Reaction Points (#2)

Spandrell has been asking whether advanced modernity makes an ever larger fraction of society economically redundant. Jim has also been talking about the costs posed by “people of negative economic value” (or, with his signature delicacy, ‘the moron problem’.) It’s a running theme with Moldbug too, and he’s now gone epic on it.
Outside in is Austrian enough to predict that markets clear when they’re not politically screwed over, which would mean the problem isn’t techno-economic at all, but merely one of inequality tolerance. It seems that Federico agrees.

Foseti has been shepherding people towards Scott Alexander’s series on Reaction. The dubiously named ‘thrive/survive’ theory in part two is (really) interesting, but is there anything else going on there worth responding to? Attempts at persuasion welcome.

Most intense mind-meld moment of the week (Jim again):

… obviously China has been moving rightwards ever since the Gang of Four was overthrown, and will probably continue to do so, but they feel really guilty about doing so.

Nineteenth century anglosphere capitalism survived in Shanghai till 1941, long after it had become extinct in the anglosphere, and to some extent survived in Hong Kong to the present day. After the coup, Deng set to work reviving Shanghai capitalism before the show trial of the gang of four had even began, and in this sense, China has become deeply reactionary, preserving some of the best of the west’s past. On the other hand, in another sense they are still a bunch of commies kowtowing to elite white male leftists.

Can China fend off the Cathedral? The future depends on that. Either the CPC goes global PC, or reaction deepens all the way to total recall (that laissez-faire is the translation of a Chinese concept). Here’s one positive indicator. (And a negative one.)

March 18, 2013admin 10 Comments »
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10 Responses to this entry

  • SDL Says:

    I’d be very curious to hear more about the way Cathedral ideas operate in China (and Japan as well). Are there equivalents of blank slate feminists or Hans who make a living by proclaiming the nobleness of non-Hans and the evilness of Hans? People who want to see successful businessmen in Shanghai returned forcefully to a farming camp? How does the “moving ever leftward” theme of the last American century work in China, or does China’s cultural history demand a new framework? Ditto Japan. (Japan has zero immigration, so I imagine that their leftward movement, if it exists, must not be built on Diversity or To All A Voice.)

    Anyway, I can’t bring myself to read the Alexander stuff with much attention to detail. The survive/thrive dichotomy is an interesting starting point, but from what I can tell, it’s not his starting point. It’s his heuristic and his conclusion.


    admin Reply:

    This topic is not only humungous (obviously), and extremely important to everyone, but also incredibly foggy. In China, the mix of intrusive cathedralism and (exquisitely) stubborn anti-cathedralism is completely mind-melting. It’s hard to even know where to begin. The modern revolutionary tradition, beginning with the (mid19th century) Taiping Rebellion is very Westernized, so there’s an installed conveyor belt for bringing degenerate Christian heresies into the country, but they’re reliably mixed with ‘Chinese characteristics’. It’s also indisputably true — in a Molbuggian way — that the sheer global hegemony of the Cathedral is shockingly powerful. Among the internationalized middle classes, PC is definitely ‘cool’ although — bless their cotton socks — people here often have problems wrapping their heads around the most transparently idiotic aspects (e.g. the ‘all people everywhere are exactly the same’ gospel). Spandrell’s always great on this stuff, though a bit of a doomster (he also knows far more about Japan than I do). I’ll try to do a better job thinking about China’s collision with the Cathedral in public though — it’s hard to think of a more consequential subject.

    On Alexander — yes, I could do with some more persuading that it’s actually that interesting. Left/Right explanation schemas are always enthralling, and Alexander’s version does some things really well. I especially like the fact that he completely abandons all ambition to understand leftism-of-the-oppressed (which, when you think about it, is basically non-existent). Still, you’re right, this isn’t what Alexander seems mostly to be thinking about, and what he’s centrally focused on cashes out into fuzzy liberal angst. (I can’t really bring myself to concentrate on it either.)


    spandrell Reply:

    Japan has 2 million immigrants, which is not 0. It has big foreign pressure groups and minority rent seekers plenty.

    Hell I could run a full blog on Northeast Asian leftism. I’d need to get paid though. You think there’s demand?


    SDL Reply:

    2 million? I had no idea. Thanks for the correction. Although, 2 million, that’s about two percent of the total population? And I do know there are the Ainu.

    So there’s a Leftism afoot in Japan that discourses about toppling “Light-skinned Yayoi Power Structures” and “Oppressed Polynesians” and whatnot?

    Anyway, the view in America of Japan is that it’s a very strong ethno-state with harsh immigration laws. Given that there is indeed Cathedralism, how powerful is it? Does it dominate the media and academia like it does in the U.S.?

    In other words, I’d gladly hit the PayPal Donate button for a few posts on this subject 🙂


    SDL Reply:

    Here’s an article written by a British ex-pat living in China for the last decade or so. Transport him in space and change his skin tone, and he’s essentially doing what immigrants in America or Britain do: complain that the host country doesn’t measure up to the immigrant’s vision of what it should be. And makes the immigrant feel like an ‘outsider.’

    Do scroll through the comments. They run the same gamut that you’d expect in an article about Mexican immigration. You have assimilationists . . .

    As I posted before, I live in China, have done so for nine years now. I own a school, rather my chinese wife is rgistered as owner, I have a family, a house, a nice life and I owe itall to two things, the opportunity granted me here in China, and the fact that I adapt to the place I live.

    . . . and nationalists . . .

    go back to where you come from and settle there, no need to come back to China, let us all have peace in mind..

    And some sub-threads about who is the Biggest Oppressor and who is the Most Oppressed: the Chinese, the Japanese, the Americans, the Brits, or the Africans?

    Only one person seems to have gotten to the heart of the 700+ comments:

    This exchange is full of resentment on both sides . . . Is this about revenge? Or evolution? Or survival. Time will say.

    spandrell Reply:

    The Ainu don’t really exist anymore, although there are small NGOs trying to push the issue, it isn’t major at all.

    The real problem are the Koreans, who have their own school system and control the gambling industry. It’s them who push the “Japan invaded us and enslaved us and raped our women so you need to pay us forever” issue. There’s a big leftist constituency based on Japan being an evil invasor who needs to be poor and apologetic and be supportive of Korea and China. It’s not Cathedral-big, but it has two major newspapers and it’s very well organized.

    Profits from gambling are sent to North Korea routinely. That’s billions, and nothing is done, for fear of ethnic discrimination.

    Of course it’s nothing close to the American Cathedral. There’s no womyn studies and as you say 2% is a pretty small proportion. But leftism does exist, and Hatoyama, leftist premier 2 years ago, famously said that “Japan is not the exclusive property of the Japanese”.
    He got a lot of shit for it.
    I’d say the Cathedral is one force among many. Pretty big, but nowhere near dominant. Leftism qua socialism (the rich are evil we should give their money to the poor) is very prevalent, but mostly unrelated to Cathedralism.

    Posted on March 18th, 2013 at 1:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • SDL Says:

    Also, Alexander’s post comparing Sweden and Singapore demonstrates, to me, that he’s missed some deeper (and obvious) points about Dark Enlightenment: namely, that if you’re Sweden you don’t necessarily have to run things like Singapore. Or that if Singapore tried to run things like Sweden, it would be Brazil.


    admin Reply:

    Yes, and the kind of libertarian analysis that most infuriates ‘mainstream reactionaries’ captures something awkward about that (paging Bryan Caplan) — the ‘Whitopia’ equilibrium is nanny-state socialism. Seattle, Sweden, take your pick.


    Posted on March 18th, 2013 at 2:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • Foseti Says:

    I suggest paying attention to Scott Alexander only because it’s worth knowing how someone like him responds to these ideas.

    He’s clearly understood them – his summary is, in parts, as good as anything I’ve read.


    SDL Reply:

    A good point. I can’t get my academic colleagues to admit human sexual dimorphism without their balking, so the fact that we have someone ‘on the other side’ (barely) giving us an understanding of how that side processes Reaction according to its own terms and worldview is, I agree, a valuable thing.


    Posted on March 19th, 2013 at 7:59 pm Reply | Quote

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