Posts Tagged ‘Moldbug’

Quote note (#237)

A little chunk of Moldbug, for no reason other than stumbling upon it (and because there’s a lot going on in just a few sentences):

The difference between a monarch and a dictator is that the monarchical succession is defined by law and the dictatorial succession is defined by power. The effect in the latter is that the fish rots from the head down — lawlessness permeates the state, as in a mafia family, because contending leaders must build informal coalitions. Since another name for a monarchist is a legitimist, we can contrast the legitimist and demotist theories of government. […] Perhaps unsurprisingly, I see legitimism as a sort of proto-formalism. The royal family is a perpetual corporation, the kingdom is the property of this corporation, and the whole thing is a sort of real-estate venture on a grand scale. Why does the family own the corporation and the corporation own the kingdom? Because it does. Property is historically arbitrary.

The best way for the monarchies of Old Europe to modernize, in my book, would have been to transition the corporation from family ownership to shareholder ownership, eliminating the hereditary principle which caused so many problems for so many monarchies. However, the trouble with corporate monarchism is that it presents no obvious political formula. “Because it does” cuts no ice with a mob of pitchfork-wielding peasants. […] So the legitimist system went down another path, which led eventually to its destruction: the path of divine-right monarchy. When everyone believes in God, “because God says so” is a much more impressive formula.

Perhaps the best way to look at demotism is to see it as the Protestant version of rule by divine right — based on the theory of vox populi, vox dei. If you add divine-right monarchy to a religious system that is shifting from the worship of God to the worship of Man, demotism is pretty much what you’d expect to precipitate in the beaker.

April 12, 2016admin 31 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction
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NRx and Liberalism

In much of the neoreactionary camp, ‘liberalism’ is the end-point of discussion. Its argumentative function is exactly that of ‘racism’ for the left. The only question, as far as this stance is concerned, is whether the term can be made to stick. Once the scarlet letter of micro-cultural ostracism is attached, there’s nothing further to discuss. This is unlikely to change, except at the margin.

The obvious preliminary to this topic is, if not quite ‘American English’, something like it. ‘Liberalism’ in the American tongue has arrived in a strange space, unique to that continent. It is notable, and uncontroversial, for instance that the notion of a ‘right-wing liberal’ is considered a straight oxymoron by American speakers, where in Europe — and especially mainland Europe — it is closer to a pleonasm. Since we still, to a very considerable extent, inhabit an American world, the expanded term ‘classical liberal’ is now required to convey the traditional sense. A Briton, of capitalistic inclinations, is likely to favor ‘Manchester Liberal’ for its historical associations with the explicit ideology of industrial revolution. In any case, the discussion has been unquestionably complicated.

Political language tends to become dialectical, in the most depraved (Hegelian) sense of this term. It lurches wildly into its opposite, as it is switched like a contested flag between conflicting parties. Stable political significances apply only to whatever the left (the ‘opposition’, or ‘resistance’) hasn’t touched yet. Another consideration, then, for those disposed to a naive faith in ideological signs as heraldic markers. (It is one that threatens to divert this post into excessive digression, and is thus to be left — in Wikipedia language — as a ‘stub’.)

The proposal of this blog is to situate ‘liberal’ at the intersection of three terms, each essential to any recoverable, culturally tenacious meaning. It is irreducibly modern, English, and counter-political. ‘Ancient liberties’ are at least imaginable, but an ancient liberalism is not. Foreign liberalisms can be wished the best of luck, because they will most certainly need it (an exception for the Dutch, alone, is plausible here). Political liberalism is from the beginning a practical paradox, although perhaps in certain rare cases one worth pursuing.

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March 23, 2016admin 71 Comments »
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Order and Value

A piece of machinery that reduces (local) disorder has value. It might be a functional police force, a catallactic economic arrangement, or a sociopolitical mechanism implementing dynamic geography (or Patchwork, 1, 2, 3, 4). Others might be listed. Any complex adaptive system works like this (until it ceases working). Since Schrödinger, it has been taken as an abstract definition of life. In certain strands of philosophy, it has also been taken as the complete, rigorous meaning of a machine (as counterposed to a ‘gadget’ – which works only within a larger machinic assemblage). Only by exporting entropy does anything of even minimal complexity get to continue its existence. The production of order is functionality in its most elevated, teleological sense.

A piece of rhetoric which merely celebrates order, as something nice to have, is worth nothing in itself. “We want order” is the “give us free stuff” slogan of intellectually degenerated reaction. When examined closely, it is indistinguishable from political pan-handling. (Democracy has taught everyone how to beg.) It is unlikely that even the most radically degraded libertarian would be shameless enough to consider “wealth is good, poverty is bad” anything more than an expression of sub-comic emotional incontinence. “Order is good, chaos is bad” is a slogan of exactly equivalent merit. “We want order” is just “we want money” at a superior level of generality. Monkeys want peanuts, but we are reluctant to dignify their hungry hooting with the label ‘political philosophy’.

Entropy dissipation is a problem. It might quite reasonably be considered the problem. Any serious social theory is respected insofar as it elicits the question: So how is entropy dissipated? The main current of Anglophone intellectual culture focuses tightly upon it, in a broad lineage from Newtonian mechanics, the Scottish Enlightenment, the science of heat, classical economics, and Darwinian naturalism, into theories of complexity, distributed systems, dynamic networks, and productive multiplicities. Spontaneous order is the consistent topic. ‘Spontaneous’ means only: Does not presuppose that which it is tasked with explaining. If the genesis of order is not being theorized, order is merely being assumed, and then consumed. The difference is between a supply side problematic (“how is order practically produced?”) and an empty demand (“we want more order”). The former is industrial, the latter simply tyrannical, when it is anything at all beside vacuous noise.

Unless a pol-econ. theory can contribute to an explanation of the production of order (dissipation of entropy), it is wasting everyone’s time. “But I really want order” is just silliness. It’s astounding that it could ever be thought otherwise.

March 7, 2016admin 47 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy
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Cnut the Great

According to legend, at least, Cnut was the wisest of all kings, precisely because he ironized the attribution of sovereignty.

“Surely, Great King, you are ominipotent Fnargl himself!”
“Let us then test the claim, shall we?”

Modern macroeconomics is the systematized refusal to learn from this story. Sovereignty does not rise above the waves.

March 3, 2016admin 12 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Realism
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#HRx II

This is well-done, insightful, and even comparatively civil.

The diremption:

Moldbug, by laying an immense foundation, was complex enough to be interpreted in very distinct manners. NRx concentrates on his economic writings and proposed solutions: stockholder sovereigns, Patchwork, block-chain protocols, exit, financial incentives, Austrianism, [Bitcoin], ‘the reset’. Alternatively, HRx concentrates on his reading suggestions and historical/international writings: Carly[l]e worship, high-Toryism/Jacobitism, classical international law, Absolute monarchy, generalist historiography, imperialism apologia, political theory, and the general aesthetic. It’s fair enough to say that neither side is willing to embrace the whole package; unless Mencius comes back and picks a side we’re going to keep on squabbling over who are his true followers. Regardless, we all agree on MM’s critiques of Democracy, bureaucracy, progressive morality, and the dominant institutions. […] I believe this dichotomy is fundamentally spiritual. NRx is a materialist ideology, post-Ancap in essence, it’s no surprise then that many Neoreactionaries started out as Marxists or Libertarians. Conversely, HRx places the metaphysical at the root of all civic affairs. With raw power politics also superseding catallaxy.

It’s not quibble proof, from the XS PoV, but it’s far closer to a cold, realistic assessment than anything we’ve seen yet. (It’s impossible for me to avoid observing, in passing, that the descent into spittle-flecked vulgarity seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of these ‘higher souls’. Is it too much to ask for just a little loftiness of tone from our political metaphysicians? Quite apart from anything else, it would actually work better.)

There are many other points of interest in the Froude Society piece. Worth noting in particular:

They reject the hero, they reject the sublime, and thus any exoteric link to the Holy on High. Moreover, they do not even pretend to have any solutions for non anglo-civilizations, we speak truths that ring true for all peoples by historical precedent, that good governance and order is always Good.

It wouldn’t surprise me, in the least, if the author of Unqualified Reservations would tilt more to the HRx camp today (although, rather weirdly, the Urbit innovator seems to have pushed even further into ‘protocol’ territory). There is certainly no assertion on our (Tech-Comm) side, that he would subscribe to the usage of his work that we find important. Nor do we, to any serious extent, care whether he would do so. Neocameral-Patchwork formalism, the theorization of fungible primary (sovereign) property, and Exit-oriented geopolitical disintegration is the commitment we have here — and without Moldbug none of that would have reached its present state of articulation. The Jacobitism, monarchist theater, objective Anglophobia, ahistorical contempt for emergent trustless governance systems, hyperbolic anti-modernism, and romantic humanism we can do without.

(The original #HRx post here might be relevant.)

March 2, 2016admin 109 Comments »
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Sub-Cathedral Media

Journalism doesn’t occupy the sovereign position within the classic (Moldbuggian) NRx analysis of the Cathedral. It is downstream of the academic clerisy, who establish doctrine, and then perform high-level indoctrination, with journalism schools as a relatively subservient node on the conveyor. Only the quantitative propaganda function of the media, as the terminal relay to the masses, produces the impression that it effectively rules. Media apparatchiks have negligible intellectual productivity. They serve the Zeitgeist, by trying to remember what their professors taught them.

Still, as the question goes:

If, when journalists and politicians conflict, the politicians always go down in flames and the journalists always walk away without a scratch, who exactly is wearing the pants in this place?

Disconcerting then, to read this story, in which the pants aren’t at all where they might be expected:

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February 11, 2016admin 32 Comments »
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The Deal

NRx repudiates public politics. Turn that around, and it’s the thesis: Politics happens in private.

Specifically — as a political philosophy — NRx advocates the privatization of government. It makes a public case for that, in the abstract, but only for purposes of informational and theoretical optimization. It is not, ever, doing politics in public, but only thinking about it under conditions of minimal intelligence security. Concrete execution of political strategy occurs through private deals.

The currency of such deals was formalized by Mencius Moldbug, as primary (or fungible sovereign) property. It corresponds to the conversion — whether notional or actual — of hard power into business assets. This conversion is what ‘formalism’ means. It’s an important contribution to political philosophy, and political economy, but it’s also a negotiating position.

Cries for (public) Action! will always be with us, at least until things are radically sorted out. They should be ignored. No public action is serious.

The serious thing is the deal, which substitutes for any semblance of revolution, and also for regime perpetuation. Shadow NRx — which acts outside the sphere of public visibility — is a political vulture fund. This blog does not want to know who, or what, it is. Its deep secrecy is the same as its reality. Our concern is restricted to the way it necessarily acts, in compliance with an absolute principle. We ask only: What does the deal have to be like?

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January 23, 2016admin 50 Comments »
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Quote note (#200)

Crypto-core of the XS Moldbug:

Internal security can be defined as the protection of the shareholders’ property against all internal threats — including both residents and employees, up to and certainly including the chief executive. If the shareholders cannot dismiss the CEO of the realm by voting according to proper corporate procedures, a total security failure has occurred.

The standard Patchwork remedy for this problem is the cryptographic chain of command. Ultimately, power over the realm truly rests with the shareholders, because they use a secret sharing or similar cryptographic algorithm to maintain control over its root keys. Authority is then delegated to the board (if any), the CEO and other officers, and thence down into the military or other security forces. At the leaves of the tree are computerized weapons, which will not fire without cryptographic authorization.

Thus, any fragment of the security force which remains loyal to the shareholders can use its operational weapons to defeat any coalition of disloyal, and hence disarmed, employees and/or residents. Ouch! Taste the pain, traitors. (Needless to say, the dependence of this design on 21st-century technology is ample explanation of why history has not bequeathed us anything like the joint-stock realm. It was simply not implementable — any more than our ancestors could build a suspension bridge out of limestone blocks.)

(Emphasis in original.)

Crypto-sovereignty is huge (and on the to-do list here). ‘Formalism’ is a place-holder for crypto-architecture. ‘Sovereignty’ means keys.

November 17, 2015admin 27 Comments »
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Quote note (#197)

NRx in the NYT:

I sort of knew this going in but even so it was remarkable how — well, I think neo-reactionary is really the only term to use to describe what Houellebecq seems to be doing in his portrait of contemporary France and his mischievous prophecy about its potential trajectory. And I do mean neo-reactionary in the internet-movement, Mencius Moldbug sense of the term (if you aren’t familiar with this particular rabbit hole, good luck): The overt political teaching of “Submission” is that Europe is dying from the disease called liberalism, that it can be saved only by a return of hierarchy and patriarchy and patriotism and religion and probably some kind of monarchy as well, but that religion itself is primarily an instrumental good and so the point is to find a faith that actually convinces and inspires and works (and that’s, well, a little manly), and on that front European Christianity and particularly Roman Catholicism is basically a dead letter so the future might as well belong to Islam instead. (Emphasis in original.)

Douthat’s notable dodginess credentials are probably not going to be helped by this.

November 5, 2015admin 15 Comments »
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Back to the Roots

Left00

In the age of Corbyn-style socialist fundamentalism, George Monbiot wants the Left to get (still more) religion:

Evangelical groups unite around a set of core convictions, overt, codified and non-negotiable. It would surely not be difficult to create a similar set, common to all progressive movements, built around empathy, kindness, forgiveness and self-worth [you know, redemption]. A set of immutable convictions might make our movements less capricious while reinforcing the commonality between the left’s many causes. […] Evangelism is positive and propositional (to evangelise is to bring good news). You cannot achieve lasting change unless you set the agenda, rather than responding to that of your opponents. […] They welcome everyone – but in particular the unconverted. Instead of anathematising difference, doubt and hesitation, they explain and normalise these responses as steps within a journey to belief.

The only reason this isn’t pure Left-Moldbuggianism is that it still seems to think it’s doing something new.

(The Guardian actually used that picture to illustrate the Monbiot piece, just in case you think I might be exaggerating what’s going on here.)

September 16, 2015admin 26 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Ideology , Religion
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