Quote note (#244)

Gregory Hood on George Hawley (on Paul Gottfried?) on the Right / Left distinction:

Hawley has to not only describe the history of the American conservative movement, but define what he means by “Left” and “Right.” Hawley easily dismantles classification schemes based on a person’s view of human nature or the old “individualism vs. collectivism” canard. Borrowing from Paul Gottfried, Hawley says, “The political left will be defined as containing all ideological movements that consider equality the highest political value.” In contrast, the Right is defined as: “[E]ncompassing all of those ideologies that, while not necessarily rejecting equality as a social good, do not rank at the top of the hierarchy of values. The right furthermore fights the left in all cases where the push for equality threatens some other value held in higher esteem.”

One realistic outcome of this classification scheme:

… this means thinkers as diverse as Murray Rothbard, Wendell Berry, Pat Buchanan and Alain de Benoist can all be meaningfully characterized as on the “Right,” though they have little else in common. It also implies action – you are only on the Right if you are part of something which “fights the left.” […] Though Hawley does not say this, this suggests there are many “Rights,” as each right wing movement has its vision of The Good, The Beautiful, and The True it will fight for. We can talk about the Islamic State or Polish nationalists as both being “right-wing,” even though they would gladly slaughter each other. Though every right wing movement will hold its own source of excellence or morality as supreme, in truth there are as many as there are peoples, faiths, and ideologies.

This isn’t the sort of question that’s going to be definitively settled, but the criterion sketched here has an impressive flexibility.

(XS still likes this. Some previous Right / Left remarks and linkage here, and here.)

May 5, 2016admin 73 Comments »
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73 Responses to this entry

  • Edenist whackjob Says:

    Maybe we should drop the whole left-right continuum, and instead go for a Haidt 6-dimensional map.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_foundations_theory

    If you’re playing Civilization, you never read of this and that faction as being “left” or “right”. No, there’s all kinds of whacky ideologies and movements.

    Cramming things into a duality is always going to lead to wrong focus, and also self-reinforcing behavior.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Self-reinforcing behavior is exactly the thing to go for.

    [Reply]

    grey enlightenment Reply:

    I prefer the political loop system instead of the spectrum

    [Reply]

    Tentative Joiner Reply:

    An interesting passage from the Wikipedia page (emphasis mine):

    While all three of the political camps studied by Haidt are sensitive to the Fairness foundation, progressives are particularly sensitive to the Care foundation, libertarians to the Liberty foundation, and conservatives roughly equally sensitive to all six foundations.

    I am not making a claim whether it is or isn’t the case but this finding does make it awfully easy to present progressivism and libertarianism as a sort of dyscrasia.

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    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 10:26 am Reply | Quote
  • grey enlightenment Says:

    Islamic State is not right wing. it’s leftist revolutionary

    [Reply]

    Ahote Reply:

    The Islamic state, the early Protestant radicals, etc. none of them could be classified as right-wing. What about nazis, who are very egalitarian as far as members of the völk are concerned, but consider non-völk subhuman? And what to do with romantic conservatives, who favor Agrarian Communism, albeit for non-egalitarian reasons? Then there’s also some white nationalists who want essentially what Stalinism was in practice. However one defines left-right spectrum, it turns out pretty useless in the end.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 10:46 am Reply | Quote
  • Uriel Alexis Says:

    This is Bobbio’s definition, isn’t it? Left = equality, Right = not equality?

    anyway, I think the triangular spectrum doesn’t deal well with anarchism (even if you take only the individualists). in fact, even the Left/Right divide usually has trouble with anarchism.

    I would keep this distinction (Left=equality/Right=not equality), and render it a subset of a bigger divide in all societies (in fact, in all organisms or organized wholes made of parts) between those who want to subvert it’s established order (criminals, traitors and madmen) and those who wish to uphold it (fathers, brothers, husbands, etc). the Left is for equality because it subverts the hierarchical order of Western civilization (and not for equality’s sake), and would favor anything that would subvert Western civilization. the Right is quite the contrary. in fact it’s quite a complication that the Left holds now so much power (and it seems to be very related to the Capital’s positive feedback loop), because, well:
    https://antinomiaimediata.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/the-left-cant-govern/

    [Reply]

    Uriel Alexis Reply:

    reading through the link chain, Alexander hypothesis dovetails nicely with mine:

    “My hypothesis is that rightism is what happens when you’re optimizing for surviving an unsafe environment, leftism is what happens when you’re optimized for thriving in a safe environment.”
    http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/

    you can only have rupture with social order when you are in trying to thrive in a safe environment. in an unsafe environment (with the wolves of gnon at our doors), social cohesion and upholding order is the most important. as this fends off the wolves, both trends usually coexist, with varying degrees of social dominance as societies go through environmental changes. interestingly, also, as the left usually produce unsafe environments, and the right produces safe environments, we’ve got a negative feedback loop. modernity has therefore something more to it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 11:44 am Reply | Quote
  • Alan J. Perrick Says:

    A degree of open-mindedness is what “liberal” meant before it became politicised terminology. The Right would therefore be less openminded, and more well-identified. Ideally, there is some of both in one’s own nation, though the balance would need to be worked out.

    A.J.P.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 11:54 am Reply | Quote
  • Chris B Says:

    And…. we are back to Moldbug and De Jouvenel. Left is high-low chaos. Right is order. Either in the form of advocacy of middle flourishing (in the currently acceptable right – delusional weaponisation, magic paper, other bumpkin rebellion against high etc) or in the form of advocacy of secure power (Reaction.) Reject that, then reject Jouvenel, then reject Universalism and reject the Cathedral analysis.

    [Reply]

    Bettega Reply:

    My understanding from Jouvenel was “Left = Centralization of Power in a central ruling authority” and “Right = Decentralization of power in several independent but connected power centres”.

    Equality, or even the “high-low” alliance, in this context is not an end, but a mean. Power promotes equality because by doing so it dismantles it’s competitors, the rival institutions such as family and corporations that distribute power away from the State. Likewise, the right favors order and tradition because in a ordered and traditional society, there is less need for an expanding State to regulate society.

    It makes all “Right/Left” distinction contextual on contemporary power arrangements. Take the Polish nationalism, for example, they would be “left-wing” in the context of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and it’s extremely descentralized power structure, but it’s a right-wing movement when we have globalists who want to submit Poland to an one-world government.

    [Reply]

    Mark Yuray Reply:

    The point about context is absolutely correct. The Left/Right spectrum only really has utility if applied relatively, and that is because, when so applied, it is just a pair of synonyms for Chaos/Order.

    [Reply]

    blankmisgivings Reply:

    But the problem of the chaos / order dichotomy is time; at what point after a revolution, movement, or restitution do you measure the resulting level of entropy in the system and decide whether that intervention was decisive in effecting change?

    Many chaotic upheavals may have resulted in unanticipated negentropic effects – even calamities like the Cultural Revolution have been so described (as paving the way for Deng’s restitution). Even the arche-Leftist event – the French Revolution paved the way for decidedly negentropic innovations in military discipline and logistics. Some such effects may be quite intentional too – for example the “entropic” denial of free market principles in the Listian economics of export oriented industrialization, was intended, decades later to produce stronger more competitive states, and in some cases, it did.

    So is it about intentionality? And how do you judge that? One might argue that Leftists are essentially Old Testament Prophets – raging against order and monarchy because its dissolution shoud bring about a Messianic equality – but again, ironically, the critiques of the prophets may have helped form a unique and extremely resilient cultural legacy, while their imperial (more obviously ‘orderly’) rivals of that era are long gone.

    Izak Reply:

    ^^Very nice comment from blankmisgivings.

    Additionally, it’s worth looking into The Great Wave by David Hackett Fischer, which points out that after times of economic chaos, the West has rebounded, stronger and more efficient than ever before.

    I can understand why people would accuse the Left of creating chaos during times of revolution or explicitly Leftist mob violence, because it’s a synchronic judgment. Makes sense. But the problem with charging something with “chaos” when its advocates would identify it with order (like price fixing, or centralized planning), is that you’re getting into the question of causality, which means forecasting a negative result for that particular policy, but then arbitrarily placing a shut-off time on what will ultimately amount to a chain of events.

    TheDividualist Reply:

    My reading of Jouvenel would be that the root problem is elites competing for power. Secure power is merely one of the many potential ways to stop that. If and when elites could be made to stick together, to form one identity and one ingroup, they wouldn’t. The only way to do that is to make them compete with someone else: with a different state. Because humans always gonna compete but not necessarily inside their own state. Thus, highly patriotic elites under strong external competitive pressure function pretty much the same way as a singular secure sovereign.

    I mean, one has to explain highly successful republics from Rome to Venice somehow. Isn’t this a good explanation? Had no singular secure power and yes ultimately Roman elites ended up competing in pretty ugly ways, but for a long time they could avoid it through patriotism and competing outwards i.e. conquering Italia and then some.

    This is ugly, definitely uglier than a secure and pacifist god-emperor. Just saying it is probably a big part of the picture.

    This may also be reason how the historically weak and loser Visegrad Four countries form the kernel of the resistance in Europe. Due to frequently losing, external pressure was typically high (at least in the form of having low collective status, being seen as a the redneck backcountry of Europe) thus patriotism was/is high and thus they tend to reject progressivism, and they tend to reject it for surprisingly accurate reasons: they detect it as an elite group putting their own interest above the national interest i.e. competing for power at the detriment of the collective national interest, and therefore treasonous. They plain simply see lefties as traitors because they detect correctly that their goal is not the national welfare but their own prestige or power.

    Treason. Such a fine word and so little used today. I recommend learning to like the taste of this word again and use it when it is called for. It’s even better than all the cuck-cuck-cucking, although that is amusing, too.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    Firstly, patriotism is a modern conception. It only came about with the nation state, so applying it before then is anachronistic. A good counter to your examples would be China, which had this secure structure (auth flowed down.) They did not engage in wars to force coherence. I don’t even think the examples of Venice and Rome work for this, as Moldbug notes, Imperium in imperio has been considered a solecism until the modern era. Wars for coherence really only come about with the modern state, and with the French rev. I recall De Maistre being fascinated with the conquests of France, and postulating that the mess the goverment was in made it necessary. Schmitt with his friend/enemy covers this mechanism correctly as well, but again, it is a mechanism for masses, and mass society (Girard noted it as scapegoating.)

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    Maybe patriotism is not the best term, but we have to use some name to denote the ideal of self-sacrifice in the service of the state. One may as well call it asabiya – whatever, just the idea that people are really loyal to their state and put its welfare above theirs, hence not compete for power or not to the extent where it becomes ruinious.

    But primarily what confuses me that the Roman system of magistrates having limited and enumerated powers, the senate theoretically just consults but in practice still legislates, plus the weird kinds of powers the tribunes had, how does that not constitute imperium in imperio?

    [Reply]

    wu-wei Reply:

    In the long run, how did that work out for the Romans though?

    Consider the relevance of technologies, prime example the printing press, in facilitating Power’s application of the high-low mechanism. The Roman and Chinese systems were not stable equilibria, but without this (potentially) destabilizing technology, they could last a long, long time.

    The Jouvenal minotaur is, in an (even more extremely) abstract sense, the reformation itself. How could low-church Brownists, let alone the patriotic nationalisms which followed later, possibly be utilized by Power, without the information disseminating properties of post-renaissance technology? Obviously, they couldn’t.

    Technology matters. If history is thought of as the descriptive analysis of the minotaur’s growth, then unsecure power is it’s food, and technology is it’s capacity for hunger.

    wu-wei Reply:

    As for patriotism, I think the old rule-of-thumb analogy – today’s leftists are tomorrows rightists – applies here nicely.

    Patriotism at one point was good food for the minotaur. It was an effective strategy for use of the high, manipulating the low, to crush the middle. The minotaur has since outgrown that particular technique; nationalism is out, transnationalism (global communism) is in. It makes sense that today’s rightists (and yesterday’s leftists) would still cling to their particularisms. After all, being part of the right means you didn’t get the memo – that’s why the left has power, and the right doesn’t.

    frank Reply:

    So what’s Plan Chris B? Convince the elite to stop using high-low? (Maybe I missed the essay wherein you describe your plan. If so, I’d appreciate pointers.)

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    “So what’s Plan Chris B?” Isn’t the whole point of the reset and the institution of absolute monarchy/ sov corp to be a solution?

    [Reply]

    frank Reply:

    I mean operationally. High-low mechanism is always an option to be deployed by discontented factions of the elite. We’ve got a prisoner’s dilemma and we’re stuck at a defect-defect equilibrium. “We’ll somehow overcome the dilemma” is not a plan. What will stop future elite from using high-low? Admin’s apolitical property is a meta-plan for example: leverage newly available tech to make property as apolitical as possible, make radically smaller polities (which are naturally resistant to high-low and more generally agency hijacking) feasible.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 12:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    Borrowing from Paul Gottfried, Hawley says, “The political left will be defined as containing all ideological movements that consider equality the highest political value.”

    Makes sense to me. Next step is when they realize that equality is the basis of all thinking outside of a society based in aristocracy, caste systems, and strong national culture (i.e. shame cultures).

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    I am actually not so sure about that. I think the human drive to status i.e. to be unequal with others, above others is so strong that inequalitty is the default state of thinking, the default state of thinking is like “I wanna be be the pimpest pimp around here, the biggest Big Man or die trying”. Egalitarianism is highly artificial, an ideology and a moral ideology at that, it only affects people if it was drilled into them that morality and ethics are super important. My best guess is that people get the importance of moral conscience largely from religion then egalitarianism hijacks this into a different set of ethical conscience. But it all depends very strongly on upbringing, education, indoctrination.

    As far as I can tell, people who don’t get much of that never tend towards egalitarianism. They just simply want all the power and riches and status to them and their in-group.

    You are probably right in the sense within the framework of major political theories, all of them that don’t recognize these three tend to egalitarianism. I am just saying it is not necessary to indoctrinate people into believing into these three if you want to avoid them becoming egalitarians: it is simply enough to not indoctrinate them in anything and thus let their natural selfishness, competitiveness and will to power drive them. Of course if everybody does that for a long time you have barbarism and aristocratic castes and shame cultures are precisely how you go up from barbarism but that is a different stage…

    [Reply]

    frank Reply:

    There are good arguments for egalitarianism being deeply baked into human psyche. This is not a simple desire for riches and power.

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    Capuchin monkeys *stayed* capuchin monkeys. The selection pressure was lower. If we assume – there are good reasons why – the evolution of intelligence was driven by social competition, the species and subpopulations that evolved the most in this regard were probably the most competitive. Humans are more competitive than capuchin monkeys and Romans or Chinese or Scots so generally the winner populations are more competitive than Bushman hunter-gatherers.

    frank Reply:

    Yes social competition and hypergamous selection are core to human evolutionary history. Yet there are clear group evolutionary advantages (better cooperation and group coordination) that warrant emergence of egalitarianism in early hominids as well. Humans are clearly not nearly as socially competitive as they could have been — like lions for example. There is also the argument that the cost of assassination for weapon wielding monkeys is too low, which makes social hierarchies very unstable (so about 2.8 million years of unstable hierarchies, promoting egalitarian attitudes). There’s at the very least a not-trivially-refutable case that we haven’t shed that capuchin sense of social justice.

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 1:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    This view of the Left ignores the characteristic insincerity of the thing. I prefer one of Admin’s earlier comments:

    “Anything that needs bailing out is rotten. Making rotten ‘friends’ (clients), by influencing them to rot more profoundly, is leftism. Eventually, if all goes ‘well’, the leftist apparatus can become a zombie-lord of awesome power, as putrid legions of the demented and dysfunctional thrill to the pulse of its drip-feed. Who could fail to be inspired by such moral majesty?”

    http://www.xenosystems.net/natural-law/#comment-432

    Dividualist also came up with a nice phrase a while back: “hijacking the status assignment engine”. That also strikes me as a pretty good candidate definition for the Left.

    [Reply]

    Mark Yuray Reply:

    The insincerity is why you need to read De Jouvenel to understand it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 1:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • wu-wei Says:

    Moldbug was right; the only proper way to think about left-right is in terms of social networks. Any other definition becomes convoluted, inaccurate, and worthless when applied to real historical analysis.

    “The political left will be defined as containing all ideological movements that consider equality the highest political value.”

    I like to think of it in terms of “unprincipled exceptions”, with respect to absolute egalitarianism (political + economic) as an ideology. Obviously, egalitarianism in its most reduced form must become aggressively universal, per its very definition.

    You get to be part of the political left, the “internationalist movement”, when you have discarded enough unprincipled exceptions with respect to egalitarian universalism. The number of exceptions you are allowed to hold and still remain part of the club varies with time (the trend decreases monotonically); further, it is not a linear process – different factions of the left may maintain contrasting unprincipled exceptions at any given time. For example, global cosmopolitanism (transnationalism) is obvious leftism, but there are plenty of unambiguously leftist regimes today which still hold the unprincipled exception of their own particular nationalism (so long as it is not white nationalism); at the same time, they are often aggressively egalitarian in the economic sense (at least as apparently sincere attempt, if not in practice). Regardless, as Moldbug would put it, if they have friends at Harvard, then they are part of the “left”. And by continuously discarding unprincipled exceptions, all of these disparate factions are ultimately converging toward the same ideology anyway: egalitarian universalism.

    Note that this has nothing to do with in practice execution of policy; indeed, many of these regimes are quasi-fascist despotic in their apparent structure. What matters is that they provide a convincing facade of egalitarianism, or that they at least appear prospectively egalitarian to Harvard and friends. Thus, Cuba is a leftist darling, even though everyone knows that it does not hold real democratic elections. Instead, it can make endless excuses for its lack of progress, for example blaming American meddling – which, historically at least, no doubt has some truth.

    The whole trend exists because increasing egalitarianism is the effective usage of the “high-low against the middle”, the growth of Jouvenel’s minotaur, whatever you want to call it. Priests competing with priests on the basis of holiness, etc. The fact that endless leftism tends to produce more bureaucracy, sclerotic brezhnev-syndrome – are all epiphenomena, and describing leftism/rightism this way misses the underlying mechanism which produces the effect.

    [Reply]

    wu-wei Reply:

    I would further add that leftism/rightism exists as a binary construct because binary alliances are the winning solution to the monkey-war-game.

    If there are three factions competing for power, the two that align against the third will obviously have an advantage. When there are two left, they can fight each other. If one of them wins, that single faction will inevitably split back into two factions of monkeys competing for power.

    Thus, two alliances competing is the general equilibrium, as history clearly demonstrates.

    [Reply]

    Uriel Alexis Reply:

    sounds a lot like Levi-Strauss

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 2:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    That’s is the definition I’ve always used.

    The Moldbug “order vs chaos” definition leaves far too much room for subjective interpretation.

    I don’t know of any Leftists who admit that they like chaos, except for a few, like Stewart Home — but most of them are either dead or approaching death. Most of the self-proclaimed Leftists I know think that order can be established through bureaucracy, diversity committees, HR departments, that sort of thing. Moldbug (like a good Austrian econ guy) hates bureaucracy, for instance, so he sees it as chaotic, or at least inevitably leading to chaos. Obviously the Moldbug definition has to do with the outcome rather than the expressly stated intent. But there’s too much room for disagreement in what constitutes order/chaos, and I haven’t been impressed with any of the attempts to define it. I’m not an Austrian economist guy, so I’m never going to be persuaded when someone shows me a video clip of an anti-sexual harassment training session and says, “Look at the chaos here! Look at it! Utterly mad!!! Stewing, swimming chaos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” My response will pretty much always be, “No, it’s order, order *in malo,* dreadful, soul-crushing, awful order — the kind of order that no one wants, or should want.”

    At least with the “equality vs inequality” definition, you’re not always constantly treating your opponents through “the hermeneutics of suspicion,” and there’s some common ground from which to draw boundaries for a clean break. It would be amusing if the Left and Right in the West completely severed all communication and merely asserted that the other side prefers chaos while they prefer order. To some extent, this is already happening. I don’t see much getting fixed from it.

    [Reply]

    Mark Yuray Reply:

    A human being represents order.

    A human being chopped up into 500 neatly arranged cubes of flesh does not represent order.

    [Reply]

    Izak Reply:

    You’re doing that NRx rhetoric thing where the person says something pithy and cryptic that holds the pretense of being pregnant with tons of deep meaning.

    But I have no clue wtf you’re attempting to say. Could you please clarify?

    Are you trying to use the Thomistic idea of the state as a “body” and saying that bureaucracy is like chopping up a body into 500 pieces, or something?

    [Reply]

    jay Reply:

    Regimentation is not order:
    http://freenortherner.com/2015/12/13/order-chaos-and-regimentation/

    Izak Reply:

    Well, I appreciate the fuller explanation, but I just don’t buy it, honestly.

    1) Yuray, and apparently Free Northerner, are stretching the word “order” far beyond how it is usually received. They’re committing to a level of semantic prescriptivism that I just can’t swallow.

    2) It’s a nice thought to believe that with the current levels of A) technological development, B) capital, and C) population levels that we can still somehow return to a more “ordered” society in which one or even a small handful of individuals can make all of the major executive decisions. But the sad truth is that regimentation is downright essential thanks to those three things all working in conjunction with one another. Specialization and bureaucracy is the predictable result. Max Weber understood this; everyone else is still struggling to figure it out. Even if Moldbug’s grand strategy for the Sovcorp ruled by a CEO came true, you’d still have the CEO getting all of his notions from specialists, with the shareholders (or someone else) appointing them. There’s no way out of this nightmare, dude. Best to take the harsh medicine now so you don’t get your hopes up.

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 4:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • grey enlightenment Says:

    @Izakimho It has less to do with chaos vs. order and more to do with ‘hierarchy’ vs ‘egalitarianism’ . An authoritarian society that enforces egalitarianism may be non-chaotic.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    “An authoritarian society that enforces egalitarianism may be non-chaotic.”

    For example?

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 7:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • slumlord Says:

    The reality is that there are tards to the left of me and tards to the right.

    There’s lots of ways to be wrong but only one way to be right. The embrace of reality is what constitutes the “Right” all else is some compromise with error.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 9:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Shlomo Maistre Says:

    The root of the Right-Left divide comes down to metaphysics – the existence and indeed primacy of universals. Upon this understanding do all formulations of spiritual order rest and denying this inherent reality leads to misunderstandings – perhaps chief among them the assumption that social order can exist devoid of hierarchical relationships.

    Perfect order is eternal, singular, and unified by transcendent essence; higher degrees of order last longer, which directly implies – all else equal – that they change more slowly. Since the wellspring of change is rebellion – the disavowal of just hierarchy – it holds that obedience to authority is the wellspring of (greater) order.

    The Left is for equality, the Right is for hierarchy. Social and spiritual order are, well, just that – ordered, which implies sequence, stratification, hierarchy. Denying truth of social and spiritual order is what marks political and philosophical ideologies as Leftwing in nature.

    Equality appears as a kind of atomization because the only way humans live in society is through ordered, hierarchical relationships; therefore, efforts to degrade actual hierarchy have the effects of minimizing their societal obligations and injecting more space between neighbors, friends, colleagues, relatives, etc. Individualism is the result of egalitarianism and Libertarianism is strict philosophical Progressivism (more on this later).

    Leftwing worldview tends to be universalist, while Rightwing worldview tends to be particularist. The consequences of an ideology tend to be chaotic insofar as it is advanced based on universalist ideals in place of particularist attitudes. Order, in contrast to chaos/disorder, is not so much advanced as it is retained.

    Putting the likes of Murray Rothbard on the Right is misguided. William of Ockham and Duns Scotus were two key intellectual progenitors of a particular kind of philosophy (encompassing several related, sometimes interwoven dogmas) that ultimately led to several movements, including what now are called Libertarianism and Progressivism.

    Just one particular example: William of Ockham’s argument in favor of epistemological nominalism is actually related to his argument in favor of limited government by way of an implicit egalitarianism that denies the hierarchy inherent to both social and spiritual order. Richard Weaver is in particular quite informative on this. Libertarianism and Progressivism both implicitly assume a sort of egalitarianism, albeit in different ways.

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    Sounds like you are pulling a Weaver (Ideas Have Consequences). I personally could never get into this Platonist (kind of) stuff. How the heck could concepts be real and not just man-made crutches to try to make sense of experiences? Isn’t it just one gigantic map-terrain mistake? Does it survive even the most superficial application of General Semantics? Wouldn’t the Buddha laugh?

    I get it that that there is a connection between these kind of Platonism and the idea of a transcendental order and the idea of the Right. But it does not make it true, it merely makes it expedient: it is perfectly possible that people need a few useful illusions in order to behave in a non-destructive, civilized way i.e. to fit themselves into a functional Rightist social order.

    I mean, you are using de Maistre so probably you are aware how he argued that the most enduring institutions are irrational because people are irrational. Doesn’t that kill the whole Platonist project; doesn’t that suggest that the universals, the concepts are merely useful illusions to make irrational people behave correctly and are not actually true? Same as religion, almost certainly false but almost certainly a necessary illusion for optimal social functioning. People need a cult in order to be sane (so as to export the insanity from actual practical decisions and avoid making worldly-gnostic political religions), but it does not make them true, they just need to believe it is true.

    For me just HBD is enough to accept hierarchical relationships, I really don’t need much else, but I get it that you often have to wrap it into transcendence in order to sell it to the plebs.

    At the root, why even assume the useful is the true and the true is the useful? It would only be equivalent if humans were inherently rational.

    [Reply]

    frank Reply:

    >For me just HBD is enough to accept hierarchical relationships, I really don’t need much else, but I get it that you often have to wrap it into transcendence in order to sell it to the plebs.

    Don’t you still need transcendental values though? I mean you prefer civilization right? Why? The answer is necessarily teleological — teleology being raison d’être of religion.

    [Reply]

    Shlomo Maistre Reply:

    1. “Sounds like you are pulling a Weaver (Ideas Have Consequences).”

    Not exactly.. but pretty close to that, yes.

    2. “I personally could never get into this Platonist (kind of) stuff. How the heck could concepts be real and not just man-made crutches to try to make sense of experiences?”

    Some things are beyond human comprehension.

    3. “Isn’t it just one gigantic map-terrain mistake?”

    Maybe. Maybe not. Everyone has to choose between Occam’s Razor and Paley’s Watchmaker – as Goldbug pointed out.

    4. “Does it survive even the most superficial application of General Semantics? Wouldn’t the Buddha laugh?”

    I mean, given that there are misguided assumptions built into General Semantics – probably not. Which is a point to its credit. And I assume that by General Semantics you mean this:

    http://www.worldtrans.org/whole/gensemantics.html

    5. “I get it that that there is a connection between these kind of Platonism and the idea of a transcendental order and the idea of the Right. But it does not make it true, it merely makes it expedient: it is perfectly possible that people need a few useful illusions in order to behave in a non-destructive, civilized way i.e. to fit themselves into a functional Rightist social order.”

    Both can be true. Platonism is basically correct. And, yes, people need a version of truth to get by in the world more happily than they would otherwise.

    6. “I mean, you are using de Maistre so probably you are aware how he argued that the most enduring institutions are irrational because people are irrational. Doesn’t that kill the whole Platonist project; doesn’t that suggest that the universals, the concepts are merely useful illusions to make irrational people behave correctly and are not actually true?”

    Who says that the irrational is necessarily false? Who says that just because something makes people behave better that it’s necessarily false or based on false premises? And yes the institutions that tend to last a LONG LONG time tend to be quite irrational.

    7. “Same as religion, almost certainly false but almost certainly a necessary illusion for optimal social functioning. People need a cult in order to be sane (so as to export the insanity from actual practical decisions and avoid making worldly-gnostic political religions), but it does not make them true, they just need to believe it is true.”

    Expediency does not preclude veracity.

    8. “For me just HBD is enough to accept hierarchical relationships, I really don’t need much else, but I get it that you often have to wrap it into transcendence in order to sell it to the plebs.”

    The opposite is quite closer to the truth. HBD is a low-class justification for hierarchical relationships – easy to sell to the plebs. See Hitler and dozens of other racist leaders in history. Not saying they were right or wrong – only that its low-class behavior.

    High-class and higher-grade understanding of human dynamics does not need to dirty itself in crass racism to understand the inherent truth and stability of hierarchy. High-grade understanding is hard to sell to the masses.

    9. “At the root, why even assume the useful is the true and the true is the useful? It would only be equivalent if humans were inherently rational.”

    I don’t assume that. You clearly don’t understand the reasoning (which is deductive) underlying Platonist perspective, which is quite common. You are the one with the unwarranted assumption – that just because something is useful or expedient that it must be false.

    [Reply]

    wu-wei Reply:

    The Left is for equality, the Right is for hierarchy.

    I dunno, Stalin seemed to be for a pretty strict hierarchy. The fact that he was actually incredibly insecure in his power reflected his circumstance, not his desires.

    Putting the likes of Murray Rothbard on the Right is misguided.

    Rothbard was most certainly on the right. He was on the right, because he was most certainly not part of the left.

    Sure, compared to Louis the XIV, Rothbard could practically be considered a communist – but analyzing the left-right spectrum using specific morphological features or policies of the state is just reversing cause and effect, and leads to a convoluted and self-contradicting mess.

    You end up with weird conclusions, like Jonah Golderberg insisting that Hitler was on the left because of his populism and social programs, or Stalin being considered a right wing ultra-fascist despot, by some on the left, post the anglo-soviet split. (And Stalin pretty much was an ultra-fascist despot; despite this, the Soviet Union itself was always part of the left, right up until 1989. Virtually all the powers on the left incessantly attempted to woo it over to the Light side, even while Stalin was alive.)

    Leftism is Power’s application of the high-low mechanism; all other analysis is epiphenomenal, and increasing egalitarianism represents leftism because it is the obvious application of this mechanism over time. Order vs chaos, universals vs particularisms, hierarchy vs atomization – these are the general trends of rightism and leftism, they are not absolutes; they reflect the general results of the underlying high-low mechanism, they are not the mechanism itself.

    [Reply]

    Shlomo Maistre Reply:

    1. “I dunno, Stalin seemed to be for a pretty strict hierarchy.”

    I assume this is a typing mistake. The only real hierarchy he was in favor of was the sort that furthered his personal agenda and secured his power. Besides that, he was a great Leveler of society seeking to break civilization down and make individuals equal – equal in status, equally reliant on the state, equal to each other in obligations and responsibilities, etc. A great (read: terrible) Leveler.

    2. “Rothbard was most certainly on the right. He was on the right, because he was most certainly not part of the left.”

    LOL

    You need to read Richard Weaver to understand how it came to be that Progressivism and Libertarianism are both strands of the same egalitarian philosophy of William of Ockham and Duns Scotus, among others.

    3. “analyzing the left-right spectrum using specific morphological features or policies of the state is just reversing cause and effect, and leads to a convoluted and self-contradicting mess.”

    You misunderstand what I am saying. The Right – in an ultimate sense – does not act through the state. The Right is about conserving order, restraining power, preserving influence. The Left acts. There are degrees of leftism, and the Right wins only on a temporary basis (not in an ultimate sense) by virtue of its nature and the disorderly effects wrought by time endemic to our world. Time leads to atomization of individuals – inherently and inevitably. Leftism is as old as time itself. So the Right achieves nominal and temporary and often localized victories in the temporal realm only by sacrificing long-term tranquility for others. That is why particularist ideologies are generally Rightwing – localized victory and conserved order for Aryan whites at expense of others.

    Monarchy – all else equal – tends to less disorder, more hierarchy than democracy/other forms of government.

    4. “You end up with weird conclusions, like Jonah Golderberg insisting that Hitler was on the left because of his populism and social programs, or Stalin being considered a right wing ultra-fascist despot, by some on the left, post the anglo-soviet split. (And Stalin pretty much was an ultra-fascist despot; despite this, the Soviet Union itself was always part of the left, right up until 1989. Virtually all the powers on the left incessantly attempted to woo it over to the Light side, even while Stalin was alive.)”

    Again, you are just misunderstanding my perspective. Particularist ideologies like Hitler are by nature rightwing. The social programs may not be incidental but they are secondary as to determining this.

    [Reply]

    wu-wei Reply:

    2. “Rothbard was most certainly on the right. He was on the right, because he was most certainly not part of the left.”

    LOL

    You need to read Richard Weaver to understand how it came to be that Progressivism and Libertarianism are both strands of the same egalitarian philosophy of William of Ockham and Duns Scotus, among others.

    The point is that there are zero leftists, either in Rothbards time or today, who considered him to be part of the left. The only People who make that mistake are (presumably) right-wingers like yourself. You can call him egalitarian all you want, perhaps in some abstract sense he was; regardless, he was not part of the left. Leftism (as a political unit) is not an abstraction, it is an empirical question. You can’t just claim to be a leftist; you have to actually be part of the club. And no matter how you look at it, Rothbard most certainly was not part of that club. The right is, in every sense, a negative set of the left – if you aren’t part of the left, you are on the right.

    The Right – in an ultimate sense – does not act through the state. The Right is about conserving order, restraining power, preserving influence. The Left acts.

    I would say the state “acted” quite aggressively under Hitler, and I’m not just talking about the social programs… But:

    Time leads to atomization of individuals – inherently and inevitably. Leftism is as old as time itself. So the Right achieves nominal and temporary and often localized victories in the temporal realm only by sacrificing long-term tranquility for others.

    This sounds like a more abstract way of stating that leftism represents the high-low against the middle – alternatively, Power using the mob, the masses, to advance itself. Which is exactly how I see it; it’s obvious when you think about it, and it’s the only definition that leads to consistency. Leftism is the exploitation of unsecure power; this is the root cause of disorder, atomization, etc. The only way to defeat this mechanism to to secure power – that would be rightism. If that is equivalent to what you mean, then perhaps we are in agreement. Or perhaps not.

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 10:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Shlomo Maistre Says:

    My thoughts need more precise explication, better fleshing out.. anyway, I find myself in agreement with the following which Alex said in one of the linked threads:

    “Someone at AltRight recently suggested replacing ‘right’ and ‘left’ with ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ respectively. Verts believe in hierarchy and the primacy of the transcendent; Zonts (or Hors) believe in equality and the primacy of the immanent …

    Perhaps only those who align with the original throne’n’altar Ancient Regime are the true rightists?”

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 10:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Chris B Says:

    This comment thread gives you an idea of who has remotely engaged with Moldbug, and who hasn’t got a clue.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    This should be a good place for pausing to examine what is going on here, because just taking on a model of left/right as if it is an optional part on a car betrays an abscence of a coherent system.

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    My view of Moldbug’s numerous attempts to explain left and right is like Picasso’s view of God:

    “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    That is not even remotely accurate. Moldbug stays glued to Jouvenel. He may employ various rhetoric devices to explain it, but the underlying system never alters. Leftism is merely destruction. It is employed by the actors in the high-low tag team. This tag team only appears when you have an unsecure system in which high employs it to game the system.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Fnargl, the only secure system floated by MM, is a deliberately hyperbolic science fiction fable. It plays a role roughly comparable to that of the Messianic Kingdom.

    [Reply]

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Sometimes (Open Letter, pt. 1) Moldbug defines left and right in terms of the social class of the adherents (Brahmins vs. Townies). Sometimes (Open Letter, pt. 3) he defines it in terms of order vs. chaos. Sometimes (Reuther Memorandum) he defines it in terms of honest government vs. sham democracy (“What is communism? Democracy without authentic political opposition.”). Sometimes (Cryptocalvinism, slightly tweaked) he defines it in terms of doctrines (Equality, Peace, Social Justice, and Community).

    I say it’s giraffes, elephants, and cats, and I say he’s flailing.

    [Reply]

    Izak Reply:

    Didn’t you get the memo, bro? Proper Moldbug exegesis isn’t about allowing for contradiction. It’s about cherry-picking one or two quotations and then shrieking about them endlessly.

    For anyone who feels obliged to shut down this heretic, I suggest resolving these *putative* contradictions by perhaps expanding the medieval hermeneutics technique known as the four-fold mode of allegory: http://www4.uwsp.edu/english/mbowman/323/Four-fold.htm

    wu-wei Reply:

    Well, Moldbug used the left/right terminology to help facilitate whatever greater point he was trying to get across within a given essay.

    Leftism can in a sense be thought of as chaos/destruction, because that is the in practice (long-run) effect for which it tends to exhibits. It really comes down to the character of the society; in most of the anglo world, democracy translates into bureaucratic sclerosis. Translate it into Russian, and you get Bolshevism. Translate into Chinese, you get the cultural revolution. Leftism kills some cultures quickly; for others, it may take centuries.

    No one really believes in chaos. If you actually read past the nominal self-description of left-anarchist movements, its obvious that even they implicitly believe in a ruling elite to govern society in some sense (usually consisting of good anarchist brahmin, of course).

    There seems to be a strong desire in people to imagine leftism-rightism in terms of some morphological feature of the state, or perhaps specific policies, but that’s just wrong. I’ve also noticed that NRx seems to often define it explicitly in terms of universalisms vs particularisms; this is close, but misses the underlying mechanism which produces the effect.

    I think Chris B. is right; the underlying mechanism really is Jouvenal’s minotaur, the high-low vs the middle; the usage of the mob or the masses against your enemies to acquire power. If you have actually read enough Moldbug, it’s crystal clear that this concept of leftism transcends whatever other particular definition he uses as a rhetorical device, for whatever particular essay he happened to be writing. But apparently a lot of people apparently disagree on this point, so whatever.

    The left-right axis reflects this mechanism in terms of alliances. Leftism as a movement is asymptotically approaching pure, unrestrained egalitarianism (as ideology, if not necessarily in practice). The right really is accurately thought of as a negative set of the left, and the perceived universalism of the left vs the tendency toward particularisms of the right again reflect the underlying Jouvenal mechanism.

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    In the case of the English Civil War and the American and French revolutions, it seems more accurate to describe the Left as the middle and low vs. the high.

    wu-wei Reply:

    In the case of the English Civil War and the American and French revolutions, it seems more accurate to describe the Left as the middle and low vs. the high.

    The “high-low vs the middle” mechanism is sort of a misnomer. The “high” and “low” don’t necessarily represent social strata per se; it’s really about one entity centralizing power, utilizing the mob or masses, against its near competitor. The “high” really describes the winner in this outcome, the “the middle” is the loser.

    wu-wei Reply:

    The “high” and “low” don’t necessarily represent social strata per se

    Oops, meant to say the “high” and “middle”. The “low” in this configuration always represents the lowly masses, the mob.

    Chris B Reply:

    The obsession with the whole crypto lock thing is bizzare. The criticism of secure gov as not being perfect is anouther bizzare point. If your criteria is perfect, then you are in Utopia territory. The employment of the example of a company as a model is the most accessible. Can the marketing department decide to overrule the CEO? No. So the marketing dept is not a problem to be overcome for the CEO. Imagine if it was? And imagine he could not fire the dept? He would use all sorts of proxies and schemes to overcome the hurdle, and the marketing dept heads would then employ counter schemes to protect their positions. Well done, you have the liberal mess in miniature. The alternative (secure gov of company in which authority always flows down.) Is what MM was driving at. Plus, the issue of security is less of an issue once you dispose of liberal revolution fairytale anthropology. People don’t really rebel spontaneously. On rare occasions the bumpkins pick up pitchforks, they don’t do much. Real revolutions occur at the instigation of power as a means of undermining other power centres.(see the Ceo/marketing example above.)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The business analogy is good (and central). Businesses are the model to emulate because they can be bankrupted and eliminated (hence functioning as entropy disposal sinks). So long as states don’t share that property, they’re not in any real sense capable of functioning as businesses at all.

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    >So long as states don’t share that property

    I haven’t read all your work, but it seems to me as if you are constantly ignoring war or somehow not see how warfare between nations works a lot like business competition, in the sense of eliminating inefficiency and keeping sh*t _real_. Yes, in the post-1945 and especially post-1990 world the gigantic weight and technology of the US military muddles the picture but it is a historically exceptional case. OK another aspect is the dropping birthrates, there is not that kind of pressure to expand as before, but again it is just a recent exception.

    wu-wei Reply:

    True, people don’t rebel without first being manipulated by the elites to do so, but coups happen quite regularly. Contra Moldbug, the old monarchies of the past were hardly stable affairs (although generally more stable that most democracies, to be sure).

    Isn’t this just talking across purposes?

    If the state has secure power, whether that’s cryptographic weapon locks or whatever, plus access to offensive deterrents (nuclear weapons), is that not sufficient?

    Imagine a world of many such independent states, and you imagine in a world of Neocameral patchwork. The only problem left to solve are those pesky “exit rights”. Solve that, and you’ve got a world of truly secure states – far more secure than anything yet within history – each competing for your business.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    @Peter A. Taylor no he is not flailing. He sticks to De Jouvenel but uses differing ways to explain it to his audience. Brahmin/Townies are High/middle with the underclass allied to Brahmin to kick shit out of Townies. Chaos/order is high/low versus middle. Honest gov versus sham gov – same thing. Honest gov is secure, undivided and orderly. Sham gives rise to high/low versus middle. Cryptocalvinism is the cultural result of unsecure gov as per Jouvenel’s Minator. It is all tied together.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    The Untouchable caste exists to discourage anyone from exiting the hierarchy.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    Business example is key because of stucture, not because of Darwinian elimination analogy. This rejects constitution and question of imperio in imperium.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thinking adaptive complex structures emerge in the absence of efficient Darwinian mechanisms is the alpha and omega of the romantic delusion.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    We do get the high-low vs middle dynamic that De Jouvenel explains and how pertinacious that phenomena is. However for someone who emphases chaos vs order you really don’t get entropy while Admin understands it perfectly (in fact the ease with which he picked up on it without the aid of being forced to apply it quantitatively pricks my pride as an engineer). I think you’re talking past Admin and misunderstanding issues of scale. For example think of the Ancient Greek Polis, Athens, Sparta, Thebes, each of these were sovereign independent states. From your point of view a polis would be the level at which a SovCorp would be established (Moldbugia) and security made absolute, no incentive for high-low vs middle to develop rather wu-wei is achieved as the polis Moldbugia revolves around it’s sovereign. Then Admin comes along, and without changing anything about Moldbugia points out how nice it is that the geopolitical landscape favors a multiplicity of polis, while admiring the burning flames of Caracas in the distance, a literal burning inter-civilizational garbage heap.

    Moldbugia of course doesn’t exist, because we don’t have a nice geopolitical landscape, but a unipolar one dominated by the USG/Cathedral. To have Moldbugia first we must have a fertile landscape, which means the USG/Cathedral’s grip needs weakening. Particular advances in technology are one part among many that will favor exactly that push towards a multi-polar geopolitical landscape which is something both Moldbug and Admin want.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    Contextless Darwinism and contextless competition doesn’t even reach the level of coherence to be considered seriously. Competition gave us cockroaches and sea sponges, and removing competition within groups gave us society, nations and all other political units. Without supplying sufficient context and qualifiers, just invoking “Darwin” amounts to sloganeering.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Contextless ‘secure systems’ vs contextless insecure systems, not remotely seeing what you think your conceptual advantage is here.

    [Reply]

    Chris B Reply:

    Not even sure it is relevant. The structure of the political system is not dependent on outside pressure in this case. The issue is of internal contradictions and sham causing the parts of the system to engage in conflict indirectly which gives rise to right and left. Darwinism and competition on the other hand are context specific.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 11:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    I think an even more important distinction might be fundamentally honest vs dishonest regimes. All dishonest regimes are run by people for the power and use of people within it (unless it is a formal doctrine like a monarchy)

    Maybe I’m thinking of this due to my exposure to the less wrong and effective altruism memespace, but even rightists can probably agree that these people are better than your average virtue signaller on the net. Because they are more honest.

    The fear about them is that if they succeed they will create a lot more changes in the world than your average virtue signalling troll. The trolls and their campaigns will be forgotten, but an intelligent transhumanist genuinely worried about the fate of the lower part of the bell curve could create brain – computer interfaces that would become a permanent fixture as long as civilization holds. Someone genuinely thinking of eliminating malaria might be able to do that and the improvement of Africa that happens after that would be appreciated by most right minded folks.

    And even within honest regimes, one might need to distinguish between open ended ones whose counters could go up and those that are satisfied with a certain level. Techno-commercial regimes are inherently open ended. Theocracies and ethnocracies, as we know them now are probably more of a satisficing type of regimes. It might be possible to create theocracies that are based on metrics that are open ended. (eg. a religion that genuinely wanted more geniuses to join it and counted that as success would have a proselytization patttern very different from that of your typical religion)

    As I complete this bit, I’m feeling that my points have been tangential to the main point here , but I feel it is better to leave them on than deleting it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 6th, 2016 at 4:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outliers (#4) Says:

    […] scares. Equality, weaponized, accelerates entropy. Diversity rebirths Identity. Pathos vs Logos. Failed […]

    Posted on May 7th, 2016 at 5:03 am Reply | Quote

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