Not everyone has read Moldbug, and not everyone who reads Moldbug reads all of Moldbug. It is thus necessary to create a Select Quotations from Mencius Moldbug, and if someone else does it, it will be done wrong.
Moldbug is not without flaws. He wrote at the end of the aughts. In his day, it was popular to try to help end-users with computers, and being a human himself, he tried to do it; though it was amazing how he did it, coming up with a language that he described as being easier to understand if you have studied written Chinese. Similarly, in his day, it was popular to try to excuse the Jews, and being a Jew himself, he tried to come up with this new intellectual movement. And an amazing job he did. Perhaps his original intentions were partly impossible, but his work is outstanding.
So here are my favorite quotes from his corpus. At some point I’ll put links to the articles in, but for now, you’ll have to copypaste into Google.
No police officer ever stole my bike.
Given that the word “independent” is composed of the particle “in-“, meaning “not,” and the word “dependent,” meaning “dependent,” you might think people would blush a little when they tell us, for example, that “Zimbabwe became independent in 1980.” But no. Over the centuries, they have simply lost all shame.
Anyone who praises “nonpartisan” or “bipartisan” or, so help me God, “post-partisan” government, or (especially in Europe) decries the existence of “populist” parties or politicians, or even who believes that there is no room for “extremism” in politics, is stating their fear and distrust of democracy.
Or let’s look at another example: democracy in South Africa. Of course by “democracy” I mean multiracial democracy. It is not okay to have an election in which only white people can vote. It’s actually worse than having no elections at all. It’s a sort of blasphemy, like appointing your horse to the Senate, electing a crack whore as Pope, or giving Pol Pot the Nobel Peace Prize.
By setting up an ideal of righteousness that only divine rule can achieve, Rawls supplies the perfect distraction to help his readers forget that in reality, men are governed only by men, and history knows only two kinds of government: those based on law, and those based on violence.
In a George Bailey bank, for instance, your demand deposits are loans to the bank collateralized by the bank’s portfolio of burned-out Section 8 New Deal ghetto towers.
You would think that Nationalist movements are explicitly anti-universalist. But universalists support them when they are the underdogs and are “national liberation movements” (ie, Palestinians) and oppose them when they are overdogs (“murderous gangs of fascist thugs”). Universalists are fond of Castro because while he’s clearly an oppressive overdog relative to the Cuban people, he’s an underdog relative to the United States.
Brother Jonathan, the city-on-a-hill man, the peace-loving Yankee, believes it is not only his right but his duty to do everything he can to impose on them that system of government which he considers morally essential for Europeans. His evidence for the latter proposition being that it works, sort of, for Yankee yeomen in Vermont. And then, with Jonathan’s usual effortless effrontery, he tells us he believes in “diversity.” When what he really believes is that everybody is the same, wants the same things, and should live under the same form of government, ie, his. Jonathan being always the expert in “public policy.”
And lest I be accused of ducking the question: no, I don’t think a form of government which expects every man and woman to be an 18th-century philosopher is terribly suited to populations with a mean IQ of 70. In fact, I don’t think democracy is terribly suited to populations with a mean IQ of 100, 120, 140 or 160, but it probably works best around 120. (Much above that and your voters are too smart for their own good, a problem we see demonstrated every day at America’s finest universities.)
There’s a somewhat simpler narrative for what happened in Africa after 1950: it was the second Scramble. The US and its brutal and inept imitator, Russia, kicked the Euros out and established their own purportedly “independent” client states in Africa. These were ten times as badly governed, but created ten times as many jobs for white people. Such as, of course, yourselves. Is that concrete enough for you?
The unsquarable circle of postcolonialism is the attempt to govern Africa without governing it. If you feel that Africans are morally entitled to a Western standard of government, govern them. If you don’t, have the decency to leave them alone. Philanthropy without authority is not a success.
The liberal theory is (a) that government without consent is impossible, will never work, and should not be tried; and (b) the “pressure-valve” theory, that only way to defeat a military rebellion is to accede to the pressures of its political wing. And certainly not to crack down harder, which is always counterproductive. Shooting into a mob, for example, is the worst thing you can do. Absolutely the worst. Never, ever works. Note how effectively this pair of theories can be used to prove itself true… So if the people making policy espouse the pressure-valve theory, they give in to the mob, and the whole system falls apart, what does it mean? It means the empire was due to crumble anyway… We had an interesting test of these theories in 1989. A government used troops to fire on a mob. According to all liberal experts, a clear-cut case of what not to do. I along with everyone else in the world was watching on TV, and I was quite confident, being a good liberal, that I was watching the end of Communism in China.
We have already laid out the pattern of anticolonialist cant. To the anticolonialist, the progressive, the only way to govern a country is to persuade its people to fall in love with its government. They say “hearts and minds,” but what they really mean is “hearts.” Anticolonialists believe that the hearts of the poor are always for sale, a theory leading to the concept we know as “aid.” If this showed any evidence of working, it might be necessary to argue with it.
Thus these sabotaged occupations are revealed in their true nature: they are civil wars by proxy. The goal of war is political power. In a sabotaged occupation, the left gains political power, not in Iran or Iraq or Vietnam, but in America, by using the deaths of thousands of American soldiers to prove to the TV audience that reality and progressive reality are the same thing.
You appear to be under the impression that the Anglo-American world order prevailed by means of mere divine ordination. This is, in short, the Puritan doctrine of Providence – thinly disguised. Very thinly. If you would like to be reminded of the means by which the present Anglo-American world order prevailed, click here ( http://books.google.com/books?id=RVAEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA17#v=onepage&q=&f=false )
However, it is well-known to historians that in Germany in the mid-30s, Hitler was not much less popular than democracy is today. Conclusion: public opinion is a function of whose military forces control the TV station, and not much more.
In the century after Great Britain committed herself to unlimited democracy, she lost her Empire; became an American puppet state, now with a humiliating intermediate overseer in Brussels; experienced a 5000% increase in her crime rate; and was effectively colonized by the debased, para-human dregs of her own former dominions. What else could go right? Certainly, no reader of Maine’s time – liberal or conservative – would have regarded these results as a “blessing.” Thus, his predictions are satisfied in the terms in which he made them
The English word for an adult unrelated dependent is “slave.” The transfer of the bulk of the African-American population from the control and responsibility of private masters, to the State, is not a freeing of the slaves. It is a nationalizing of the slaves. (With a brief window of actual independence, not coincidentally the golden age of African-American civilization, between the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Great Society.) Moreover, in “welfare reform,” we actually see a recognition of this fact. Even liberals realized: since we have nationalized the slaves, we have to make them work. Otherwise, their human condition becomes unmentionable. Fact. Somewhere, Carlyle laughs.
Libertarians can be classified according to their wrong answers to this question. If you are a democratic libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by popular sovereignty. You also probably haven’t looked out the window in the last 200 years. If you are a judicial libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by judicial sovereignty – ie, by a judiciary committed to Constitutional principles and the Anglo-American common law. And you haven’t looked out the window in the last 75.
Here is a simple Carlylean puzzle for Misesians. Answer the following questions: (1) Do you live in a city? If not, why not? (2) If so, can you safely walk anywhere in that city, at any time of day? (3) If not, what authority is restricting your freedom?
I have trouble understanding why people believe in democracy in the first place. But given that you do seem to believe in democracy, it strikes me that importing vast breeding colonies of foreigners so that you keep winning your elections makes any questions about hanging chads or voting machines or “superdelegates” rather silly. The Democratic Party would not exist in anything like its present form if not for the Immigration Act of 1965. The last Democratic president to win the white vote was LBJ.
Will, if you want to brush up on your antiracist kung fu, I recommend working out on the moronic, foul-mouthed kids over at SAS. Try explaining to them why the breakdown in Anglo-European cultural hegemony, not to mention electrical hegemony, isn’t so bad at all. Perhaps Cato can even be coaxed into springing for a field trip. The thing about cultural hegemony is that someone always has it… Transnational progressivism is a culture, too. It’s a set of values, beliefs and perspectives. As we see, it can’t exactly be described as tolerant of contradictions. What culture is? And if it isn’t “Anglo-European,” what is? Where did all these ideas come from, Indonesia? …The old war between liturgical and pietist Christianities is on again, with the racist replacing that old standby, the Papist.
Saying that LA is doing well because its murder rate has declined since the brutal nadir of the American cultural revolution is like saying that Brezhnev was a great leader, because he didn’t kill as many people as Stalin. In 1970, the process of ethnic cleansing that devastated America’s cities and forced their old European communities to flee – perhaps nowhere better observed than Detroit, which in some places is actually returning to prairie – was still very much underway. If you expand your frame slightly and draw the curve out all the way back to the unthinkably ancient year of, oh, I don’t know, 1920, I think you’ll see a slightly different picture
In 1908, there was nothing recognizable as a Third World hellhole anywhere on Earth, whether in California or in the Third World. If anyone had taken Gang Leader for a Day into any political debate in 1908, with some supernatural assurance of its bona fides, it would have permanently and irrevocably discredited any political movement which could be conceivably associated with progressivism. Probably the Americans of 1908 would have been so horrified by a naive, merely accurate state of their inner cities that, by near-overnight acclamation of all 50 states, they would have switched back over to the Confederate Constitution and swapped the flag for the Stars and Bars. They certainly would have associated the situation instantly with the country’s experiences during Reconstruction, and Google Books can tell you what they thought of that.
For every class of decision a modern government makes, from diplomacy to economics to issuing fishing licences, there exists a caste of scholars in the social sciences, carefully selected for their race, gender, intelligence and/or political reliability, who use the methods of science – which, as you may know, split the atom and put a man on the moon, and is absolutely infallible – to divine the correct public policy. None of these professors is in any way, shape or form responsible for the success or failure of these policies – generally the latter. I swear I am not making this up.
Needless to say, if the United States were blessed with a Department of Mathematics – honestly I’m not sure why it isn’t, but we can rest assured that if this wrong is ever righted, it will stay righted – it would be thoroughly inappropriate and irresponsible for George W. Bush to “politicize” the Department’s deliberations on topology, computability, game theory, etc. Public policy, of course, must not contradict physics, geology or mathematics. But these are not its main linchpins. When we look inside the magic box of public policy, we see fields such as law and economics and ethics and sociology and psychology and public health and foreign policy and journalism and education and… And when we look at the history of these fields, we tend to see one of two things. Either (a) the field was more or less invented in the 20th century (sociology, psychology), or (b) its 20th-century principles bear very little relation to those of its 19th-century predecessor (law, economics).
So we see why it’s inappropriate for George W. Bush to “politicize” the Justice Department. It is because the Justice Department is staffed with legal scholars. Is George W. Bush a legal scholar?… In classic Machiavellian style, the form democracy has been redefined. It no longer means that the public’s elected representatives control the government. It means that the government implements scientific public policy in the public interest. (Public policy is in the public interest by definition.)… Since it is both of the people and for the people, and demos after all just means people, we can keep the good old word for our modern, scientific democracy.
People who talk about declining newspaper revenue have no clue. The NYT is an NGO which happens, for reasons that are basically historical, to be sponsored by a publishing corporation. If said corporation were to disappear from the face of the earth and Times reporters had to be supported by grants and foundations, like every other NGO in the world, do you really think they’d have trouble raising money? When we forget NGOs (they’re called “NGOs” because of how easy it is to forget that they’re not part of the State) and look only at the US government proper, stability is easy to find. The civil service and the judiciary cannot be replaced by any force short of God. Ergo, we would expect to see that they have most of the power, and I believe this is indeed the case.
An automatist is a small, grubby person who believes he can reduce or transcend reason. In the last two centuries, enormous armies of automatists have proposed all kinds of replacements for common sense. The fact that these replacements often travel under the name of “reason” itself is best explained adaptively. Automatists tend to fall into four camps. The stupidest are literalists, who believe that instead of thinking, we should accept the literal text of some holy book or other. The most dangerous are officialists, who believe that truth is whatever the government says it is. The most annoying are popularists, who believe that the most fashionable thoughts, as of right now, are the most likely to be true. And the most pernicious are algorithmists, who believe they have some universal algorithm which is a drop-in replacement for any and all cogitation. Automatists are automatists not because they are evil, but because they are too familiar with special cases of reason in which their flavor of automatism is indeed reasonable.
One new, and very popular (among the smart set) algorithmist automatism is Bayesianism. Bayesians are followers of Bayes’ theorem, a result in probability theory. The Bayesians tend to congregate at the group blog Overcoming Bias, where they get together and figure out how many blue balls are in the white urn.
Tens of millions of people were killed and billions left destitute in this new imperial scramble, which is still described today as the “liberation” and “independence” of the Third World. Apparently “liberation” requires the rule of sovcorps whose managers have the right skin color, and “independence” involves receiving billions of dollars a year in “aid.”
I don’t find the links from Robespierre to Stalin and Mao particularly debatable. As for Hitler, the Jacobins and Nazis were both violent, charismatic street-gang movements with aggressive utopian ideals and a penchant for paranoid conspiracy theories, whose popular base was concentrated in the lower middle class. Ie: Hitler was practically Robespierre 2.0.
One thing most people don’t know about the Great War is that all sides were democracies. There were no “absolute” governments in Europe in 1914. Recognizable democratic politics existed in every country. Calling Wilhelmine Germany in some way autocratic because Germans did not elect the Kaiser makes no more sense than calling the US autocratic because Americans do not elect the Supreme Court, or Europeans the European Commission. (Which is not to say it makes no sense at all. But it makes the notion of a war for democracy risible. Much as 25 years later, the next war for democracy resulted in the enslavement of half Europe and most of Asia. Could I make this stuff up?)
And this is how Bayesianism joins the revolt against reason. It says: don’t try to see through the urn. Don’t think deductively about what a revolution is, or how cause and effect in economic, political and military affairs works. Just look at the numbers and compute how likely the ball is to be red.
[I]t would be interesting if the BLS could determine which is more hedonic: the original iPad, plus heroin, or the Retina with 4.7 million pixels and maybe just a little codeine to take the edge off. This could be computed easily, and with impeccable quantitative rigor, by combining Apple price series with the latest data from Silk Road.
It is a frequently observed truth of con men that it’s impossible to con an innocent man. It is also impossible to propagandize an innocent man. It is your political ambition – an original sin if there every was one; when I translate “original sin” into 21st-century English, it comes out as “evolutionary psychology” – that makes you fall for this con. Somehow excising this libido dominandi, the lust for power, would leave you as immune to propaganda as a tonsillectomy to tonsillitis. Or a castration to porn.
Progressivism has become a veritable religion of quack goverment. Its policies are always counterintuitive: it preaches leniency as the cure for crime, timidity as military genius, profligacy as the acme of economics, “special education” as the heart of pedagogy, indulgence as oversight, appeasement as diplomacy. As it goes from one disaster to the next, progressivism never considers the possibility that the obvious, rather than its opposite, could be the case.
And indeed, the Christian Socialism of the Fabians and Progressives, rooted not only in Carlyle but in Ruskin and Morris and Dickens, developed precisely along these lines. Its goal was to improve society, both physically and morally, through the energy and nobility of the State. And indeed it outcompeted all major competitors. There is no school of Carlyleans today, but every school that isn’t a madrassa in Qom is a school of progressivism.
Its decisions are not personal, but procedural. A procedure is a better procedure if it cuts more stakeholders into the loop – if it is a more open process. Here we see clearly what the State is doing: it is building a support base from its own employee roster, and it is purchasing support by exchanging it for power. The feeling of being in the decision loop produces a remarkable effect of emotional loyalty, no matter how trivial the actual authority may be. There is just a slight downside to this: when socialism fails, no one is responsible. No system of ideas, even, can be responsible – for a system of ideas would be an ideology, and public policy is not determined by ideology. Thus many will tell you that economics failed in the crisis of 2008, but no one can possibly do anything about it.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Negligible power certainly does not corrupt absolutely, but I’m not sure it corrupts negligibly, either. By handing a tiny slice of power to each of its residents, democracy performs the most essential task of a political structure: rewarding its supporters. If you can convince yourself to see this transaction as sordid and onanistic, you have taken a big step toward ademotism. Until voters learn to renounce this little wafer of fictitious authority that it regularly drops on their tongue, they will never free themselves from democracy.
The idea of asymmetric war – a war in which different sides play by different rules – is one of the sickest jokes of the twentieth century. If you could explain this concept to Emerich de Vattel, he’d be retching for hours with awful, agonizing laughter. Washcorp can stop playing this game any time it decides it’s done.
What they don’t realize is that the active ingredient is the sugar. The net result of Orange Line libertarianism is to make it harder for smart young people to see the big picture of USG as a gigantic, Cthulhuoid monster. Instead, it has a few problems, sure, but all can be cured by these little pills.
Memo to Popehat: most of what we call “McCarthyism” was a matter of “social consequences.” Besides, the social consequences work for one and only one reason: there’s an iron fist in the velvet glove. Being sued for disrespecting a privileged class – excuse me, a protected class – is not in any way a social consequence, but rather a political one. Hey, while we’re chatting, could you remind me exactly how Warren Court jurisprudence derived the “protected class” from “equal protection of law?” I know the theory, actually – but it’d be fun to see you explain it.
Suffice it to say that the general flow of the progressive social graph is “no enemies to the left, no friends to the right,” and the general flow of the conservative social graph is – exactly the same. Who operates under the rule “no enemies to the right, no friends to the left?” Answer: basically, no one. If you doubt me on this, this one is worth investigating.
I know it seems odd, and I do not have a link handy, but one of the mainstays of the early postwar case for decolonialization was actually that European government was artificially retarding the development of black Africa, confining native populations to traditional pre-industrial economic, social and political structures, and preventing them from moving forward to a modern, centrally-planned socialist economy. Hopefully if you are a regular UR reader, I have established some credibility and you are willing to take me on trust when I say that people actually did believe this.
The standard of public safety is independent of the threat. Whether your rights are violated by an agent of the King or an independent criminal, you experience the same violation. The democratic failure to eradicate crime is thus best defined as a form of state terror, with the same unlovely motivations always found in a government which torments its subjects. (Crime in Britain, for instance, increased by two orders of magnitude in the last century, as that country terminated its ancient aristocracy and entered its present democratic tailspin.)