First thing: “Meta-Neocameralism” isn’t anything new, and it certainly isn’t anything post-Moldbuggian. It’s no more than Neocameralism apprehended in its most abstract features, through the coining of a provisional and dispensable term. (It allows for an acronym that doesn’t lead to confusions with North Carolina, while encouraging quite different confusions, which I’m pretending not to notice.)

Locally (to this blog), the “meta-” is the mark of a prolegomenon*, to a disciplined discussion of Neocameralism which has later to take place. Its abstraction is introductory, in accordance with something that is yet to be re-started, or re-animated, in detail. (For existing detail, outside the Moldbug canon itself, look here.)

The excellent comment thread here provides at least a couple of crucial clues:

nydwracu (23/03/2014 at 6:47 pm): Neocameralism doesn’t answer questions like that [on the specifics of social organization]; instead, it’s a mechanism for answering questions like that. … You can ask, “is Coke considered better than RC Cola?”, or you can institute capitalism and find out. You can ask, “are ethno-nationalist states considered better than mixed states?”, or you can institute the patchwork and find out. …

RiverC (23/03/2014 at 3:44 am): Neo-cameralism is, if viewed in this light, a ‘political system system’, it is not a political system but a system for implementing political systems. Of course the same guy who came up with it also invented an operating system (a system for implementing software systems.)

MNC, then, is not a political prescription, for instance a social ideal aligned with techno-commercialist preferences. It is an intellectual framework for examining systems of governance, theoretically formalized as disposals of sovereign property. The social formalization of such systems, which Moldbug also advocates, can be parenthesized within MNC. We are not at this stage considering the model of a desirable social order, but rather the abstract model of social order in general, apprehended radically — at the root — where ‘to rule’ and ‘to own’ lack distinct meanings. Sovereign property is ‘sovereign’ and ‘primary’ because it is not merely a claim, but effective possession. (There is much more to come in later posts on the concept of sovereign property, some preliminary musings here.)

Because MNC is an extremely powerful piece of cognitive technology, capable of tackling problems at a number of distinct levels (in principle, an unlimited number), it is clarified through segmentation into an abstraction cascade. Descending through these levels adds concreteness, and tilts incrementally towards normative judgements (framed by the hypothetical imperative of effective government, as defined within the cascade).

(1) The highest level of practical significance (since MNC-theology need not delay us) has already been touched upon. It applies to social regimes of every conceivable type, assuming only that a systematic mode of sovereign property reproduction will essentially characterize each. Power is economic irrespective of its relation to modern conventions of commercial transaction, because it involves the disposal of a real (if obscure) quantity, which is subject to increase or decrease over the cyclic course of its deployment. Population, territory, technology, commerce, ideology, and innumerable additional heterogeneous factors are components of sovereign property (power), but their economic character is assured by the possibility — and indeed necessity — of more-or-less explicit trade-offs and cost-benefit calculations, suggesting an original (if germinal) fungibility, which is merely arithmetical coherence. This is presupposed by any estimation of growth or decay, success or failure, strengthening or weakening, of the kind required not only by historical analysis, but also by even the most elementary administrative competence. Without an implicit economy of power, no discrimination could be made between improvement and deterioration, and no directed action toward the former could be possible.

The effective cyclic reproduction of power has an external criterion — survival. It is not open to any society or regime to decide for itself what works. Its inherent understanding of its own economics of power is a complex measurement, gauging a relation to the outside, whose consequences are life and death. Built into the idea of sovereign property from the start, therefore, is an accommodation to reality. Foundational to MNC, at the very highest level of analysis, is the insight that power is checked primordially. On the Outside are wolves, serving as the scourge of Gnon. Even the greatest of all imaginable God-Kings — awesome Fnargl included — has ultimately to discover consequences, rather than inventing them. There is no principle more important than this.

Entropy will be dissipated, idiocy will be punished, the weak will die. If the regime refuses to bow to this Law, the wolves will enforce it. Social Darwinism is not a choice societies get to make, but a system of real consequences that envelops them. MNC is articulated at the level — which cannot be transcended — where realism is mandatory for any social order. Those unable to create it, through effective government, will nevertheless receive it, in the harsh storms of Nemesis. Order is not defined within itself, but by the Law of the Outside.

At this highest level of abstraction, therefore, when MNC is asked “which type of regimes do you believe in?” the sole appropriate response is “those compatible with reality.” Every society known to history — and others beside — had a working economy of power, at least for a while. Nothing more is required than this for MNC to take them as objects of disciplined investigation.

(2) Knowing that realism is not an optional regime value, we are able to proceed down the MNC cascade with the introduction of a second assumption: Civilizations will seek gentler teachers than the wolves. If it is possible to acquire some understanding of collapse, it will be preferred to the experience of collapse (once the wolves have culled the ineducable from history).

Everything survivable is potentially educational, even a mauling by the wolves. MNC however, as its name suggests, has reason to be especially attentive to the most abstract lesson of the Outside — the (logical) priority of meta-learning. It is good to discover reality, before — or at least not much later than — reality discovers us. Enduring civilizations do not merely know things, they know that it is important to know things, and to absorb realistic information. Regimes — disposing of sovereign property — have a special responsibility to instantiate this deutero-culture of learning-to-learn, which is required for intelligent government. This is a responsibility they take upon themselves because it is demanded by the Outside (and even in its refinement, it still smells of wolf).

Power is under such compulsion to learn about itself that recursion, or intellectualization, can be assumed. Power is selected to check itself, which it cannot do without an increase in formalization, and this is a matter — as we shall see — of immense consequence. Of necessity, it learns-to-learn (or dies), but this lesson introduces a critical tragic factor.

The tragedy of power is broadly coincident with modernity. It is not a simple topic, and from the beginning two elements in particular require explicit attention. Firstly, it encounters the terrifying (second-order) truth that practical learning is irreducibly experimental. In going ‘meta’ knowledge becomes scientific, which means that failure cannot be precluded through deduction, but has to be incorporated into the machinery of learning itself. Nothing that cannot go wrong is capable of teaching anything (even the accumulation of logical and mathematical truths requires cognitive trial-and-error, ventures into dead-ends, and the pursuit of misleading intuitions). Secondly, in becoming increasingly formalized, and ever more fungible, the disposal of sovereign power attains heightened liquidity. It is now possible for power to trade itself away, and an explosion of social bargaining results. Power can be exchanged for (‘mere’) wealth, or for social peace, or channeled into unprecedented forms of radical regime philanthropy / religious sacrifice. Combine these two elements, and it is clear that regimes enter modernity ’empowered’ by new capabilities for experimental auto-dissolution. Trade authority away to the masses in exchange for promises of good behavior? Why not give it a try?

Cascade Stage-2 MNC thus (realistically) assumes a world in which power has become an art of experimentation, characterized by unprecedented calamities on a colossal scale, while the economy of power and the techno-commercial economy have been radically de-segmented, producing a single, uneven, but incrementally smoothed system of exchangeable social value, rippling ever outward, without firm limit. Socio-political organization, and corporate organization, are still distinguished by markers of traditional status, but no longer strictly differentiable by essential function.

The modern business of government is not ‘merely’ business only because it remains poorly formalized. As the preceding discussion suggests, this indicates that economic integration can be expected to deepen, as the formalization of power proceeds. (Moldbug seeks to accelerate this process.) An inertial assumption of distinct ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres is quickly disturbed by thickening networks of exchange, swapping managerial procedures and personnel, funding political ambitions, expending political resources in commercial lobbying efforts, trading economic assets for political favors (denominated in votes), and in general consolidating a vast, highly-liquid reservoir of amphibiously ‘corporacratic’ value, indeterminable between ‘wealth’ and ‘authority’. Wealth-power inter-convertibility is a reliable index of political modernity.

MNC does not decide that government should become a business. It recognizes that government has become a business (dealing in fungible quantities). However, unlike private business ventures, which dissipate entropy through bankruptcy and market-driven restructuring, governments are reliably the worst run businesses in their respective societies, functionally crippled by defective, structurally-dishonest organizational models, exemplified most prominently by the democratic principle: government is a business that should be run by its customers (but actually can’t be). Everything in this model that isn’t a lie is a mistake.

At the second (descending) level of abstraction, then, MNC is still not recommending anything except theoretical clarity. It proposes:
a) Power is destined to arrive at experimental learning processes
b) As it learns, it formalizes itself, and becomes more fungible
c) Experiments in fungible power are vulnerable to disastrous mistakes
d) Such mistakes have in fact occurred, in a near-total way
e) For deep historical reasons, techno-commercial business organization emerges as the preeminent template for government entities, as for any composite economic agent. It is in terms of this template that modern political dysfunction can be rendered (formally) intelligible.

(3) Take the MNC abstraction elevator down another level, and it’s still more of an analytic tool than a social prescription. (That’s a good thing, really.) It tells us that every government, both extant and potential, is most accessible to rigorous investigation when apprehended as a sovereign corporation. This approach alone is able to draw upon the full panoply of theoretical resources, ancient and modern, because only in this way is power tracked in the same way it has actually developed (in tight alignment with a still-incomplete trend).

The most obvious objections are, sensu stricto, romantic. They take a predictable (which is not to say a casually dismissible) form. Government — if perhaps only lost or yet-unrealized government — is associated with ‘higher’ values than those judged commensurable with the techno-commercial economy, which thus sets the basis for a critique of the MNC ‘business ontology’ of governance as an illegitimate intellectual reduction, and ethical vulgarization. To quantify authority as power is already suspect. To project its incremental liquidation into a general economy, where leadership integrates — ever more seamlessly — with the price system, appears as an abominable symptom of modernist nihilism.

Loyalty (or the intricately-related concept of asabiyyah) serves as one exemplary redoubt of the romantic cause. Is it not repulsive, even to entertain the possibility that loyalty might have a price? Handle addresses this directly in the comment thread already cited (24/03/2014 at 1:18 am). A small sample captures the line of his engagement:

Loyalty-preservation incentivizing programs are various and highly sophisticated and span the spectrum everywhere from frequent flier miles to ‘clubs’ that are so engrossing and time consuming in such as to mimic the fulfillment of all the community, socialization, and identarian psychological functions that would make even the hardest-core religious-traditionalist jealous. Because lots of people are genetically programmed with this coordination-subroutine that is easily exploitable in a context far removed from its evolutionary origins. Sometimes brands ‘deserve’ special competitive loyalty (‘German engineering’!) and sometimes they don’t (Tylenol-branded paracetamol).

There is vastly more that can, and will, be said in prosecution of this dispute, since it is perhaps the single most critical driver of NRx fission, and it is not going to endure a solution. The cold MNC claim, however, can be pushed right across it. Authority is for sale, and has been for centuries, so that any analysis ignoring this exchange nexus is an historical evasion. Marx’s M-C-M’, through which monetized capital reproduces and expands itself through the commodity cycle, is accompanied by an equally definite M-P-M’ or P-M-P’ cycle of power circulation-enhancement through monetized wealth.

A tempting reservation, with venerable roots in traditional society, is to cast doubt upon the prevalence of such exchange networks, on the assumption that power — possibly further dignified as ‘authority’ — enjoys a qualitative supplement relative to common economic value, such that it cannot be retro-transferred. Who would swap authority for money, if authority cannot be bought (and is, indeed, “beyond price”)? But this ‘problem’ resolves itself, since the first person to sell political office — or its less formal equivalent — immediately demonstrates that it can no less easily be purchased.

From the earliest, most abstract stage of this MNC outline, it has been insisted that power has to be evaluated economically, by itself, if anything like practical calculation directed towards its increase is to be possible. Once this is granted, MNC analysis of the governmental entity in general as an economic processor — i.e. a business — acquires irresistible momentum. If loyalty, asabiyyah, virtue, charisma and other elevated (or ‘incommensurable’) values are power factors, then they are already inherently self-economizing within the calculus of statecraft. The very fact that they contribute, determinately, to an overall estimation of strength and weakness, attests to their implicit economic status. When a business has charismatic leadership, reputational capital, or a strong culture of company loyalty, such factors are monetized as asset values by financial markets. When one Prince surveys the ‘quality’ of another’s domain, he already estimates the likely expenses of enmity. For modern military bureaucracies, such calculations are routine. Incommensurable values do not survive contact with defense budgets.

Yet, however ominous this drift (from a romantic perspective), MNC does not tell anybody how to design a society. It says only that an effective government will necessarily look, to it, like a well-organized (sovereign) business. To this one can add the riders:
a) Government effectiveness is subject to an external criterion, provided by a selective trans-state and inter-state mechanism. This might take the form of Patchwork pressure (Dynamic Geography) in a civilized order, or military competition in the wolf-prowled wilderness of Hobbesian chaos.
b) Under these conditions, MNC calculative rationality can be expected to be compelling for states themselves, whatever their variety of social form. Some (considerable) convergence upon norms of economic estimation and arrangement is thus predictable from the discovered contours of reality. There are things that will fail.

Non-economic values are more easily invoked than pursued. Foseti (commenting here, 23/03/2014 at 11:59 am) writes:

No one disputes that the goal of society is a good citizenry, but the question is what sort of government provides that outcome. […] As best I can tell, we only have two theories of governance that have been expressed. […] The first is the capitalist. As Adam Smith noted, the best corporations (by all measures) are the ones that are operated for clear, measurable and selfish motives. […] The second is the communist. In this system, corporations are run for the benefit of everyone in the world. […] Unsurprisingly, corporations run on the latter principle have found an incredibly large number of ways to suck. Not coincidentally, so have 20th Century governments run on the same principle. […] I think it’s nearly impossible to overstate the ways in which everyone would be better off if we had an efficiently, effective, and responsive government.

* I realize this doesn’t work in Greek, but systematic before-after confusion is an Outside in thing.

[Yes, I know I have to get my commenting system updated with comment permalinks — thanks to everybody for the reminder.]

ADDED: Anarcho-Papist is on the synthesizer.

March 24, 2014admin 57 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , Philosophy , Political economy

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57 Responses to this entry

  • Noir Says:

    I still like Moldbug’s comment:

    “Surprising as it may seem, there’s actually is an easy way to show that any new form of government Y is superior to today’s brand X. Simply present a convincing picture of Y, then present an egregious escalator by which Y devolves into X. An egregious escalator is a sequence of historical events, each of which is in some way egregious – demented, fraudulent, retarded, barbaric, predatory, psychopathic, or otherwise nasty – by which one thing turns into the other. Since no number of wrongs can make a right, X must be more egregious than Y, which makes Y superior to X.”

    And, of course, the obligatory opening to all this neocamerlism:

    “Let’s start with my ideal world – the world of thousands, preferably even tens of thousands, of neocameralist city-states and ministates, or neostates. The organizations which own and operate these neostates are for-profit sovereign corporations, or sovcorps. For the moment, let’s assume a one-to-one mapping between sovcorp and neostate.”

    Even Moldbug would have seen his thought experiment not as a blueprint, but as an exercise in extrapolation. Of course the messiness of existence is what is left out in his otherwise interesting fiction. My situation with Moldbug’s thesis is not that we may end up with some form of this is production, consumerism, and order continue along the lines of current globalist agendas. My problem is that for it to work it will need to incorporate the psychopathlogies that will always escape those control mechanism of reason that entropy enforces. Otherwise it seems our posthuman future will probably churn out the usual apocalyptic scenarios of Social Darwinism over the next few centuries unless something nasty like Climate change burps us into oblivion before that. What’s true is that the Left really doesn’t have much to offer against any of this. And, if one studies current trends within the NBIC technologies based on DARPA, Google, etc. as well as the myriad (13) sciences of the brain: neurosciences one realizes that even the great identifier of the liberal humanist tradition of self as Self has gone the way of erasure; or, as my buddy, R. Scott Bakker on Three-Pound Brain in his Blind Brain Theory surmises that the self is a subfunction mechanism doing temporary work, and has no special place in the sun of the brain’s activities. Even Reza Negarastani who wants to delve beyond the myth of the Englightenment is caught in its emancipatory web of deceit.

    All I would hope is that as we eliminated and erase the enlightenment project we remember to keep our psychopathologies: we may need our violences for competitive reasons if nothing else.


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 5:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • RiverC Says:

    I think the problem boils down to this.

    1. Not all things can be reduced to the same measure of value
    2. Not all things that cannot be reduced to the same measure of value cannot be reduced to a measure of valued shared by some other things
    3. We can call this property the ‘sacredness’ of the thing. Sacred things have a quaiified pricelessness, how sacred they are is relatve to how commodifiable they are, with absolutely non-exchangeable things as ‘most-sacred’.

    I will offer two examples to explain this.

    In one of the parables, Christ presents a conundrum that is intentionally paradoxical and explosive – he who wishes to save his life shall lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will save it. There is a lexical twist on which the conundrum lies: To ‘save’ is to lose, but to ‘lose’ is to save.

    To exemplify the meaning of this phrase you can use crude tools to deconstruct the context of each use of ‘save’ and ‘lose’, however instead it is better to tell a story. That story is of Lazarus and the Rich Man.

    Everyone understands that the soul-in-life is finite: death cuts it off. So long as the soul is finite it can be traded, but most metaphysical systems believe that the soul can be traded for an infinite life in some way, in Buddhism that means eventually raising the value of that soul through progressive iterations until it becomes infinite, or in Christianity and other non-reincarnational systems, that value (somehow valuated by God in the twofold judgment) is exchanged for an eternal well being, I will not discuss here the (presumed) valuation, but it includes such phrases as, “he who accepts but turns back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” If the value in the soul is diminished by the soul self-valuating, the measure of its value has to be concealed. [It is never implied in this system that human being creates the infinite value.]

    In this way, the soul is a test for ‘conceiving sacredness’. The thing which is of infinite value either cannot be traded or cannot be traded without unquantifiable loss. The life of the soul is measured in energy-over-time, so it is ‘sold’ or even ‘freely given away’ to whatever this work is. (You could develop a Metajoules system measure this work)

    …Even trading two infinitely valuated things is iffy; infinity is ‘arbitrarily large’, or effectively immeasurable. That doesn’t mean the two infinite valued things are equal.

    Therefore if such things of infinite value DO exist, they are inherently ‘cheapened’ by trading them; you are literally exchanging them for less then they are worth, in an unmeasurable fashion.

    If you’re going to argue that kingship is Sacred in this maximal fashion, what of the history of kings? Isn’t William of Orange an example of the English repossessing their Kingship and trading it for a new King? (This is actually an open question for Anglo-history scholars)

    The second example is reminiscent of the funny quote used in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri for Gravitons: “This unusual specimen is not so much a classic particle as a connector—a kind of string attaching two particles. As distance increases the connective power becomes attenuated, but if it is cut the power vanishes: forever.”

    In the Orthodox priesthood (Eastern Orthodox) not everyone can become a priest. This doesn’t merely exclude the female sex but other people as well, but demonstrates a similar quality to what is assigned to the Graviton above.

    When a man becomes a priest, there are certain minimum qualifications. Most are subjectively judged by the Bishop responsible, but another is absolute: He must never have been a priest before. Married priests are allowed, but they must be married *prior* to becoming priests. Once they become priests they cannot marry, but, if they are widowed they can become un-priested and get married again. But once unpriested they are forever unable to become re-priested. This seems like a byzantine technicality (and indeed, it actually is a Byzantine technicality) but it signifies the sacredness given or ascribed to the priesthood. The quality is simply, “To exchange it is to lose it forever.” (Worthiness/unworthiness are not ascribed to the de-priested specifically; one may voluntarily be de-priested.)

    — From this respect, it would appear that society is trying to engineer social anti-gravity by permanently severing Sacred ties and harnessing the ‘power’ implied, like gravity, in their absence. That is a social technology as crude as fire and it is unsurprising what its results are.

    The problem with this exchange is clear: the given bond does not return and in fact, cannot be constructed. This is Evola’s point about authority versus the ‘power’ wielded by fascists; the demotic movements have already severed the link, it is now destroyed. It can only be simulated, like simulating gravity by tying two objects together with rope.

    The hope then is to balance valuation, understanding that the act of valuating certain things implies fungibility, and if traded, some of these things may never be able to be recovered and to fudge the valuation of an invaluable also implies fungibility, and if traded, the loss will be uncountable.

    Tried to write it shorter but meh.


    (N) G. Eiríksson Reply:

    Almost top tier stuff, RiverC.


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 5:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • RiverC Says:

    A second thought about loyalty. The only way to properly test the loyalty powers of loyaltiy techniques employed by commerce is to put them head-to-head against something equipped with the quality of sacredness. My thought is that against Protestantism, which eschews the sacred, for the most part commerce will win. The measure is: regardless of whether the sacred or non-sacred prevails in the end, which system actually provokes more loyalty? Based on my knowledge of Islam, the answer is the Sacred always wins. If so, corporate governances that are not equipped with some principle of the sacred are open to attacks from groups like Islam. It’s worth noting that the Islamic merchant state is a Monarchy.


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 6:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    A really damn good essay.

    This segment alone was golden:

    “Foundational to MNC, at the very highest level of analysis, is the insight that power is checked primordially. On the Outside are wolves, serving as the scourge of Gnon. Even the greatest of all imaginable God-Kings — awesome Fnargl included — has ultimately to discover consequences, rather than inventing them. There is no principle more important than this.”


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 6:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    In light of this essay, I would reformulate the Boost for China post as follows:

    NRx should root for China to remain different. China does not have to offer a superior model to be of interest as long as it offers a different model that isn’t obviously much worse (unlike old style communism). The mere existence of competing models provides an alternative discipline to utter collapse.


    admin Reply:

    That’s very close to my sense of it. People aren’t free to promiscuously pick-up or drop cultural models, but competition is likely to make them revisit their own, and work at it. That’s what happened in China, after all.


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 6:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • SGW Says:

    It would only be logical then to formalize ownership of human beings as well. Many people live their life in ways that clearly damages their value, and the value of others. This goes unnoticed and unresolved because people aren’t capitalized and because it is seen as normal that humans run their life based on ‘communist’ principles, i.e. that human ends tend to be badly defined, unmeasurable and often are altruistic. Formalizing the ownership of human beings could very well resolve these two issues.

    There also is the issue basically unique to unowned living beings, where offspring are essentially a public good, yet the cost of raising them is a private bad. There have been plenty of cases where animals got hunted to extinction because people didn’t know how, or lacked the will to, turn them into capital goods. The children of a Bill Gates could very well create billions of dollars worth of value for our society, but because Bill Gates doesn’t own them he doesn’t make many of them. Even if he did own them it could very well be the case that he suffers from the all too human problem of the diminishing utility of money.

    The way Bill Gates currently runs his life he just is asking for a (hostile) takeover. If at least the majority of Bill Gates was owned by profit-oriented corporations, and if ownership of children was based on ownership of the parents, then we wouldn’t be having these issues. He would have to continue to work hard at creating value rather than spending his time consuming his capital with his philanthropy, and his owners would make sure that he would have plenty of children.

    I can’t really think of a major argument against the formalization of human beings that also couldn’t be used to argue against the formalization of legal beings. Basically, if you support the formalization of governments, then you should also support the formalization of human beings. Seen from this perspective, people who believe that people should only be allowed to own themselves, and not other people, basically are a bunch of commies. The million dollar question then becomes: how can support for slavery be reconciled with support for exit based solutions to bad governance?


    RiverC Reply:

    And yet in the end, who owns who? A Gordian knot of interlaced ownership, waiting for its Alexander?


    Blogospheroid Reply:

    SGW, Have you read ” the unincorporated man” by the Kollins ( What you describe sounds a lot like the system in that novel. Essentially, it is a single world state in that book. Also, there are relatively very few minority shareholder rights. Once a person has majority(owns > 51% in himself), he is free to do what he wants. There is no exit, but yes, it is a system that neo-reaction can appreciate. It is definitely eugenic as parents can own 20% in their children, so it will prompt people to go in for the best sperm they can get, in hope of better returns. But there is handwavium in the form of true life extension already present. In the scenario where women have to take time out of their work to have children, I don’t think that shareholders would be too happy with the loss of revenue.


    SGW Reply:

    I haven’t read the book. Would you recommend reading it? It wouldn’t be weird for a woman to take time off from work for the sake of their children if the shareholders got a share of the income of her children. From what I’ve gathered from the reviews listed on Wikipedia this isn’t the case.

    The weirdest thing is that if parents get a flat 20% of the shares of their children, regardless of their participation in the upbringing of their children, that biological reproduction still is a big thing. If children were capitalized in the modern world one would expect a lot of money to be devoted to developing artificial wombs.

    With artificial wombs and the guaranteed 20% it would make a lot of sense for people to have as many children as possible and to let a boarding school raise them.They wouldn’t have to meet their children a single day in their life and the eggs/sperms, incubator and boarding school could all be paid for through shares, basically turning children into a near effortless source of income.

    Egg/sperm donors could be compared based on their own capitalization value, the average capitalization of their offspring at certain ages, the percentage of shares they wish to be paid in and so on. The boarding schools and the owners of incubators would do something similar. The only ‘problem’ with this system is that it would reintroduce the iron law of wages due to the relative abundance of sperm, eggs and wombs.

    Boarding schools would only be interested in the eggs and sperm of the most valuable individuals, and the rest wouldn’t be able to reproduce due to being at subsistence level. It would make the eugenic progress made under pre-industrial Malthusian conditions look like child’s play. Even with life-extension odds are that it would only be a matter of time before you are an outdated model and starve.

    Personally I’m not sure whether I’m capable of supporting such a system. HBD, markets, neo-cameralism (with a few minor conditions) and so on weren’t tough pills to swallow, but advocating a system where basically everybody quite literally is reduced to slavery and a subsistence level standard of living is quite something else. I suppose that one’s answer to this issue shows where you stand on the whole fission subject.


    Blogospheroid Reply:

    I’m not sure of the details of the system advocated, but my guess is that without raising the children, the parents may not have been able to claim the 20%.

    I personally would also be pretty horrified by such a system, but again as our host has written, maybe it would be a better teacher than the wolves. And if such a system were to be in place, I think cyborgization would pick up really fast – they were using highly advanced digital assistants.

    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 7:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • nyan_sandwich Says:

    The MNC analysis is very compelling, but the question to answer is: what is to be done?

    Is MNC a framework of analysis to be developed and delivered to elites in the hopes that they accelerate the process towards good product rather than bad product? As far as I can tell, there is no one in a position to take advantage of good philosophy. The current machines lack a CEO.

    Is the Exit patchwork something that already exists, that we are trusting God to create, or something that must be pursued and defended against imperialism and prison-states?

    Is it a framework that informs us that we need to do startup patches with CEOs and sound governance ideas?

    I am convinced that the exit patchwork and the natural empiricism inherent in who gets eaten by the wolves is sufficient to bring us the next leap in quality of life, but the question is how do we get there from here? The main deviations of reality from ideal patchwork are thus:

    * If a state becomes economically powerful, it can expand into the territory of other states *and then stagnate and die*. If this happens on a global scale as the USA may have done, we’re fucked. MNC depends on there being multiple states that can each resist imperialism from the others.

    * If a state becomes stupidly governed and prevents its people from exiting and doing something better, then it doesn’t get wrecked fast enough. North Korea is good example.

    * Besides military imperialism, ideological imperialism is bad as well. Communism took over nearly the entire world even while leaving the existing borders mostly intact.

    * Here we are sitting in some half-assed soon-to-be-failed states wanting to do something better. In an ideal world, we could do a startup state on some uninhabited but fertile land somewhere. Unfortunately, land, unlike blogs, is finite and extremely expensive, and none is for sale on the sovereign level.

    * When people leave or are kicked out of a free-exit state, where do they go? I suppose the other states are free to take whom they choose. if no one else will take them, I suppose they ought to be gassed. Are we all cool with this?

    If we had a Friendly AI to administer patchwork physics where exit was always possible, new land was at least constructible at nonastronomical cost, and at least military imperialism was impossible… Well that would be a damn fine future.

    If we had some system of international treaties that guaranteed free exit, some way of administering international sale of land, and non-aggression, well that would be nice too, but how stable would it be and how to we get there from here?

    How do we get there from here? And once we are there, will we stay there?


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Along the dimension of time, the Patchwork already exists. Because of entropy and mortality. The problem is that the borders between civilizations/nations/states/cultures in the temporal Patchwork are catastrophic. So the temporal Patchwork is one in which exit is very difficult. Worse, it is one in which competition is very limited. The existence of past entities that were better is difficult to know for sure and can be concealed via propaganda. The past entities, being past, can’t exert more direct forms of competitive pressure. Future entities exert some competitive pressure through the fear of the collapse, but it is also pretty attenuated because which straw brings on the collapse will always be uncertain. The basic dynamic will be to get as close to collapse as possible without actually getting there, and there will be in effect a competition to always get just a little bit closer, using up the margin for calamities, until at some point a calamity to great for the remaining thin margin happens and the system collapses.

    (Side note: old-time reaction looks like a form of pseudo-exit to the past and new-style reaction sorta looks like a form of pseudo-exit to the future).

    Spatial patchworks look more appealing. I doubt that they would allow huge amounts of exit of personnel in practice, but even if they didn’t, exit would still exist in the form of territory and resources and capital and dynamism. Competition would also be less attenuated, even if there were no exit at all. Decision-makers would have a harder time concealing the fact that they were doing less well either from themselves or from the ruled, and the efforts needed to prevent exit of personnel, territory, resources, capital, and dynamism will grow costlier as competitive entities widen their lead, which will put a back-pressure on the elites of the falling-behind states to improve.

    However, what keeps the spatial Patchwork from collapsing? Absent an outside force like your friendly AI, conquest or cartelization seem by far the most likely outcomes. The world’s greatest empires grew out of Patchworks. So what could provide the outside force? In theory, an alliance of entities would find it in their interest to gang up on rogue states that are growing overmighty or using anti-competitive methods, but in practice such an alliance would be a cartel and would not distinguish between entities that were getting big in a way that hurt competition and entities that were getting big because they were set up so much better, nor between practices that were “anti-competitive” or between practices that were competitive but made life harder for the competition. An Emperor might work. Mostly not, but its at least conceivable that you’d have a benevolent, disinterested, and remote imperial line that had the prestige to run a Patchwork without too much concern for suppressing everything to maintain their own power. But there are a number of failure modes and also the Emperor would still want to suppress any competitive entity that was so damn good that it started to get big enough to challenge the Emperor. So the only remaining outside force is GNON. This could be in the form of information technology that somehow fancifully keeps a Patchwork in existence, or more plausibly-by-comparison (but only by comparison) space settlement. where distance and more distance necessarily keep the Patchwork in existence. I think NRx still has quite a bit more intellectual work to do. But at least at this point, it looks like the path is to focus on pushing forward space settlement in a version that is more conducive to small, independent settlements.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    One other advantage of space settlement–

    Think of something like the old L5 colony idea. As more of them start to be built and distances increase, they will tend more and more to be self-sufficient. But any self-sufficient space colony must be capable of self-repair. Any space colony that is capable of self-repair will be capable of replication. In fact, the most efficient form of self-repair probably consists of working on replication when the self-repair capacity isn’t otherwise engaged–that way extra parts and systems and capacity are already to hand, and the necessary expertise is still sharp. There would likely also be strong internal incentives to replicate, because doubling the size of the society would allow a relaxation of population controls and open up a lot of social and status niches.

    Self-replication means natural selection.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:


    Have you read Robin Hanson’s work on space colonization economics? Add transhumanism and all the incentives become to cast off the pesky human values and go full-bore on replication and imperialism.

    I know Nick Land and the other Gnon worshippers would disagree, but uncontrolled space colonization is likely to be a failure mode future, not a good one.

    Peter A. Taylor Reply:


    Do you have a link you recommend for Hanson’s space colonization economics?

    Grimssdur Reply:

    The laws of Gnon are self-enforcing. Demanding they operate on a human timescale is vanity.


    admin Reply:

    The Laws of Gnon operate on all time-scales. Demanding they don’t on ours is vanity.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    Someone explain to me why I should trust this Gnon character.

    Seems to me the universe by default is dark and full of cosmic horrors, and the only brightness is human agency. A future shaped by anything other that carefully thought-out human agency is neutral (in a lovecraftian sense) at best. This is vanity of course, but anything else is nihilism.

    If MNC boils down to “stop complaining and surrender to GNON”, count me out. I don’t trust God.


    admin Reply:

    If Gnon is too much of a pussy to subvert your agency down to its fundamentals, I wouldn’t worry about it very much.

    Michael Anissimov Reply:

    The fact that the very simple questions you propose do not currently have clear answers, and little effort has been expended to clarify them in the 5+ years since the Patchwork idea has been introduced, is what contributes quite a lot to my overall skepticism of and condescension towards the Neocameralism idea, and “Techno-Commercialism” in general. This post of Land’s is one of the first serious attempts to advance the discussion in many months.


    admin Reply:

    These questions are not uninteresting, but they are strangely upside down in this context — as if Neocameralism were about implementing a social blueprint that needs to be formulated in advance. The whole point of starting from MNC is to definitively bracket this kind of — inherently utopian — social theorizing. Governments are already sovereign corporations, susceptible to analysis as such. Why is it relevant to insist upon the preliminary completion of some kind of ideal model of human society — if any such thing were possible (which I fundamentally doubt)?


    Handle Reply:

    Precisely so. I think I often take my many years of government employment for granted, and fail to appreciate that other people without that experience still carry around a very fairy-tale image of how things actually work on the inside.

    The fact is that much of the government is run in a manner that is very similar to how commercial corporations are run (hierarchy, chain of command, supervision and evaluations, best-practices, etc.) and it is the few critical areas where they deviate from the procedures and incentives of typical business operations that are responsible for most of the failures of our governance.

    It is also important to distinguish between means (mostly corporate) and ends (progressive utopian) of government. If the government is doing good things, you want it to do them efficiently and competently (i.e. as a competitive business would conduct them). But most of our social critique is that the government is trying to do all kinds of insane and evil things, and the real problem is that it does many of these crazy things well, not poorly.

    So,to borrow from the Marxists, there is plenty of ‘actually existing’ neocameralism which, if it pursued the same ends, would hardly be managed any differently that it is now under ‘liberal democracy’ than under a corporate structure. That’s the point – the name ‘liberal democracy’ has been an illusion for a long time.

    Likewise, there is ‘actually existing Monarchy’ in the form of federal judges, especially the Supreme Court Justices, as anybody who has clerked for one can tell you. Their injuncive and discretionary powers are practically plenary and unchecked.

    The problem, again, is that they use their kingdoms and substantial power over people to pursue these insane and evil ends. Getting government out of the ‘crazy and evil’ business is the point of suggesting it restrict itself to commercial and competitive corporate goals, not just structure and processes. The reality is that whenever any government anywhere cares about doing anything effectively and efficiently, it does so in a very corporate way.


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 7:43 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    This is a more object-level criticism. It criticizes NC, rather than meta-NC, in other words. But it is a more realistic picture of what a patchwork would probably look like without some outside force enforcing competition:


    Posted on March 24th, 2014 at 8:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • mind moth Says:


    Reason may well be the ultimate pathology. For example, rational economic calculation has created Idiot God Azatoth of the markets [1]. It’s really funny how we’ve built this gibbering mercurial chaos from dreams of perfect equilibrium. Uncountable moron bots buy and sell all the time and a single small transaction can easily be amplified into world-economy destroying hurricanes. How about nuclear automated MAD, another impressive product of reason [2] … etc

    As for individual pathologies, reading De Sade [3] gives a vague feeling of immense mass of dark matter/madness which holds together the shining stars and galaxies of Reason, and [4] [5] and etc.

    So, it seems to me that Dark Enlightenment has pretty much the same inevitable problems with Reason and Chaos as the Enlightement. Or worse ones. Negative feedbacks to dampen pathologies of reason are just not here [6]

    Finally, what you describe/fear sounds to me like dystopic enforcement of Reason and Machine in Zamyatin’s We, neoliberal edition, leading to stasis of robotized humans with some remnant of creative chaos within as the only hope left. I think just the opposite is more likely.

    PS. Comrade, don’t despair, The Left works in strange ways. For example, it’s much more likely that Internet future, next decade, is communist sharing (as in collective [7]), not nrx or neolib hierarchical accumulation (walled gardens of Google or, after all, the stillborn embryo of Urbit) 🙂 Ironic how NSA panopticon projects backdoored everything and made existing infrastructure unsafe for anything and such drastic changes necessary.

    [1] this book offers good insight into its entrails


    [3] or Zizek writing on Hegel’s Night of the world, if you can stand Zizek



    [6] eg. scientist should first disprove himself at all costs, magician should stalk himself as a prey and look for weakness … yeah right



    Posted on March 25th, 2014 at 1:34 am Reply | Quote
  • Michael Anissimov Says:

    This is good. I am glad my comments indirectly prompted this investigation to occur.


    handle Reply:

    I wish it were easier to publicly follow this conversation without needing twitter, from which I abstain for various reasons (and the web site is blocked at work). That, and the fact there are no comments allowed at more right discourages my participation, and I’d guess I’m not the only one. I request and suggest that you consider opening up moderated comments to at least a few individuals, and also blog chronicle the important tweet volleys. Otherwise, those of us in my situation lose visibility of the whole conversation, and avoid it in our frustration.


    Michael Anissimov Reply:

    The comments I’m referring to is primarily the “Neocameralism is Autism” post. The most important interactions are via blog posts. As for your request, I have to politely reject it. If you would like to respond to a More Right post, you may do so in a post at your blog.


    Posted on March 25th, 2014 at 3:15 am Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Separating M-NC from NC revives the scale problem. Why don’t corporations run like highly decentralized internally competitive processes? Why aren’t sovereign corporations conceptualized as running their own mini-patchworks?


    Blogospheroid Reply:

    The world is pretty crazy when you think about it.

    In any sane world, large pension funds and mutual funds would be subsidizing all sorts of prediction markets – fire the ceo markets, most profitable IT investment markets, etc. Each of these markets will improve the dollar return on their investments.


    Posted on March 26th, 2014 at 2:00 am Reply | Quote
  • Malencov dalle Allemalegarero Says:

    I don’t find that this discussion clarifies much about the political system in question.

    The idea of infinitely cascading polities, or whatever, is trivial because it wishes away the problem that power is misused. The final cascade produces: the individual!

    The idea that arbitrary ways of life could be tried out in competing polities is a non-starter, and for good reason. At the same time, I think there is a meaningful difference between reasoning on a “meta” level and having a fixed vision of society. E.g., free market exchange is a known good system on the meta level; the outcomes are only somewhat predictable and manipulable, but expected to be generally desirable in comparison to total central planning. A successful “meta-neocameral” state could be thought of similarly.

    I don’t see why elements of competition, or Exit would have to be portrayed as “secession”; secession sounds to me like almost all legislative, judicial and executive power of any kind would be local. It could be anti-fragility, competition, decentralisation etc. Google government. Now of course, almost any political change has complicated memetic consequences; perhaps the best solution is for no-one ever to be creative. This leads to the problem that you simply can’t keep on administering equality in an entirely safe and boring way forever, whether or not that’s a good idea in some abstract sense.


    Posted on March 26th, 2014 at 7:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin Says:


    This is simply an incredible post. It convincingly concludes part 1 of the discussion you held with Vladimir back in 03/13:

    “If you [Vladimir] are right on this, it means that the final discussion has to take place between ‘Mannian’ reaction (as Spandrell tags it) and the post-economistic left, based on the understanding that the political is the supremely dominant social instance, and economics has to fall into line with it. My intuitions, as you know, are quite different, primarily because I think economic systems incarnate intelligence at a far higher level than any political order can match. I realize, however, that this case remains to be convincingly made.”

    Now that the case has been – convincingly – made, it would be fantastic if Vladimir were to resume his critique, either in public or via email, before you move on to part 2 of your essay…


    admin Reply:

    ‘Waiting for Vladimir’ is so freaking Samuel Beckett …


    I Reply:

    Vladimir is like Pierre Brassau: a true reactionary, however murky his origins. Poor Vladimir; I can picture him sitting deep in his armchair, the light of a cathode ray television flickering on his face, alone with his bittersweet memories of the blogosphere as it was, of Schelling points, and the John Birch Society


    Posted on March 26th, 2014 at 8:41 pm Reply | Quote
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    […] argued here before, Outside in firmly maintains that the distinctive structural feature of NRx analysis is escalation […]

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    […] are easy to find which are on the side of Patri Friedman contra Moldbug , see here, here, here and here for examples, so many examples in fact that when anyone unfamiliar with Moldbug comes upon […]

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  • Uriel Alexis Says:

    this has interesting consequences for an analysis of Brazilian government recently. all the corruption scandals involving the state owned oil company (and many other state assets, in fact) makes perfect sense (are almost predictable) with MNC.


    Posted on March 7th, 2016 at 12:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • (N) G. Eiríksson Says:

    >>corporate governances that are not equipped with some principle of the sacred are open to attacks from groups like Islam.



    Dick Wagner Reply:

    Is it implicit in MNC that MNC and NRx themselves are a sort of corporate government?

    “Foundational to MNC, at the very highest level of analysis, is the insight that power is checked primordially. On the Outside are wolves, serving as the scourge of Gnon. Even the greatest of all imaginable God-Kings — awesome Fnargl included — has ultimately to discover consequences, rather than inventing them. There is no principle more important than this.”

    That power is checked primordially – is it one corporation out of many that subscribes to that? Or is MNC exempt from the restrictions imposed by a MNC Reality? That is, is MNC itself capable of being primordially checked?

    “Even the greatest of all imaginable God-Kings — awesome Fnargl included — has ultimately to discover consequences, rather than inventing them.”

    Is this an invention? Is MNC able to discover consequences about itself?

    Is MNC Reality “equipped with some principle of the sacred”? What ground does it stand on? Admin’s appeal to the gods anchors MNC theo-politically. Is this a sleight of hand or is he a messenger of the gods?


    (N) G. Eiríksson Reply:

    We´re all messengers of gods. Question is, which gods in whose case.

    Titanic or Olympian ones? Æsir or trolls?

    Or even lower?


    Posted on August 19th, 2016 at 4:39 pm Reply | Quote
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    […] uses to define neocameralism (which is a theory of how to govern, and possibly a theory on how to think about government, but not a theory of competitive systems) is not necessarily all that any given patchwork includes, […]

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