I’d like to believe the Red Pill is UR itself. (There are a lot of blogs that get 500,000 views; there are a lot of blogs that get updated. There are not a lot of blogs that get 500,000 views while not getting updated.) But one would have to admit that it’s a pretty big pill. Keanu is going to be here all day and he’ll need more than one glass of water.
No. I think I’ve chosen my candidate for the Pill itself. And I’m going to stick with it. My Pill is:
America is a communist country.
What I like about this statement is that it’s ambiguous. Specifically, it’s an Empsonian ambiguity of the second or perhaps third type (I’ve never quite understood the difference). Embedded as it is in the mad tapestry of 20th-century history, AIACC can be interpreted in countless ways.
All of these interpretations – unless concocted as an intentional, obviously idiotic strawman – are absolutely true. Sometimes they are obviously true, sometimes surprisingly true. They are always true. Because America is a communist country. As we’ll see…
I’ve mentioned before that your use of the word “communism” is idiotic, and might as well say it again. There’s an expression: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck”. Stalin’s Russia & Mao’s China look like each other in many important respects. Such as mass murder, rather than discrimination lawsuits. The United States doesn’t. The idea that communism is harmless because it’s native is, again, idiotic. Native-born political ideologies are completely capable of fouling up their nations. Your points about determining who has power are fair enough, but are dragged down by being tied to your retarded bilge on “communism”.
Gentlemen Duelist Scholars and Advocates. Draw your pistols, take your positions, and … fire away.
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This sort of thing comes up in many contexts. The Cathedral is a direct descendant of the Puritans, as was the USSR (and Mao’s Chiner). Because Communism is what people think when they hear communism, it might not be the best name with which to call it, but it’s definitely accurate. MM did a great job showing that by looking at the 19th century roots of both the Cathedral and the Soviet revolution. I’m reminded of the distinction between the Muslim Brotherhood, HAMAS, Al Qaeda (et al.) and all the other Salafists. They’re all inspired (or at least informed) by the writings of Sayid Qutb, they all want a global caliphate, and they’re all open to violence against their opposition. There are distinctions between them all, but they won’t turn on each other so long as there’s real and true enemies.
Part of it, quite clearly, is a refusal to play the continuous-flight-into-euphemisms game that ‘progressives’ count upon to disorganize resistance. It’s one sector of the broader PC language dynamic, and it’s a game only the Left can win. Better to be vilified for the ‘uncool crudity’ of indifference to (surreptitiously strategic) terminological fashions than to be a fellow traveler in the project of helping the communists hide the continuity of their traditions. The only reason not to obsessively call them out as communists is that they hate being identified as Neo-Puritans even more.
Very well. Request received and processed.
LoperOS’s error called forth correction. He was wrong is just the right way, and now I know how to solve this.
You see, ‘communist’ does convey useful information, and the problem we’re having is that nobody is talking about it.
When Moldbug says ‘America is communist’ he means its ruling elite has strong cultural continuity with avowed communists – including Stalin’s friends – and is likely to act in a similar way. Similarly, he means that America’s socio-political arrangements are far more communist than they appear, and suggests you go have another, closer look. It’s similar to the argument that feminism is refurbished Marxism.
When TGGP says ‘America isn’t communist’ he means that the state does not formally own the means of production. That how many shoes are made today is decided in micronegotiation between the buyers and makers of shoes. That it is not decided by someone whose job is supposedly to work out how many shoes the country ‘needs’ but has no skin in the game one way or the other. This process being the one that tends to slip down the slope to mass murder.
At base, this isn’t a fight about whether America is communist, it’s a fight about whose preoccupations we all discuss. If this isn’t obvious already, consider another angle – it is basic, basic philosophical hygiene to define your terms. Anyone who, on encountering disagreement, doesn’t do so, is either not friendly with hygiene or so incompetent it doesn’t matter. (Caveats apply.)
TGGP seems to vaguely grasp this, as he feels the need to sink Moldbug’s explanation about how two similar ruling cultures lead to different ruled countries.
American communists tried to install a communist autocrat, but Americans resisted too strongly. When Soviet communists tried, enough Russians outright revered the attempt.
However, as per Moldbug, American communists now attempt to communize the economy bottom up, to kill capitalism through a thousand cuts.
I’m tired of the mortgage thing, aren’t you? Yet it’s such a clear example. The elite decided the country needed more mortgages for poor people and dictated that it would be so. Classic communist disaster followed. They didn’t, however, try to do this to every economic sector at once, or even to all mortgages at once.
What we should be debating is not whether America is communist, but which particular meaning of communist is the reactionary definition – which gets to be communism_0 not communism_soviet or communism_liberal or communism_McCarthy.
There are levels of debate:
1. Is America A Communist Country?
2. Is AIACC a useful or effective Red Pill? Can it be?
3. If 2, what is the optimal formulation + follow-on commentary?
To me, a red pill has to be a Red Pill. Something that has just enough shock value to make even a tiny fraction of young persons in the right mental stage, but still ‘in their warm egg’, suddenly consider the possibility they are in an egg. That the world is not what they have been led to think it is. That History is false, but in the opposite way they’ve been taught to believe it is false. And that the political formula of their own society is one of the greatest, all-encompassing lies ever told.
Some of them will want to explore this idea. They may experience this in a kind of Gnostic motif – some of those will feel a certain strange and combined sense of embarrassment and guilt that they had been fooled, and even anger that they have been purposefully alienated from the truth so thoroughly with the opposite of truth.
Some of those with enough motivation and curiosity – and that queasy, lonely hole in their soul begging to be filled with ideas and community that is the psychological essence of the convertible moment – will find the right resources, a long sequence of fresh red pills ‘free, on the internet’. And a few, a precious few, (or not so few – 500,000 hits without being updated), sleepers will awaken and commence their endless journeys toward expanding enlightenment. Who knows, maybe they’ll even inspire a friend or two to wake up too.
I managed to completely neglect #2. It’s not our preoccupations we should be fighting over – if AIACC is to pill redly, you need to know roughly what the average patient is going to think when you say ‘communist.’ It is their preoccupations that matter.
Then, having a working definition, it’s worth discussing #1, since red pills need to be true.
(Ha ha. ‘Red’ pill about communism. I just got the joke. Very funny.)
Describing the “useful idiots” who wrecked the USA as “Stalin’s friends” is technically correct, but it is useful to consider the fact that he had two very different sets of friends: these wreckers, and the men who helped him to actually build a powerful empire. These groups have essentially nothing in common.
People who discuss American (or German, French, English) Communism in the same breath as the Soviet variety are losing sight of the fact that a gun has two ends! Standing on one end is very much not the same as standing on the other. The purpose of the Useful Idiots in the West is – and arguably was – very clear to anyone who paid attention: to fuck shit up. There is no shortage of proof: their ample KGB and GRU funding, as well as many other behind-the-scenes organizational details which have come to light since the Soviet collapse.
The men who actually built the Soviet empire (Machiavellian schemers, professional soldiers, men of science – who loved their country and used their not-inconsiderable talents in its advancement) had much more in common with their Western counterparts than with the idiots and Quislings who seem to be the stars of Moldbug’s USG4 story.
The purpose of the “export variety” of Communism was, unabashedly and almost openly: to break the West. In which purpose it indeed succeeded, and continues to succeed. Sort of like the old SF trope of a sentient superweapon from a space war of ages past, which continues to zap the vessels of passing explorers.
Re: the mortgage idiocy: it is useful to ask just what Americans are trying to buy when they “buy” a suburban house. And why this little “something” was available to every single Soviet citizen (and in fact to most of the civilized world, though increasingly not for Western Europeans) without lifetime debt slavery.
Americans are buying: order. And it doesn’t come cheap. You can pay for it American-style, or Soviet-style, or in some other way yet to be discovered.
Close, but not quite right. There’s plenty of affordable order left (still, but for how long?) in many parts of the country. I recently lived in one, and it was still possible for a single median-wage earner to raise his family in safety and comfort. It just wasn’t close to central DC, NYC, San Fran, or the beach or the mountains or the moderate climate, etc.
Now, if you want that plus order, well, it’ll cost you.
AFAIK, the only parts of the U.S. where you can buy any kind of house without debt slavery look like Berlin circa 1945…
Just like with P/E ratios for corporate stocks, there’s always going to be a close relationship between rents (or Cap Rates) and asset prices related to the prevailing interest rate. If the criteria is for an ordinary person to be able to purchase something outright, on which people usually spend about a fifth of their disposable income renting, but without debt, well, that seems a bit unreasonable to me. Rent/Income ratios aren’t extraordinarily lower in other parts of the world – if you translate Maslow’s hierarchy into utility curves and then demand functions, you wouldn’t expect them to be.
Obviously, there is an intense premium for the good, orderly, safe neighborhood with quality neighbors in a hip Western city. That’s why it’s very helpful to separate out land from improvement estimates in an overall ad-valorem assessment. I’m doing a little project now based on that approach exactly – but it’s going to take me years at this rate.
Market Segmentation leads to Price Discrimination which leads to erasure of all consumer surplus and windfall transfer to prior owners. The equal and opposite market discount and transfer of surplus from owners to renters applies when a neighborhood has collapsed with regard to these desirable features, i.e. Detroit.
In fact, if you want a rare, real-world example of a true ‘liquidity trap’ – a bunch of extremely durable land improvements which no one wants to live in – you’d have to pay people to live in them – can’t have a CAP-rate or rent less than zero, and so supply can indeed exceed demand at any positive price as the assets are abandoned. Even the land itself could have a less-than-zero value at this point – like a toxic waste dump. Rents are still positive only the extent that Section-8 vouchers and other transfer programs are so common there that they essentially keep the place afloat.
The municipal authority can complete a market that is facing this kind of zero-lower-bound problem, and so Detroit now repossess real properties and bids out demolition contracts – so the market eventually clears only because the price indeed turns negative through government intervention.
Looking back over the discussion on this from 2011 ( http://foseti.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/eisenhower/ ) one of the major elements that seems to be part of the controversy is that some (particularly Moldbug) were approaching this from the perspective of what will make sense to some future historian trying to construct a coherent narrative of the 20th century, whereas some of the opposition to his thesis were making arguments on the grounds of this statement being useless rhetorically since practically nobody has a mental map where “communist” covers all the people Moldbug says it should. Which I suppose matches up with what you said about levels of debate. My own feeling is that AIACC may serve as a red pill for people who already know that McCarthy was right but still make the Bircher error of viewing Communist/Progressive/whatever influence as alien, rather than home-grown. For people still enmeshed in the narrative, I’m not sure it has enough of a hook.
I don’t think that any universal red pill, as a panacea of sorts, exists. Those who still believe in the narrative will need something stronger to knock on their eggshell–or, at least, they need to incrementally become more and more alienated away from said narrative to the point that they can actually begin to entertain the thought that AIACC.
Then again, maybe this raises the question of what audience Moldbug is actually targeting with AIACC. There are all sorts of ways to attack the founding myth of America, universalism, and egalitarianism. AIACC strikes me as a pretty competent way of attracting attention.
I don’t believe in a universal red pill either of course. A red pill is just a generic name for some influential spark that starts the fire and motivates one to take a first step on the journey away from the starting point of believing in a lie. There are plenty of lies in our world, and all kinds of ways to motivate all kind of people, so there are plenty of red pills.
Personally, I think AIACC is the red pill least likely to be interesting to an ordinary intelligent person – it’s tailored to strike surgically at a particular kind of target audience.
Ordinary people care about ordinary things – success and happiness and safety and prosperity and family and so on. The thing about progressivism is that it tells us lies about how to achieve these things, and that frustrates people who follow the false life script yet fail to achieve the promised results.
That frustration is in proportion to the intensity and fundamental biological nature of the desire.
So, for instance, Game. Progressivism tells both men and women official PC stories about respect and equality and idealized consensual complementary courtships, and so on. ‘Nice’ behaviors that generate allure and attraction and increase our perceived desirability as a potential mate, etc. Well, it’s all BS, naturally. And for your average guy, failing at getting laid is profoundly frustrating.
And then they get some advice from a friend and check out some thing on the internet, maybe try it out a little in person and … whoa. Red Pill.
And in that moment of epiphany not unmixed with resentment and genuine grief at all the wasted youth during which they labored in futility under a ludicrous falsity, they become … open. Open to the idea that this particular crimson berry is but one on a very large tree of knowledge.
That’s how you open minds.
Race and Gender topics, since they infect everything in modern Western life, are always a kind of primary and intense frustration for people who aren’t comfortably diplomatic and must constantly struggle to bite their tongues and try to deny what their lying eyes keep telling them, over and over.
I’d guess a majority of the population really knows that they’re constantly being lied to about race and despise living under and being expected to pay constant lip-service to the PC regime. The truth about race that people already suspect, presented in a pleasant and non-hateful way that doesn’t activate all the hair-trigger offense crime-stop rat traps of the modern Western mind, is, in its own way, also a kind of red pill.
Aaron David Miller said that the real religion of the world is success. People, especially men, are hungry for mentorship by the accomplished, and for real, useful advice on how to be successful themselves and achieve their own goals. Another example – they want to know what to take into account so that people of ordinary means can keep their families safe and educated in good public schools. (Hint: Personnel is Policy).
Progressivism can’t tell them certain truthful answers to their legitimate questions because it would violate utopian taboos.
But we can, or at the very least, we can be a credible and reliable (if underground by necessity) resource of folks who can point the way forward.
Your frustrations we can relieve, but the lies you must stop to believe.
There’s a red pill for you.
> they want to know what to take into account so that people of ordinary means can keep their families safe and educated in good public schools.
That would be… emigration? Then again, Americans of genuinely-ordinary means can’t afford emigration either. So you must be speaking of some novel secret sauce… consider sharing.
Ok, I’ll consider it.
Jefferson, n/a have argued about the “Puritan” allegation elsewhere, but at least it’s potentially vacuously correct for the U.S. You’d have an easier time arguing that Maoism doesn’t descend from Marxism than that it descends from Puritanism though.
HAMAS is an actual branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda absorbed another branch. But you err when you say all those listed descend from Sayid Qutb, in fact Qutbism is a subset of Salafism. Salafism has been embraced by the Saudi royalty, but Qutbists seek to overthrow their decadent regime.
Nick Land, I actually think it’s rather cowardly to not attack modern progressivism/liberalism on its own terms rather than by associating it some distant loser of history. It’s like liberals conflating conservatism with fascism (I should note that when I said our status quo is closer to fascism than communism, I was saying it wasn’t so bad!*). The left is extremely concerned with identity politics these days, Marx only cared about class identity. If you want to attack the left, attack their identity politics rather than going on about how senator X once favorably cited intellectual Y who once defended communist Z (which is a closer connection than Mencius generally makes).
*The reason we’re closer to fascism than communism is because fascism is milder. It took power semi-electorally and made more use of the existing apparatus of democraticish government as it was. But fascism is so closely tied to the circumstances of that era I don’t regard it as a useful term in our time.
Alrenous, perhaps I don’t understand what “cultural continuity” is supposed to me, but it seems the same sort of vague blather as Corey Robin’s “elective affinities”, intended only to tar by association rather than enhance understanding. Most people care a whole hell of a lot more whether there are gulags than whether there is “cultural continuity” (which as far as I understand, there isn’t).
“American communists tried to install a communist autocrat, but Americans resisted too strongly”
Who, FDR? He was at least overly sympathetic to communism (while also the most fascist leader we’ve had) and ammassed a lot of power. I’m not sure what bit of resistance you’re referring to. The court-packing scheme was stopped, but the court still made the “switch in time that saved nine” (I should acknowledge that some legal scholars argue the “switch” story is overly simplified). The National Recovery Administration was also dismantled by SCOTUS. At any rate, FDR ruled with a congressional majority. When the majority of Congress opposed him (as with court packing), he was stymied. There has been an increase in the power of the executive relative to Congress since then, but it hasn’t been because of “communist autocrats”.
I deny that the mortgage thing was “such a clear example”. Plenty of lenders wanted to hand out cheap credit. Bush wanted them to as well (though to his credit, he did unsucccessfully seek to restrain Fannie & Freddie). This wasn’t a matter of “dictating”. The government certainly incentivized, but subsidies of the sort they engaged in aren’t enough to cause the crash we experienced (subsidies mainly cause waste). For that you have to look to monetary policy. If you compare how countries have fared, the best off seem to be ones like Australia with better monetary policies.
“Classic communist disaster followed”
What’s a classic communist disaster? It doesn’t sound like the sort associated with actual Communist regimes.
Handle, my vague recollection from all these years ago is that Mencius’ original “red pill” was a critique of democracy. That avoids all the “it’s obviously not communist, I know communism when I see it” issues. Most people regard their country as democratic (democratic republic, whatever), and that makes it good. A red pill should shake that foundation and not leave a non-communist democracy escape.
“people who already know that McCarthy was right but still make the Bircher error of viewing Communist/Progressive/whatever influence as alien, rather than home-grown”
Hey, I resemble that remark! Still do, since it wasn’t effective. Of course, I regard much of progressivism/liberalism as homegrown, although it’s also greatly influenced from abroad.
The much-overworked point where “they had Gulags, we don’t” falls rather flat, when you consider the fact that Gulags are indeed to be found in North America.
You can see them on Google Earth, their bureaucratic operational details are laboriously described in public law: no national secret, this. They simply haven’t been filled up yet, because this is not (yet) necessary.
It is a difference in tech level. The American army could fight with bows and arrows if it had to, but it doesn’t. The Cathedral could place heretics in Gulags if it had to – but it doesn’t have to. No Gulags are needed while the rulers can afford other, more effective and graceful mechanisms of control. But these are becoming an expensive luxury…
If you care about possible cultural continuity, you’re welcome to ask about it.
American resistance: Lenin didn’t need to try to pack a court, didn’t fail to set up whatever his equivalent of the NRA was, and it isn’t at all clear that a Russian Congress would have even tried to oppose him. In other words, the stumbling blocks for communism were already there, waiting. I don’t doubt the whole autocrat thing has been tried before and since as well, but failed before it even got to the public knowledge stage FDR did, for similarly Anglospheric reasons.
Lenders might have wanted to hand out cheap credit, but as that’s a bad idea they would have rapidly gone out of business. Knowing this, most banks would have refrained and not been burned. However, the government both mandated below-par loans and hinted that historical bailouts were still on the table. Or put it this way: they did a thing and got exactly what they wanted as a result, which means they’re exactly as responsible as if they had dictated it. (However, as always, unintended consequences.) This resulted in classic communist disaster in the mortgage industry.
The mortgage issue, because of various issues with the financial world and the indebted nature of the American economy as a whole, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
TGGP, you’ve changed my opinion on this. AIACC is a lousy thesis because communism has specific features that are not present in the US today. Communism is related to what we have in the US today under a larger umbrella: Demotism. Unfortunately, AIADC is unlikely to get the necessary emotional response from people. The idea that does get an emotional response, is unambiguously true, and is a strong lead-in to neoreaction, is that “the world is falling apart because of democracy.” The beauty of this argument is that *everyone* agrees that things are falling apart, and that the only counterargument being proffered is the profoundly progressive “the world is falling apart because of capitalism.”
I’ll be interested to go back and read the comments, but I must say when I read this (thanks Foseti for the link) I thought it was an actual CALL FOR PAPERS.
The existence of “The Cathedral” is not our problem, much as an anti-clerical idiocracy of the Reactosphere continues to try to pretend it is so. Our problem is that we don’t control the Cathedral. It’s a perfectly serviceable structure and the chairs are comfy, we just need to do some housecleaning. That’s what the liberals did. Unfortunately since most of us come to the Empire of Reaction by means of libertarianism, which is liberalism without brains, we’re too ignorant to figure this out and keep wanting to clean house without intent to occupy. The new liberals are eager to help us in this endeavor. They’re already measuring which seats will fit their fat asses best after we help them in their work of pitching out the old liberals.
How do you think journal publications get started? How do you think you win influence?
Why not an ACTUAL call for papers?
Seriously are the big shots of the Reactosphere only capable of writing blog posts – even lengthy and pseudo-referenced blog posts a la Moldbug? Nick Land, when was the last time you wrote something that doesn’t resemble a Zen koan? When was the last time you “did philosophy” – for real? GScholar is telling me 1993. What the hell, man, produce something!
Here is my call to you fucking pansies. Stop fucking whinging about how everything is going to hell and the Cathedral is ruining the world. Either light up a cigar and relax poolside with Aaron Clarey or step up and take charge and do something. Fuck Moldbug’s underpants gnomes theory of reactionary non-revolution. Moldbug is not your fucking ally, don’t you get it? Just because a self-confessed liberal brahmin scion who is comfortably ensconced in the Mecca of liberalism sees the Problem doesn’t mean he is on your side. The doctor can diagnose the disease but he doesn’t want to cure you , he wants to help you “manage your disease”. Moldbug doesn’t want to help you solve the problem, he just wants to keep pointing it out. I know – I used to be like him.
Do you or do you not think you can do better than the current crop of sorry fucks sitting at the table? If not shut up. If so then step up and take charge!
I want to see a CALL FOR PAPERS, to be reviewed by a committee of the top bloggers in the Reactophere, which can damn well figure it out and appoint itself because that’s how we roll, bitches. Those papers should be published and a discussant should be appointed to each paper or set of papers to present/discuss it to the community, in written form. Submission deadlines should be, oh, let’s say March 1 with final online publication and discussant addenda up by May 1.
BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT’S FUCKING DONE. THAT’S HOW YOU FUCKING WIN. Moldbug is a fucking lunatic, culture is not downstream from politics, FUCKING hell Moldbug you fucking said it yourself time and again, politics is owned by the Cathedral and who owns the Cathedral but a CULTURE of elitist pseudo-Puritan fucktards and their intellectual descendants. The Cathedral is a STRUCTURE; a structure is meaningless without a PURPOSE; culture gives the structure of the Cathedral PURPOSE, if you want to change things you have to destroy the existing CULTURE and smash its PURPOSE and impose your own CULTURE and thus your own PURPOSE.
FUCK FUCK FUCKETY FUCK WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? How long are you going to complain about the end of the world without doing anything except complain? You belittle the Tea Parties and yes, they deserve it but at least they are TRYING to do SOMETHING. Look, the current crop of Cathedral bigshots own politics, and they write the rules. It is stupid to try to beat them at a game where they write the rules. But nobody can hack the rules of Culture. Because culture is a product of humans and nobody has figured out how to hack humans – at least, not yet. The present cultural elite didn’t rewrite the rules of the culture, they just learned how to play the game well. And here’s the Reactosphere, whining and moaning about the culture of the Cathedral. Well then it’s not rocket science, culture is driven by ideas, if you want to change the culture, change the ideas.
If you want your ideas to have influence, they need to be presented in the proper form. This is not a blog post. If you want to WIN the war of ideas, you have to write a paper. It doesn’t matter that you are writing a paper about the evils of the present culture of the Cathedral. It can’t be dismissed. Blog posts can be dismissed as crazy ravings, but a paper – a real paper – to be refuted, must be read. Those are the rules. So the more your paper is hated and reviled, the more it has to be read and reviewed. And if it is getting read and reviewed, it has INFLUENCE.
Ask Sam Huntington. The present powers of the Cathedral HATE Sam Huntington. You know how many citations Huntington has on GScholar? One publication: over 11,000. That’s 11,000 other peer-reviewed publications in 20 years that cited Huntington. THAT’S MORE THAN ONE A DAY FOR 20 YEARS. All but 3 of these probably say he’s an evil racist bigot. But that doesn’t fucking matter, because 11,000 citations is POWER. That is INFLUENCE, baby. Citations are not ranked by “positive” or “negative” reference. THERE IS NO NEGATIVE PUBLICITY. Even if your paper is not accepted as a “peer reviewed” publication, in order to be refuted in a peer-reviewed publication it STILL has to be cited. Which means the more you are hated the more POWER you have.
DO YOU SEE HOW YOU CAN WIN THIS, YOU PIMPLE-FACED ONANIST FUCKS?!?! You see, the liberals can’t hack the culture because it’s an open system. Neither can you, but this means they can’t control it. Right now, they are the only ones writing code, and it is sad, sorry fucking garbage. If you introduce code that works, what can they do? They can only say, “Don’t use this code, which seems to work perfectly but is really racist.” But to do that, they have to republish it! If they want to say how horrible it is, they have to provide a link!
“America is a Communist country” I WISH! Because it looks to me like America is a country full of fucking pussies. Give me a god-damned red-blooded Communist any day. At least they were willing to fight.
This is a war of ideas. You want to fight? Write a fucking paper.
P.S. Fanbois, the Matrix is a MOVIE whose cultural influence descends from a relatively ham-fisted reference to the Story of the Cave. Except in the story Neo turns Morpheus over to the Agents to be tortured because wha, Matrix, red pills, man, you whacked. And Morpheus knows and expects this to happen but he still goes into the Matrix to tell Neo the truth because that’s what Philosophers do.
Laus Deo, bitches.
Gotta love that passion.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to humbly request your patience Monsieur Le Chavalier.
My own pathetic excuse is that I have a life that – unfair God! – just won’t give me tenure and leisure to explore my interests and ideas. A family, career, debts, etc. It’s a time suck! I’d suggest you make your peace with blogging – it’s the only way people like us can still communicate while we trudge from book to book.
As an illustration, consider this graphic of Wikipedia contributors (source study). “In a relationship with kids” and not an academic puts a crimp on our contributory output rates. Sorry, that’s called physics. But fear not my friend, we labor still. Tortoises and Hares and all that.
I think you are wrong about Huntington: his blabbing about different cultures and civilizations at war with one another serves very well the progressive purposes, because it reinforces the idea that capitalism, liberty, small government and so on are not universal principles equally applicable everywhere, but rather the products of American and European white males in a particular historical epoch.
If you want a red pill… reading about Jeff Weise is the reason I never managed to become a libertarian. (Or rather, one of two reasons; the other is that I read, understood, and ran with Hume at a very young age, which I don’t think is reasonable to expect of anyone else.)
As for communism, I asked on Tumblr but I’m not sure how useful the responses are. The materialist analysis — Anglosphere countries could afford to buy workers off — seems like it should also apply to Germany, which inspired many of the reforms that were later implemented in America… but Germany was full of Reds anyway.
The main difference seems to be that Anglosphere countries were much more reformist — possibly due to historical momentum / intuitive understanding of Schelling points, conservatism, a larger and more popular aristocracy… or the materialist hypothesis could still apply.
More research is necessary! The Anglo-Soviet split shows that many supposed Communists in America actually weren’t… but were there ever many? What’s the labor history like? Unz.org should have most of the periodicals and all that the labor organizations put out, if Google doesn’t.
“More research is necessary!”
Very well, your wish is my command. I’m going to public a legal-themed blog post soon: “when American Was A Communist-Making County” (AWACMC). Early Progressive Era, ‘natch.
As an aside, I don’t know how strongly I believe in the comprehensive power of the biological-evolution-analogy of ideological meme-transmission. Wherever there is competition, scarcity, variation, adaptation, selection, and attrition the evolutionary motif applies tautologically and sometimes to the effect of suppressing rather than stimulating insight. “Why does she act like that? Evo Psych!” An explanation with predictive-power outside of it’s experiential envelope, or an unfalsifiable nullity?
Consider language. I’m no linguist, but the emergence and divergence of dialects and comparisons of relatedness closely follow the biological speciation model. Then again, the Chomsky-ites tell us that that the variety is bounded by certain human universals. I’m not competent to judge whether or not that’s accurate – but it seems plausible to me that people have a certain degree of congenital aesthetic sense (i.e. for female beauty), which is not uniform, but perhaps normally distributed; and that these biological-origin aesthetics do indeed produce a kind of market-preferences-demand limit on the ways in which languages can and will evolve. Which innovations are popular vs. which ones are rejected, etc.
Now, see, an ‘evolutionary model absolutist’ would say something like “Well, the human brain, and the epigenetic expression of phenotypes for aesthetic preference, are merely ‘environmental habitat / climatic zone’ variables – the canvas, not the paint. But if the canvas makes the paintings look similar, which is the chicken and which is the egg?
If certain latitudes, terrain, and amounts of precipitation always yield a tropical forest with the same ecological niches and stratification from decomposers to apex predators, the details being different, but the overall system dynamics and bioproductivity being very similar, then evolution will tend towards similar coincidental results, independent of perhaps completely distinct origins. For example, if an temperate ecosystem warmed, and a desert ecosystem wetted, then we would expect the two tropical systems to have different ‘details’, but to still function similarly as ‘Tropical’.
Why wouldn’t the same be the case for ideas and memes? Is it implausible to suggest, as I believe Robin Hanson does, that the real root of Communist / Egalitarianist thought is merely a built-in susceptibility of the human mind, attractive, beautiful and seductive to it, perhaps left over as a vestigial residue of our forager days. This ‘convergent evolution’ notion doesn’t exclude the Historicism of the pure social-transmission mechanism model (i.e. Moldbug’s tracings from Christianity and Protestantism), but it does tend to mitigate the theory of the centrality of Puritanical Egalitarianism in the flow of world ideological affairs.
I don’t think I’m the only parent who has noticed that their children are far from infinitely malleable wax; that they arrive in this world with a surprisingly developed personality, and that they are able from a young age to experience different degrees of like or dislike for certain new ideas. Good kids definitely like sharing and caring and fairness and … Communism?
“Good kids definitely like sharing and caring and fairness and … Communism?” Good kids believe in Santa, too. Why they outgrow the one, but not the other is because one is continuously reinforced through adulthood and the other is a Tim Allen movie. We aren’t all born as balls of wax, but we’re all born with the need for a framework to understand reality. If reality conflicts with your instincts and faith, you’ve gotta reject at least one of them.
Right – it helps if society keeps reinforcing – or propagating through history – a lie that is seductive by its very nature. But the very naturalness of that allure in exactly my point. Realists fight an uphill battle against what we wish were true. Salesmen tell you what you already want to hear. But why do you already want to hear it? Hansonian Evo-Psych seems plausible to me.
Good little boys believe that little girls are icky too, until they also outgrow that one, whether it’s suppressed or reinforced by their society or not. Maybe a 10% slice are more predisposed and/or more suggestible to non-normative sexual preferences. There’s also the institutionalized pederasty of the muslim world or catamites in ancient Greece, but my intuition is to put those in a Prison / Navy category of behaviors resulting only from an extreme and long-duration female-contact deprivation, and which immediately revert to normal when the context is also normalized.
Stanislav, Mencius’ goal of “Fnargocracy” involves threats so potent that everyone is cowed and the threat never has to be carried out. Like Thomas Schelling and Mark Kleiman, I agree that is the ideal.
Alrenous, personnel selection was actually a pretty big deal in the Soviet Union. The Yuri Slezkine take is that it was characterized by the removal of aristocrats and Germans, and the influx of Latvians, Jews, Georgians, etc. Stalin rose to power over Trotsky precisely because he was picking personnel in his position as Secretary.
Lending too much some times is part of the business. Large companies will lose a bit of money, smaller firms might go under. The scale of losses we saw was the result of monetary policy. This wasn’t just NINJA home loans, a lot of losses were for commercial real estate.
“they did a thing and got exactly what they wanted as a result, which means they’re exactly as responsible as if they had dictated it”
Remind me to stop bragging about killing the world’s oldest man using my voodoo doll, I could be incarcerated! What exactly is it they “wanted”? Feel free to cite this table of homeownership rates by race/ethnicity over time.
Nikolaj, I’m a fan of Huntington but must admit it’s been awhile since I read him. My take is that, as a political scientist, he wasn’t so much concerned with capitalism per se. He was writing about how nationalism and ideology were no longer the major basis of conflict, having been superseded by “civilizational” identities. The internal organization of nations during the era of nationalism wasn’t particularly important from an international relations’ point of view, the same can be true of civilizations. And I view the Cathedral as more transnationalist, advocating (like Fukuyama) for the same policies be applied universally.
I bet I can list 10 strong arguments against the AIACC idea. Here goes:
(1) We fought very, very, very hard *against* Communism for many decades. The Cold War had many hot battles include the Korean War, the Vietnam war and working with Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. It had many other strong efforts too, including the Berlin airlift, the forever embargo against Cuba, tons of espionage, submarine cat-and-mouse, the Space Race, the nuclear arms race, cancelling Olympics and more.
(2) Communism means the state takes actual ownership of the means of production. Hasn’t happened.
(3) Communism has an ideology that is written down, has a name, and is enforced. Political correctness is not it, for political correctness is not even written down, nor does it even have a name. In Communist countries the kids study this religious subject that is Marxism, and Juche in North Korea. If there were an agreed-upon text, that might help people to fight it.
(4) Communism means killing lots, and lots, and lots of people. Oceans of blood, really. That is one of its most distinguishing characteristics. George Zimmerman was enemy number one of the top law enforcement official in America (Holder) and he is not even locked up. Last I heard, he is buying more guns.
(5) Speaking of which, the USSR quickly took everyone’s gun away early on. Americans by contrast are not entirely unarmed.
(6) Communism controls the press. Here the press controls themselves for political motivations.
(7) Communism has no free speech. If the Supreme Court upholds the right of Westboro Baptist Church to scream ‘God Hates F##s’ at the funerals of servicemen by a 7-2 margin, free speech is not under immediate threat, at least from the law. People are being occasionally deprived of their livelihoods when the electronic mob is roused to harrass an employer of a noncomformist, but that is not government action.
(8) We are an actual Democracy. The electorate may not have a clear idea about natural law, and may be very greedy and very tribal. Ballot stuffing and voter fraud are real. These are all big problems. But in America politicians who lose the count leave office 100% of the time so far. And with modern polling, you might stuff the ballot box a little but you can’t do it a lot.
(9) In America right now, the courts often side against the government. Obama has occasionally lost in front of the Supremes 9-0. Under Communism the government bats 1000.
(10) Where are our re-education camps? Comedians going on apology tours for gay jokes seems as close as we get.
There, that wasn’t too hard.
We are in an enormous mess here, don’t get me wrong. But I see Communism as a poor descriptor. What are some of our biggest ills?
– Sexual immorality
– The modern mixing and loss of all cultures and groups including European culture but almost every other culture also toward an entropic soup
– Barbarians at the gate
– Turning away from God and traditional religion (which regardless of what you believe have historically been major sources of social and civilizational capital)
– Atomization of people
Why Communism? It seems like the American patient we anxiously stress over has lots of overlap with many things very different from Communism…
– multiethnic Brazil
– Egyptian or Iraq-style ochlocracy (mob-ocracy)
– The fat spaceship riders in Wall-E, i.e. softened degenerates
– The French revolutionary mob stirred by the inquisitional left writing from the holy pedestal of a Marat.
– European or Indian-style suffocating bureaucracy
So, this is exactly Moldbug’s point about ‘strawmen’.
I think the recurring folk-consensus definition of Communism here is, “A system where there are secret police, reeducation camps, mass murders, show trials, a Collectivist / Redistributive / Centrally Planned Economic System, and a Totalitarian Political System, but which is somehow distinct from Fascism or whatever you call what is going on in China these days.”
Which is nuts.
Cuba – these days in particular – seems a hard peg to squeeze through that horrible-tyranny hole. Is Cuba a Communist country? They certainly claim to be. But so does China despite all their billionaires.
If we’re talking about public ownership of property or the means of production, is there a range in the ‘mixed-economy’ spectrum where it goes from ‘capitalist’ to ‘socialist’ to ‘communist’. No True Communism would permit more than 10% non-governmental production?
Is it just elections and democracy? But communists had elections, they just limited the permissible choices. But, then again, so do we. Most Constitutional Law Scholars indeed assert that the point of SCOTUS is to limit what it permissible. Is communism defined by the subject matter of what it denies, or by the way it imposes frictions between popular desires for change and actual reform?
Or is the label an empty one?
Or, instead, is Communism a kind of extreme, quasi-theocratic implementation of enforced egalitarianism?
There is real oppression in our enforced egalitarianism, no doubt. But I play devil’s advocate because I just don’t see how the ‘America is Communist’ meme can stick, for all these reasons I outlined, but most obviously because we have been the active enemy of every nation that ever carried the Communist name. This continues today with holdouts Cuba and North Korea.
I do actually think that old Marxist associations are useful in public shaming because plenty of people (College faculty, our president) had genuine assocations and beliefs that are vile. But labelling America as a whole a Communist country seems like wimpy pouting that dishonors the almost unimagine suffering that people in Communist countries went through. Somewhere up there Solzhenitsyn is laughing or shaking his head.
I also think that kids in school should spend 8 or 9 years having a subject called “Communism, Why it Sucked” level I to level IX, just to remind young people of that horrors which the left is capable of far exceed anything on the right. Calling America actually Communist muddies things in relation to those sharp horrors.
What we do have right now is a terrible thing, but is Communism the right word? I would say there is an all-out war on excellence going on.
I would propose that the red pill be:
“The War on Excellence”
This blows the “equality” meme right out of the water without having to say that abused word. Enforced ‘diversity’, anger at income ‘inequality’, dysgenics, politicized crap science, romanticizing of backward cultures and beliefs while warring against European culture, sexual degeneracy, celebration of pot, fat acceptance — it all is part of the war on excellence. This is the truest description I can think of. And it captures the spirit of reaction, which is that civilization and history itself doesn’t necessarily move forward and may actually be moving backward.
And best of all, all those SWPL types and Google geeks that have such disproportionate power today love excellence. They believe themselves to be excellent.
Even if it doesn’t catch on with all the masses, the realization that there is a terrible War on Excellence going on takes the wind right out of the sales of the current equalist SWPL elite.
Frankly I am tired of the left labeling the right as backward when the right generally stands at a higher level of civilization. The servants in Downton Abbey were more civilized than our own elites. Hence my Red Pill.
That list of folk definition is a pretty good example of Wittgenstein’s idea of “family resemblance”. The resemblance works much better than one which tries to fit the United States in.
Maybe my knowledge of Cuba is too limited, but it doesn’t seem that hard of a case. It’s a communist country just beginning the process of transitioning away from communism. I heard they even legalized microwaves a couple years ago. China had Deng a long time ago, and he was a more aggressive reformer than Raoul Castro (though Scott Sumner would remind us that peasants themselves began the covert experiment with private property).
People often like to distinguish communism from socialism where the former means the government owns the means of production, and the latter means the government redistributes money. Under that definition, there are lots of “mixed economies” which qualify as social democracies, but far fewer which line up as communist. And among first world countries, America has unusually low taxes.
“But communists had elections, they just limited the permissible choices. But, then again, so do we”
Did incumbents lose elections in communist countries? They do here.
“Most Constitutional Law Scholars indeed assert that the point of SCOTUS is to limit what it permissible”
Does believing in constitutionally limited government, a la the Federalist Papers, make one a communist? Plus, SCOTUS is appointed by democratically elected officials. They can even be removed from office by those same officials, although they rarely do that.
“Is communism defined by the subject matter of what it denies, or by the way it imposes frictions between popular desires for change and actual reform?”
I’ve given a definition, and you’ve got the folk definition above.
“Or is the label an empty one?”
Mencius is trying to make it one, and I think it isn’t, so I’m complaining.
“we have been the active enemy of every nation that ever carried the Communist name. This continues today with holdouts Cuba and North Korea”
Good point, I wish I could find that old comment of mine pointing out the many communists we bombed/invaded wish they could have been treated as harshly as fascist Spain/Portugal.
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