic tech; and a self-induced migration period. If we’re lucky, we’ll get hell. The alternative is unimaginably worse.


    Posted on May 19th, 2016 at 11:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    Any group closed to marriage for any reason (even a proposition) becomes a genetically distinct nation sooner or later.


    Posted on May 23rd, 2016 at 8:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/05/22) - Social Matter Says:

    […] Land takes the aff on Proposition Nations. And while disintegration of unlike is very much to be desired, if that proposition were to come to […]

    Posted on May 25th, 2016 at 8:13 am Reply | Quote

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