Archive for August, 2014

T-shirt slogans (#15)

Stolen directly from Thales (ours, not the old one):

My popcorn bowl runeth over

As a comment on current events, it speaks for itself. (With a suitable collage of appalling contemporary photo-images as a background, this T-shirt could be seriously mean.)

August 12, 2014admin 7 Comments »
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IQ Crime-Stop

‘Eldritch’ comments at Scott Alexander’s place:

I think the actual argument against IQ is this:
1. Intelligence is a measure of your value as a person in a wide range of situations.
2. IQ supposedly measures intelligence.
3. IQ may not be significantly changeable.
4. Therefore, this test lets you measure the innate aptitude and this value of a person.
5. Therefore, this could be used to prove I am inherently less valuable than other people.
6. This makes me REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE.
7. Therefore, IQ is wrong.

I’m pretty sure this is the real argument against IQ, and most arguments against it are simply attempts to find arguments that fit this conclusion.

My only significant quibble with this construction concerns point #5, which massively underestimates the predominance of pathological altruism / social terror in the IQ ‘debate’. The possibility that IQ measurements could make other people seem in some awkward way inferior is a far more powerful deterrent than anything it could say about oneself. (The probability that someone is going to say something stupid about IQ has a striking positive correlation with IQ.)

The post itself makes a (wholly superfluous) strong argument for the robust realism of the g concept. If you’re the kind of crime-stopped idiot who needs persuading about it, you’re almost certainly beyond persuasion. The relevant fork in the road has already been passed. Rationalists find it strangely hard to grasp that simple fact. They’re nice that way.

ADDED: Dear Prudence.

August 12, 2014admin 20 Comments »
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“Which Falls First?” …

… William S. Lind asks in this recent panel discussion (third speaker, just after 43 minutes in). “The foreign policy establishment, or the country?” The relevant thread of his argument: The aggressive foreign policy posture of the United States is counter-productively promoting global disorder, which eventually threatens domestic calamity. When the US fights a foreign state, Lind argues, it advances the chaotic “forces of the fourth generation” — a more formidable opponent than even the most obdurately non-compliant state is able to be. America’s “offensive grand strategy” — tied to a high-level of concern for the internal political arrangements of foreign countries — is sowing dragon’s teeth.

TNIO has been coaxing NRx onto a path of broadened geopolitical scope. There is an unavoidable irony here. The Old Right tends naturally to a preoccupation with hearth-and-home, so that its preferred policy posture (non-interventionism) is often accompanied by — or even buried within — a retraction of mental energy from distant questions. The Neoconservative synthesis of foreign policy activism and cosmopolitan fascination with foreign affairs is far more psychologically consistent, regardless of its errors. For anti-globalists to sustain a panoramic perspective takes work.

This work is important, if realistic analysis is the goal, because distant eventualities hugely impinge. The existence and fate of Neoreaction depends far more upon the great churning machinery of world history than upon the local decisions of its favored ‘little platoons’. To misquote Lenin: Even if you are not interested in the system of the world, it is interested in you.

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August 11, 2014admin 30 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#22)

(Open thread, and stuff.)

Another take on the democracy problem: “Ideology is the death of good government. Democracy requires ideology. Therefore democracy is the death of good government.”

Democracy is one of the more potent weapons that the USA can yield to destroy enemies, and the Chinese are clearly aware of what is in store.”

Leftism needs nationalism.

Selection pressure for modernity resistance.

An epic post on the Westernization of Hinduism.

There‘s a Matrioshka Brain Home Page.

Varieties of futurism.

The new mediascape as a festival of trolls.

Asking the important questions: “Is there any way to keep white people from using computers, before this whole planet is ruined?”

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August 10, 2014admin 17 Comments »
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Quote notes (#101)

Mark Yuray on the disintegration of Atlantis:

The collapse of the U.S. government and balkanization of North America will provide many great opportunities, if not a decent amount of strife. Nationalist and separatist sentiments previously suppressed by the Harvard clerisy will be unleashed. Whole regions will fragment into localized and decentralized rule. The new borders crisscrossing North America will conform much more closely to the natural geography of the continent than they did until now. It is in this moment, when trust in centralized authority is low, desire for autonomy is high, that a neoreactionary “patchwork” of small city-and-otherwise-states can come to exist. The United States’ high deposits of human and natural capital will make for a particularly vibrant new quilt of Singapores and Hong Kongs. As the original forging of the American superpower was largely a quirk of history and political suppression (suppose 1776 failed? or 1812? or 1848? or 1865?), it is unlikely that an emergent patchwork would turn back into the massive state that America is today.

The North American continent would, ideally, become a South America of the Northern Hemisphere in terms of geopolitics — benign and stable — and also an East Asia of the Western Hemisphere in terms of economics and government — technologically advanced and governmentally diverse.

In the spiral search for ‘Neoreactionary consensus’ — will the desirability of this outcome do?

(There is much else of interest in Yuray’s post — read it all.)

August 10, 2014admin 23 Comments »
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The Problem of Democracy

Recent discussions (on Twitter, primarily) have convinced me of the need for a ‘Neocameralism for Dummies’ post, providing a succinct introduction to this genre of political theory. The importance of this is obvious if Neocameralism is conceived as the central, and defining pillar of Neoreaction. In preparation for this task, however, it is necessary to revisit the socio-historical diagnosis from which Neocameralism emerged (in the work, of course, of Mencius Moldbug). That requires a brief prolegomenon addressing the NRx critique of democracy, focusing initially on its negative aspect. Neocameralism is introduced as a proposed solution to a problem. First, the problem.

Government is complicated. If this thesis seems implausible to you, it is probable that you will have great difficulties with everything to follow. It would take another (and quite different) post to address objections to this entire topic of discussion which take the approximate form “Government is easy, you just find the best man and put him in charge!” All social problems are easy if you can ‘just’ do the right thing. Infantile recommendations will always be with us.

There are two general lines of democratic apologetics. The first, and politically by far the strongest, is essentially religious. It too is best addressed by a post of its own, themed by Moldbug’s ‘Ultra-Calvinist Hypothesis’. For our purposes here we need only suggest that it is quite satisfactorily represented by Jacques Rousseau, and that its fundamental principal is popular sovereignty. From the NRx perspective, it is merely depraved. Only civilizational calamities can come from it.

The second line of apology is far more serious, theoretically engaging, and politically irrelevant. It understands democracy as a mechanism, tasked with the solemn responsibility of controlling government. Any effective control mechanism works by governing behavior under the influence of feedback from actual performance. In biology, this is achieved by natural selection upon phenotypes. In science, it is achieved by the experimental testing of theory, supported by a culture of open criticism. In capitalist economics, it is achieved by market evaluation of products and services, providing feedback on business performance. According to systems-theoretical defenses of democracy, it works by sensitizing government to feedback from voters, who act as conductors of information from actual administrative performance. This is the sophisticated liberal theory of democracy. It explains why science, markets, and democracy are often grouped together within liberal ideologies. (Bio-Darwinism, naturally, is more safely neglected).

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August 9, 2014admin 31 Comments »
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Exterminator

Gnon — known to some depraved cults as ‘The Great Crab-God’ — is harsh, and when formulated with rigorous skepticism, necessarily real. Yet this pincering cancerous abomination is laughter and love, in comparison to the shadow-buried horror which lurks behind it. We now understand that the silence of the galaxies is a message of ultimate ominousness. A thing there is, of incomprehensible power, that takes intelligent life for its prey. (This popularization is very competently done.)

Robin Hanson, who tries to be cheerful, writes about it here, and talks about it here. Behind the smile (and the dopey interviewer), an abyss of dark lucidity yawns. Some scruffy take-aways:

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August 8, 2014admin 59 Comments »
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Quote notes (#100)

Adam Garfinkle on the profound pointlessness of international ambitions in the Middle East:

Iraq, and Libya have pretty much fallen to pieces, and Lebanon breathes whatever vapors Syria wafts its way. Egypt is an economic corpse that doesn’t know it’s dead and so won’t fall down. (For my ducats there is no better symbol of the Egyptian circumstance than Cairo’s City of the Dead — a vast cemetery full of countless squatters.) Jordan is suffering a multi-sourced nervous breakdown, complete with anti-Hashemite mobs. Algeria and Bahrain are armed camps, albeit for different reasons. Tunisia is a political weathervane that cannot control its borders. Morocco is fragile and faces a rising Berber challenge. Yemen is an armed mess. Sudan is a truncated basket case. Only great gobs of resource rents keep Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar afloat and seemingly quiescent. Oman may be the only Arab country that has managed to keep its balance, and it’s not a real state anyway — just a family with a flag.

This sad state of affairs is not the wayward result of the so-called Arab Spring. Not only does it long predate the Arab Spring, but all that misnamed and wildly misunderstood phenomenon wrought was to accelerate the ongoing decay of the highly unappealing authority relationships in these societies. It has disrupted the ugly and the unacceptable in different ways in different countries, since they’re all different. But with the possible exception of Tunisia (and the jury is still out), the results have not been any improvement on the status quo ante. Some state authorities have their backs up and are trying to be more oppressive than ever, while others are simply flailing.

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August 8, 2014admin 22 Comments »
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New Atlantis

In the wake of the latest Eurasianism excitement (of which there will be much more), comes a wide-ranging piece at Mitrailleuse.  It made me wonder whether Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1626) is still in any kind of cultural circulation. It‘s short — and odd.  The date and cultural lineage place it decisively within Dugin’s framework of the rising new Atlantean power — English-speaking, protestant, maritime, philosemitic, technophilic, and (piously) materially acquisitive. There’s even a clear seam of Sinophilia running through it, although one might suspect that — for reasons of geopolitical pragmatism — this is not a feature Eurasianism would want to emphasize.

For a taste, here’s a sample from the New Atlantis tour:

“We have also engine-houses, where are prepared engines and instruments for all sorts of motions. There we imitate and practise to make swifter motions than any you have, either out of your muskets or any engine that you have; and to make them and multiply them more easily and with small force, by wheels and other means, and to make them stronger and more violent than yours are, exceeding your greatest cannons and basilisks. We represent also ordnance and instruments of war and engines of all kinds; and likewise new mixtures and compositions of gunpowder, wild-fires burning in water and unquenchable, also fire-works of all variety, both for pleasure and use. We imitate also flights of birds; we have some degrees of flying in the air. We have ships and boats for going under water and brooking of seas, also swimming-girdles and supporters. We have divers curious clocks and other like motions of return, and some perpetual motions. We imitate also motions of living creatures by images of men, beasts, birds, fishes, and serpents; we have also a great number of other various motions, strange for equality, fineness, and subtilty.

“We have also a mathematical-house, where are represented all instruments, as well of geometry as astronomy, exquisitely made.

“We have also houses of deceits of the senses, where we represent all manner of feats of juggling, false apparitions, impostures and illusions, and their fallacies. And surely you will easily believe that we, that have so many things truly natural which induce admiration, could in a world of particulars deceive the senses if we would disguise those things, and labor to make them more miraculous. But we do hate all impostures and lies, insomuch as we have severely forbidden it to all our fellows, under pain of ignominy and fines, that they do not show any natural work or thing adorned or swelling, but only pure as it is, and without all affectation of strangeness. …”

Scrupulous scientific realism combined with a precocious Virtual Reality industry. This is indeed an enemy, very naturally, to be feared.

Note: There’s also a post on Eurasianism, probing gently into the China angle, over at Urban Future.

August 7, 2014admin 40 Comments »
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Red in Stalk and Claw

Jungle01 Click on the image to (quite massively) enlarge.

Lured into putting this up by some dubious characters on my Twitter TL.

Image by Soap Jackal (it now decorates his Twitter lair at the link). The original Soap Jackal caption: It’s a jungle out there.  (Predictably, I like that a lot.)

Post title by Mr. Archenemy, who seems brazenly unashamed of it.

(Basically just a conduit for the world’s madness at this point — and it isn’t even Friday.)

August 7, 2014admin 2 Comments »
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