The Lies Aren’t All Right

I’m glad Vocativ’s Matt Sigl clarified his inquiry over at Nick Land’s place.  I can’t seem to link to particular comments, but scroll down and you’ll see what he say..  That’s what I thought he was getting at, but I thought it prudent to refrain from providing a response while there was still some risk of misunderstanding.   I’ve heard this line of argument many times, so I’ll expand his impression to a more complete treatment.

His question, if I may paraphrase liberally and arrogate to myself some generous interpretive license, operates in this Techno-Whig-History frame which over-unifies political ideology with technology into one narrative of progress.  He asks something like this:

“What’s the Dark Enlightenment Community really complaining about with regards to Democracy, Government, PC, and Progressive ideology?  The economy has grown (albeit haphazardly) and continues to grow, or at least not shrink too badly in Europe, and real productivity has increased, for most people.”

“Technology in particular has advanced significantly.  Indeed, from the perspective of people only a generation ago, some of our capabilities would seem almost magical and near-miraculous.  In the past century, despite all its progressivism, many aspects of human life have improved dramatically as a result of this technological dividend.  To be sure, a lot of technological development went on in the past in non-progressive societies but today it’s the progressive countries that still do the most R&D and produce the most innovative and global-market-dominant tech companies.  Not only that, but with lower costs and mass production, even the poorest now have access to tools, toys, and comforts, that even the richest and more powerful could not acquire at any price mere decades ago.  I mean, Jesus; iPhones!”

“So, come on you Chicken Littles, things aren’t that bad and they’re getting better all the time.  Sure, some things at some places may be getting worse, and this may even be Progressivism’s fault and the blame justly laid at the Cathedral’s feet.  But it’s always raining somewhere even though the skies are clear over most of the Earth.  Perhaps some of those things are even the unavoidable negative trade-offs necessary to achieve what most people consider a net positive – like less racism, or something.”

“An overemphasis of – even obsession with – those particular declining factors seems a kind of neurotic hypersensitivity. At the very least, as bad as Progressivism may be, it doesn’t seem to have smothered the processes which have generated these improvements.  And, yes, perhaps the causality runs the other way, which is that it was only technological improvement that has kept an otherwise calamitous Progressivism afloat.  Even so, it floats; it has proven capable at not going so far in bad directions so as to sink and go under.  And it’s not like it’s murdering people or putting them in gulags.  So what’s the big deal?  Can you really prove that the non-progressive counterfactual would have left us that much better off?  That seems a hard thing to do.”

“As I see it, there are only two reasonably coherent ‘Social Critique’ possibilities remaining.  1. The DEC consensus view is that things are deteriorating and about to get much worse, perhaps because some accumulated erosion of self-sustaining attributes hits some kind of ‘singularity’ or vicious-cycle tipping point, or 2. DEC folks are just those who subjectively don’t like living in a Progressive society, even if it objectively delivers technical progress and an improved standard of living.  This could makes sense, for example, if you would prefer to live in a low-tech traditionally religious society, because technical Progressive societies tend to be secular and discouraging of traditional religion in the public square.”

“I see a lot of evidence of the former explanation, given the tendency of some to engage in a lot of ultra-bear, coming-of-the-millennium talk about imminent collapse, crisis, catastrophe, apocalypse, hyperinflation, leftist singularities and so on, and sometimes with a disturbing display of eagerness.  Throughout recent history, the erroneous doomsayers  whose faulty predictions, while often believed, have not come to pass have outnumbered Cassandras by many orders of magnitude.  That makes me justifiably skeptical of similar assertions, so why should I give DEC claims any credence or special solicitude?”

I hope I have all that right Matt.  Let me know if you meant something else.

My simple answer is that I view technological progress as an almost orthogonal phenomenon to contemporary progressive politics.  Good R&D, and the consequent improvement in living standards, has occurred for centuries in almost every kind of advanced society, and under all sorts of ideological and political systems.

Even totalitarian societies – and especially wartime economies – produce a lot of innovation due to necessity and dramatic reallocation of resources.  The pace and direction of discovery and innovation depends on the society’s structure of incentives, its government’s priorities, it’s human and intellectual capital, not to mention its interaction with (or free riding off of) other innovative societies. Progressivism didn’t ‘earn’ the technological progress over which it presided anymore than Fascism did.  Something else common to both earned it.

A little story – many years ago I was traveling in Russia and visited with an impressively multilingual young man who had, during Soviet times, taken the TransSiberian all the way to North Korea and had been granted the privilege of visiting the Hermit Kingdom during a brief interglacial period in relations, and thus with only minimal supervision by the minders.  He, a man with an affinity for classical Western culture, was appalled by their cultural and social backwardness.  Even the Soviet Russians thought they were unnecessarily brutal monsters.

He described the situation as if you had dropped twentieth century industrial technology and social control techniques on primitive barbarians without any capacity to develop it themselves, and without having undergone the many painful creations of the social institutions that were developed by more advanced societies to handle the ordeal of radical social change prompted by bourgeois industrialization.  A tyrannical nightmare in the guise of beleaguered utopia.  That ‘barbarians with technology’ bit reminds me of Afghanistan, except, instead of industry, it’s weaponry.

‘Just like Orwell’ he said.  But even the Norks – with their semi-open-prison of a country, inability of most people to access information from the outside world, international sanctions and meager resources – have managed to pull off greater technological progress (mostly in the military realm) than other freer, richer countries.  I’ve been on the wrong end of the barrel, so to speak, of some of their achievements.  One wonders what they could do with more resources and trade … oh wait, it’s called South Korea.

And absent some kind of Dark-Age inducing cataclysm, advances in the storage, dissemination, and transmission (especially intergenerational transmission) of information mean that the history of technological capability really is Whiggish.  Once something is known to be true it remains true and can be known forever for free.  It feeds on itself and is a positive ratchet, an evolutionary tower of babble with stages that never crumble, upon which we can always build new floors. Maxwell’s anti-entropy Daemon realized.

In general, we may slow or stagnate in our refinement and advancement of applied knowledge of nature, but we don’t forget and we don’t go backwards.  Indeed, I believe outside IT (and software, robotics, automation, etc.) that technical progress is slowing, not because of politics but mainly because we’ve eaten all the low hanging fruit, but that is a separate discussion.

The best thing about technology is that, unlike a lot of the pretense at ‘knowledge’ you’ll find in other intellectual fields, technology actually has to work in reality.  Not just work, but work better than all competitors.  The combination of the constant competitive pressure provided by this kind of reality-test market discipline (both for nations and enterprises), and the unidirectional preservation of past achievements, is what gives us actual progress.

None of this applies to politics or ideology.  The competitiveness of such ideas is more related to their relative attractiveness than their effectiveness.  Human nature being what it tragically is, there is, alas, little correlation between those two criteria.  It also doesn’t hurt if your side has control over your society’s major lines of opinion-forming communication, along with the orthodoxy-enforcing disciplinary mechanism of ‘social consequences’.  That allows one to spread seductive manipulations and pretty lies without meaningful resistance.  It’s a bad medieval theocracy.

So, like Moses, I divide the sea of ‘progress’ into two.  Technology over there on the right, political ideology, naturally, over there on the left.  If you name something and call it ‘progress’ or ‘things aren’t so bad’, the question is to which side of the Mosaic Marine divide it is more properly attributed.  My guess, 99 times out of 100, it’s the tech side.  ‘Policy’ is an ambiguous category of ’cause’ for beneficial effects, as it can result from technocratic concerns, political ideology, or some combination.  It’s important to disaggregate the inputs.

We’re complaining about what’s happening on the left, not the right, which is subsidizing the left. My personal view is that the subsidy is more than sufficient to keep the lights on for the foreseeable future, but it all depends on what’s important to you.  The left is spreading lots of those pretty lies, which is slowly hurting us in lots of little and a few big ways.  If what was important to you was ‘Detroit’, and you were to compare snapshots from 1953 and 2013, then things looks pretty bad and you wouldn’t call it ‘progress’ at all.

If someone had told you we went from the former snapshot to the latter in just a few years, you would think, ‘Cataclysm!’  But we boiled that frog nice and slow.  Progressivism has been using the techno subsidy to afford boiling all kinds of frogs all over the place. Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” is a decent overview of the social dimension of the fallout.

Why do the pretty lies matter?  Where to begin!  For one, we are wasting enormous amounts of lives and treasure pursuing mythical El Dorados and impossible egalitarian pipedreams.  People really want to believe in these El Dorados.  We don’t learn from our failures which only cause us to redouble our efforts and the magnitude of the waste and misallocation of scarce resources.  There are massive economic and sociological penalties, many of which I plan to explore in this space in due time.

Second, the PC inquisition and threats of ‘social consequences’ under which we live is spiritually corrosive and, as with any taboos, intellectually stifling.  Taboo really does smother the pursuit of lots of efforts with big potential gains.

You know, instead of trying to get blacks and Hispanics to score a full standard deviation higher while preventing whites and Asians from scoring higher, why not try to get everybody to score a half standard deviation higher? That’s both more feasible and more equitable.

But, to me, the worst part of the false consciousness spread by the left is that many people are prevented from achieving their goals (and even psychological health) because they have been convinced to follow strategies that achieve the opposite of what they claim.  They have been sold a false ‘happiness model’, and upon following its prescriptions, end up frustrated with failure and cannot understand why.

At least, they can’t understand on their own.  But now we have the post-critical-mass internet.

An obvious DEC example is Game, with Heartiste being the best online source for general disabusement, in my judgment.  Progressivism, Feminism, etc., tells both men and women how they should behave, interact, and live their lives in order to accomplish their goals and achieve sustained satisfaction and contentedness.  Surely I don’t have to explain how critical the truth or falsity of advice for this particular concern is for human happiness.

And yet it is utterly false, and both men and women become dissatisfied and discontent.  No man who discovers game on the internet after a few years of haphazard experience with courting the opposite sex, who then tries it out and enjoys success with it, feels anything but profound resentment at being lied to, embarrassment at being fooled, and regret over their wasted opportunities.

Multiply that by everything.  Then clear it all away, discover and embrace the truth, and press forward to imagining a better, truer way to live.  That’s the DE to me.

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72 Responses to The Lies Aren’t All Right

  1. What if I told you that technological progress – outside of semiconductors (Moore’s Law) has in fact more or less stopped, sometime in the 1970s – or perhaps even earlier? Sounds outrageous? Think again: virtually all of the technological advances of the past three or four decades were really imitations and trivial improvements of the major breakthroughs of the 19th (!) century – the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, and typewriter.

    People arguing against this thesis often bring up the medical sciences, but the fact remains that the life expectancy of a civilized person who lives to be twenty has scarcely increased since the introduction of modern sanitation – in Victorian times. And even this advance has proven a mixed blessing: autoimmune diseases; the (IMHO, strong) ‘Hygiene Hypothesis.’

    Nothing worthy of the title ‘invention’ has really appeared (at least in mass production) since ARPAnet. And quite a few scientific and technological disciplines are in fact moving backwards.

    Software, in particular, has reached a kind of technological ‘red dwarf’ phase by accumulating ‘accidental complexity’ (that is, layers of garbage, which make every learner stupider – in the same sense that attaching ‘ball and chain’ weights to the arms and legs of a runner makes him slower.) To see what I mean, consider my discussion “Going Nowhere Really Fast, or How Computers Only Come in Two Speeds” (, or some of my other ruminations on the subject (listed here:

    A similar thing has happened more or less across the board in every scientific field, as generalists have been thoroughly written out of the game by the victory of ‘credentialism’ – a kind of perverse Confucianism – to be replaced by insect-like specialists with scarcely any vision, awareness of ‘the big picture,’ or even any trace of actual concern for the overall advancement of the sciences.

    Speaking only for myself, I’ve worked in several ‘basic research’ labs, largely filled with people with advanced degrees who, with one or two exceptions, got them by carrying out work (largely at East Asian unis) that wouldn’t have satisfied a high school science fair judge in the 1950s America. These are the people who are willing to work (often for what is in effect less than ‘minimum wage’ in American ‘STEM’ academia. (See Greenspun’s wonderful essay: Almost without exception, they are good at certain aspects of what T. S. Kuhn called ‘Normal science’ – such as incrementally shrinking the transistor – and very little else.

    The ‘SF Future’ isn’t happening, and this fact has nothing to do with the outlandishness of the technologies people imagine under that name. Don’t think ‘flying cars,’ think ‘paradigm shifts.’ These were in fact happening: in 1870s-1960s America; in 1950s-60s USSR (until Brezhnevization ran its course.)

    Consider the possibility that scientific and social regress aren’t entirely uncoupled. This is actually a simpler hypothesis than ‘We are living in a social Dark Age but with scientific advancement coming out of nowhere.’ The simpler hypothesis is: ‘We are living in a Dark Age. A Dark Age with iPhones.’

    • Handle says:

      Heh, you’re talking to the guy who owns, a placeholder site where I’ve been chronicling exactly what you’ve been writing about for about the last five years. It looks like you and I are on the same page.

      Then Cowen came out with The Great Stagnation and even though that book is very different from the one I would have (will still?) write, my rate of researching, brainstorming, and flushing out the outline slowed to a crawl.

      Overspecializtion and R&D Labor Market economics are contributors, but I think the story is more on of the constrains of physical reality. The whole energy sphere is dominated by these constraints.

      When the Obama administration mandates that cars average a ludicrous amount of miles per gallon in a decade, they are really banning large, sturdy automobiles without saying they’re banning it. Some of them may be engaging is wishful, magical thinking, and really believe that ‘incentives’ can achieve in time what is presently impossible, but it helps if you don’t mind if it turns out to be impossible. The Japanese are very can’t reach those levels and they drive tiny, flimsy tin cans at crawlingly slow speed limits, that still couldn’t survive a collision with a Harley.

      When they, for example, say they are limiting Coal Base Power Plants to 1,100 pounds of CO2 per Megawatt-hour electricity, when you do the math, that comes out to over 80% total efficiency, from combustion to generation, which is even beyond perfect Carnot Efficiency.

      In the future, we won’t explicitly ban anything. We’ll just require that they achieve some impossible technical criteria that is extrapolated an order of magnitude out from a diminishing-returns plateauing trend.

      • The one item I take issue with is the ‘low-hanging fruit’ hypothesis. Anyone who learns the history of, say, Maxwell’s equations and still thinks that the Victorians plucked low-hanging fruits, is smoking something strange!

        Our stagnation has nothing to do with the ‘height’ of the remaining fruits. This is a ‘people problem.’ When was the last time you met a professional inventor? Not the patent trolls who sometimes appropriate the title, but a real one. The profession is largely extinct, and even if you somehow make a living doing something which resembles classical invention, you’ll draw funny looks if you introduce yourself as an ‘inventor.’

        In the U.S., many of the things one must regularly do as a generalist inventor aren’t even strictly legal at this point. And some, while technically legal, will draw close official scrutiny. Try purchasing so much as a glass beaker in the state of New York, for instance.

        Hobbyist electronics remains a largely-unregulated affair, but I expect that it will begin to share the fate of amateur chemistry when the tale of the first malicious model aircraft (or the like) hits the papers.

  2. Dan says:

    Wonderful essay.

    I feel like leftist ideology is ripe for one courageous person to blow it sky high. What if James Watson, while he was being Watsoned, had instead of issuing pointless apologies had just kept doubling down? I mean what if he just humbly offered a bibliography of 300 references? He is old, he is the discoverer of DNA, he could have just presented data.

    I am just waiting for any credentialed scientific or medical person to state the obvious about transgender nonsense. Stick to science only but don’t back down. That emperor is not wearing so much as a sock.

    Or Obama’s economics. Can one Senator just tell him with confidence that he is tragically mistaken about how things work? Tell him that yes he may win political victory because of voting and demographics but it does not matter because natural economic law cannot be changed by any number of political wins? Or tell him that he is tragically mistaken about equality, that it simply isn’t correct and we going to have to get along with our differences?

    Reagan knew for a fact that he was correct, full stop. When he stared down Communism it was all over because they knew it too.

    • misha says:

      What do you mean by transgender nonsense? There’s multiple neurological studies showing differences in brain structure in gay and transgender people that seems to indicate they have a real condition for which the only treatment is a palliative surgery. See also:

      • Handle says:

        Thanks for the link misha! Thanks for coming by, and willkommen to meinem haus.

        When I was in undergrad we had a professor doing in-utero hormone concentration experiments on chinchillas. Females exposed to male-concentrations of testosterone acted like males and had distinctive, male-type hippocampus, etc. Male fetuses with estrogen vice versa. He claimed he was able to introduce a gene block that consistently yielded two ‘breeds’ of ‘transgender’ chinchillas. A males-born-to-act-like-females breed and vice versa. Then he would adjust the in-utero hormonal balance to be consistent with the genetic gender, which he claimed restored normal gendered brain structures and activity. He claimed (and remember this was years ago) that it should be technically feasible and relatively inexpensive to monitor human womb hormone concentrations and regulate them if they deviated from the genetic gender (which he thought was due to a variety of infectious agents). I admit I haven’t paid much attention to the subject since.

      • D says:

        Sorry, scientist here. We are rare, but we actually exist. I guess what we have here is dark enlightenment-lite. Don’t want to offend in these parts do we?!

        It is pure nonsense in the sense that genuine switching is not remotely possible, at least not so far. Hasn’t ever occurred in the whole history of any mamalian species. Remember, this is scientifically about reproductive roles, nothing more and nothing less. The y-chromosome has around 100 different genes and we haven’t the first clue what most of them do. The primary sex organs are the testes and the ovaries, not the external anatomy. And nobody is even pretending to switch the primary organs. People are fixated on the external. Fine, I get that. But remember that who would claim to have switched are making a social social claim and not a scientific one. And more, most straight young people are looking for a reproductive partner and have no use for someone who has had their reproductive function surgically removed and not replaced with other reproductive function.

        As for neurological differences, so? Most males but not all have a typical male neurological profile. Most females but not all have a typical female neurological profile. That is a secondary characteristic. Facial hair is almost always the provence of men and developed mammary organs are almost always the provenance of women. But these are secondary characteristics and not the source of the scientific definition.

        • etype says:

          non-scientist here with an interesting anecdote;
          In the eighties I was in a Univerity library in Germany and wandering around I came to a section where it was verboten to enter unless I had a med or biology grad student card. So I had a friend who did and went and borrowed his card and entered and spend some time reading. I saw some 16mm films and those are always good for stills for the ‘experimental films’ I was making – so I took one to sign out, but they wouldn’t let me but offered a room and editors televiewer to watch the film, so I did. What I saw blew my brain straight out of my ears. You may know the first part of the story….. in the 17th century some Spanish monks in the Dominican republic wrote about little girls who suddenly and inexplicably underwent metamorphosis at the age of 12-13 into handsome young muscular men.

          A medical researcher in Germany named Dr. Dernier Gurski was doing endocrinology research on stressing rats in mazes and measuring their hormonal levels, because he was interested by the blooming of homosexuality after the war (WWI) and had a theory that along with inter-uterine hormonal transmission on a fetus, the same syndrome could be seen to take place in the developed adult. So Gurski studied the antique manuscripts and went to the Dominican Islands and did a full study. He was the first to study and write on this phenomenon which is now more commonly known, but he himself is completely unknown and not one citation of his name can be found on the internet or in historical medical journals. He did full biopsies, bloodwork, photographs over several years on the intermarried families and their children who were filmed in their progression from girls to men ….dug up graves going back centuries to analyse the bones and whatever of the ancestors of these families. I could write pages on the information here because it etched itself indelibly into my brain and there are so many various fascinating details involved – but don’t have time so I will cut as cleanly as possible to the chase.
          DNA and it’s structure was already known in Germany in the 19th century (well before 1952’s Crick and Watson’s simple model – Dr. Friedrich Miescher 1860) and Gerski as a result of his endocrineal results from the Dominican hermaphrodites developed a theory that a particular protein in the testosterone was according to him – an enzyme responsible for all development of the DNA proteins signalling that determine which particular cell grows into an eye or a toe etc. He theorized he could regrow the limbs and shattered organs of soldiers, and in the film (made in 1937) he showed a normal piglet, he amputated it’s foreleg, and grew back two complete forelegs in it’s place so that the piglet had 3 forelegs (it was shown progressively on the film – I understand you must take this with a grain of salt – so I only offer it for your amusement and consideration). He theorized in this film, he could take a man or woman of fertile age, and change them to the physiological opposite sex in 60-90 days, complete metamorphosis, though they would not as he could see it at this early point be fertile. He further theorized that with a donor organ – say a human liver, it could be theoretically transplanted into a pig or primate support system and then he could grow several exact organs from this for transplantation into the ailing patient. His theory was testosterone, or androgen enzymes were the responsible for all cellular mutation – and once understood any mutation or augmentation of the human physiology was possible. My eyes fell out of my head. I had never heard of anything like this in my life. I don’t know what happened to Dr. Gerski, but somewhere in Germany research exists that apparently can do just what you say – and much more. Why it hasn’t been exploited, I don’t know. At any rate, I must go.

          • etype says:

            I had some links in there but they didn’t show – – you have that turned off Handle?

          • Handle says:

            No, links are on, I don’t see any links in your comment on my end though.

          • etype says:

            I erred when I said ‘theorized’ growing limbs, what I meant was on humans, in the film he progressively showed the growing of two replacement limbs where one had been amputated on a swine. It wasn’t grafted, it was grown. The film didn’t show any other work, but there was supposed to be three reels and I only had two so perhaps he had grown several twin organ in swine, I don’t know.

          • etype says:

            here is the link for the Dominican hermaphrodites.

            These photographs are not Gerski’s because his where very high quality and in German, but they show something, and perhaps you can search for some back story which is quite fascinating. Apparently as I remember it the family line responsible for the hermaphrodites had always these women robber queens and etc. It’s fascinating.
            search ‘domincan hermorphidites’ or some variation if this is interesting — — have to go

          • Handle says:

            I pause slightly at the prospect of what Google will show me should I search for ‘Dominican hermaphrodites’

          • etype says:

            Probably have to sift through a lot of craiglist and okcupid ads before finding anything on those particular families. Maybe ‘Dominican Hermorphodite + Families’…er, anyway just an response concerning D’s comment ‘genuine switching hasn’t happened in mammals in history’, sorry.

  3. Konkvistador says:

    ” I can’t seem to link to particular comments, but scroll down and you’ll see what he say.”

    This is something that annoys me as well considering the comment section there is often excellent and I want to point people. I’d appreciate if anyone found a way and shared it.

    • Handle says:

      His system does allow the comment-specific links, it just doesn’t display on the comment itself, which is very annoying.

      On the left “Recent Comments” tabs, you can get the links to the latest five if you catch them in time. I’d play with it more, but the site is blocked at my day space.

      • Nick Land says:

        Try clicking on “Quote” (which I think works for all comments except replies, and so provides a rough-and-ready ‘pointer). It’s the WordPress package, so tinkering with the blog mechanics is something I’d approach with extreme trepidation — but I sympathize with the request.

        • nickbsteves says:

          Re: link Landian Comments, the simplest way I’ve found is to 1) view the html source, 2) search for the comment text, and 3) find the hash associated with that comment (which can be appended to the page link). I usually check it up in the url bar to make sure it works right.

          I guess that’s what Erik is saying… only longer.

    • Erik says:

      The very fast, very ugly hack is Ctrl-U Ctrl-F, find the comment text in the source, grab the nearby anchor tag.

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  5. asdf says:

    “But, to me, the worst part of the false consciousness spread by the left is that many people are prevented from achieving their goals (and even psychological health) because they have been convinced to follow strategies that achieve the opposite of what they claim. They have been sold a false ‘happiness model’, and upon following its prescriptions, end up frustrated with failure and cannot understand why.”

    If I wanted to advance my own interests, or even being generous the interests of those immediately around me and myself, I would want other people to adopt frames that aided me. Much like I want the person on the other side of the poker table to play their hand badly. Some of these frames might be bad for them, but what matters is that they are good for me.

    So if I have something to gain from leftism, I’m going to promote a leftist frame on society. Which is why most prominent leftists do so.

    But what if most don’t gain from that frame, as you claim most don’t. Every 8th grader asks, “why didn’t the slaves just rise up and kill their masters.” The answer is a simple coordination problem. Any slave that rebels is unlikely to have every other slave rebel in a coordinated manner. Thus they are likely to pay a large personal price for trying to change the frame. Meanwhile, if they suck up and betray any rebellions they might become a house slave, which is a better personal deal for them and much more likely.

    And if you’ve got to be a slave you might as well convince yourself all the pro-slavery propaganda is true, because its depressing as fuck to believe otherwise. It also lowers your status if you admit your a slave, at least when you deny it other people might buy that bullshit. Since you can’t change it yourself, might as well pretend its what you wanted all along. And since your going to pretend, why not convince yourself to believe it.

    You might say that the house slave benefits are pretty low, but its all based on what the slave can do for you and what kind of a threat they are. The working class in Fishtown aren’t a threat, so they don’t even bother throwing them but the merest scraps anymore. Higher caste get a complex system of powerful carrots and sticks. They can rebel in little ways, however they can’t rebel in a way that would change anything important.

    Maybe leftism is bad for mankind, but its good for somebody out there, and the rest of us don’t have the incentive to stop them.

    • VXXC says:

      @ Shotgun Blast [in general] — Re Fishtown vs. House Swipple– The fighting would done by fools – or would be with a tiny scrap of leadership thrown their way – but you see the thinking are c_____s who have no “incentive”. Fill in the blank.

      Fishtown is not worth scraps because of House White Slaves. With Anil Dash as Simon Legree.

      “Gents” Never mind your game. Chop it off before you contaminate us further. I’ll take Fishtown. I can explain reaching for dinner utensils from the outside in afterwards

  6. Scharlach says:

    Another point is that systems which produce real technological or medical progress are by and large right-wing systems, in practice if not in name. In other words, wherever you find productive technological progress in the past or in the present, you probably won’t find progressive policy. Instead, you’ll find people and policies whose philosophy is: “put up or shut up” or “produce or get out.” Can you imagine if Menlo Park had been forced to comply with EEO legislation? (We’ll get our chance to find out if the feds start going after Silicon Valley.) Technological and medical progress are the geese that lay the golden eggs, so the people working in these fields are generally left to their own devices. And if we study those ‘devices,’ rather than the socio-political context in which they are embedded, we will almost always discover a system that is meritocratic, un-egalitarian, and driven by competition. I.e., a right-wing system.

    When a technological producer succumbs to progressive philosophy, you get . . . well, you get NASA.

  7. VXXC says:

    The arrogance of these people thinking they are responsible for technological progress, which is slowing down due to their efforts. Going back to the moon in the 70s and further out was more low hanging fruit.

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  9. Guncriminal says:

    “[North Korea has] managed to pull off greater technological progress (mostly in the military realm) than other freer, richer countries.”

    I can’t find any evidence for this claim, Handle. Most of their military consists of either imports (most of the aircraft) or knock offs of antique Soviet designs (tanks and other vehicles).

    • Cranking out quasi-working copies of Soviet war machines – while having more or less no national economy to speak of – is an achievement in its own right. Sort of like the hand-milled AK clones Afghanistan is famous for.

    • Handle says:

      A valid criticism. I should have used the term ‘proficiency’, but that being said, the Norks have developed some weapons advances on their own. There are a lot of countries above North Korea on this list that I’d have no problem as also ranking as less technically capable / innovative than the Kim regime.

  10. Toddy Cat says:

    “Indeed, from the perspective of people only a generation ago, some of our capabilities would seem almost magical and near-miraculous. ”

    Bulls**t. I was around back then, and in the 1960’s/70’s, we were expecting moon bases, space stations, flying cars, and one-stop cancer cures. The idea that people in 1970 would be impressed by something as tame as an iphone is absurd. Watch the original “2001 – A Space Odessey” to see what people a generation ago thought the 21st century would be like. I only really realize the depths of leftist mendacity now that I am old enough to see history I actually lived through being re-written. No wonder my Dad used to get so pissed off when he watched “histories” of the Depression and WWII.

    • Handle says:

      Heck, I think the current state of Wikipedia is awesome. Like Razib, I remember card catalogs.

      Just because people in the past didn’t imagine the future the way it actually developed, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be impressed with what we’ve got.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Well, I was a person in the past, and I’m not impressed with what we’ve got.

        • Handle says:

          What would impress you?

          • Fusion energy (or maybe it’s impossible, I don’t know–I’d settle for more fission energy)
            Finding out what causes cancer to metastasize, and curing it
            Healing compromised neural tissue
            Ways to transport people and things in that space above our heads that stays mostly empty (the irony of empty airspace for miles around while the highway is a parking lot)
            Affordable houses that last for centuries

  11. etype says:

    Handle, wikipedia sucks – few people referring to it’s white-washed articles understand the context of the blurbs they copy and paste…. minds have begun to work this way ‘copy and paste’, without evaluation or understanding. Wikipedia and other concerns are just playing the long-game, waiting until traditional media is purged from libraries and schools, then a serious effort of ‘history-washing’ will occur. The primary target for progressives is ‘history’, they don’t want anyone to have any.
    Catalog-cards worked excellently – as good or better than most library computer systems. I’m still amazed at how much more I enjoyed catalog cards. Smartphones are superficial toys offering no serious benefit other than distraction and social status indicators. We are being reduced to the mental status of high school students by these types of technology, especially in thinking we can’t get along without these superficialities.
    While I enjoy and welcome toys, the reality is computer technology hasn’t done much of anything that couldn’t be done by paper and pencil except put people out of work. It’s primary product is toys, whether business toys, or what have you. However for government and progressives, it’s weaponized potential as a system of control was recognized quite early on. The future is definitely computers vs. people, in every sector.

    • Handle says:

      ‘The future is definitely computers vs. people, in every sector.’

      No argument there. ‘If any job can be well-defined, it can be automated’.

      I’m guessing people will ‘rent-seek’ to try and use the law to the maximum extent possible to mandate certain jobs stay human, or at least human-supervised.

      My overall impression is that this will be a tremendous political problem, and that it is simply not on the system’s radar, which wouldn’t have any idea what to do about the fallout, even if it was.

      The question is what fields will get automated first.

      A lot of people think ‘low skill work, duh!’, but I’m not so sure.

      Automation is much better at large, heavy, predictable movements from static platforms with direct connections to bandwidth and electricity (and service personnel). Low skill tasks that involve personal mobility and a lot of quick, subtle movements are hard to replicate, and batteries are still a joke compared to biochemical energy storage. Plus, those kind of robots won’t scale easily. Also, look, these humans are really cheap. So, I think Juanita will still be doing housekeeping at the local hotel for a long, long time. Ditto for a lot of service industry work, and especially personal service work: restaurants, construction, barbers, nannying, lawn service, etc.

      On the other hand, agriculture seems something ripe (heh) for massive automation. I imagine a greenhouse the size of Kansas with maybe just a few humans supervising a gigantic robotic operation with automated trucks or trains that deliver fresh produce to market. That’s will affect lots of people, but they are almost all immigrants in West, so we could reduce visas to compensate.

      Look, the future is going to be very different, and probably very painful politically. We should be preparing and positioning.

      • etype says:

        I’m sure you’ve heard the old chestnut, but I’ll repeat it in case you haven’t
        “The future workplace will consist of a machine, a man, and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog, the dog is there to keep the man away from the machine.”

  12. phiguy110 says:

    Excellent response. Thanks so much! I have so much to say, but the article should be coming out soon, so I’ll hold my thoughts until then. This was very helpful and well-articulated.

    -matt sigl

  13. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/10/09 | Free Northerner

  14. phiguy110 says:

    I am going to be hosting a live @Vocativ Twitter chat today at 1PM about the article. Feel free to participate. I’d love to get some juicy back and forth with smart Neo-reactionaries like yourself!

    • Handle says:

      Thanks for the invite. Alas, I’ll be on a plane at the time, and I imagine many folks will be at work and unable to tweet. So, if you could, please compile a transcript of the discussion (reading on the twitter site can be annoying to follow) and let me know where it can be found.

      • Yikes says:

        I’m astonished how fast it went from hosting sophomoric and dorky blogs with occasional interesting, ecumenical discussions–so your average LessWrongian SWPL thing–to seeing this bottom-feeding media circus and cult, in which one’s implicated, every time one ventures into the blogosphere. I have my share of blame. Still it’s like having the pink paddle-splash pool in one’s backyard converted to a sewer full of aliens. The water may have already been a bit yellow, but it seems unfair to have it turned into a sewer. The aliens, whatever regrettable rite summoned them, have shown that the bad problem is actually terminal and total. It’s sad.


    • Yikes says:

      I’d love to get some juicy back and forth with smart Neo-reactionaries like yourself!

      So does your old lady.

  15. phiguy110 says:

    1PM Eastern Standard TIme, to be precise. 🙂

  16. Yikes says:

    One more thing. (For the sake of a hypothetical reader who abhors the media circus and cult.) I would like to say that the Cathedralisation of the Internet has a subtle aspect.

    Progressivism is not about beliefs, it’s an encompassing system. There are many ways to be coordinated within the system without espousing progressive beliefs.

    When progressivism adapts to a new situation, whether calculated or automatic it probes for ways to manipulate people’s sense of status and their emotions. Attention, flattery, domination, mantras, glittering illusions and fictive socialisation are effective techniques, all orthogonal to explicit beliefs about Sex, Race, Equality, Economics, History or Politics. I like the word “sensitisation” to describe the process of discovering and manipulating these weaknesses, although that is to extrapolate from Jim Kalb’s original definition.

    The neo-reactionaries feel an ideological pressure to be infantile. They are sensitised because they respond. This is not mere immaturity and silliness, which manifests sporadically in a lot of people and is easily contained (e.g. by a sharp word or a downvote). Infantilism is fear of being serious and effective. The facetiousness therefore appears inexplicable: misplaced, uncharacteristic and out of control.

    Infantilism is one of the most important, recent forms of sensitisation. The Cathedralisation of the Internet includes the sense that an ideological searchlight has begun to sweep previously dark and quiet corners, and in these circumstances infantilism is comfort, a means of safe but plausibly deniable conformity. Better transform from a sharp contrarian into a cartoon racist who likes to tweet and chat to airhead progressive journalists. Somehow it feels safer, I empathically infer.

    So to be less snarky, infantilism is inadvertent and therefore irrational, but it does have an activation energy. The searchlight is a menace, yet I think there are more appropriate responses.

    There are other reasons why neo-reaction went off the rails. I think less of Moldbug’s ideas over time. As geniuses go, I think he’s too much a dilettante, polemicist and sophist to be the fons et erigo of a stable intellectual community. He doesn’t care for ethics, nor to distinguish carefully between variables and constants, or instrumental and epistemic speech acts. The most egregious, but attractive idea is that an orchestrated revolution (“reboot”) is a good way for thinking people to change politics, rather than the basest and riskiest element of dispute resolution between elites, who will conduct those disputes on their own (selfish, conformist, thoughtless…) initiative as a consequence of pure, abstract contrarian thought. The details of that causal relationship don’t matter too much, because a small attempt to expedite the process, a gesture in that direction will (as we have seen) introduce powerful and ugly forces into the community.

    There is also the mere exhaustion of fresh, low-hanging fruit (books, thoughts, insider knowledge) that is accessible without serious means or organisation, leading to futility.

    (P.S. I know because I thought about it on the bus.)

    • Handle says:

      What would you suggest to put neoreaction back on the rails. Besides “more seriousness”.

      • Yikes says:

        I would let it turn into a charred wreck.

        Apart from that, I would hesitate to treat the blogosphere as a main venue for discourse. Reasons in reverse order of severity:

        1. You are mocked for being infantile, and good ideas are tarred by association.
        2. You feed progressives, who are now keenly interested in contrarian discourse on the Internet, lots of information about your ideas, inclinations and status relationships, so it’s easy for them to devise new ways to sensitise and stigmatise contrarians. (A doozy, because in theory there seem many good reasons to involve intelligent Brahmin outsiders.)
        3. You are serious and effective, so become a target for vicious machinations.

        Best of luck, but I don’t have anything else to say.

        • Handle says:

          Thanks for the constructive input. Personally I am much less pessimistic about pseudonymous blogosphere communication and view it as a least awful way to carry on a dialog with my friends and bounce ideas around at various levels of formality. Everything you say could perfectly apply to the PUA / game /manosphere, in its infancy as well as presently, and the mainstem progressive media set their sites on that community to no apparent effect. I see no reason to expect otherwise from these latest bits of minor attention.

          In my view, effectiveness of any degree has two steps. The first is ‘red pilling’ – to encourage a few people to intellectually exit the labyrinth of the dominant political framework. To peek around the third dimension like a flatlander who never realized they were always trapped in the first two.

          At the mouth of the maze, perhaps you can coax a few new refugees to wander in your direction “you can find what you want over here with us” but even if not, at least they’re out of the minotaurs grasp.

          • Yikes says:

            Pick-up artists are progressives, in the meaningful sense as I described above. So are MRAs. “Activists” who want a version of “human rights”, aren’t they? They want better “policy”.

            The kind of extant (plebeian) masculinity that progressives don’t like, because it happens not to jibe with their model pleb, is that typified by blood sports such as boxing and F1 decades ago. Their risk-aversion is a rather mundane example of Cathedralisation. But the, ugh, manospheric conception of manhood is fine.

            I try to listen to the latest pop singles. The latest is “Work B*tch” by Britney Spears. It recalls the song that goes “we work hard, play hard, work hard, play hard”. This is all progressive as hell, and it’s a good soundtrack for pick-up artistry. A related, but less idiotic progressive meme is that culture resides in a city’s “bars and restaurants”.

            (And in a more exquisite circle of hell, it’s progressive to read Pinker and treat his ideas–critically or enthusiastically–as central to one’s intellectual life, but not necessarily progressive if one were to glance over a list of his claims and agree with the majority.)

            The only red pill worth producing is one that makes smart people feel as though it would be a wonderful game to make progressivism and other forms of ideological terrorisation obsolete. This red pill has a single golden thread of virtue and no morality. (Unlike the progressive pill, which has no virtue at all, but plenty of faux-morality.)

          • Handle says:

            I understand your broader sense of ‘progressive’ but the way it contrasts with what actual progressives understand their progressivism to be just creates semantic confusion. What would Carl Schmitt say about recognizing friends and enemies? Ask a progressive what they think about heartiste or Roosh. ‘All progressive as hell’ is the last thing you’ll hear. ‘Abomination’ is the first.

  17. Yikes says:

    Thanks for the constructive input. Personally I am much less pessimistic about pseudonymous blogosphere communication and view it as a least awful way to carry on a dialog with my friends and bounce ideas around at various levels of formality.

    I don’t disagree. Just that the DC meetings you and Foseti have described are probably a better idea (for you, who want to have some kind of weird revolution that won’t do anyone any good). You would have more normal and rounded types of interaction. The Internet discourse, such as it was, is spoiled by all the creepy media attention.

    I should stop now, because frankly I’ve lost interest in this stuff–except as a mild intellectual curiosity. Time to stop being a daydreamer!

  18. “In general, we may slow or stagnate in our refinement and advancement of applied knowledge of nature, but we don’t forget and we don’t go backwards.”

    Greek fire; Roman cement; Wootz steel; Ulfberht swords; silphium; Baghdad batteries; the Antikythera mechanism; Cuir-bouilli; Polybolos; Götz von Berlichingen’s prosthetic hand; the method by which the Egyptian Pyramids were built.

    History is replete with technologies being lost; the Greeks apparently lost writing in the “dark age of antiquity” (they used the Linear B ideogram-supplemented syllabary before and the Phoenician-derived alphabet after). According to at least some sources, the aborigines of Tasmania lost bone tools, sewn clothing, and the ability to make fire. Loss of necessary economies of scale, loss of access to needed resources, depletion of necessary resources, loss of secret knowledge, insufficient record keeping, ideology/religion (e.g. animal fat and blood in Roman cement, discontinued after the rise of Christianity as part of ending pagan animal sacrifice); all kinds of things have produced technological regression throughout human history. And if anything, the high-complexity of modern technology, its dependence on so much different specialized knowlege (more than any one person can know), and systems of tools to make the tools to make the tools to etc., where many of the earlier tools of these chains were built using “low-hanging fruit” resources that are no longer present (e.g. Greenland cryolite).

    • Handle says:

      Yeah, I know. But none of that is relevant today. Reread that part about dark ages vs. modern advances. We are in no danger of losing the alphabet.

  19. Yikes says:

    Serious people might be interested in my comments above.

    Evidence: apropos nothing, two worthless (but surely not naive) trolls decided it was necessary to push the comments out of the side bar, and out of view in this thread.

  20. VXXC says:

    What are you serious about Dear, other than over-medicating the Aspbergers? For instance Timur, Hitler, Peter Thiel, and even Obama may be considered serious people. Babe Heffron of Band of Brothers died a week ago, he was serious when it was serious.

    Since I’m seriously irritated at Plouffe types going on about how serious and adult they are, and how they’re above it all [is this a college major now?] please do furnish the criterion for serious?

    Certainly you take yourselves very seriously, but why should the rest of us?

  21. SMERSH says:

    There is a reason that these articles emphasize the “Geeks for monarchy”.

    NR can produce a pretty solid critique of universal suffrage democracy, once you bring multiple sources together. IIRC, Moldbug doesn’t really address the failure of democracy in the U.S. to actually function as a democracy.

    But NR can be a bit lacking in nuance at times and the leap to monarchy is not nearly as well supported as the critique of universal suffrage democracy is. There are, after all, forms of democracy that do not involve universal suffrage.

    After all, Monarchy also failed all over the world, although that failure was, admittedly, not nearly as destructive as the failure of Democracy has been. French revolution v.s. Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 is, of course, no contest. Still, we can presume that monarchy failed for a reason.

    The factors that caused monarchy to fail all over Europe probably go beyond “lol leftism” and they may well still exist today. It seems that there is some inherent fragility to the system, at least under certain circumstances.

    NR is good at diagnosing the problem, but not good at providing a solution, yet. But for the moment far more productive to attack than to defend. So, it should probably be emphasized that monarchy is being discussed as an *example* of a system that was successful for quite a long time, rather than as a practical fix for the current situation; “install divine right monarchy problem solves!”.

    • “NR is good at diagnosing the problem, but not good at providing a solution, yet.”

      Perhaps that’s because there is no solution?

    • Yikes says:

      I think it would be more productive to play MMORPGs and watch “The Hobbit”. Perhaps listen to a mashup of Snoop Doggy Dogg and Froude. Froude Doggy Dogg. Day job as an ethical hacker, part-time NGO gangsta rapper. Shitty leaks. Raspberry Pi self-cleaning toilet seat. How to spend all your Bitcoins on a TED Talk. Why aren’t there more dogs in open source software?

      Blog, blog, blog. Blog. Miley Cyrus does neo-reaction. Monarchical like we at a strip club. Steven Pinker on why America is more decentralised than you think. The power of old books: why I read Star Trek fan fiction. Law, liberty and batman’s racism.

  22. VXXC says:

    But for the moment far more productive to attack than to defend. – Exactly.

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