I’ve been picking on Nyan a lot recently, mostly in a positive way. Here’s a little more:

This is perfect, and precise. It’s something that needs to be said, and it says a lot.

The Mandate of Heaven (Tianming, 天命) couples authority to responsibility. The responsibility of the Emperor, and the Dynasty, is no less comprehensive than its power, and is in fact ultimately coincidental with it. The foundation is cosmic. Plagues, earthquakes, and foreign invasions are all encompassed by it, as are the reciprocal strokes of good fortune. There is no possibility of any delegation that is not internal to the subject of Tianming, preserving its absolute responsibility. The selection of advisers and administrators is an exercise of authority, for which there can be no evasion of accountability before heaven (or fate). Rule succeeds or fails, survives or perishes, in its own name.

Is not this standard the key to the profound dismay that results from the contemplation of democracy? As popular politics evolves — or ‘progresses’, as it most certainly does — it tends to incarnate a self-conscious strategy of irresponsibility with ever more emphatic ideality. ‘Passing the buck’ becomes the whole thing. Government and opposition participate mutually in an economy of responsibility, in which ‘blame’ can be pooled, circulated, and displaced. The rhetorical practices regulating this economy become the entire art of politics.

An election is a festival or irresponsibility, in a double sense. It is a crescendo of rhetoric, oriented to the dialectical evasion of social ills, and it is a relinquishment of authority, into the hands of ‘the people’ and — potentially — the opposition, separating the realization of governmental consequences from the deep core of the regime. To lose the Mandate of Heaven is to be erased from the future. To lose an election is a trivial penance, and even a tactical opportunity. (It is the prediction of this blog that as democracy advances further, calculated defeat will play an ever more significant role in its functioning.)

As NRx refuses to go to the polls tomorrow, its implicit political statement is merely: Take some freaking responsibility. This is all yours. Succeed, or disappear completely. The last thing we need is another opportunity for sharing.

ADDED: Don’t vote. (Duh!)

ADDED: “Another reason not to vote is that it creates real despair among the small number of Democracy-shepherds.”

November 3, 2014admin 55 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy


55 Responses to this entry

  • RorschachRomanov Says:

    The very notion of ‘authority’ is absent from the demotic lexicon, or more accurately, demotic posturing is parasitic. Here, NRx and the Cathedral are at perhaps the deepest odds:

    To the ‘progressive,’ to be “liberated” is to be so as against authority.

    NRx recognizes that in the absence of authority, power fills the vacuum- to disastrous effect.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 3:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • Crank Monsta Says:

    One of the most profound things I have ever read.
    Excellent work!


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 3:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bryce Laliberte Says:

    Mandate of Heaven, Will of Gnon. Is there a difference?


    Mark Yuray Reply:

    Mandate of Heaven
    Will of Gnon
    Divine Right

    The differences, as far as I can tell, are idiomatic.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 3:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wen Shuang Says:


    About 3000 years. (rimshot)


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 4:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • blankmisgivings Says:

    But how does China’s long history of peasant rebellion fit into this conceptual apparatus? Indian civilizations never had anything resembling a ‘mandate’, neither did they, structurally, have peasants capable of revolt. Coincidence?


    ReactionaryFerret Reply:

    I think formalized castes played a role in that. Which is to say that I see great benefit in adopting some formalized caste system similar to what India has had. This does not mean that we abandon the Chinese Mandate of Heaven, either. One gives a legitimacy to authority (not wholly unlike that of the medieval European monarchs) and ones gives it all a formalized structure that maintains its stability.


    VXXC Reply:

    Have you read Arthshastra?

    Have you worked with Indians?


    And PS it won’t work for us. Nothing even close to it would work for us, ever. By ever I mean the earliest records of the Germans to now.

    The closest ever was Hitler. And they never imposed the terror on the Germans until they began to be cornered by the Allies in 43/44, and those were court martial or arrests of individuals, often to encourage the civilian work force to produce weapons faster.

    If you’re going to have a feudal system of nerds over whites, pick one that worked over whites in the past. At no point does it ever approach Eastern despotism.

    Germans Hell, the very Greeks.


    R. Reply:

    I have friends who work with Indians for Big Blue, and it seems to me the only think stopping them from buying 58’s and shooting 90% of their Indian colleagues is the threat of being fired over that. And distance of course.

    They want something from you – they’re gonna nag you endlessly. You want something from them.. good luck. Unreliable, entitled fucks.

    I can’t bring myself to take India seriously. A country that has trash-strewn city streets is not a serious country. I can’t square that with their unemployment levels.

    Hanfeizi Reply:

    An interesting question, and one I’ve long pondered.

    My own theory is that it has to do with the lack of a caste system and a steep bell curve on IQ and general ability in China. The saying “If you win, you’re the emperor; if you lose, you’re a bandit” has many meanings, one of which is that there is no significant difference in ability or “right” between the bandit and the emperor- one simply rolled the dice or played his strategic hand better. Such a condition is rife for instability; it’s why Huxley noted in Brave New World that an “all Alpha” society failed- when the mayor and the streetsweeper are cognitive equals, it’s a recipe for disaster, as the streetsweeper will begin to note that he’s getting screwed.

    Peter Drucker, a man whose brilliance should not be underestimated simply because it was expressed in the field of management theory, noted the problem, and noted that capitalism and the open society offered a solution- a plethora of status hierarchies. Not everyone can be the President, but many can be CEOs, or own their own firm; or the president of their congregation, chairman of their labor union, master of their lodge; or the local soccer coach, champion poker player or singer in a rock band. One problem with centralization- and China has been witness to this over and over- is that by forcing everyone into the same status hierarchy, you force status competition- and having lots of people scrambling towards the emperor’s chair is not a condition for stability.

    OTOH, making the executive a singularly unappealing job has something to be said for it. The US has managed to some extent- but people still want to be President. Which amazes me at times, but here we are.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 4:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nyan Sandwich Says:

    Tianming seems to follow the Chinese philosophical undercurrent of “nailing down things already held down by gravity”. Rectification of Names. Two factor stabilization.

    Tianming denies anyone the right of rebellion, and opposes any such rebellion right up until it has won and achieved power, where it switches alliegence. It adds spiritual authority and responsibility to power, making raw power stabler and more beneficial.

    Where modern western (enlightenment) philosophy aligns spiritual and social forces against the natural (feminism, anti authority, equalism) and achieves dysfunction, the tianming and it’s philosophical cousins align sociospiritual consensus with the natural tendency, and thus achieve Gnon’s blessing.

    The Enlightenment impulse to “capture Gnon” typifies our doomed and bratty rebellion against nature. The way to the future and the proper relationship with Gnon is neither rebellion nor total submission, it is a strategic symbiosis. We will ride Gnon’s wave of technological development into the future, humbly adding our prefered aesthetic and spiritual payload, or we will resist and be consigned to the dumpster of failed experiments.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Your definition of the Mandate of Heaven is identical to John Finnis’ Natural Law and Natural Rights.

    What works, works.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Sounds like you want to make a pact with Tzeentch in order to resurrect the Emperor. Gnon smiles with favor when his subjects lives are nasty, short, and brutish. Complex signalling is the only approved arena to show off beauty. After all, there can be no tragedy without an element of the bittersweet (The feel of the bittersweet, I can think of nothing more human, and few feelings better suited to be able to transcend beyond humanity. I will concede that any intelligence no matter how great, which is incapable of that feeling, is not worth defending).

    The curtain closes on the 2nd act, you remain hopeful for a happy ending while I can’t ignore that the elements shown are all most potent when used in tragedy.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 5:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • Aeroguy Says:

    I’ve always had the sense that legitimizing authority was an inherently populist exercise. Perhaps necessary to the extent that the people really do manifest power. But it is still an exercise in posturing/signaling before the masses to receive legitimacy rather than actually respecting the will of heaven/Gnon. The Mandate of Heaven is certainly better kabuki theater than the total farce of elections and universal suffrage (an exceptionally low bar to clear), but it remains kabuki theater done entirely for the benefit of populist sentiment.


    Implying Implications Reply:

    Kabuki theater is roughly 90% of the art of governance.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Just to be clear, I see the act of pursuing or maintaining legitimacy as politics, the very thing we all profess to detest (in this case populist politics, the very worst kind). I see two paths, one leads to seeing politics as a member of Gnon’s dark pantheon (regarded with the same awe and contempt engineers have for entropy) and the other leads to pursuing a post-political system of order/hierarchy/authority (which may be as fruitless as pursuing perpetual motion machines).

    As we foray from the theoretical into the actual and gander at real vessels for containing/manifesting that thing we call power, we need to be explicitly clear about the extent to which we think Gnon favors the practice of politics. Are signaling and monkey politics embedded into the very fabric of the cosmos or can they be transcended?


    Implying Implications Reply:

    “Are signaling and monkey politics embedded into the very fabric of the cosmos or can they be transcended?”

    Into the fabric of the cosmos? Our into the fabric of our humanity? The former is obviously untrue. The latter is a truism.

    As for whether this brute fact of humanity can be transcended, I think that is the wrong question to ask. A more important one might be: can signaling and politics (and all other brute facts of our animal nature) be harmonized with our higher nature? I think if we look at history, the answer is clearly “yes”; for a season, and then not, and then for yet another season, ad infinitum. The problem is that such a state of affairs will simply never be good enough for some people, and those people will, instead of rolling up their shirtsleeves and trying to do the best they can with the men at hand, attempt instead to make a New Man to suit themselves. They inevitably fail.

    (As an aside, this habit among free-thinker types of using the prefix “monkey-” to describe anything relating to their own kind as if they weren’t themselves human really gets my goat; especially since, if you really want to be an insufferable pedant, we aren’t monkeys at all.)


    Aeroguy Reply:

    When you’re dealing with post-humanists the limits of humanity are always in question. You are right to caution about the siren call of the New Man but involves awareness of laws of nature that can’t be transcended. If signalling and politics are not Gnon’s explicit preference for intelligent life but are intrinsic to the essence of humanity, then I’d have to double down on doom. However as I think about the nature of signalling to the extent that game theory accurately describes the universe, so long as there are multiple agents who can cooperate with or defect against each other, signalling is irresistible. Signalling might be thought of as part of the game of life, as such it is not merely harmonized with our nature but part of the very essence of our nature, politics is the metagame. Invoking a higher nature is itself a form of signalling. My calling things signalling is signalling. Signalling all the way down.

    So now I’m wondering, where is game theory incomplete or contradictory (for clues about where signalling might not apply)? Signalling falls under the rule of Cthulhu and swims left. Our project is to have power spend less effort managing signaling and more effort managing reality (of course knowing what parts of reality can and can’t be managed is essential and blurred due to signaling). The Mandate of Heaven does this to the extent that power is reset when reality of unbearable conditions overwhelms the signalling that everything is fine. The only real difference between the Mandate of Heaven and elections is the scale of the reset. Power will still be interested in investing heavily into reality masking signaling when it runs into trouble dealing with realities.

    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 6:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • Irresponsibility | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 7:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    We live now under the mandate of Calvinist Heaven, that is New England Divines.

    But we’re not Chinese. So it won’t work, to the extent it even worked in China.

    Also when did Central planning come into vogue here?

    Finally when America was a Democracy – really a Republic that extended the Franchise – it grew prosperous and strong and comparatively speaking was far less trouble to other nations. Not to mention sane. That ends in 1933 when rule by Intellectual Mandarins is created by the will of FDR and the army in waiting he summons – The Dissenters.

    We have the rule of Mandarins bestowed by the Harvard of Heaven now. We’ve had it for 80 years. But we haven’t had democracy.

    Moldbug [and others] fear democracy not so much as they fear the people [not identical] and rightly so, for the People have Just Business with the pimps, traitors and madmen who operate the American Government under the Legitimate mandate of New England’s Heavenly Theocrats.

    The fear is the fear of the criminals who sense the mob closing upon them.

    But recognize what we have now is no more democracy than North Korea.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    I sympathize with most of what you’re trying to get at but I think you’ve got rose colored glasses on regarding pre FDR America. There aren’t many people who hate FDR more than I do but he like Julius Caesar was simply filling out a role that was already written for him. The era of American democracy began under Jackson and ended with Lincoln. It was weak, unable to maintain order and resulted in an entirely unnecessary war that was the bloodiest in our history.

    The power vacuum was in turn filled by industrialist oligarchs. The industrialist oligarchs were themselves out competed by financial oligarchs who cemented their power in 1913. The New Deal expansion of power was executed under identical motives as Bismark’s own social programs, a means of buying off the mob before they go full communist. FDR himself was of course a communist, that Truman wasn’t was a brilliant stroke of pure luck. This is the world where Keynes saved “capitalism” from communism by buying off the mob. Where the financial oligarchs didn’t care was a left a power vacuum from which the Cathedral filled and is now completing the process of consuming/assimilating the financial oligarchs.

    The mob is like flesh eating bacteria, while I’d like to see them consume the oligarchs and Cathedral alike, flesh eating bacteria aren’t known for discriminating and I’d rather not see everything consumed which is what always happens when they’re released.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 9:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Max Says:

    My wife and I are voting Republican tomorrow.


    Hurlock Reply:

    I bet this will work out great.


    Max Reply:


    admin Reply:

    This ‘argument’ depends entirely on nothing mattering except symbolic social conservative issues. Massive government deficit spending? Who cares as long as it isn’t prancing about in drag.

    Antisthenes Reply:


    Can you put a price on good trolling?

    Max Reply:

    It is not at all unreasonable to abstain from voting on the grounds that elections are rarely decided by a small enough margin for your vote to matter. In the same vein, it is not at all unreasonable to defect in the prisoner’s dilemma. Indeed, if your sense of self is so small that you care nothing for family, friends, or the society you live in, defecting will always make sense. However, if you are instead willing to sacrifice for those around you, or render yourself vulnerable to exploitation, the potential for achieving superior group outcomes exists.

    With that said, there are basically two possible outcomes in this election: the Republicans will win, or the Democrats will win. Either outcome may prove to be better, worse, or equivalent to the other. Because the odds of your vote deciding the election are small rather than non-existent, it makes sense to vote for the party/candidate(s) you would prefer to see in office (if you are going to vote at all). If you think that the Republicans winning would be better than the Democrats winning, then you should vote for the Republicans. If you think that the Democrats winning would be better than the Republicans winning, then you should vote for the Democrats. If you do not think things will be any different regardless of which party wins, then a) you should not vote, and b) you are mistaken.

    The only sensible reason to abstain from voting is that you don’t value the small chance of swinging the election more than the time it would take to cast a ballot. This is rational but selfish, as is defecting in the prisoner’s dilemma.

    Voting is a fundamentally religious activity whose primary function is to bind/blind the participants (cf. Jonathan Haidt) and create e pluribus unum. Elections are a form of social technology. Better forms exist, but this is the one we’ve got.

    Aeroguy Reply:

    Elections are voting between getting fucked in the ass with an 8 inch dildo or getting fucked in the ass with an 6 inch dildo, there are 3rd parties that are opposed to fucking everybody in the ass with dildos but they have no chance of winning. So you say we need to vote for getting fucked in the ass with 6 inch dildos when we’ve come to the conclusion that is whole business of the majority deciding we need dildo ass fucking is absurd and voting for the 6 inch dildos is essentially consenting to getting fucked with dildos and we would rather make it clear that we don’t consent. We’re all getting fucked with dildos either way, it doesn’t really matter, voting certainly doesn’t make a difference.

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I have to cancel out my wife’s vote. This is a point of honor.

    It helps, in order to keep things in perspective, to recall H. L. Mencken’s words from the last paragraph of _Notes on Democracy_:

    “I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down.”

    I will rejoice in watching Wendy Davis come down, and I will take pride in my trivial role in it. This is better than free tickets to a football game.

    admin Reply:

    @ Areoguy — I’m letting your highly graphic analysis through on this occasion due to its indisputable truth content — but I’m not thrilled about it. The last thing I want is for comment tone to go completely 8Chan.

    Aeroguy Reply:


    Sorry about that, I felt an urge to match the crassness of engaging in domotism with my language.

    admin Reply:

    It’s my duty to scold. Subsequent seppuku is not compulsory.

    Max Reply:

    “Elections are voting between getting fucked in the ass with an 8 inch dildo or getting fucked in the ass with an 6 inch dildo, there are 3rd parties that are opposed to fucking everybody in the ass with dildos but they have no chance of winning. So you say we need to vote for getting fucked in the ass with 6 inch dildos when we’ve come to the conclusion that is whole business of the majority deciding we need dildo ass fucking is absurd and voting for the 6 inch dildos is essentially consenting to getting fucked with dildos and we would rather make it clear that we don’t consent. We’re all getting fucked with dildos either way, it doesn’t really matter, voting certainly doesn’t make a difference.”

    I strongly endorse your voluntary disenfranchisement.

    Max Reply:

    “I felt an urge to match the crassness of engaging in domotism with my language.”

    Don’t be so modest. Your language is hardly the only thing about you that’s crass.

    The leftist insistence upon profanity in the face of good-natured pro-social behavior is truly a sign of its satanic origins. Wallow in what you will; I’m having another son in June.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Hyper-refined counter-signaling. I like it!

    I voted. I know a couple of the folks running for local office. And its one of the rituals of my people. The undoubted fact that my vote is too small to matter means that my vote is too small to have any legitimating effect.

    But then I am an NRX fellow-traveler, not a whole-hog devotee. My impression is that not voting is an important NRX rite, so you and I saying that we voted here is pretty gauche. My apologies to all.


    admin Reply:

    There’s probably some kind of penance you can do for absolution of demotic sins.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    The NRX pope has a treasury of crypto-locked merit accumulated by devout curmudgeonry, holy anti-humanism, and pious cosmic horror. It is said that he will transfer a bit of this treasury in exchange for bitcoin, in a a freely-bargained for techcomm approved arms-length commercial exchange. But only if you let him inspect your phenotype.

    Max Reply:

    I’m an old hand, so I feel no need to apologize for my heresy. Instead, I claim the right to say that all True NRx should vote Team (R) unironically.

    Allowing disgust with democracy (or anything else, really) to drive one’s behavior makes you little better than an animal.


    Hurlock Reply:

    I for one am mainly driven by disgust for communism.

    It has worked out fine so far, thank you.

    “all True NRx should vote Team (R) unironically.”

    I couldn’t possibly imagine anything more ironic than a bunch of anti-democrats voting.

    “Instead, I claim the right to say”

    What do you think this is? A democracy?

    Jokes aside, best of luck, honestly. I think it is irrelevant whether you vote or not anyways, so do whatever makes you feel better.
    After all, that’s what we all do.

    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    THe problem with that is one of the central tenets of NRx, or to put it at the level of individual mental understanding (non-deterministic), one of the things that makes one NRx instead of, say, paleo-right or traditionalist is the realization that voting for the Outer Party is futile, if not actually counter-productive.

    It’s the old R.L.Dabney traditionalism about the role of “northern [that is, mainstream] conservatism” in American (and, thus, the demotic “free world”) politics, and thus the role of outer-party activism.

    I mean one doesn’t *have* to come to that conclusion and be NRx, I suppose, but it is one of the defining features that *most* NRx hold that conclusion, and one (among a number) of reasons why democracy is considered non-functional.

    Anyhow point is if one reached an NRx position in at least part based on sharing that conclusion, then no, the last thing one would do is vote for the outer party. One would actually be more likely to vote for the inner party (if one were dragged to the polls and compelled somehow to vote).

    Of course, there are a lot of intelligent people who do not share that conclusion, and some (a distinct minority) who ought to be considered NRx do not share that conclusion, but it is a distinct minority position in need of stalwart defense rather than just assertion. IMO.

    forkinhell Reply:

    Presumably for NRx the value of the vote is akin to the value of a $5 dollar bill? They are after all both Cathedral constructs. But most of you probably don’t burn your dollars like your vote, seeing as it retains a pragmatic value. So is the question of voting not one of principle but actually, also a pragmatic one? NRx wants Cathedral implosion, no? And by its own analysis this is best achieved by the left. So shouldn’t you all be following Porphy’s Attorney’s advice, and all be out voting democrat?

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I’m sympathetic to voting for a right wing “extremist” in order to try to open up the Overton window to the right. I am also sympathetic to trying to move the window to the right by voting for the lesser evil. But trying to hasten the collapse seems like a really bad idea. As “Tedd” put it at Samizdata, “[T]he argument against collectivism and progressivism needs to be won before the collapse happens. Once the system collapses, people will assess blame according to the political paradigm they already subscribe to….”

    At worst, voting for the lesser evil is stalling. But stalling is good. We should want people to have as much time to rethink their views as possible. It takes time for people to deal with the loss of face associated with changing their views. It takes time for fools to die off and for their children to learn to curse them. It takes time to develop meaningful alternatives.

    Speaking of meaningful alternatives, what do we have to offer the supposedly newly open-minded voters after a collapse if we don’t like, for example, the Australian constitution? What fraction of us here take Anissimov seriously? Moldbug’s cryptographic locks? Before we scuttle the ship we’re on, we need to figure out where our next ride is.

    Aeroguy Reply:

    When the ship sinks people tend to blame whoever is at the helm. The left was growing weary of blaming Bush long after he was gone, now with a solidly Red congress the left will have a much easier time excusing itself from the coming problems. For the masses, the main thing that will stick in their mind will be who was president when SHTF. I tend to imagine Elizabeth Warren in her second term when SHTF (more gut feeling than anything else).

    I don’t see who occupies elected office as influencing when the financial crisis hits. I do think it will coincide with a rise in communists but the more the masses associate them with the failure (thus why putting a leftist’s leftist in charge is important) the smaller their movement will be (the cathedral as a whole will remain, this isn’t the left singularity).

    As for our next ride I see things naturally moving back to a more local orientation without Washington being able to buy influence on credit. While we like to give Nyan a hard time about his Phalanx project it actually is the right mindset since making meatspace localized networks with good men is a smart way to prepare. I do like the idea of the antiversity (in the decentralized shared learning sense), couple it with cryptocurrency and that urbit thing Moldbug is working on. There lies a potentially global system ready to fill in the hole left by the dollar and even supplant the university credential system permanently weakening the cathedral. Even if it doesn’t catch on globally, it could provide a wider economic structure to help the local Phalanx type groups exit in place (tech that bypasses the need for trust is the path to patchwork).

    Anyone want to play devil’s advocate and lay out a scenario where centralized authority is maintained or tightens without the dollar? Nonfinancial collapse SHTF scenarios?(someone could detail how the culture war turns hot a la vxxc2014, I’m still skeptical on that)

    Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 12:55 am Reply | Quote
  • Dark Psy-Ops Says:

    Humbling as usual, thank you. The future will be bright. I am pursuing a policy of advancing efficiency. We are the children of God.


    Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 12:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:


    “Signalling falls under the rule of Cthulhu and swims left.”

    No, signaling for superior holiness (being part of “the prophetic tradition”) swims left. This has been a very popular game since at least the time of Martin Luther. Many people have decided to play it. But it’s not the only game. We are starting to see people like Scott Alexander become filled with a burning desire to tell Mrs. Grundy to go to Hell.

    The key to salvation may be found in an old German drinking song:

    “Im schwarzen Walfisch zu Askalon,
    Wird kein Prophet geehrt….”

    (In The Black Whale of Askalon, no prophet is honored….)

    “Drinking is strength.”


    Aeroguy Reply:

    I hope you’re right. I suspect that keeping signaling closely aligned with reality is key. When institutions start building things on unsubstantiated perception and rationalize that perception is reality, that is the path to ruin. I think about the American military which in peacetime fills with incompetent Generals who were very good at playing the game and signalling all the right things like shiny boots, crisp salutes, and asking for second helpings of whatever BS the PTB is currently serving. Then in war the incompetence shows and the flag officer ranks are purged until competence in what matters, war, is demonstrated. The American military has a proud tradition of dismissing competence in peace time, Billy Mitchell and John Boyd come to mind. Signaling for being a better officer can be added to the list of things that doesn’t lead to anywhere good.


    Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 1:05 am Reply | Quote
  • Antisthenes Says:

    You guys ever had a mandate?


    Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 4:13 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    I’m sure Nyan or our host has deep knowledge of Chinese history in order to substantiate that claim?

    You know that the Zhou Dynasty who first coined the concept effectively lost power in 200 years yet then lingered for 600 more years through sheer ritual inertia?

    Wen Tianxiang was deified not for acknowledging the Mongol conquest, but for refusing to do so and dying in prison.

    The Chinese have always been more keen on loyalty and honour than on the Mandate of Heaven thing, which was never emphasised except during the early stages of new dynasties.

    Saying that what works, works is playing to the progressive argument that the Pax Americana brought wealth, peace and rising standards of living, so Progressivism is awesome because it works.

    The question is to see specifically what works and through what mechanism. Disentangling causality isn’t easy.

    And just so you don’t get carried away in Gnonism, the Mandate of Heaven was only half, actually the smaller half of the Zhou claim to legitimacy. Ask most Chinese people and they’ll tell you that the Zhou rationale was that the Shang king was an evil, cruel man who mistreated his people, so the Zhou, being more humane, were right in overthrowing him. Chinese historiography has since always emphasized dynastic overthrow for humanitarian reasons.

    It doesn’t get more demotist than this.


    admin Reply:

    How is this historical clarification expected to resolve a philosophical proposal about legitimacy? It can only have relevance if demotist assumptions are baked into it. (Legitimacy does not depend upon what the people find legitimate — that way lies madness and ruin.)


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Somebody is applying a judgement call as to when the Mandate of Heaven is lost, that somebody being the arbiter of legitimacy. Obviously we don’t want that to be the masses, and since power is never relinquished willingly it can’t be the authority. So, the outside shareholders? I didn’t know China was Moldbugian neocameralist.


    spandrell Reply:

    The historical point shows that the Mandate of Heaven is hardly a good theory when it was only a small part of a historical event 3000 years ago and it was summarily dropped in favor of pure demotist humanism.

    If what works, works, then demotist legitimacy theories work.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Demotist legitimacy theory ‘works’ in the sense that for decades, the public discontent with their governing classes has perpetually increased (not just in the US either). If that’s ‘working,’ you are welcome to it.


    spandrell Reply:

    No. When all civilizations worth mentioning end up making up crap about power depending on the consent or at least wellbeing of the governed, that’s not a coincidence. It’s an evolutionary stable strategy. It’s not going anywhere.

    Demotist legitimacy doesn’t necessarily entail demotist government. Imperial China’s mandarins would claim that the new emperor got Heaven’s consent because he’s a nice guy unlike the old emperor; and they would make great noises about some tiny welfare program in the capital. Doesn’t mean they were very progressive. But they’d pretend do.

    There is only one alternative theory of legitimacy: Divine Right. But that doesn’t solve much: you end up with Gods who always choose the progressive king. It hardly solves anything. And it surely didn’t save Charles I’s head.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    “or at least wellbeing” is different from demotism. You’re shoving two unlike things into the same definition. The rulers responsibility for the ruled is inherent in their authority over the ruled.

    scientism Reply:

    The emperor being virtuous is justified as ‘what works’, it wasn’t justified by appeal to what ‘the people’ demand, although discord was taken to be symptomatic of bad rule.


    Posted on November 4th, 2014 at 5:13 am Reply | Quote

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