Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

Against Universalism

There’s a philosophical objection to any refusal of universalism that will be familiar from other uses (the denunciation of relativism, most typically). It requires only one step: Isn’t the denial of the universal itself a universalist claim? It’s a piece of malignant dialectics because it demands that we agree. We don’t, and won’t ever, agree. Agreement is the worst thing that could happen. Merely assent to its necessity, and global communism, or some close analog, is the implicit conclusion.

If there is a universal truth, it belongs only to Gnon, and Gnon is a dark (occulted) God. Traditional theists will be at least strongly inclined to disagree — and that is excellent. We disagree already, and we have scarcely begun.

There is no ‘good life for man’ (in general) — or if there is we know nothing of it, or not enough. Even those persuaded that they do, on the contrary, know what such a life should be, promote its universality only at the expense of being denied the opportunity to pursue it. If we need to agree on the broad contours of such a model for human existence, then reaching agreement will precede it — and ‘reaching agreement’ is politics. Some much wider world acquires a veto over the way of life you select, or accept, or inherit (the details need not detain us). We have seen how that works. Global communism is the inevitable destination.

The alternative to agreement is schism. Secession, geopolitical disintegration, fragmentation, splitting — disagreement escapes dialectics and separates in space. Anti-universalism, concretely, is not a philosophical position but an effectively defensible assertion of diversity. From the perspective of the universal (which belongs only to Gnon, and never to man), it is an experiment. The degree to which it believes in itself is of no concern that matters to anything beyond itself. It is not answerable to anything but Gnon. What anyone, anywhere, thinks about it counts for nothing. If it fails, it dies, which should mean nothing to you. If you are compelled to care about someone else’s experiment, then a schism is missing. Of course, you are free to tell it that you think it will fail, if it is listening, but there is absolutely no need to reach agreement on the question. This is what, in the end, non-communism means.

Non-universalism is hygiene. It is practical avoidance of other people’s stupid shit. There is no higher principle in political philosophy. Every attempt to install an alternative, and impose a universal, reverts to dialectics, communization, global evangelism, and totalitarian politics.

This is being said here now, because NRx is horribly bad at it, and degenerates into a clash of universalisms, as into an instinctive equilibrium. There are even those who confidently propose an ‘NRx solution’ for the world. Nothing could be more absurd. The world — as a whole — is an entropy bin. The most profoundly degraded communism is its only possible ‘universal consensus’. (Everyone knows this, when they permit themselves to think.)

All order is local — which is to say the negation of the universal. That is merely to re-state the second law of thermodynamics, which ‘we’ generally profess to accept. The only thing that could ever be universally and equally distributed is noise.

Kill the universalism in your soul and you are immediately (objectively) a neoreactionary. Protect it, and you are an obstacle to the escape of differences. That is communism — whether you recognize it, or not.

March 18, 2016admin 66 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy
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Twitter cuts (#52)

Responding to this (Outsideness) twitter-stream:
The transcendental self is not the empirical person, Kant argues, though confusion of the two is a reliable anthropological fact. … ‘Sovereignty’ demands disciplined critique on exactly these lines. Monarchical theater is (exactly) a naive image of ‘the sovereign’. … Moldbug is clear that the ‘monarch’ (state CEO) is an agent of sovereignty, and not the sovereign ‘himself’. … The LARPing loved by romantic reaction, and derided by the Left, dwells entirely within this rigorously identifiable philosophical error. … Sovereignty is no less a profound philosophical enigma than the transcendental self, the prompt for an exploration of vast difficulty. … “We know what a sovereign looks like.” — It is scarcely possible to imagine a delusion of greater absurdity.

Something of greater articulacy is clearly called for, but the kernel would be unchanged. ‘Sovereignty’ is the translation of the transcendental into the realm of political philosophy. This is why, even for atheists, the Idea of Divine Right sovereign legitimacy is a superior point of departure than mere charismatic leadership.

March 8, 2016admin 33 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Quote note (#211)

At Nathan Cook‘s new blog:

Bitcoin is not a Marxist reification. Bitcoin reifies in the rare sense of ‘ex nihilo, actually create a physical object’. Bitcoin reifies property. Property before bitcoin is an abstraction, a social relation treated provisionally as an object, but never attaining that status (Property is Impossible). Bitcoin quite literally makes property into something physical. Anything that can store a private key and keep it secret, and can use it to create and emit transactions, can own Bitcoin. The relation ‘X owns Bitcoin’ is spatially local and temporally persistent; in other words, it more closely resembles relations like ‘X is made of wood’ or ‘X weighs 20 kilograms’ than it does relations like ‘X is a dollar billionaire’. Property is possible — when property is Bitcoin.

Prior to functional, distributed crypto, ‘property’ was nothing but confused political pleading. Now it’s something else.

ADDED: Still a rocky road ahead. “What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse.”

January 14, 2016admin 21 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Chaos Patch (#92)

(Open thread + links)

Tech-decay. Unregimented order. Hold the genocide. Men stuff. The weekly round.

Oil zombies, plus $20 a barrel? The transhumanist candidate.

Calamity for the Left in Venezuela (comedy version). Saudi didn’t do anything wrong (it’s just unlucky). Japanese at work. The nationalist surge in France (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and Germany. Sweden on the brink. A blitz-tour of future chaos. Resurgent nationalism against the Internet (also, and).

Trumpenführer panic update (going hyperbolic): “Are Republicans and Democrats finally uniting against Donald Trump’s racist fascism?” Straight-up Trump-Fascism howling and analysis (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Running the numbers (and more). Ridiculous, or not? He’s a hate machine. Family values (video). “Asked about what prompted the statement, Trump said simply, ‘death.'” The broken Overton Window. Molyneux and Whittle on the case (video). What a guy! Plus, more chaos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The Left Accelerationist argument for Trump.

Terror and politicization. Post-ISIS super-jihad. Yes, there’s a problem. The WMD angle. Oops. Under the rock. Narrative collapse. The case for cultural profiling. “New horrors are likely ahead — that will continue America’s turn to the right.” A return to borders (1, 2, 3). Islam breaks the Left. Obama’s on it.

Media in crisis (see also). Hiding the decline.

Classical mastery.

Nostalgia for apartheid. Roots of black resentment. The real lesson of Clock Boy. “The Antiracism religion, then, has clergy, creed, and also even a conception of Original Sin.” In black and white. East and West (comment).

Hive Mind reviewed (plus notes, and see also). SEK III. Try capitalism (or not).

Stoicism 101. Harrowed by Hollywood. Recruiter. Confused (but fun).

Tech trends. Buying in to the nightmare. Shockley (Part 1).

Science is dead and what’s left is raw power.”

Tegmark reviewed. “Bullets are magic.” ISS on the chopping block. Pluto video. Dark fire. 4D celestial mechanics. Quantum indeterminacy. Quantum hell. Beyond the End. Flaky (but fun).

December 13, 2015admin 27 Comments »
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Twitter cuts (#38)

Insanely great:

December 5, 2015admin 2 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Sentences
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Quote note (#189)

“[C]apitalism in the ribbonfarm sense”:

Capitalism is not an ideology pursued deliberately by some to “defeat” those who live by other ideologies. It is a condition imperfectly closed societies default to in the presence of increasing choice in the environment, usually created either through the actions of outsiders or natural changes.

From a consistently thought-provoking slab of Venkatesh Rao insight porn.

(XS will try its best to get back to it.)

October 7, 2015admin 36 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Insect Agonies

Utilitarianism dominates the rationalization of morality within the English-speaking world. It is scarcely imaginable that it could be expressed with greater purity than this:

There are roughly 10^18 insects in the world. Suppose we give insects a .1% chance of being sentient, with their sentience being .1% of a human’s. (These values are intentionally small to demonstrate the scale to which insect suffering dominates) Assuming we assign moral weight to categories of beings by their number and the intensity of their inner experiences, this assignment gives each insect 1/1,000,000 of the moral weight for a human, meaning that the suffering of 1,000,000 insects equals the suffering of one human. Even when assigning insects this absurdly low moral weight, their suffering still dominates, as 10^18 insects comes out to 1 trillion human equivalents. If the number of insects were smaller, say around 7 billion, the consequences of not considering insect suffering might be acceptable. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and as we shall see, ignoring insect suffering even if we assign a low probability to insect consciousness presents an unacceptably high risk of ignoring a catastrophic moral harm.

There’s no need to condescend to this argument by pretending to ‘steelman’ it. It’s already quite steely. For a start, it’s conceptually pure — undistracted by irrelevances such as habitat preservation. It’s solidly consequentialist, and — in its development from of its own basic axiom — practical. There’s no sign of a fetishistic rejection of pesticide use, for instance, or an appeal to any totemic vision of ‘nature’. It’s even realist, in that it recognizes enough about the character of this universe to understand the utilitarian obligation as primarily about the alleviation of suffering (positive pleasures being, in the grand scheme of things, no more than a rounding error). On this basis, there’s an insectoid antinatalist sub-theme, which (briefly) explores the thought that ethical extermination might be a positive moral good: “It is possible that most insects have lives that aren’t worth living … meaning the fewer insects in existence the better.” It focuses tightly upon the problem of relieving insect agonies, by chemically inducing a comparatively painless — rather than agonizing — death. Building its case in uncontroversial steps, it concludes that no effective altruistic cause has higher priority, since “… insect suffering probably dominates all other sources of suffering” and “… humane pesticides saves 25 human equivalents from a more painful death per dollar.”

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September 24, 2015admin 64 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy

Twitter cuts (#29)

Catalogued among ‘discoveries from the Outside’:

September 22, 2015admin 5 Comments »

Exit Foundations

Having lost count of the number of times the demand for exit guarantees has come up as an objection to the Patchworked-Neocameral model, it seems worthwhile to reproduce Moldbug’s most directly on-point, pre-emptive response to the question. The question being: What is to stop a regime, once it is entirely unshackled from all domestic political constraint (i.e. Neocameralized), from extinguishing the exit options of its residents?

As a prefatory note: Like the Misesian praxeology from which it is cladistically descended, the Moldbuggian System is a transcendental political philosophy, which is to say that it deals with ultimate or unsurpassable conditions. You have reached the transcendental when there is no higher tribunal, or court of appeal. This is the socio-cosmic buffers. If you don’t like what you’re seeing here, there’s still no point looking anywhere else, because this is all you’re going to get:

To live on a Patchwork patch, you have to sign a bilateral contract with the realm. You promise to be a good boy and behave yourself. The realm promises to treat you fairly. There is an inherent asymmetry in this agreement, because you have no enforcement mechanism against the realm (just as you have no enforcement mechanism against the United States). However, a realm’s compliance with its customer-service agreements is sure to be a matter of rather intense attention among residents and prospective residents. And thus among shareholders as well.

For example, I suspect that every customer-service agreement will include the right to remove oneself and one’s assets from the realm, at any time, no questions asked, to any other realm that will accept the emigrant. Possibly with an exception for those involved in the criminal-justice process – but this may not even be needed. Who wants a criminal? Not another realm, surely.

Suppose a realm unilaterally abrogates this right of emigration? It has just converted its residents into what are, in a sense, slaves. It is no longer Disneyland. It is a plantation. If it’s any good with cinderblocks, barbed-wire and minefields, there is no escape. What do you say if you’re stuck on this farm? You say: “yes, Massa.” A slave you are and a slave you will be forever.

This is terrible, of course. But again, the mechanism we rely on to prevent it is no implausible deus ex machina, no Indian rope-trick from the age of Voltaire, but the sound engineering principle of the profit motive. A realm that pulls this kind of crap cannot be trusted by anyone ever again. It is not even safe to visit. Tourism disappears. The potential real-estate bid from immigrants disappears. And, while your residents are indeed stuck, they are also remarkably sullen and display no great interest in slaving for you. Which is a more valuable patch of real estate, today: South Korea, or North Korea? Yet before the war, the North was more industrialized and the South was more rural. Such are the profits of converting an entire country into a giant Gulag.

Is that all? Yes — that’s all. Beyond the rational economic incentives of the Sovereign Corporation, controlled within a Patchwork-environment (of competition for human resources), there is nothing to which an appeal can be made. The end.

June 11, 2015admin 33 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

Twitter cuts (#11)

I’m going to put up a post on moral terror later, if I get a chance. A little background:

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February 27, 2015admin 26 Comments »