Monday, July 24, 2017

Aphorism no. 42 The Resolution to the Fermi Paradox

Technology is exponential and biology is linear. Therefore all, or most, species destroy themselves when their technology substantially exceeds in capability the capability of their genetic legacy code to deal with its effects.

There are many ways to go;

Death by sheer stupidity. Example: mass extinction exceeds the intelligence level necessary to solve mass extinction. Humans are simply too stupid to solve the extinction crises, global warming, population, African birth rates, etc. Sheer stupidity gets them in the end.

Death by prudishness. Perhaps a species has a taboo that prevents curing a disease, maybe it lacks the will to evolve, maybe genetic research is prohibited. Whatever the case, some legacy code prevents overcoming a challenge through the disgust reflex.

Death, by having have been bred, (in the past) into a corner. Maybe patriarchy becomes obsolete and they refuse to grow humans instead. Maybe the whole species is dependent on male dominance for its reproduction, and when the system dies, so does the species. Maybe religion dies and the species depended on that for survival.

Death by entertainment. The species masturbates furiously to porn instead of getting pregnant. It substitutes digital for real relationships. It entertains itself to the detriment of successful family formation. It adopts pets instead of babies.

Death by mad scientist. They foolishly pursue a line of reasoning to their doom.

Death by arms race. They kill themselves with bio-weapons, nuclear war, AI war, gene drive war, eugenics competition, or whatever.

Death by religious fanaticism. They have an evil cult like Islam that takes over their civilization and destroys it.

Death by feminism. Their women gain power and refuse to breed.

Death by plastic. A species invents a substance that cannot break down in the natural environment and destroys its own ecosystem.

Death by speciation. The male and female sex separate into different species and war with each other.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 1

Unless Byrce comes back from the internet dead, and objects to my republishing his work here, he will just have to contend with its continuance. I'm reprinting some of it so you can compare NRx ideas from 2013 with 2017. There are seven parts to this.

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 1

Neoreaction has just entered the mainstream sooner than we’d expected, so where I thought I would have the time to think a bit longer on how to provide an introduction to neoreaction for the newly initiated making their way from MSM sources, it seems better to go ahead and try that now. I don’t want to retread the territory already gone over in my two favorite introductions, Nick Land’s Dark Enlightenment sequence and Scott Alexander’s Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell (I would include Nick B. Steves’ Reactionary Consensus, but it’s incomplete, so I can’t say it’s one of my favorites yet), so I will try something different. Rather than a blow-by-blow analysis of neoreactionary ideology, I think a primer on the habits of neoreactionary thought might help to overcome the initial confusion of how one is supposed to understand something such as the advocacy of kings, housewives, and ethnic community, which explains the inevitable tendency to over-emphasize and misunderstand crucial distinctions when neoreaction is given an outsider’s view.

This, then, is an introduction to the neoreactionary mind and how he sees the world.

Neoreaction bootstraps itself out of the modernist thought paradigm which dominates Western civilization through a process of dialectical reductio. It is inevitable that you were socialized into this way of thinking such that you are literally incapable of working your way out of it without someone pointing out the contradictions in the system. In fact, you just take this way of thinking as normal. So normal, you don’t even see it, like contacts.

There is a reason an introduction to neoreaction might be thought of as a red pill. When you “get it,” suddenly the illusions of society are seen for what they really are. The orthodoxy which guides the elites from Harvard to the LA Times becomes obviously suspect in light of certain insights.

To consider how radically different all societies have been before the 18th century, when Progress became a theme, is to suppose that people will believe and consider normal almost anything they are socialized into. Women waited since the dawn of civilization to change things for themselves because it took that long for women to see through the illusion that was patriarchy, and were otherwise imprisoned in a false consciousness. The obviousness of woman’s subjugation under man, the obviousness of royalty’s control, and the obviousness of the Church’s right to inform the moral instruction of children were all things people were simply indoctrinated to. You can’t realistically expect a society to bootstrap themselves to Progressive ideals, because education can be a prison as well as freedom.

The neoreactionary would ask you to accept the truth of the principles behind such an explanation of the drastically anti-Progressive nature of all societies in all ways before the 18th century, only that you turn the same scrutiny on your own society.

How is it that a society of 300 million+ manages to have a very tightly distributed range of political views? Differences in presidents appear to be merely theoretical, and there was a wider range of political candidates to choose from in earlier elections. This doesn’t seem like a change in the nature of people. Why are opinion editorials between the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times essentially interchangeable? Why are virtually all universities in perfect lockstep on how society must be diverse and tolerant? We have more people and even more reason for more competition between sociopolitical and religious traditions, yet there is such little deviation from the orthodoxy that an academic who insists merely on documenting the findings of research stands to lose his job whenever that research threatens the empirical predictions of the orthodoxy.

Consider yourself. Why do you think you’re beyond the effects of socialization? Do you think all “those others” in history didn’t think they were perfectly normal as well? “I got through public school, and I’m fine.” That may be, but consider: many also get through child abuse. By what metric do you reckon you’re fine anyhow? Because you’re educated, you have a job, you’re not a bad person? Isn’t that the metric you were taught by the system? “No, the system teaches me to buy things.” And what taught you that this is what the system is like, if not the system? It may not teach you to buy things so much as it informs you of what to buy, and even if we suppose advertising has no effect on you, you still like the taste of Coca Cola. What is Coca Cola anyway? Sugar and water. If you could be adapted to drinking a superstimulus so patently unavailable in nature, what makes you think you couldn’t be adapted to the superstimuli of democratic theater and other forms of intellectual pornography?

I’m suggesting, in other words, that living inside a reality carefully constructed through the years by elaborate conditioning rituals, cult-like indoctrination techniques, and a state of the art and well-funded program of community organization can make people think the world around them is normal, well, and good, sometimes even the best. If you’re like most who grew up in America, you spent 12 years of your life in school, you’re aware of most the same news and cultural background, and you also have remarkably similar values to registered Democrats and Republicans. At least, “remarkably similar” when you consider all the political views that have been held by reasonable people throughout history and in other countries, and especially remarkably similar if you imagine everyone reached their political views through a process of reason. The Tea Party is obviously not as urgent a problem as the KKK, and yet declaring oneself a sympathizer with the Tea Party is about as dangerous a thought crime as the white guy will allow himself in company.

Education is touted as broadening horizons, and we arguably have more education than ever before. Why, then, the tighter distribution of political views? Assuming a random distribution, then a larger territory of political philosophy that one can appropriate should entail fewer essential agreements. Education does not seem so much about learning as it is about socialization into correct forms of thought, or catechesis. Such is the program the Church used through the Middle Ages, after all, right? Having more resources in society devoted to catechesis means a greater possibility for indoctrination. And in which society is this the case; ours, or the hypothetical superstitious peasant of Medieval England?

The more certain you are that you’re okay, the better it worked. Adaptation of a view that is contrary would be very difficult just in principle. The difficulty you find in understanding how neoreactionary views are understood and justified is an example of exactly that phenomenon in action. Why do you presume that, were you born into a different era with different norms, you would even think to challenge those norms? Do you think to challenge the norms present in society? The answer is probably negative in both cases.

A neoreactionary is aware how far outside the mainstream he stands. He has ceased to participate in politics the way the average man does. You won’t persuade him by calling him a racist, a sexist, unenlightened, or uneducated. In fact, were you to do so, the neoreactionary will point out that this behavior is exactly a case in point; it never has the effect of persuading the accused, but serves to consolidate the opinion of the audience. The hit piece is an ancestor of tribal ostracism. And the neoreactionary probably wears the accusation as a badge of honor, besides.

The point of elucidating where you stand is that “getting” neoreaction is a process which begins but is never finished. To get it is to believe it, but only because actually getting it is taboo. Acknowledging realities, which is the foundational conceit of the neoreactionary understanding, by itself makes one appear much more reactionary than modernist, implying a high standard of devotion required of the true believer. Neoreaction admits that people are different, and that as such it doesn’t make sense to afford everyone the same, whether that be income, opportunity, or even mere social approval. These differences are multidimensional, and include sexual, racial, and class categories. In contrast to the modernist, egalitarian paradigm which insists on treating everyone the same regardless of actual or probable ability, the neoreactionary insists that sound policy ought to treat differently as accords their real differences. This will improve human flourishing overall; a genius deprived of a more intensive education has undeveloped potential, while an idiot given a more intensive education is only having his time wasted.

These differences, understood by society and acted upon, lead to inequalities which make even the libertarian squirm. But they are only unequal as accords their actual inequality.

The threat of justice in this case depends on a fundamental inversion which the modernist fails to appreciate. Plato and Aristotle tell us that justice is equality, and we are not disagreed on this point. However, we believe ourselves more consistent in pursuing justice, for we do not attempt to treat people the same. Equality is treating like things as like, and unlike things as unlike. From this it follows necessarily that different things shouldn’t be treated the same; it does an injustice to all who are different than the presumed “likeness” we all supposedly share.

This is as short an explanation as can be given for the views neoreactionaries hold on race, sex, intelligence, and so on. The return to treating things as though they are different, because they are different, is the essence of reaction. The “neo” is that this is all given a thorough defending via abstractive philosophical, economic, and scientific reasoning.

There is certainly more that can be said, but the purpose of this post is less explanation and more to provoke the doubt of modernity. If you believe neoreaction is wrong, and you think you believe in equality, how do you justify it? Why is that metric best? What considerations are you leaving out? If your vision is radically different than has ever existed in human history before, what makes you so confident in it despite the lack of evidence in its favor? Why do you trust your education? What would you have to see in order to change your mind?

Originally published Monday, Nov 25th, 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 2

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 2

Neoreaction is not a political philosophy. Rather, it is more like a philosophy of political philosophy. How we can check the course of our ideas remains a habit of neoreactionary dialectic, for we are, or at least I am, intensely concerned with a worldview that is basically persuasive. The process of changing out of your modernist paradigm to try on another must be thought of as bootstrapping for it proceeds by an almost inevitable process of perpetual motion.

A snarky opponent will jump on my claim that I want to put together a system that is “basically persuasive,” pointing out how thoroughly unconvinced he is, as though 1) I haven’t thought of this already and 2) it were relevant. The better question is, what do I mean by “basically persuasive?”

We are on a journey, an adventure as it were, and I regret to inform you that while at the end of our journey lies a lot of excitement, sometimes you must make your way through a bog. This is one of those bogs, but I promise to make it as painless as possible.

I am an essentially disagreeable person. On the Big 5 personality test, I score in the 1st percentile in Agreeableness, which is another way of saying that I am less agreeable than 99% of people. Why does this matter? Because it leads to the perpetuation of mental models of how one might disagree with my position, the pruning of those theoretical counter-responses counting as my development of the concept. In other words, I think through things by arguing out both sides using all background philosophy as a resource for ways of rounding up arguments. I’ve also noticed a pattern, a philosophy of analysis as it were, in the way I argue out a position to myself. The first and most critical factor is identifying the hypothesis and determining the conditions which serve to confirm, disconfirm, and corroborate a hypothesis. That is to say, describing a position through the principles by which it ought to prove persuasive.

My defense and explanation of a corpus of thought such as neoreaction then proceeds less as a straightforward defense of certain theses, but the construction of “reason generators.” This has to do with my theory of conversion. As I am, in a potentially oblique fashion attempting the conversion of souls who appreciate a good argument, and neoreaction is intrinsically self-referential, it is only fitting that my explanation of the neoreactionary worldview would provide a philosophy for how and why an individual would/should be lead to adopt it was an interpretation of the world. This is the bootstrapping element in play, for I am trying to throw a ladder down the pit of modernism which has so far throughout your life convinced you to disregard certain essential biases that evolved for a reason.

An argument cannot of itself persuade an individual, save for the area of pure logic or metaphysics, which is by nature detached from experience. Where claims relevant to interpreting the phenomena of civilization come into play, however, we can put them through a proto-scientific schema of testing. Modernism is predicated on a number of fundamental claims concerning human nature and the potential ways in which society may work. These claims are essentially egalitarian, and, from the neoreactionary perspective, the denial of HBD science that demonstrates the reality of race-like populations of humans can only be interpreted as the Leftist version of Creationism. Where there is a conflict with the empirical claims of a religion and what science indicates, the science must be thrown out, only naturally. The inability to separate disinterested and genuine scientific analysis of a significantly arguable reality does not seem to indicate a consensus of scientific evidence.

If an argument will not persuade, what will? Reference to experience. My purpose is not to persuade here and now, but to budge you on the way you would tend to interpret the world around you; to demonstrate that the kinds of theses and explanations that are generated from this corpus of thought also tend to be corroborated. The predictions it generates gives it the ability to explain ongoing history in a way unavailable to the modernist paradigm.

You can see the kind of irony in the argument I’m developing. Supposedly you are here in the first place because you’re willing to be persuaded in theory, even if you are generally hostile to my overall worldview. You want to be able to give a reason why you reject me other than that fitting in as polite society might require. I’m backing this up in order to ask how someone could ever be persuaded. I want to leave my reader with the impression that certain questions remain live. Modernism never killed off its philosophical rivals, it just convinced everyone that it had. If you can’t be persuaded, this is a waste of both our times. Only if, in theory, you could be persuaded, could a counter-argument count as something more than a post hoc rationalization. After all, if you can’t be persuaded just in principle, then you would use any reasonable enough sounding argument. We don’t want that.

Generally, “persuasiveness” is taken as an unalloyed good in an argument. This is because it is assumed that the more logically excellent an argument is, the logic should be perceived as its own superiority. However, if I may propose another interpretation of argument, one which is more realistic given our nature as animals evolved to do more things than develop and be persuaded by logically excellent arguments. Persuasiveness may be a defect in that it covers up its assumptions better than less persuasive but subtler and more accurate accounts of a phenomena. The mind is attracted to easy and definite choices; it lightens the load of existential anxiety concerning whether or not your beliefs are correct or even sane. Why do you think fallacies are so common? Furthermore, why have we been led to believe fallacies are intrinsically wrong?

Logical fallacies are not, contrary to popular wisdom, intrinsically incorrect, nor are they even markers of stupidity and ignorance. As it is said, a little education may handicap the mind by allowing the pretense of access to information adequate to make a judgment. This correlates to the insight among a number of us that human prejudices are not intrinsically flawed so much as they may tend to be expressed in incomplete or less than optimal ways. Being opposed to racial stereotyping is a trend of midwits, and is a brilliant example of how a little knowledge can handicap.

Racial stereotyping may be considered in two ways. The first is that of psychological bias. It seems to be more or less proven that we evolved to have implicit racially based biases and prejudices which disposes us to differences in the tendency of in-group/out-group evaluation. Why would these evolve at all? This shouldn’t be difficult to understand. In the more ancestral environment in which humanity evolved for over 100,000 years, the survival of the individual depended essentially on his integration with a tribe. The tribe’s survival in turn depended on the individuals within having a tendency to like each other and to prefer the company of each other rather than those of other tribes. Were a tribe to have overwhelmingly out-group focused breeding tendencies, such a tribe would quickly breed itself out of existence. As such, it is inevitable that the tribes which do survive, through a process of evolutionary selection if we think of tribes as organisms, shall have members which have distinct in-group/out-group prejudices (of varying kinds and expressions) that reflects a tribal equilibrium with the environment.

Those who are too stupid to appreciate that their biases have shortcomings remain in the thrall of those biases. As such, it is worth pointing out, by the neoreactionary and likely supposed “racist,” that racism being stereotyped as an indicator of stupid is highly accurate. This is, however, not because racism is intrinsically stupid, so much as what we tend to identify as racism is the less-than-optimal expression of these innate in-group/out-group biases. The midwit, who appreciates that our innate biases have shortcomings, comes to distrust his own biases, and comes to believe that the rejection of the utility of these biases is itself a mark of intelligence.

This response to learning that our biases are incomplete, i.e. the absolute rejection of their utility in all potential circumstances, is itself an immature response. Those biases developed in us for a very good reason. The reason should be obvious; were they disadvantageous in terms of increasing the likelihood of reproduction, they would have been selected out. But these biases did evolve in us, implying that they serve adaptive, i.e. reproductive, value.

To put it rather tongue in cheek, semi-seriously, to be a little bit racist is to be closer to nature.

Not that I’m advocating racism per se. Racism is, I think, best understood as the sub-optimal expression of racial biases. This definition, however, also implies that there is such a thing as the optimal expression of racial biases. This is why, as it were, anti-racism is the prejudice of the midwitted, while racism is the prejudice of those outside the IQ range of 100-125. This may sound like a concession to the modernist, to point out that racial discrimination is difficult to defend. This not because it is wrong, but that because what one wants to defend is practices which lead to optimal solutions, and understanding how to exercise racial discrimination in an optimal fashion is the difficult part.

This is the second way in which racism may be considered. It is expressed through a specific form of behavior. What sort of behavior? Ideally, it appears that the problem with any “-ism” vice is that it does not give a person his due. What is a person’s due? What right does a person have to an optimal evaluation?

We want to say that a person should always and everywhere exercise as thorough and complete an evaluation of the character of another as possible. That is all well and good, but the reality of the world is that such an optimal evaluation is not always afforded by the world. An optimal evaluation may prove either impossible or too costly to justify other things which must be given up in order to perform such an evaluation. Our judgment is required in situations where the evaluation we’d like to make is precluded. It is useless to insist that “a person should, always and everywhere, perform an optimal evaluation.” That doesn’t answer what an individual is to do in those cases where he has less than perfect information and obtaining it proves far more costly than any expected benefit.

The mandate to perform an optimal evaluation of another person’s character cannot require an individual putting himself at grave risk. Yes, the guy with tattoos on his face bragging about his recent stint in the slammer could be a really interesting, complex individual who has a lot of good in him. But getting to know such an individual could prove very costly, in the form of harm suffered by oneself for failing to exercise due prudence in one’s association with the criminal elements.

Racial discrimination is not an end-all be-all of an individual. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m not interested in a defense of racial discrimination, full stop (and in fact, I’m not even interested in here defending racial discrimination, so much as I’m interested in providing an example of how the neoreactionary proceeds in his examination). I’m interested in a defense of due racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is justified in particular instances and not in others. The optimal exercise of discrimination is difficult, and must be guided by a philosophy of discrimination.

This is all to show that a ground level difference between the neoreactionary and the modernist is this. The modernist rails against all bias, insisting that it never has a place in our reasoning. The neoreactionary suggests that we have bias for a reason, and we should seek to improve upon the function it evolved to provide. Where the modernist asks us to root out all our tendencies in thought, to constantly undermine the way we tend to reason, the neoreactionary seeks to examine and refine it. Iron ore may have little use of itself, but in the hands of one with the right tools, much may be wrought.

What all does this have to do with persuasiveness? This asks a question. Do you really want to be able to persuade the most? Psychologically, we are jerry-rigged with a number of biases which predispose us to fallacious and sub-optimal expressions of prejudice. But we cannot eliminate prejudice; anti-prejudice is just a prejudice against prejudicial reasoning, and prejudicial reasoning is optimal in the case that judicial reasoning is precluded, i.e. when access to adequate information for optimal evaluation is more costly than expected benefits. This is the real world, and in the real world you aren’t always allowed to dissociate yourself by behavior from what a racist would do, because sometimes what the racist would do is the safest and best thing to do.

The biases are good enough to allow stupid racists to spread their genes; in fact, in a population where everyone is stupid, racism would be better than a stupid refusal to not utilize prejudice when it is called for. To act with prejudice is to admit one is ignorant, which is not always a bad thing. The refusal to admit one’s ignorance is a vice in the case when the presumption of knowledge proves a more dangerous habit. Admitting and acting by one’s ignorance, i.e. to reserve oneself to methods and practices which are known to work rather than the definitely unknown, is wiser than to refuse to act with respect to knowledge that one knows one does not possess. To be ignorant is only to not know, and we know that we do not always know, which is just to say that we know that sometimes we are ignorant. This cannot be overcome by “Don’t be ignorant.” It cannot be overcome by good thoughts or the insistence that “One should try to get access to the best information possible.” That is a matter of course and we are already agreed, but we aren’t talking about how one should act in the case one has perfect information.

Neoreaction is how to act when you know you don’t have perfect information. It is a call to humility. If your vision is fundamentally utopian and forms a perfect contrast to the vagaries of human history, and can only be accomplished through a fundamental change in the way people tend to act, it is incomplete. You can do better, and you can do better by being harder to persuade.

Don’t wonder how you would persuade me to modernism. It is better first to know, how do you persuade yourself? I don’t pose a threat to your well-being as much as you do. I likely couldn’t persuade you with a silver tongue, but we know individuals can persuade themselves with the thinnest of feel good lies. Isn’t that what we think of religion, after all?

Originally published Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 3

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 4

In the last part we walked through an outline of how the neoreactionary approaches the issue of racial discrimination. The purpose, I hope as was obvious, was less to be a defense of racial discrimination, but to illustrate the methodology, which questions were being asked. A text such as this should be treated as a way of practicing reasoning. I’m not trying to acquaint you with a set of doctrines, but a set of maxims. One should approach a school of thought as one does a school of martial arts. Throw out your assumptions. The modernist habit in approaching neoreaction will insistently come back to a revulsion. “They advocate what?! Don’t they know what that implies? They must not, which makes them stupid.” As though that were it.

I will give you some training wheels to get through this next section. If you can’t understand what a neoreactionary is meaning unless you interpret him as either stupid or evil, choose evil. He likely isn’t stupid. But remember these are training wheels; do not treat an experience assisted by an incomplete but helpful heuristic the same as biking with the training wheels off. Or, to put it another way, a baby might start learning to walk with motherly assistance, but walking with motherly assistance cannot and should not be mistaken for the real thing.

“But I just want it straight! Why can’t you just provide a straightforward argument defending your views? This is so roundabout.” Well, yes. Isn’t the concept of Progress rather roundabout? Why not go straight to utopia? Why must we proceed by way of protracted social struggles? Why didn’t MLK advocate for gay marriage, free birth control, and mandatory public education? “You can’t expect people to understand immediately, we are handicapped by our socialization.” I wouldn’t tend to call it a handicap per se, though at least sub-optimal. Anyway, you see my point. From my perspective, you’re in a hole and you need help getting out. I’m trying to throw you a ladder.

“But you’re the one who needs help!” Probably. But consider: I had more or less the same kind of socialization as you. Public school, friends, TV, internet, college. I have a pretty good idea of what you would tend to think about me because I’m acquainted with all the same memes. I watch the same movies and eat the same food. If we met at a party and you didn’t know my sociopolitical sentiments, you would think I’m a pretty cool guy.

So how can I be so different? Shouldn’t the good of Progressive values be obvious enough? If the explanation for why I hold different views isn’t that we were socialized into different values, it must be something else. Either we’re just incapable of seeing the light, or we refuse to see the light. Put another way, either we’re stupid or we’re evil. And I should think it clear we’re not stupid.

So we’re evil, in other words. We aren’t ignorant of Progressivism. We’re unpersuaded. Unconvinced. Tried and found wanting. I won’t protest. What would be the point? Practically no one believes himself to be evil. I don’t actually think I’m evil (though I do take pleasure in thinking how uncomprehending progs think I’m evil). You don’t think you’re evil. I bet Hitler didn’t think he was evil. Anyone could, and would, claim they’re good overall.

Here’s something you need to explain. How can evil people like us exist? If Progressivism is really so obvious (hell, even you can understand it!) and good, and shaming us doesn’t suffice to bring us back to the fold, i.e. we are unrepentant heretics, then there must be something just psychologically off about us. We have to be different in a deep, disturbed, innate way. If all those years of education couldn’t beat sense into us, we’re simply not able to saved. We’re a part of the damned. It’s really quite that simple. If we were being merciful, we would let people like us be put out of our misery. We simply don’t have the right psychology to appreciate the marvels and wonders of modern living. Maybe Darwin should be allowed to work his magic, and people like us should be selected out of the gene pool. So what if it flirts with eugenics.

It’s a mercenary kind of logic, but ultimately, for the good of civilization, it may be required. If the only reason Progress doesn’t happen is because there are always some in society who hold Progress back, because they’re stupid or evil, then certainly one can justify a little systematic murder. It’s utilitarian, but if it would mean the end of homophobia, rape culture, patriarchy, pro-life, racism, sexism, and all those other classic pastimes of white male culture, the benefits outweigh the costs. If you won’t do that, you’re depriving the marginalized the justice of being restored to full integration with society sooner rather than later, when it’s too late to save those suffering now. Do you have sympathy for the oppressors? Do you want to let the micro-aggressor get away with it? Progress demands more Progress now.

“Now, hold on,” you’ll insist. “That’s a straw man. I would never advocate the wholesale slaughter of my opponents. That is not only misrepresentative of Progressivism, it is completely contrary to the spirit.” Is it? Then you are suggesting it is okay to allow people like us to take our rightful place in society? I mean, if you’re not working to stop us, then capitalism wins, right? Doesn’t evil win when good people, such as yourself, stand by and do nothing?

“If there is anything that needs to be done about people like you, it wouldn’t be that drastic.” Like losing our jobs? Being barred from employment? Facing penalties, fines, persecution? Being generally disenfranchised from wider society, being rounded up into the ghettoes, before we board the trains for… re-education camps?

“This is insane! I just said I wouldn’t advocate that!” I’m not saying you did. It’s a question of faith. If you really believe in Progress, how far are you willing to go to see it happen? Whenever Progress doesn’t happen like it’s supposed to, why is that? Is it because reality is an impediment, or is it due to sinister plots?

By the neoreactionary’s lights, if we didn’t exist, you’d have to invent us. We are your Emmanuel Goldstein, and yes, we would actually write a book with the title of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. And yes, it would be about your team, the Cathedral.

The purpose of neoreaction is not merely to stand athwart history, telling it to stop. We want to hijack history. We really are the enemy of Progressivism. Progress and our existence is not compatible. If you will not kill us, you will at least have to wait for us to die off, delaying Progress and ensuring the suffering of all who presently suffer due to injustice. If you won’t, it is only because you are a coward. You do not really believe in Progress. You only like to associate yourself with it, taking glory in the work of another party like one does when rooting for their favorite baseball team. You root for the Progressivists in the way you root for the Red Sox. You don’t actually play for the team, and couldn’t if you tried. You are as essential to Progress as a man to a woman. You are only riding the coattails of history and claiming all the credit. You bask in the privilege of being on the right side of history and exploit it against all those who are wrong.

You don’t believe in Progress, in other words, you believe in belief. If you did actually believe, you would be willing to do almost anything to see it done. As much as Progressivism is important, it is more important than anything else; that including the existence of its enemies or the moral scruples its advocates imagine themselves able to afford.

The Progressivists shall have to make a choice. In fact, they have been making this choice. When faced with the fact that Progress cannot occur without further change, it seems apparent that further change is called for. But, if the neoreactionary is right, then the vision of Progress will always be hampered, requiring further change. How much should society expend trying to equalize the gender wage gap? This is a serious question. If the gender wage gap is due to the institutionalization of sexism, then it will cost the expenditure of a certain amount of resources to root it out. How much should society be willing to give up to solve this problem? Surely more than a million, right? But precisely how much? A billion? A trillion? Several decades of lost GDP growth? The political cohesion of the Union?

“Equalizing the gender wage gap wouldn’t cost that much.” Maybe, maybe not. But you shouldn’t pretend that Progress is costless. Pretending that your goal can be achieved without giving up something else is stupid. Utopia at no cost, just add water?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just vote for Obama, that will save America. Okay, vote for him again, America needs more saving. Alright, we’re going to need a new version of Obama, because this is taking a little longer than we thought…

My suggestion here is that Progress will prove more expensive than it was originally sold as. It suffers from that most ancient problem of infrastructure and construction projects, cost overrun. It will cost something, at least. That money we spend on welfare so that people with insufficient means can feed themselves could be spent on other things. That’s a cost. “It’s a worthwhile cost!” That may be, but you must admit it is a cost. You cannot neglect the cost side of the cost-benefit analysis of undertaking certain social changes. It would not only be imprudent, it would be dishonest. After all, if you’re so right, you should have nothing to fear in admitting to the costs Progressivism incurs. The benefits will always be greater, right? You should have nothing to fear from an accurate and extensive summarization of the costs of Progress. Progress is for you like L’OrĂ©al, because you’re worth it.

Come back to my question of equalizing the gender wage gap. Simple biology also plays a role in explaining the wage gap. The above cost analysis assumed that eliminating institutionalized sexism is a one time cost that, once it was eliminated, egalitarian views would perpetuate themselves. However, if biology is different between men and women, then biology poses the potential to disadvantage one sex in the market. And wouldn’t you know it, there is a very obvious disadvantage that women face when competing with men in the marketplace. Women are more likely than men to become pregnant. Actually, women are the only sex to become pregnant. Insofar as there is a cost to being pregnant, all this cost is borne by women, in the form of advances and raises given up due to lost time. Equalizing the playing field requires not only a one time cost to eliminate the ongoing effects of patriarchy, it requires ongoing costs to provide women the opportunity to enter the market without facing any disadvantages particular to being a woman.

I won’t go into particular schemes of how such equalizing will be done, I only care to point out that this cost will be borne by men. It has to be, otherwise it would remain a cost borne uniquely by women, which is antithetical to equality. It is a necessity that men be forced, whether explicitly or implicitly, to subsidize the work of their female co-workers. It is the duty of men to work in order that women may be afforded the opportunity to work.

However it is done, you will see a value transfer payment somehow, even if it can’t be explicitly examined in terms of monetary cost. Since men are seeing less reward for their work, this disinclines them from working so much or so hard. The response of the Progressivist is to moralize, to chastise men who would work less because their pay is being implicitly cut in order to subsidize women’s wages. But this presupposes a rather interesting view of the dynamic of the sexes. If men must be forced to sacrifice for the sake of women because it is their duty to subsidize the existence of women, there is a certain inequality in play. Women do not appear to have a duty to subsidize the existence of men; it is only right and natural that men have a subordinate position to women in society. A man’s place is as the slave so that women may finally be afforded their independence. Insofar as men are disinclined from doing this in order to give women their independence, that is just because they are evil, and inasmuch as they are evil, they deserve to be unequal to women.

Maybe you don’t like this cost so much. Maybe you would like to replace this cost with something else. Maybe some other sort of tax that doesn’t tax men for being sinfully better at work. It will have to be something, at least. If Progress is so great, if it has so many benefits, how much would you be willing to pay for it? If you won’t pay anything for it, or imagine that you won’t have to pay for it, I don’t believe you’re a proponent of Progress. You don’t actually disagree with neoreaction. You just want to signal that you are holier than thou and that you should receive praise for your “enlightened opinion,” when you’re really nothing but a Puritan pretender. You pray in public and have your reward in full.

What does it ultimately mean to be “for Progress?” We need to determine this before we can even approach the question of what it means to be neoreactionary. Until the biases and prejudices of the modern age are outed, it would be pointless to try going forward with this discussion. Consider the plank in your own eye before pointing to the mote in another’s.

Originally published Nov 26 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 4

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 4

There is no demographic trend more evocative and damning of modernism than precipitously declining birth rates. It seems as though every modern trend which has an effect on birth rate depresses it ever further. This will be an exercise in how the neoreactionary approaches the world, with an eye to the unrecognized costs of benefits which are virtually always taken for granted in society. These costs are almost always of an invisible sort; the cost is the opportunity of something else that fails to take place. In this way, modernism is marked by an increasing absence, an atomization of the individuals in society amidst a receding community. The symbol of modernism is the childless home.

The modern man is an irony. As developed before, he works in order that women may work, negating the value of his work to himself and his society. If he should like to pass over the allure of a narcissistic lifestyle wherein he treats the accumulation of material possessions as an end of living and concern himself instead with the work of civilization, i.e. starting a family and raising children ready to take their own place in society, he has everything in the world working against him. Though I intend no romanticism, a man who should like to be a provider to a loving wife and family has virtually every force conspiring against him. At the age which he should like to begin being a man, all other women his age who he should like to woo are distracted and occupied by education, Facebook, a career, and predatory socio-sexual aristocrats who have no qualms with using women for sex and nothing more. One might try and enjoin this man to partake of the pleasures of his age, and maybe he shall give in, since otherwise the rewards of his labor shall be a lonely 20′s where he feels crushed by his inability to attract a wife interested in the vision of a family. And when attention is finally given to him, his wife might concede to having a second child if she doesn’t divorce him or somehow ruin the marriage.

Such a situation is almost a perfect contradiction to the plight of the man growing up earlier than 50 years ago. Where our hypothetical modern young man is probably chastised for wanting to marry young, he would’ve been chastised for not trying to marry young. This would’ve been the life experience for most men growing up down through history. It is hard to even see at first that our society is so very, very different from all other societies before it. We would have to appear as a thoroughly foreign culture to anyone born before 1850, and that doesn’t have anything to do with our level of technology. The declining of birth rates, the fracturing of families, the delaying of adulthood, these would be the background of a dystopian novel were it written in 1890.

Yet, and this would be surprising to a reader from 1890, virtually none of us suspect that anything has gone wrong. It would appear virtually certain that Apocalypse came and went, yet none of us seem capable of remarking on the fact. When did it happen? It might be like marking the end of the Roman empire. It really depends on the metric you’re going with.

So even if we are not presently living in a dystopia, it is arguable that we are transitioning into one. And why is that? It may have something to do with how civilization isn’t getting made anymore. Our hypothetical young man was not merely partaking of biological function in reproducing, but a societal good as well. The perpetuation of society does not occur unless people actually form families and raise children. Apart from this, civilization literally does not go on; an empty home does not become occupied when the childless couple die, it remains a tomb of forfeited genetic legacy. The breakdown of civilization is marked by increasing absence, like a complex machine in which small yet significant parts are going missing, only disturbing its operation in a way not observable to those standing outside it. But, as the machine continues operating, the absences accumulate and exacerbate the machine’s decay, until eventually something essential in the short term becomes noticeable. Such is how civilization darkens, without anyone realizing the lights are going off until all the rest of them go off at once. But the event of chaos is only epiphenomenal and cannot be stopped; it was guaranteed to occur a long time before anyone even realized something was amiss.

It isn’t normal for children to be worse off than their parents. While there will always be calamitous events which have an influence outside the control of society, in a society such as ours we have the technology and capital available to protect against all but the most catastrophic of natural events. In order to explain why the children of a society such as ours face a future worse than that of their own parents or grandparents, the explanation must be social. It wasn’t an asteroid or plague which has left us worse off; it is the burning up of social capital without replacing that so the future generations have the benefit of these institutions. We weren’t made worse off so much as our own parents, and the parents before them, did nothing to make our situation better off. They did not do what they could to strengthen their own marriages and families, instead they clamored to divert to themselves all possible resources at any expense to the future. They never sought to make sure their children would be well off, but were focused on promoting egalitarianism. They tried to rescue everyone from poverty and just assumed that everything they were afforded while growing up would be around even if they did nothing to actually make it be around.

Why do we tax cigarettes? Besides that it is a way for the government to give itself your money, the purpose is to be punitive. A higher price induces lower quantity demanded. This is very simple economics. The more something costs, the less people want of something.

And it works, to a point. There is a limit, however, to the amount of cigarette smoking that can be effectively prevented through high punitive taxes. At a sufficiently high level of taxation, it becomes feasible for those more criminally inclined to smuggle in cigarettes from regions where the tax is not so high. In some places, the punitive tax has the effect of driving most cigarette sales underground. Cigarettes are not banned or prohibited, but they practically are, with the price pushed outside of tolerability for most who would choose to smoke cigarettes in the first place.

Agree or disagree with whether cigarette smoking ought to be stigmatized, the effect must be kept in mind. The disincentivizing of a behavior through increasing the cost of it is one of the most basic principles of social organization. Whatever you increase the cost of, you get less of.

It should be apparent that the change in equilibrium rates of marriage and family formation is due to some changes in society. It is not an effect without cause. The suggestion of the neoreactionary is that the cost of marriage and family formation has been increased. It is more costly to make happen, it is more costly to undertake, and it is more costly to sustain. This explains very easily and simply why the rates of marriage and birth have declined so precipitously. It is not so much that society re-evaluated its desire for marriage so much as marriage itself was changed. It isn’t technically prohibited, but its costs have been raised substantially over the last 100 years in ways explicit and implicit. The family is essential, as it is literally the institution which perpetuates society. To make the family more costly is to make the perpetuation of society more costly.

That is, in sum, your problem right there. Entropy is always working on society, but it never succeeded at total ruin because what was taken from society by nature was replaced more than sufficiently by society. Except that now the mechanism to replace the failing parts of society is less reliable, less useful, less effective. The death of the family is the death of society.

Where did it go wrong? What was the first domino that saw the family become more difficult to develop in a society with literally no excuse? At least back then people were poor, so you can understand the “literally too poor to take care of a family” problem many people likely faced. In fact, the problem was so bad at times that children would die for want of basic necessities that their parents couldn’t provide. Even the likelihood of miserable failure and suffering didn’t decrease the equilibrium rate of marriage substantially.

No, the first domino was not birth control. That might seem an obvious answer, but the widespread acceptance and adoption of the Pill is part of a trend that began in the 19th century. That trend is the cult of childhood.

Childhood? What could possibly be wrong with childhood? Childhood is a happy, innocent age. The cult of childhood seems like it should increase the rates of marriage and birth, not decrease them. If the cult of childhood is an unequivocally modern norm, then clearly whatever would have to critique childhood is an inherently medieval worldview.

That might not be the worst. Let us examine the cult of childhood, to see why it is so abnormal and prohibitively costly.

The cult of childhood may be summarized as the view that children have an inalienable right to a period of development up to the age of 18 and sometimes even beyond which is free of significant life responsibilities or decisions. It is the responsibility of parents to provide their children with a high ease of living and many opportunities to indulge in carefree pursuits without a care in the world. Such a view seems only right given the prosperity of a society such as ours. To deprive a child of his childhood is to deprive someone of an essential life experience without which a person is incomplete. Life without a childhood is like a life without friends. Doable by all technical means, but probably worse than death.

Furthermore, even after childhood is technically finished, it is also the norm to spend several years at a postsecondary institution accumulating debt and foregoing all opportunities to work and start a family. Indeed, as has been covered extensively elsewhere in many ways, such a cultural norm of itself decreases the rates of family formation.

Providing a child with such a developmental experience is extremely costly when you consider that until the 19th century it was the norm for children to begin working with or for their family about the age of 14. When you consider that this could practically eliminate the financial cost of raising a child, you can see how this increases the cost of family formation radically. Although presently youth can begin work at the age of 16, sometimes 15 or 14 given certain legal exceptions, the expectation of every youth to finish high school before he is allowed to actually begin the work of life increases the difficulty of someone trying to go to work when they can. Extended adolescence and delayed adulthood are the norms; it should not surprise us when trends indicate that the phenomenal norms of adolescence pervade a person’s life through their 20′s, with very little effort put into family formation and much more expended building a substantially delayed career.

A one size fits all approach to the maturation of children simply doesn’t make sense. It should be taken as a practical reality that not all children are equally benefited by being afforded (or trying to afford, cf. inner-city schools) the same opportunities. Resources expended trying to raise an idiot to the educational attainment of a genius is obviously futile, but this is only an extreme instance of the same principle. It doesn’t make sense for society to afford the same developmental experience to all individuals. College isn’t for everyone. Nor is high school. Many would be better off if they were taught a trade beginning at the age of 14; you don’t need to know how to read Hemingway or how to calculate the area under a curve to do plumbing or construction, and all those hours spent in school learning such useless information are a disadvantage to the young man who would be better off if we instead afforded him the opportunity to begin building up work experience in a socially beneficial trade.

Note, of course, that I am not saying an extensive education should never be afforded to children. Many (I won’t say most, but it could be) are better off for it. However, that there are some who are better off for it does not entail all are better off for it. A diversity of realistic approaches to preparing children for the stresses of society was the historical norm, and it seems a return to this norm would help in restoring cultural norms to sustainable levels of family formation.

The point here is not only that a modern childhood is expensive, but our assumption that it is normal and of perfect benefit to everyone in every situation is problematic. At its logical extremes, it leads to first world Western nations trying to ban child labor in third world countries where child labor is the norm because that is what must be done to get by. Banning child labor in poor countries will not have the benefit of putting children in schools; if anything, it will leave the families of these children even worse off, putting education even further out of reach. An imperialist cultural chauvinism makes us blind to the fact that our view of childhood is but a mere cultural norm which differs greatly in other cultures that face different social and economic problems.

It isn’t sufficient to insist that “more should be done.” Every intervention which contravenes the market to make a society better off has the unintended consequence of pushing people to less optimal means of solving the basic dilemmas of acquiring food and shelter. The effect of banning child labor decreases the birth rate. While this effect will not be so pronounced in first world nations which have a high median income, this effect must be substantially more pronounced in those societies where the prohibition of sending/allowing your children to work only makes it more difficult to feed your children at all.

A plummeting birth rate is simply not sustainable. If a society will not replace its aging and dying members, it will wither like a body denied food. The body may continue along for a while, cannibalizing the protein of its muscles and organs in order to go on, but unless it obtains for itself more nutrients, it will die due to catastrophic organ failure. We cannot assume that civilization takes care of itself, that others have it covered. Nor can we even hope of ourselves that we will do it without incentivizing ourselves to do it. This implies that what has occurred is not a mere change in expectations, but a change in the structure of incentives which face a person in how he decides to live his life. There are many more things to say about the structure of family formation as it currently exists in our society, but the cultural view of childhood seems the most overlooked despite the way it substantially informs the decision to be married.

The costs of the cult of childhood are substantial and cannot be passed over with little attention. The majority of these costs are invisible, and showcase themselves through curious absences; the empty womb, the empty house, the empty marriage. Nothing in the modern world is beyond critique, even its most sacred dogmas.

Originally published Nov 28th, 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 5

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 5

If the lesson of the above extended examples of neoreactionary analysis may be expressed as principles, it is that apparent benefits often have unaccounted for costs, and that apparent costs often have unaccounted for benefits. Socialization, racism, and a dearth of childhood have their costs, but the fact of these costs should not make us blind to the benefits. Nor, I hope at this point, is the complicated reality of a protracted cost-benefit analysis of social norms going to leave anyone with the impression the optimal policies are universal. Admitting that a norm has benefits is not to say that it is good or even ever acceptable, while admitting that a norm has costs is not to say that it is bad or even never acceptable.

I am aware, on the one hand, that a simpler exposition could appeal to a wider population. Though, on the other hand which is always present, an oversimplification of any crucial point, the failure to note an essential distinction, even an accurate but poorly expressed idea will not only fail to convey the essence of neoreaction, it will obfuscate the core and put it beyond reach. The emphasis on costs that must be considered, the creation of winners and losers, is an integral concern.

What is neoreaction, ultimately? Though I have written a book with that title, no answer has yet been given. The previous parts have accomplished, I hope, not so much arguments which demonstrate the benefits and costs associated with certain present norms, but an introduction to the way in which the neoreactionary approaches the world. It is difficult to explain because unlike a political philosophy, it is not a set of doctrines which are individually examined and advocated, for it sees through a plurality of feasible doctrines which have the potential to serve some particular population well. Or, at least as well as any population could be served by that set of political doctrines.

To cop an illustration from the setup of many role playing games, the effectiveness of a character has at least two primary components; the ability of the character in question and the equipment he utilizes. When a character is first being created, there are a scarcity of skill points which must be administered, creating an opportunity cost. To make a character more skilled at magic, he will be less skilled in areas of strength, and vice versa. Likewise, the excellence of a weapon may yield a greater attack damage, but it may require a sufficiently high level to be utilized. It is not that the wooden sword is preferred overall, but it is preferable when the next best weapon, say an iron sword, is unable to be wielded by your character due to his low level.

Societies can be given the same treatment. There is the innate qualities inherent to a population, and then there is the form of governance it has. Though neoreaction frequently comes around to an anti-democratic perspective, this is no necessity and a democratic advocacy is compatible. However, this is only the case where a society is limited by some very strict conditions. One of these conditions is almost certainly that the population is extremely small, no larger than 150 or so. This is due to the intrinsically equalizing nature of democracy when promoted at sizes larger than this, where it becomes the interest of groups to vote themselves benefits at the expense of other groups. When everyone in the tribe technically prefers each other and there is no out-group which might be extorted, that failure mode of democracy simply cannot occur. Granted, this democratic arrangement remains very unstable, as it may be very easily subverted by a conspiracy of only a few of the most powerful members of the tribe; however, more stable arrangements, such as monarchy, are a greater disadvantage.

The advantage-disadvantage paradigm applies to every potential form of governance. Each form has its advantages and disadvantages, even those which are at certain scales very sub-optimal. As an aspirational anarcho-capitalist (I believe anarcho-capitalism is most likely the optimal form of governance, provided the best kind of society), it is a paradox to admit that I find statist arrangements tolerable. This is simply due to the nature of a society such as ours, which is highly disadvantaged by democracy whereas it would be better advantaged by a more monarchical or even corporate model. As such, it is simplistic to say neoreaction is pro-monarchy, anti-democracy. While it is true that is the political philosophy many of us adapt, it is adapted contingent on the kind of society available to be structured by a set of political doctrines.

If this may be contrasted with modernism, modernism is over-universalistic. It is guided by a key conclusion: that every group should be practically the same in outcome. This conclusion is the result of two fundamental principles. The first is that justice is equality, and the second is the all are essentially the same. The biological differences between the sexes and the races have a negligible effect on how well people choose to do, and since everyone is practically equal, it follows that in an ideal world where no one has any accidental advantage over another, outcomes will be roughly equal. Any systematic inequalities, as they cannot be due to significant differences between groups, must be due to the injustice of people being treated differently, without respect to their essentially (same) dignity. Ergo it is assumed that systematic inequalities are due to insufficiently egalitarian social norms, the institutionalization of racism and sexism, and the accident of luck in the initial distribution of capital. You can see how this produces the thesis of Jared Diamond concerning Africa’s failure to sustain civilization that it is due to disadvantageous agricultural features. The modernist perspective sees the problem with Africa is Africa. This is in contrast to the neoreactionary perspective, which sees the problem with Africa is Africans.

Getting to the end of equal outcome between groups tends to be the end of politics even between both socialists and libertarians. Both argue their society is preferable on the basis that it would lead to this preferable outcome; more wealth for more people. The differences between them are not moral in character, but only material. They are disagreed as to the material effects of policy more than any moral effects. They are strictly secular. This has its most concentrated articulation by modern economists, who make a simplistic equivalence between GDP and utility. It is no concern of theirs what that GDP is constituted by, be it entirely pizzas and beer or charity and religious iconography. Utility is money, money is utility. As all money is strictly fungible, so is utility. They may protest and say this is itself a simplistic characterization, it yet captures the spirit. Inasmuch as the libertarian accepts systematic differences of outcome between groups, this is due to the problem of social knowledge.

The insight of neoreaction, contrasting this, is that the differences between groups do significantly determine the optimal form of governance. To different groups, different political doctrines. Insofar as different treatment of groups is institutionalized, it tends to be institutionalized in respect of the differences those groups. A different group of people calls for a difference in evaluation. This will not and in most cases should not be simplistic, but again, the most optimal forms of evaluation are not going to be able to be wielded by every society. It is easy for an individual who has received an extensive education and been afforded the opportunity to form associations with other races to imagine that different races can and should get along; but to a medieval peasant, these differences in races almost always are correlated to very uncomfortable and bothersome behaviors. Most nations first formed along racial lines, which entailed that all interstate violence was almost always a racial conflict in addition to a political conflict. The separating of race and politics may not ever be afforded to societies.

A pessimistic conclusion this must be considering the modernist definition of “optimism” which conflates with the dissolution of all in-group/out-group cultural properties. But then again, considering the penchant for progressivists to insist that institutions can be “invisibly racist” and individuals to be “subconsciously racist,” the principle of suggesting that the group of individuals who assent to and form an identity under Progress are invisibly and subconsciously tribalistic themselves. This should explain to progressive atheists why progressivism uniquely attracts those of New Age, neo-pagan, and animal rights persuasion. The willingness of progressivists to signal affiliation with progressive policies is just correlated in the first place to a willingness to signal through belief as attire. These are beliefs held not so much for their own sake, but because of the cost involved with maintaining them (e.g. due to what other understanding of the world it precludes), they form an effective of means to distinguish between who is a true believer of the given religion. The crazier someone is willing to believe, the crazier someone is willing to dress, the crazier someone is willing to act, this signals their affiliation to the group. After all, it is the tendency of liberals in general to signal tribal affiliation through what newspapers they read, what TV shows they watch, and what cars they drive. A person who reads the New York Times, watches The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and drives a Toyota Prius probably didn’t vote for Romney in the last election. Is there a conservative equivalent? Certainly, but the stereotype is much less frequently occurring. And yes, in case the liberal feels like I’m picking on him too much (never enough, in my opinion), conservatives have their ways of signalizing tribal affiliation. NRA anyone? (Mind you, I’m generally opposed to firearms regulations. That doesn’t mean NRA isn’t a bit fanatical.)

The essential disagreement of neoreaction and modernism might not be any significant moral disagreement, only the deepest material disagreement. Both believe that justice is equality, but both disagree as to whether everyone is equal. If modernism is correct, then all people are equal, and justice requires equal treatment. If neoreaction is correct, then all people are not equal, and justice requires unequal treatment.

If I may ask the progressive for the first time to suspend his assumptions about how the world is, let us suppose that the people living in a very traditional, religious society are also the happiest they may be given any level of economic development. This is just a thought experiment; you don’t need to believe this is actually, but work from that assumption for the sake of argument. It seems clear that creatures being happiest in a highly asymmetric society is not outside the realm of possibility. If people are happiest in such a society, on what grounds would you insist that it is the duty of people to suffer in the name of egalitarianism? Why is the end of society in something else other than human flourishing?

What justifies modernism, if not simply its promise of happiness?

Originally published Saturday Nov 30th, 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 6

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 6

There is nothing that indicates failure of a belief about society than when its advocate must propose the given end be pursued “at all costs.” This point in the negotiation, where it is literally admitted that, must one choose between any other possible thing which might be had, all these would be expended in pursuit of the end.

A good thing pursued at all costs becomes evil. Consider an anti-racist. It is all well and good that they should like people to not exercise undue racial prejudices, and that if possible schemes of mutual understanding and interaction be formed. These are benign sentiments, and certainly no neoreactionary would object to some sense of this. However, such a good becomes evil when even greater goods are sacrificed for it. If we suppose we had to make a choice between a world that was more racist and a world that literally blew up (absurd it may seem), it seems better to tolerate a little more racism than to tolerate a lot of death. Go to your priest and have yourself absolved however you must for exercising a utilitarian method, but this seems at least common sense. No one is saying it would be fair for the negatively affected races, but as you must realize, life isn’t fair. No, really. Good and evil might not roughly equal out. We can hope that there will be in sum more good, but we should plan as though there would be in sum more evil. It exposes us to fewer risks.

Fairness is only one good amongst others. It is a value worth upholding where possible and when just, but it is not always just to institute certain understandings of “fairness.” It seems permissible to give a higher income to someone who sacrifices more for society, which is an inequality. This can, and should, be done in the name of excellence.

The problem with modernism is its all-too-easy insistence on achieving its vision at all costs. If we suppose that the African-American population could’ve been brought to an economic parity with the majority white population with a one time public expense which would have no significant effect on government debt or taxes, it would be hard to argue against such a proposal except from concerns relating to problems particular to government, not the issue per se.

But what if we don’t live in that world? It is tempting to think we live in such a world; just throw money at your problems, and they’ll go away of their own accord! Suppose you knew, for ironclad economic reasons, that such a policy would make everyone significantly worse off. You wouldn’t be a racist to oppose the policy, given your grounds.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe such a scenario is practically impossible. Perhaps you happen to believe a well-executed public program could reverse institutional racism. The point of this is to diagnose how your morals operate in systems that follow different material laws. The neoreactionary perspective is very nearby ultimately, it only requires the right focus. And to turn the lights on.

It is like having made your way to the light, only to find that the reason it is so difficult to persuade those still in the cave is that the world above you tell them about doesn’t fit their preconceptions. What if, in a certain way, it was worse outside?

Humans naturally exercise prejudice. Every age thinks they do not, and particularly their own age. That they thought they weren’t beholden to any unjust prejudice is evidence precisely of how in the thrall of prejudice all these people were.

Have we escaped the meaner depths of our nature? We believe ourselves to be free of prejudice, which is prime evidence that we are subject to massive prejudice. What are our prejudices in this day and age, save that of anti-racist and anti-sexist sympathies? We are, in other words, prejudiced against racists and misogynists. This may not seem to you the greatest evil, and perhaps it is not, but that makes it no less a prejudice. That we excuse our prejudice with an insistence on the prejudice is proof of its grip. “Well, they really are like that!” Prejudice is prejudice, whether rightly or wrongly exercised.

The point is not that this prejudice is somehow worse, only that we naturally exercise prejudices. The tendency of humans to stereotype is instinctual. We can help but think about the world through stereotypes. We can recognize the limitations of our stereotypes, but that does not mean we adopt a heuristic of stereotypes in our snap decisions. We must think our feelings and thoughts as being adaptive features in the same way our bodies are evolutionarily descended on the basis of its adaptiveness to its environment. We have a physiological frame as we do because it is adapted to our environment. What does not contribute to survival and sexual reproduction is wasted resources. Thoughts and feelings are the same; the reason we evolved an inner life is because it proved more adaptive given the environment compared to those with a dearth of inner life. In other words, you have the feelings you do about yourself and others, and these typical feelings tend to be felt by everyone, because they prove more adaptive overall to the perpetuation of those genes. If the emotions of happiness, sadness, boredom, and so on did not promote the survival and reproductive success of the individual, evolution would never have produced them.

The software of our inner life then must have proved adaptive value. This should make us stop and think. If the troglodyte survived because he exercised more prejudice, and we call people who more obviously exercise prejudice troglodytes, aren’t we essentially saying they are exercising a proven strategy for survival and reproductive success? Exercising prejudice is as natural as smiling when we’re happy. We don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with smiling, yet smiling has noticeable failure modes, such as when it lets on to others that we’re lying or they succeed in making us laugh when we stubbornly wished to refuse to do so. What is so different about prejudice? It would not have evolved in us unless it had provided some net benefit in terms of evolutionary success.

It doesn’t tell us that we’re fatalistically inclined towards perpetual violence and warfare. We are, but that has less to do with our natures than with the varying strategies available to groups who would both prefer their own existence over the others (and there isn’t always the possibility of peaceable compromise that doesn’t still leave one certainly worse off). When we are afforded the conditions that do not put distinct groups in competition with one another, we can form cooperative ventures with each other to beneficial ends. But sometimes, due to the accidents of history or geography, groups come into conflict.

The appropriate response to the knowledge that we are subject to these evolutionarily-descended psychological heuristics is not to give in to it in the most vulgar fashion, nor to ignore them, but to inquire as to information the possession of a prejudice-forming psychology indicates about the world we live in. If perfect cooperation had always proved most adaptive, we would have evolved to it. (Likewise, if perfect competition had proved most adaptive, we would have evolved to it.) Human evolution is pitted against itself. Those people who are able to fulfill some social role are able to survive individually, indicating the prevalence of a number of distinct personalities according to a roughly adaptive ratio (e.g. so many INTP’s and so few ESFJ’s). This indicates, furthermore, a spectrum of psychological types which have stronger and weaker correlations to political sympathies. Some people just are biologically liberal, some just are biologically conservative. This won’t be an exploration of how political views are influenced by psychological type, but the fact that there is a specific variability should indicate there is a group benefit to the back-and-forth of conservative and liberal types in the social dynamics of the tribe. We might see how much is lost due to the competitive nature of man, but what would there be to see if man had no competitive nature at all?

Human nature is not only a brute fact we should design our systems around, it also provides valuable information. That a definite and specific behavior has psychologically innate qualities indicates it provides some level of adaptedness by being exercised. This is a fact that by necessity cannot be integrated into an ideologically which essentially rejects the potential for prejudice to ever be compatible with optimal outcomes.

The God of Biomechanics is a stern taskmaster. His only goal is your survival and reproductive success, and he has designed your feelings to optimize your behavior to these ends. You feel happy or sad as accords whether feeling positively or negatively at certain times influences your behavior in certain ways. The God of Biomechanics is a moral idiot savant; he maximizes only for the maximal perpetuation of genes, and must be balanced among the other Nature’s Gods as to our optimal end. But he never lies, and his dictates provide valuable information we cannot profitably discard.

Originally published Dec 2nd, 2013

Reprinting the Anarcho Papist, part 7 [final]

How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 7

John Stuart Mill, that prototypical synthesis of English sensibility and Enlightenment philosophy, forwards a maxim to the effect that we should generally leave people alone to their own will save in the case their behavior has a negative effect on other people. Translated in the language of classical liberalism, this is the harm principle: people are free to do what they will so long as it does not bring harm to others. This means that, even if people are doing something harmful to themselves, they should be left to themselves, since it is a greater cost to violate this person’s right to self-determination than for this person to suffer harm at their own poor judgment.

That is, at least, the intent of Mill’s harm principle. It must be seen in a far more pervasive sense.

The harm principle trades on the intuition that another person’s behavior is in some sense ours to decide so long as that person’s behavior has a level of determination on our own outcomes. A person wielding a gun is obviously trying to effect a particularly brutal determination on another person, i.e. ending their life, and so it is clear that it is permissible to use force against this person. The cost, i.e. the violation of their right to autonomy, is overridden by the benefit, which is preserving an individual’s right to life who has not threatened coercion.

There is a curious consequence which arises if we accept his harm principle. The very integration and dependence of individuals on the complexity of the society around them. All means available to us for getting along in the world depend upon someone else in the world working a steady job. There are all these levels of order which we depend upon that, though we don’t tend to think about it, are actually done by someone at some point. Someone is standing at a factory making sure your food is getting processed properly, and someone is having all those children which we’re putting through school. Society depends upon being being reliable and acting in a regulated manner.

It is generally impossible to act without this having some level of influence over another person’s outcome. If I buy bananas, this has the theoretical effect of making the price of bananas be higher in the future then they would otherwise be, which has an effect on how many bananas you are actually able to consume in the future. Considering the numerous economic effects at play, and granted it is microscopic, the decision to buy bananas has an external effect.

Given Mill’s harm principle, it follows that the decision of others to buy bananas, or not, falls under the set of behaviors which may be technically regulated.

But let us back off for a moment. It is too simplistic to think of “regulation” only in terms of state policy. The state is a part of society; it is not the entirety of it (at least not presently), nor is it even best to think of it as “on top” of society. It is an integral part which cannot be left out, but it isn’t the only structure with causal influence over society. In the distribution and structure of power, it has its power via networks of dependency by others on it. But it is likewise dependent on networks of advocacy and capital which it does not produce only by its own effort. Policy, or legal regulation, is only one means of changing society. Regulations may be enforced only by increasing the cost of an associated behavior. Want to decrease racism? A level of stigmatization of racist behavior may help with that. State enforcement may be unnecessary.

So, if we’re thinking through the application of the harm principle outside of the paradigm that only new laws can achieve social change, then it becomes apparent we can perceive two different kinds of causality in play. There is the influence of policy by social norms, which is rather memetically direct. The ideas of society define the boundaries of how policy may be articulated. Policy, on the other hand, has a more indirect means of influence.

Policy, understood as laws and regulations which enforce certain limits of interaction between individuals (e.g. a minimum wage law which prohibits employers from offering or employees from accepting an hourly wage below a certain threshold), has systematic effects on the way social interactions are structured. Given a new structure, the means by which individuals may act in order to procure their desired ends are likewise shifted. Certain actions become more costly, certain actions become less costly. What is penalized becomes less frequent, what is subsidized becomes more frequent.

And this whether the consequences are political or legal in nature. The institutionalization of certain attitudes in the populace can achieve a more selective influence on populations which cannot be separated on the basis of income, race, or some other section which could exist on a government form. You need a microscopic enforcement of social norms. It isn’t perfect, but it nets more gain than policies acting on the macro scale could because it is less costly. Society is able to work because of the prevalence of de facto systematic treatment of particular qualities in society, in order that, to some extent, those traits which have negative externalities are mitigated, and those traits which have positive externalities are promoted. In other words, norms.

There are two kinds of norms, each facilitating, under normal conditions, an equilibrium effect on the stagnation and formation of newly adapted social institutions. The first is a norm which promotes openness to new social arrangements via an orthodoxy: more emphasis on right thought, less on right practice. The second is an antithetical norm, which promotes the maintenance of received traditions via an orthopraxy: more emphasis on right practice, less on right thought. These contrasting norms for approaching the fabric of power at the micro scale on the whole balance out, allowing an ideal mix of maintaining the generation of social capital while inculcating a fringe where experimentation in social norms occurs allowing for more dynamic social responses to environmental factors. This is, at least, highly adaptive if this process is highly demotic, i.e. influenced by the mass of the people, given a tribal environment. Otherwise, the demotic process becomes maladaptive, as it too generally favors particular psychologies over others, which is correlated to an increasing openness, a hyper-orthodoxy that comes at the expense of any sensible orthopraxy.

An execution of power which allows for this orthodoxy-orthopraxy dialectic to go on, optimizing for experimentation and preservation of sustainable generation of social capital, goes on best in environments which allow the facilitation of tribe-like affiliations by the power wielders among themselves, so that on balance government does not systematically tend to the left ceaselessly (it is less difficult to tend to the right ceaselessly; the lack of orthodoxy enforcement which is the conservative norm entails that increasing rightness entails an increasing insistence on preserving institutions as they are according to a received image of right practice).

It might be pointed out that progressives advocate certain behaviors, while conservatives advocate certain arguments, which is certainly true. It is a matter of emphasis. Conservatives promote some particular vision, e.g. the family, while progressives promote some general vision, e.g. an openness to sexual practices outside the norm. Both visions come at the expense of the other. Less orthopraxy means a diffusion of social norms and the breakdown of vulnerable institutions. Less orthodoxy means less freedom to experiment with new arrangements.

Yes, science is a progressive phenomena, at least relative the conservative emphasis on previous ways of knowing. However, science remains a progressive phenomena only so long as it serves to displace and disrupt our means of justifying the received social order. Science ceases to be progressive as soon as conservatives come around to it and are able to provide the argument, here as elsewhere, that societies existed and developed as they did because they were highly adaptive to their environment. We are now founding out from a bevy of many forms of evidence, be that sociological and anthropological studies which document surprisingly narrow distributions of political sentiment within large populations to the utilization of economic and evolutionary theory to motivate a healthy respect for human nature and what forms of interaction it is optimized for.

There is latent in all this foregoing a justification of natural slavery. No, banish from your mind visions of antebellum South, this is not a notion of slavery that need involve actual ownership of the individual like property. Chattel slavery is a species of slavery, not the whole of it. Slavery as a kind of relationship involves a dependency, such that he on whom the one is dependent cannot structure his own access to resources except through this other person. Those who are more dependent, through having less immediate access to resources, i.e. a mediated and/or enabled access by some intermediary person or institution they rely on, are more slave-like. The master-slave is not a binary, but a continuum. Below some point of mastery, one is entirely dependent; this includes all those who would be unable to make a living of the kind they enjoy by their own means, such as children. Power structures enslave.

However, this means not that power structures are innately evil. Far left thinkers are right to diagnose the structures which hold over us as instances and kinds of slavery, but where they take this to mean power structures must everywhere be destroyed, this is an inversion of their argument. Slavery is natural and innate to the human condition. One cannot eliminate one without eliminating the other. To eliminate the human condition, I think should be plain, would be to eliminate humans.

In reality, all instances of rights have been a modernist means of smuggling in natural slavery to society. The distributed set of mutual obligations between people is an appropriation of each other’s resources which can only be justified in the case we are all, in some way, slaves of each other. Obviously, this entails that he who is beholden to no one is not a slave; this is either the complete social outcast, who makes his way without depending on anyone (this more frequently reduces an individual to a miserly, hermetic existence, since it involves completely dropping out of society), or the king, who has no essential social obligations to anyone (sometimes).

The institution of taxation is a prime example of how society makes us all kinds of slaves. It doesn’t make much sense to think of taxation as merely theft, since taxation is but one of many other things government elects the power to do to/for us. The state has the just power not only to appropriate for itself the product of our labor, but also to regulate our lives and decide for us, to some extent, what we shall do and how we shall live. The master-slave relationship is the best model of that between state and citizen and, assuming the justice of slavery under certain conditions, gives a delightfully simple, yet anti-modern, justification for all that the state does in society.

The right to rule is the might to rule, and vice versa. Given agents who are under bounded rationality acting by their best knowledge to maximize the return on what they value, society as it actually is is society at its optimal equilibrium. This is the panglossian dilemma.

This is not to say the future could be made better than otherwise through the careful application of wisdom. But this is really only analytic. No one disagrees with this. However, it dissolves a fascination over reconciling rights to each other. If the whole edifice of social obligations and social roles can be justified through a master-slave paradigm, the social-metaphysical necessity of existential representation by the masses in the influence of the system becomes pointless. If democracy does not promote the flourishing of first world Western societies, then it should simply be abandoned. And how can it, articulated as it is through abstract “rights” without reference to actual abilities? It only appears a sensible interpretation that someone immature to the exercise of freedom will be made worse off by having freedom. A child is better off ruled by his parents, and we have no reason to suppose many people are much more than children with adult appetites. “Inferiors” are better off ruled, in other words; this is only what we mean when we understand that children need a parent and strong guidance by the community to be brought to maturity. Socialization has not the effect of diminishing our autonomy, but of cultivating our social senses and giving it a sophisticated expression through personality.

The problem of civilization is less equality and making sure that it will go on. The two virtues of continuity are stability and sustainability. When a society maintains priorities higher than these, those societies are quickly reduced and overtaken by outsiders who practice a more stable and sustainable social order. At one time, Rome ruled without parallel, but it was eventually carved up by barbarian tribes when the social capital Rome had generated was not re-invested sufficiently, but the people became more worried with making sure their own lives would be better off than they were with making sure their children’s lives would be better off. The wealth of future generations is literally robbed from them before their time, sold into bondage to foreigners. I’m speaking not only of the actual bills, but the social costs. Higher social costs decrease coordination, where coordination itself decreases social costs. This puts society in a feedback loop where decreasing formation of social institutions makes it more difficult to form social institutions.

There is a saying in philosophy, that one man’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens. Modernism and neoreaction are opposed to each other in this sense. Where modernism sees an incompatibility between equality and human nature, it chooses to make human nature conform. Neoreaction makes the opposite choice. It bootstraps itself out of the modernist paradigm of thought by finding that dangerous what if. What if Malthus was right about the growth of population, but Darwin was right about the evolution of population? Neoreaction doesn’t even disagree that a society with high downward mobility is oppressive, but that doesn’t mean a regulated rate of failure (i.e. failure to reproduce and all that entails) isn’t still good for the society as a whole. The good of individuals is not identical to the good of that group of individuals; the fallacy of composition should make one see the potential for dissociating the two. What if the good of individuals comes at the expense of the good of the group, and vice versa? A healthy tradeoff between the two seems the best way to promote human flourishing.

What if rule by the most has different properties from rule by the best? Nothing in principle guarantees that the massed decisions of people about a subject they are entirely ignorant of, and frequently misinformed on, will on the whole work themselves out to a moderately positive return. What if it really works its way out to a moderately negative return? What if not only the Soviet children were indoctrinated, but we were too?

Most already here have made it by asking simpler, more innocuous seeming questions. What if race really exists? What if men and women really are different? What if we’re in decline?

Neoreaction will be interpreted as broadly conservative. Maybe there is some truth to this, at least in terms of constituency. It is perhaps fair to admit most of us tend right more than left. However, it still seems that the right-left heuristic has little relevance within neoreaction. The implicit meta-analysis of innate psychological orientation entails a view of institutions that seeks to capture a benefit from the expenditure of conflict between those left-oriented and right-oriented. It is not “How can the conservatives win and make sure they never lose again?” but “How can society maximize for stability, sustainability, and flourishing?” The political is within the social by this model. The political is just the beginning of how society works.


Originally published Dec 3rd, 2013

On comments

I read all my comments, even if I don't respond to them. I don't get that many anyway. I delete the ones that are insulting, and the ones from dyed-in-the-wool Nazis. You can always tell who the Nat Soc people are because they use terms like "ni**er," instead of "black" or the negative but still polite "Morlock."

In my experience filtering out all rude people is sufficient to keep out the retards. You can say almost anything here as long as you're polite.

I find censorship is unnecessary as long as you enforce manners. If it can work here is can probably work elsewhere. It worked before in society.

Also relevant.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In a nutshell

What he leaves out is population shrinkage and the effects of global warming. See these two articles here and here.

Social media

If my twitter feed is any indication, the human race is truly bizarre and vile. If my facebook feed represents humanity then it is a mixture of pleasant, narcissistic and combative.

If the NY Times is an indication it is a precise inversion of reality. Mainstream publications are good at that—inverting things.

There once was an era when people believed that empowering everyone to say everything on their mind would be radically transformative. We have that now and it turns out that the masses excel only at either conformity or viciousness. I can't log on to twitter for five minutes before hearing someone tell me they hate white men. Social media is a sewer. It degrades the people who use it and their audiences.

I am now convinced that silence is golden and that human nature needs to be suppressed under a thick pile of rules and etiquette. Perhaps humans should be sent to finishing school and barred from speaking in cyberspace.