The Anti-Reactionary FAQ

[Edit 3/2014: I no longer endorse all the statements in this document. I think many of the conclusions are still correct, but especially section 1 is weaker than it should be, and many reactionaries complain I am pigeonholing all of them as agreeing with Michael Anissimov, which they do not; this complaint seems reasonable. This document needs extensive revision to stay fair and correct, but such revision is currently lower priority than other major projects. Until then, I apologize for any inaccuracies or misrepresentations.]

0: What is this FAQ?

This is the Anti-Reactionary FAQ. It is meant to rebut some common beliefs held by the political movement called Reaction or Neoreaction.

0.1: What are the common beliefs of the political movement called Reaction or Neoreaction?

Neoreaction is a political ideology supporting a return to traditional ideas of government and society, especially traditional monarchy and an ethno-nationalist state. It sees itself opposed to modern ideas like democracy, human rights, multiculturalism, and secularism. I tried to give a more complete summary of its beliefs in Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet Sized Nutshell.

0.1.1: Will this FAQ be a rebuttal the arguments in that summary?

Some but not all. I worry I may have done too good a job of steelmanning Reactionary positions in that post, emphasizing what I thought were strong arguments, sometimes even correct arguments, but not really the arguments Reactionaries believed or considered most important.

In this FAQ, I will be attacking not steel men but what as far as I can tell are actual Reactionary positions. Some of them seem really dumb to me and I excluded them from the previous piece, but they make it in here. Other points from the previous post are real Reactionary beliefs and make it in here as well.

0.2: Do all Reactionaries believe the same things?

Obviously not. In particular, the movement seems to be divided between those who want a feudal/aristocratic monarchy, those who want an absolute monarchy, and those who want some form of state-as-corporation. Even more confusingly, sometimes the same people seem to switch among the three without giving any indication they are aware that they are doing so. In particular the difference between feudal monarchies and divine-right-of-kings monarchies seems to be sort of lost on many of them.

In general, this FAQ chooses two Reactionary bloggers as its foils – Mencius Moldbug of Unqualified Reservations, and Michael Anissimov of More Right. Mencius is probably the most famous Reactionary, one of the founders of the movement, and an exceptionally far-thinking and knowledgeable writer. Michael is also quite smart, very prolific, and best of all for my purposes unusually willing to state Reactionary theories plainly and explicitly in so many words and detail the evidence that he thinks supports them.

Mencius usually supports a state-as-corporation model and Michael seems to be more to the feudal monarchy side, with both occasionally paying lip service to divine-right-of-kings absolutism as well. Part 2 of this FAQ mostly draws from Michael’s feudal perspective and Part 4 is entirely based on Moldbug’s corporation-based ideas.

0.3: Are you going to treat Reaction and Progressivism as real things?

Grudgingly, yes.

One of the problems in exercises like this is how much to take political labels seriously. Both “Reaction” and “Progressivism” are vast umbrella concepts on whose definition no one can agree. Both combine many very diverse ideas, and sometimes exactly who falls on what side will be exactly the point at issue.

Part of Part 3 will be an attempt to define Progressivism, but for now I’m going to just sweep all of this under the rug and pretend that “Reactionary” and “Progressive” (or for that matter “leftist” and “rightist”) have obvious well-defined meanings that are exactly what you think they are.

The one point where this becomes very important is in the discussion over the word “demotist” in Part 2. Although debating the meaning of category words is almost never productive, I feel like in that case I have more than enough excuse.

1: Is everything getting worse?

It is a staple of Reactionary thought that everything is getting gradually worse. As traditional ideas cede to their Progressive replacements, the fabric of society tears apart on measurable ways. Michael Anissimov writes:

The present system has every incentive to portray itself as superior to all past systems. Reactionaries point out this is not the case, and actually see present society in a state of severe decline, pointing to historically high levels of crime, suicide, government and household debt, increasing time preference, and low levels of civic participation and self-reported happiness as a few examples of a current cultural and historical crisis.

Reactionaries usually avoid getting this specific, and with good reason. Now that Michael has revealed the domains in which he is critiquing modern society, we can start to double-check them to see whether Progressivism has indeed sent everything to Hell in a handbasket.

But I must set some strict standards here. To support the Reactionary thesis, I will want to see long-term and unmistakeable negative trends in these indicators. Nearly all Reactionaries agree that the advance of Progressivism has been a long-term affair, going on since the French Revolution if not before. If the Reactionaries can muster some data saying that something has been getting better up until 2005 but declining from 2005 to the present, that doesn’t cut it. If something else was worsening from 1950 to 1980 but has been improving since then, that doesn’t cut it either. I will not require a completely monotonic downward trend, but neither will I accept a blip of one or two years in a generally positive trend as proving all modern civilization is bankrupt.

Likewise, if something has been getting worse in Britain but not the United States, or vice versa, that will not suffice either. Progressivism is supposed to be a worldwide movement, stronger than the vagaries of local politics. I will not require complete concordance between all Western countries, but if the Anglosphere countries, France, Germany, and Japan seem split about fifty-fifty between growth and decay in a certain indicator, blaming Progressivism isn’t going to cut it.

So, without further ado, let’s start where Michael starts: with suicide.

1.1: Is suicide becoming more common?

Here’s the US suicide rate from 1960 to 2002:

In those forty years, considered by many the heyday of the leftist movement, forty years encompassing the Great Society, the civil rights movement, the explosion of feminism onto the public consciousness, the decline of the traditional family, etc, etc…suicide rates dropped about 20%.

What evidence have the Reactionaries cite for their side? Michael cites a New York Times article pointing out that suicide rates rose from 1999 to 2010. Apparently my new job is reminding Reactionaries that they cannot blindly trust New York Times articles to give them the whole truth.

Suicide rates did rise from 1999 to 2010. But if we’re going to blame leftism for rising suicide rates it’s kind of weird that it would choose the decade we had a Republican President, House, Senate, and Supreme Court to start increasing. A more likely scenario is that it had something to do with the GIANT NEVER-ENDING RECESSION going on at the time.

As we mentioned above, since Reactionaries believe that Progressivism has been advancing simultaneously in many different countries it is worthwhile to check whether other nations show the same trends as the United States. If every country that was becoming more Progressive showed increased suicide rates, this would be strong evidence that Progressivism were to blame. But if some Progressive countries experienced lower suicide rates, that would suggest country-specific problems.

In Britain, we find not only that suicide has generally been going down for the past thirty years, but that – as predicted above – there is a bit of an upward tick corresponding with the Great Recession.

Even better, we find that suicide peaked in Britain in 1905 – just after the Victorian period – and has been declining ever since.

I try to be nice. I really do. But I will say it – the Reactionary argument that suicide has been increasing during modernity from a low during some fantasized Victorian Golden Age is unacceptably shoddy.

1.2: Is everyone falling further and further into debt?

Here again the Reactionaries overstate their case. Michael tried to support his point with…

…which shows government debt rising ceaselessly and alarmingly through the simple tricks of not adjusting for inflation or rising GDP. Keep yourself honest by taking those steps, and the situation looks more like this:

To his credit, Michael fixed this when I pointed it out. But to me, the new graph looks like gradual decrease in debt since World War II up until Reagan’s big military buildup, followed by a gradual retreat from that military buildup. My God, won’t somebody stop Progressivism before it’s too late?!?!

1.3: Is crime becoming worse?

Michael’s statistics for crime deserve more attention:

Question number one: what does this graph mean by “indictable offenses”? This very broad term introduces no fewer than three dangerous biases. First, we have reporting bias – the more police there are and the more active there are, the more crimes get heard about and reported. Second, we have definition bias within individual crimes – for example, larceny in Britain fell by two thirds in 1855, but this was because Parliament passed a law raising the minimum amount of property that had to be larcened for it to count. Third, we have broader definition bias in what is or isn’t a crime – how much of that rise around 1970 was the “indictable offense” of people smoking marijuana, something that was previously neither illegal nor widely available?

Criminologists’ recommended way around this problem is to look at murder. The murder rate tends to track the crime rate in general. Murder isn’t as subject to reporting bias – if someone is killed, the police are going to want to hear about it no matter how understaffed they are. And murder is less subject to changes in definition – dead is dead.

So let’s add the homicide rate to the above chart:

Alas, I can only find the numbers since 1950 rather than 1900. But as we can see, despite the huge rise in “violent crime”, homicide rates stay very steady and perhaps even decline a little over that period.

Question number two: Michael is American. All his other statistics make reference to American numbers. Why does he suddenly switch to Britain when we talk about crime? I won’t impugn his motives – long-term US crime data is really hard to find. But it’s worth pointing out that what there is, is much less sensational:

I wish I could find longer-term US crime rate data, but it doesn’t seem to be out there. I can, however, find longer-term homicide data:

We see ups and downs but no general pattern. A Reactionary might cite the apparently very low level of homicides in 1885, but historians pretty much agree that’s a reporting artifact and that the period ending in 1887 had the highest murder rate in American history. In any case, right now we seem to be enjoying a 50 year low. And lest someone bring up that medical technology has advanced enough to turn many would-be murders into attempted murders – which is true – aggravated assaults, the category of crime that would encompass attempted murders, are less than half of what they were twenty years ago. Kind of hard to square with everything getting worse and more violent all the time.

Actually, stopping at 1885 is for losers. Let’s go really long-term. From Marginal Revolution, themselves drawing from Manuel Eisner’s Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime:

We’ve got to go deeper! From HBD Chick, citing Steven Pinker:

1.3.1: But the Victorian Era had amazingly low crime rates! People could walk out in any corner of the country unmolested! Crime was basically a half-forgotten memory!

This is one of Mencius Moldbug’s favorite points. He cites approvingly an 1870s British text which says that

Meanwhile, it may with little fear of contradiction be asserted that there never was, in any nation of which we have a history, a time in which life and property were so secure as they are at present in England. The sense of security is almost everywhere diffused, in town and country alike, and it is in marked contrast to the sense of insecurity which prevailed even at the beginning of the present century. There are, of course, in most great cities, some quarters of evil repute in which assault and robbery are now and again committed. There is perhaps to be found a lingering and flickering tradition of the old sanctuaries and similar resorts. But any man of average stature and strength may wander about on foot and alone, at any hour of the day or the night, through the greatest of all cities and its suburbs, along the high roads, and through unfrequented country lanes, and never have so much as the thought of danger thrust upon him, unless he goes out of his way to court it.

Reactionaries take this idea and run with it – past societies were so well-organized that they had completely eliminated crime, whereas our own democratic government turns a blind eye while thousands of people are beaten and mugged and murdered and…

Again, let’s concentrate on “murdered”. It’s the only crime that gives us a shot at apples-to-apples comparison. So what was the Victorian murder rate?

Homicide is regarded as a most serious offence and it is probably reported more than other forms of crime. Between 1857 and 1890, there were rarely more than 400 homicides reported to the police each year, and during the 1890s the average was below 350. In Victorian England, the homicide rate reached 2 per 100,000 of the population only once, in 1865. Generally, it was about 1.5 per 100,000 falling to rarely more than 1 per 100,000 at the end of the 1880s and declining even further after 1900. These figures do not take into account the significant number of infanticides that went undetected. The statistics for homicide are therefore probably closer to the real level of the offence.

So, Victorian murder rate of between 1 and 2 per 100,000 people. And the current British murder rate? According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it stands at 1.2 per 100,000 people, rather lower than the Victorian average.

1.3.1.1: But if the Victorian crime rate was as high or higher than it is today, how come Victorians felt completely safe and thought that crime had been eradicated?

Normally this is where I’d start talking about how we moderns are constantly exposed to so many outrageous and terrifying stories in the media that we don’t realize how good we have it. But in this case that turns out to be explaining away a nonproblem. The Victorians were absolutely terrified of crime and thought they were in the middle of a gigantic crime wave. Here’s Understanding The Victorians on the “garroting panic”:

Violent attacks by strangers were seen as grave cause for concern. There was a disproportionate amount of attention paid to violent nighttime assaults by strangers in urban areas, called “garroting” and similar to what we might call “mugging”. There were garroting panics in 1856 and 1862, in part because of extensive press coverage. In the highest profile case, MP Hugh Pilkington as attacked and robbed in London at one o’clock in the morning on July 17, 1862, after leaving a late session in the House of Commons. Press reports of garroting increased dramatically, and the public quickly became convinced there was a serious problem. Garroting panic was so rampant that it became a topic of satire: Punch published several cartoons of men running from their own shadows or from trees that they were convinced were garrotters.

And A History of Criminal Justice In England and Wales on the same topic:

Crimes of violence were perceived to be on the increase in the 1850s and panic set in when an outbreak of garrotting occurred in various parts of the country in the period from 1856 to 1862. Garrotting involved choking, suffocating, or strangling a victim. During these years, Punch magazine carried a whole series of cartoons and lengthy jokes about the crime, including many eccentric means of defense. One advertisement appeared offering the public an “anti-garrot collar”. This was a steel collar to be hand-fitted round the neck with a large number of sharp steel spikes pointing outwards. Despite such bizarre forms of protection, the offence caused a great deal of fear among the public and it was generally regarded as a very serious threat to law and order. Letters to The Times began to appear from gentlemen who had been so attacked and robbed. In response the judges began to order severe floggings in addition to penal servitude in an attempt to stem the growth of the crime. Their example was then followed by Parliament which, against the wishes of the government, enacted the Security From Violence Act 1863.

So if there was so much panic about crime, how come the person who wrote Moldbug’s favorite book felt Victorian Britain was crimeless?

I guess it all depends on your perspective. I live less than two miles outside Detroit city limits, and I’ve never been the victim of a single crime in my life or even felt particularly threatened. Some people just live sheltered existences.

But apparently most other Americans agree with me. According to Gallup, 89% of American men currently feel safe walking alone at night in the city where they live. If 89% of modern US men feel that way, I’m not surprised Moldbug could find one Victorian guy willing to express the opinion.

1.3.2: Why does this matter again?

For some reason, the Reactionaries have made crime an absolute linchpin of their case. A very large portion of Reactionary thought goes implicitly or explicitly through the argument “Progressives have legitimized minorities, minorities cause crime, crime is destroying our society, therefore Progressivism must be destroyed.”

The extent of the Reactionary obsession with crime never fails to amaze me. Moldbug writes:

Security and liberty do not conflict. Security always wins. As Robert Peel put it, the absence of crime and disorder is the test of public safety, and in anything like the modern state the risk of private infringement on private liberties far exceeds the official of public infringement. No cop ever stole my bicycle.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. On the other hand, non-desperate times call for non-desperate measures. And this is a time when everything is pretty much okay. Murder and violent crime are at historic lows, and almost 90% of American men feel safe walking outside at night. Crime is very nearly a non-issue, and when designing a system of government it is probably a bad idea to give them a blank check to ruin everything else in the pursuit of decreasing it.

1.4: Are people becoming less happy?

Michael’s source for decreasing happiness levels is Blanchflower & Oswald: Well Being Over Time In Britain And The USA. But read the abstract, and you find it’s more complicated: “Reported levels of well-being have declined over the last quarter of a century in the US; life satisfaction has run approximately flat through time in Britain.”

Once again, we find these supposed effects of a global trend are very much limited to individual countries.

Second, when we check the breakdown, we find, as the paper puts it, that “[American] men’s happiness has an upward trend, yet American women’s well-being has fallen through the years.” At a guess, I’d say this is because more women are working full-time jobs. This may be a bit of a victory for Reactionaries, who are no fans of feminism, but it is a very limited victory with little broader implication for other aspects of society. If you’re a man, there’s never been a happier time to be alive.

Further, Blanchflower and Oswald aren’t the only people trying to measure happiness. Ruut Veenhoven has collected 3,651 different happiness studies into a World Database of Happiness. Inglehart, Foa, and Welzel have sorted through some of the data and find that:

Among the countries for which we have long-term data, 19 of the 26 countries show rising happiness levels. In several of these countries – India, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and South Korea – there are steeply rising trends. The other countries with rising trends are Argentina, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. Three countries, the US, Switzerland, and Norway, show flat trends. Only four countries, Austria, Belgium, UK, and West Germany, show downward trends.

Investigating further:

By far the most extensive and detailed time series comes from the US, and the full series covering the 60 years from 1946 to 2006 shows a flat trend. But the subset from 1946 to 1980 show a downward trend, while the series from 1980 to 2006 shows a rising trend. A similar picture appears from the much scantier British dataset. The entire series from 1946 to 2006 shows a downward trend, but the series from 1980 to the present shows a clear upward trend.

So there you have it. In 19/26 countries, happiness has risen since 1946, and in both America and Britain, it’s been rising since 1980.

1.5: Is time preference decreasing?

Time preference is a mathematical formalization of whether people live only for the moment like the proverbial grasshopper, or build for the future like the proverbial ant. We’d probably prefer if people had pretty low time discounting (ie are more ant-like). Michael claims that in fact we’re becoming more grasshopper-like.

He cites as his source Wang, Rieger and Hans’ How Time Preferences Differ, which is a fascinating study but which does not, as far as I can tell, make anything like the claim Michael says it does. It seems to be entirely about comparing different countries. There is only one thing that looks even close to an intertemporal comparison:

In particular, 68% of our [2011] US sample chose to wait. For comparison, in the survey by Frederick (2005) where he used the same question…only around 41% of students chose to wait.

Here we see people saving more over time, ie becoming more ant-like, although it would be absurd to think this represented a real effect over such a small time period.

Michael may be referring to a claim buried in the study that collectivism is linked to lower discount rates than individualism. This study was done entirely on Israeli Arabs and Jews, with Jews as a proxy for “individualist cultures” and Arabs as a proxy for “collectivist cultures”. Suffice it to say this is not how broad human universals are established. A similar experiment compared Western-primed Singaporeans with Eastern-primed Singaporeans to “conclude” that Confucian cultures had a “longer-term outlook” and thus a lower discount rate. This would be all nice and well except that in the main study, Canadians had a lower discount rate than Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, or Koreans. So much for Confucians.

1.6: Is civic participation decreasing?

The argument is simple. Democracy fractures traditionalist societies, destroying civic cohesion, which in turn reduces voter turnout. Therefore, the only way to increase voter turnout is to abolish democracy.

No, actually the argument is more complex, and Michael cites Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone to make his point for him. Since there is no one statistic for civic participation, I can’t refute it with pure data the same as I tried to do with the others.

But I will point out that Putnam’s own thesis is that it is technology – our options of watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out on the computer – that make us less involved in our communities. He may be right. But blaming the politically neutral force of technology acquits Progressivism.

Even so, a word to defend technology. Right now I am typing a lengthy essay that will be read by a few thousand people. A couple dozen of those will discuss it in the comments. Among those will be people with whom I’ve had interesting discussions, friendships, and even a couple of romantic relationships. Through the ensuing debate, I will meet new people with whom I will likely keep in touch and discuss my extremely niche interests with on a near daily basis for many years to come, forming bizarre but intellectually fecund communities that will inevitably end up with everyone involved moving to the Bay Area and having kids together.

And we are supposed to be upset because the technology that makes this possible has cut down on the number of bowling leagues? That’s like condemning butterfly metamorphosis for decreasing the number of caterpillars.

1.7: Are international conflicts becoming more frequent?

This isn’t in the paragraph quoted above, but Michael has expressed the opinion to me in person, and anyone familiar with Reactionary thought will recognize this as a staple. The theory is that monarchies had strong international law between them that prevented or settled conflicts quickly, but that democracies have the “sham” international law of the UN (exactly what makes it a sham is never explained) and constantly interfere in one anothers’ business as a continuation of their own internal politics or obsession with human rights.

As far as I know no Reactionary has ever dared to cite statistics that they say support this claim, which is probably for the better. But just for the record, here’s the counterclaim:

You can find a much more exhaustive discussion of this topic here.

1.7.1: What about the Concert of Europe? The great statesman Klemens von Metternich used Reactionary ideas to create a brilliant system that kept peace in Europe for nearly a century!

The Concert of Europe lasted from 1815 to 1914. During that time, Europe suffered – just counting major interstate wars involving Congress of Vienna participants – the French Invasion of Spain, the Crimean War, the Schleswig Wars, the Wars of Italian Independence, Austro-Prussian Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, and, let’s not forget, World War I.

The modern equivalent of the Concert of Europe is the European Union, but built on Progressive rather than Reactionary principles. It has existed from 1951 to 2013 so far, and In those sixty-two years, major interstate wars between EU members have included…well, none.

1.8: Okay, you’ve discussed the trends Michael listed as supporting Reaction, and found them less than convincing. Do you have any trends of your own that you think support more modern societies?

Yes. Most of the graphs below come from 31 Charts That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity.

Hours worked per person

Global illiteracy

Global poverty

World Hunger

I’m trying to keep things fair by deliberately excluding health care victories since these are at least partially due to technology, but these would include infant mortality dropping a hundredfold, the near elimination of smallpox, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, and typhoid from the developed world, the neutralization of AIDS.

Yet in reality, political and social trends played a role here too: for example, smallpox would not have been eliminated without the concerted effort of the WHO and other global health organizations.

1.9: Final thoughts on this section?

Of the seven categories Michael cites as especially supportive of the Reactionary thesis, zero are actually getting worse and several of them appear as best we can tell to be getting better. And I don’t want to beat Michael up too much here, because these are the same sorts of things that other Reactionaries cite, and he got picked on only because he was the one to put them all in one place and claim he had evidence.

Reactionary claims that the modern world shows disappointing performance on indicators of social success turn out to be limited to one cherry-picked country or decade or else just plain made up. The very indicators Reactionaries cite turn out, on closer inspection, to provide strong evidence for things getting better.

Progressives, on the other hand, can point to some amazing victories over the last fifty years, including global poverty cut in half, world hunger cut in half, world illiteracy cut in half, war grinding almost to a halt, GDP quintuple-ing, violent crime collapsing, and self-reported happiness increasing in almost all countries.

1.9.1: Other than crime, few of these points have data before 1950, and the crime ones are highly speculative before that date. Don’t you think that even if things have been getting better for the past few decades, they might have been getting worse over the past few millenia?

Yes. In a few cases this is obviously true. For example, Michael cites good data showing that traditional rural societies have lower suicide rates than our own. And obviously they have lower divorce rates. The same may be true with some of the other points here, though probably not as many as Reactionaries would like.

But I do think it’s important to establish that things have been getting better over the past few decades. For one thing, it suggests a different course of action. If things are constantly declining, we should go into panic mode and try a radical restructuring of everything before it’s too late. If things are getting better every day, we should hang tight and try to nudge forward trends that are already going on.

For another, it suggests a different interpretation. If things keep getting worse, we can attribute it to some process of social decay (since everyone seems to agree social decay is Getting Worse All The Time). If things are getting better now, we may perhaps separate societies into two groups, Traditional and Industrialized, admit that the transition from the first to the second caused a whole lot of problems, but be satisfied that industrialized society is gradually improving and fixing its defects.

So while I accept that traditional rural societies a thousand years ago were better on a number of social metrics, I don’t think that’s particularly actionable. What’s actionable is what’s going on within industrial societies right now, and that seems to be improvements on all levels.

2: Are traditional monarchies better places to live?

2.1: Are traditional monarchs secure?

Much of the Reactionary argument for traditional monarchy hinges on monarchs being secure. In non-monarchies, leaders must optimize for maintaining their position against challengers. In democracies, this means winning elections by pandering to the people; in dictatorships, it means avoiding revolutions and coups by oppressing the people. In monarchies, elections don’t happen and revolts are unthinkable. A monarch can ignore their own position and optimize for improving the country. See the entries on demotism and monarchy here for further Reactionary development of these arguments.

Such a formulation need not depend on the monarch’s altruism: witness the parable of Fnargl. A truly self-interested monarch, if sufficiently secure, would funnel off a small portion of taxes to himself, but otherwise do everything possible to make his country rich and peaceful.

As Moldbug puts it:

Hitler and Stalin are abortions of the democratic era – cases of what Jacob Talmon called totalitarian democracy. This is easily seen in their unprecedented efforts to control public opinion, through both propaganda and violence. Elizabeth’s legitimacy was a function of her identity – it could be removed only by killing her. Her regime was certainly not the stablest government in history, and nor was it entirely free from propaganda, but she had no need to terrorize her subjects into supporting her.

But some of my smarter readers may notice that “your power can only be removed by killing you” does not actually make you more secure. It just makes security a lot more important than if insecurity meant you’d be voted out and forced to retire to your country villa.

Let’s review how Elizabeth I came to the throne. Her grandfather, Henry VII, had won the 15th century Wars of the Roses, killing all other contenders and seizing the English throne. He survived several rebellions, including the Cornish Rebellion of 1497, and lived to pass the throne to Elizabeth’s father Henry VIII, who passed the throne to his son Edward VI, who after surviving the Prayer Book Rebellion and Kett’s Rebellion, named Elizabeth’s cousin Lady Jane Grey as heir to the throne. Elizabeth’s half-sister, Mary, raised an army, captured Lady Jane, and eventually executed her, seizing the throne for herself. An influential nobleman, Thomas Wyatt, raised another army trying to depose Mary and put Elizabeth on the throne. He was defeated and executed, and Elizabeth was thrown in the Tower of London as a traitor. Eventually Mary changed her mind and restored Elizabeth’s place on the line of succession before dying, but Elizabeth’s somethingth cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, also made a bid for the throne, got the support of the French, but was executed before she could do further damage.

Actual monarchies are less like the Reactionaries’ idealized view in which revolt is unthinkable, and more like the Greek story of Damocles – in which a courtier remarks how nice it must be to be the king, and the king forces him to sit on the throne with a sword suspended above his head by a single thread. The king’s lesson – that monarchs are well aware of how tenuous their survival is – is one Reactionaries would do well to learn.

This is true not just of England and Greece, but of monarchies the world over. China’s monarchs claimed “the mandate of Heaven”, but Wikipedia’s List of Rebellions in China serves as instructional (albeit voluminous) reading. Not for nothing does the Romance of Three Kingdoms begin by saying:

An empire long united, must divide; an empire long divided, must unite. This has been so since antiquity.

.
Brewitt-Taylor’s translation is even more succinct:

Empires wax and wane; states cleave asunder and coalesce.

And of Roman Emperors, only about thirty of eighty-four died of even remotely natural causes, according to this List Of Roman Emperors In Order Of How Hardcore Their Deaths Were.

2.2: Are traditional monarchies more free?

A corollary of Reactionaries’ “absolutely secure monarch” theory is that monarchies will be freer than democracies. Democrats and dictators need to control discourse to prevent bad news about them from getting out, and ban any institutions that might threaten the status quo. Since monarchs are absolutely secure, they can let people say and do whatever they want, knowing that their words and plans will come to naught. We revisit the Elizabeth quote above:

Hitler and Stalin are abortions of the democratic era – cases of what Jacob Talmon called totalitarian democracy. This is easily seen in their unprecedented efforts to control public opinion, through both propaganda and violence. Elizabeth’s legitimacy was a function of her identity – it could be removed only by killing her. Her regime was certainly not the stablest government in history, and nor was it entirely free from propaganda, but she had no need to terrorize her subjects into supporting her.

It is true that Elizabeth did not censor the newspapers, or bludgeon them into publishing only articles favorable to her. But that is less because of her enlightened ways, and more because all newspapers were banned in England during her reign. English language news in the Elizabethan Era had to be published in (famously progressive and non-monarchical!) Amsterdam, whence it was smuggled into England.

Likewise, Elizabeth and the other monarchs in her line were never shy about killing anyone who spoke out against them. Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s father, passed new treason laws which defined as high treason “to refer to the Sovereign offensively in public writing”, “denying the Sovereign’s official styles and titles”, and “refusing to acknowledge the Sovereign as the Supreme Head of the Church of England”. Elizabeth herself added to these offenses “to attempt to defend the jurisdiction of the Pope over the English Church…”. Needless to say, the punishment for any of these was death, often by being drawn and quartered.

But at least she didn’t have a secret police, right? Wrong. Your source here is Stephen Alford’s book on, well, the Elizabethan secret police, although reason.com’s review, The Elizabethan CIA: The Surveillance State In The 16th Century will serve as a passable summary.

2.2.1: How come we perceive traditional monarchies as less oppressive than for example Stalinist Russia?

Well, for one thing Stalin was in a category all of his own, going far beyond rational attempts to maintain his status into counterproductive paranoia. We shouldn’t expect the average communist police state to be Stalinist in its intensity, and so we need not be surprised when traditional monarchies aren’t.

But a more comprehensive answer might draw on a proverb of Oceania’s in 1984: “Animals and proles are free”. Anyone too weak and irrelevant to be dangerous doesn’t suffer the police state’s attention.

Before about the 1600s, the average non-noble neither had nor could have any power. All wealth was locked up in land, owned by nobles, and all military power was locked up in professionals like knights and men-at-arms, who could defeat an arbitrary number of untrained peasants without breaking a sweat.

After about the 1600s, wealth passed into the hands of capitalist merchants – ie non-nobles – and military power became concentrated in whoever could hold a gun – potentially untrained peasants. As a result, kings stopped worrying only about the nobility and started worrying about everyone else.

Or else they didn’t. Remember, all of the longest and most traditional monarchies in history – the Bourbons, the Romanovs, the Qing – were deposed in popular revolts, usually with poor consequences for their personal health. However paranoid and oppressive they were, clearly it would have been in their self-interest to be more so. If monarchy were for some reason to be revived, no doubt its next standard-bearers would not make the same “mistake” as their hapless predecessors.

2.3: Are traditional monarchies less bloody?

Michael Anissimov writes:

Bad kings are not nearly as bad as Demotist/Communist dictators. Bad kings are in a different universe from bad Demotist leaders. There is not even a vague comparison. In the traditional system, kings rely on the aristocracy and clergy for support, and have trouble doing anything without them. For a Demotist leader, there tends to be far fewer checks and balances. They can cause a million deaths in a place like Iraq with a snap of their fingers. Study up on the history of “death by government” to get a better perspective on what I mean. Kings and emperors very rarely, if ever, engage in mass murder against their own people.

2.3.1: Are demotist countries bloodier?

Look up demotist in a dictionary – Wiktionary will do – and you will find it means “one who is versed in ancient Egyptian demotic writing”. Mr. Anissimov’s use is entirely idiosyncratic to Reactionaries, or, to put it bluntly, made up.

It is interesting that every time Reactionaries make this argument, they use this same made-up word. Here’s Moldbug:

Let’s define demotism as rule in the name of the People. Any system of government in which the regime defines itself as representing or embodying the popular or general will can be described as “demotist.” Demotism includes all systems of government which trace their heritage to the French or American Revolutions – if anything, it errs on the broad side.

The Eastern bloc (which regularly described itself as “people’s democracy”) was certainly demotist. So was National Socialism – it is hard to see how Volk and Demos are anything but synonyms. Both Communism and Nazism were, in fact, obsessed with managing public opinion. Like all governments, their rule was certainly backed up by force, if more so in the case of Communism (the prewar Gestapo had less than 10,000 employees). But political formulae were of great importance to them. It’s hard to argue that the Nazi and Bolshevik states were any less deified than any clerical divine-right monarchy.

Why use this made-up word so often?

Suppose I wanted to argue that mice were larger than grizzly bears. I note that both mice and elephants are “eargreyish”, meaning grey animals with large ears. We note that eargreyish animals such as elephants are known to be extremely large. Therefore, eargreyish animals are larger than noneargreyish animals and mice are larger than grizzly bears.

As long as we can group two unlike things together using a made-up word that traps non-essential characteristics of each, we can prove any old thing.

None of Michael or Moldbug’s interlocutors are, I presume, in favor of Stalinism or Nazism. They are, if anything, in favor of liberal democracies such as the United States or Great Britain. Michael and Moldbug cannot bring up examples of these countries killing millions of their own people, because such examples do not exist. So they simply group them in a made-up category with countries that have, and then tar the entire group by association. This is, of course, a riff on the good old Worst Argument In The World.

If there were any nonmotivated reason to group these countries together – if they were really taxonomically related – there would already be a non-made-up word describing this fact.

So the answer to the question – are demotist countries bloodier than monarchies? – is the same as the answer to the question “are eargreyish animals larger than grizzly bears”. The answer is “Here’s a nickel, kid; buy yourself a real category .”

2.3.2: Even if the “demotist” idea was invented for this debate, and even if it has little relevance to liberal democracies, isn’t it at least a good basis for further study?

Remember Moldbug’s definition: “Let’s define demotism as rule in the name of the People. Any system of government in which the regime defines itself as representing or embodying the popular or general will can be described as demotist.”

But “the leaders have to say they rule in the name of the people” is a pretty low bar. King Louis Philippe of France said he ruled in the name of the people:

Louis-Philip wore the title of the King of the French…This title was in contrast to the King of France, which reflected a monarchy’s power over the country, instead of a king’s rule over its people. This title reflects that the king does not take his mandate from God but from the people themselves.

On the other hand, ever read Les Miserables? Yeah, that was him. Eventually the actual people hated him so much that they had a violent revolution and tried to kill him; the king managed to flee the capital in disguise and escape to England, where he died.

Why accept this stupid standard for the definition of “demotist”? Because a more reasonable one – like “elected by the people” or “liked by the people” or “not universally hated by the people and he has to have a giant army to prevent them from immediately killing him” would exclude for example Stalin, the figure Reactionaries are most desperate to paint as “demotist”.

What about the regime which Reactionaries are the second most desperate to paint as “demotist”? For this one let’s bring some class into this essay and quote Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn:

As an honest reactionary I naturally reject Nazism … fascism and all related ideologies which are, in sober fact, the reductio ad absurdum of so-called democracy and mob domination.

You heard it here first. The Nazis were baaaaasically the same as progressive liberal democrats.

To which all I can say is: you know who else opposed “so-called democracy and mob domination?”

By rejecting the authority of the individual and replacing it by the numbers of some momentary mob, the parliamentary principle of majority rule sins against the basic aristocratic principle of Nature

– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 81

2.3.3: Even accepting all that, is Michael’s last sentence even true?

Michael’s argument ends by saying: “Kings and emperors very rarely, if ever, engage in mass murder against their own people.”

I propose a contrary hypothesis – traditional absolutist regimes have always had worse records of massacre and genocide than progressives. However, technology improves efficiency in all things, including murder. And population has been growing almost monotonically for millennia. Therefore, it is unsurprising that more modern absolutist regimes – like Nazism and Stalinism – have higher death counts than older absolutist regimes – like traditional monarchies.

On the other hand, traditional monarchies have some pretty impressive records for killing their own people. Let us take a whirlwind tour of history:

The Albigensian Crusade, run by the French monarchy against its own subjects – with the support of the Catholic Church – may have killed up to a million people, which is pretty impressive considering that at the time there were only about twelve million Frenchmen. As a proportion of total population, this is about the same as the number of Germans who died during World War II, or Chinese who died during the Great Leap Forward.

The Harrying of the North was totally a real historical event and not something I stole from Game of Thrones. William the Conquerer, angry at the murder of a local earl, managed to kill about 100,000 northern Englishmen from 1069-1070, which was probably about 5% of the entire population.

Another 100,000 people died in the 16th century German Peasants’ War, an event which so blended into the general mayhem of the time that you have never heard of it. Actually, the claim that Reactionary regimes have ever been peaceful would have trouble surviving a look merely at Wikipedia’s disambiguation page for Peasants’ War.

Third century BC emperor Qin Shi Huang was not only responsible for the Burning Of Books And Burying Of Scholars, but killed about one million out of his population of twenty million with various purges and forced labor projects, one of which was the Great Wall of China.

[This section previously included a paragraph on Chinese warlord Zhang Xianzhong. Despite living in a 17th century monarchy, he held some pretty progressive values and his Reactionary credentials have been challenged. Rather than let his story distract from the more obviously Reactionary murderers above, I will concede the point]

But Michael goes even further. He says of democracies that “[with] a Demotist leader, there tends to be far fewer checks and balances. They can cause a million deaths in a place like Iraq with a snap of their fingers.”

Ignoring for a moment the difference between snapping one’s fingers and getting a bill to declare war passed through both houses of a hostile Congress (since Michael certainly does) we note that Michael has just authorized us to also compare monarchies and democracies in their ability to wreak havoc abroad.

On this particular historical tour, we will start with King Leopold of Belgium. Belgium itself was a constitutional monarchy run on a mostly democratic system, and in fact has always been a relatively pleasant and stable place. However, Belgium’s colony, the Congo Free State, was under the direct rule of King Leopold. Not only was it responsible for the deaths of two to fifteen million Congolese – ie about as many Jews as were killed by Hitler – but the manner of those deaths was about as brutal and callous as can be imagined. Wikipedia writes:

Leopold then amassed a huge personal fortune by exploiting the Congo. The first economic focus of the colony was ivory, but this did not yield the expected levels of revenue. When the global demand for rubber exploded, attention shifted to the labor-intensive collection of sap from rubber plants. Abandoning the promises of the Berlin Conference in the late 1890s, the Free State government restricted foreign access and extorted forced labor from the natives. Abuses, especially in the rubber industry, included the effective enslavement of the native population, beatings, widespread killing, and frequent mutilation when the production quotas were not met. Missionary John Harris of Baringa, for example, was so shocked by what he had come across that he wrote to Leopold’s chief agent in the Congo saying: “I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable. I was so moved, Your Excellency, by the people’s stories that I took the liberty of promising them that in future you will only kill them for crimes they commit.”

This is an especially good example as it describes (we will see later) the ideal Reactionary state – one run by a single person identical to a corporation trying to make as much money as possible off a particular area and possessing overwhelming force.

The story does however have a happy ending – progressive elements within Belgium were so horrified that they forced the king to cede his claim – the colony was then governed by Belgium’s democratically elected legislature, which did such a good job even Mencius Moldbug cannot resist the urge to praise it, and under whose rule Congo was a relatively liveable place up until a native uprising kicked out the Belgians and restored dictatorship.

Another good example of kings and emperors at war is Imperial Japan. This state – again run under principles no Reactionary could fault – accomplished the astounding feat of reducing the Nazis to the second biggest jerks on the Axis side during World War II. During the war, Imperial Japanese troops murdered between three million and ten million foreigners, mostly Chinese. Once again the brutality of their killings is impressive. According to Wikipedia on the Rape of Nanking:

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women were raped, including infants and the elderly.[40] A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped.[41] The women were often killed immediately after being raped, often through explicit mutilation[42] or by stabbing a bayonet, long stick of bamboo, or other objects into the vagina. Young children were not exempt from these atrocities, and were cut open to allow Japanese soldiers to rape them

Meanwhile, Michael says that “Kings and emperors very rarely, if ever, engage in mass murder” but is absolutely horrified that America caused a million deaths in Iraq (more sober sources say 100,000, of which under 10,000 were civilians directly killed by US forces) while making the utmost effort to avoid unnecessary violence and launching war crimes proceedings against anyone caught employing it.

2.3.4: Conclusion for this section?

Reactionaries believe that monarchs are wise and benevolent rulers, and that it is only “demotists” who engage in genocide and mass murder.

But this argument is based on a con – “demotist” is an unnatural category they made up solely to win this debate. When we look at the governments their opponents actually support – liberal democracies – we find they have a much better history than monarchies.

Further, the Reactionaries fail even on the terms of their own con. Monarchs have a fantastically bloody history, and the regimes they want to paint as demotist really aren’t.

2.4: Are traditional monarchs good leaders?

In his perhaps optimistically named “Ten Objections To Traditionalism And Monarchism, With Answers”, Michael Anissimov asks, with commendable bluntness: “What if the king is an idiot or psycho?” He answers:

Then the prior king appoints a regent to take over the affairs of state on behalf of his successor. There is also a debate within the Reactionary community as to whether adoptive succession is preferable to hereditary succession, which avoids the issue of stupid or crazy children. Such extreme scenarios rarely ever happened during the age of Renaissance European monarchs. One of the greatest statesmen of all time, Klemens von Metternich, strongly influenced the mentally deficient monarch Ferdinand I of Austria during his reign, sat on the regency council, and ran most important affairs, presiding over a hundred years of relative peace in Europe.

We shall start with the theoretical objections before moving on to the empirical counterexamples.

Theoretical objection the first: what if the king doesn’t become an idiot or a psycho until after he is on the throne? The onset of schizophrenia can be as late as twenty-five; later in rare cases. Traumatic brain injury, certain infectious diseases, and normal human personality change can happen at any age. Smart psychopaths will have the presence of mind to avoid revealing their psychosis until they are safely enthroned.

Theoretical objection the second: what if the king seizes power some other way? A decent number of history’s monarchs got tired of waiting and killed their fathers. We would expect these to disproportionately include those who are crazy and evil, not to mention those who think their fathers would take away their power.

Theoretical objection the third: regency councils are historically about the least stable form of government imaginable. Unless everyone has truly commendable morality, either the king kills the regent and seizes power, the regent kills the king and starts a new dynasty, or some third party kills the regent and becomes the new regent. Once again, reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms will prove instructional.

Theoretical objection the fourth: we are counting on the king’s father to object if the king is an idiot or psycho. But a lot of idiotic psychotic kings’ fathers were, in fact, idiots and psychos. The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.

Onto the historical counterexamples. Historical counterexample the first: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, “Caligula” to his friends. Absolutely beloved by the Roman populace. Unclear whether he killed his uncle Tiberius to gain the Empire, or just stood by cackling kind of maniacally as he died. Took power to general acclaim, ruled well for a couple of months, gradually started showing his dark side, and after a year or two reached the point where he ordered a large section of spectators at the colosseum to be thrown into the ring and torn apart by lions because the average amount of tearing-apart-by-lions at a Roman gladiatorial games just wasn’t enough for him.

Historical counterexample the second: Ivan the Terrible. His father died of infection when Ivan was three years old. His mother was named as his regent – kind of a coincidence that the most qualified statesman in the realm would be his mother, but let’s roll with it – but she died of poisoning when Ivan was eight. In this case I’m not sure who exactly is supposed to decide whether he’s an idiot or psycho, and apparently neither were the Russians, because they crowned him Czar in 1547 . Ivan was okay until his wife died, at which point he became paranoid and started executing the nobility for unclear reasons, destroyed the economy, and burnt and pillaged the previously glorious city of Novgorod (part of his own kingdom!) with thousands of deaths. According to some sources:

Ivan himself often spent nights dreaming of unique ways to torture and kill. Some victims were fried in giant frying pans and others were flayed alive. At times, he turned on [his death squads] themselves, and subjected their membership to torture and death. In a fit of rage, he murdered his own son; however the guilt of this act obsessed him and he never recovered.

Our story does not end there! Ivan died of a stroke, leaving the throne to his intellectually disabled son. Here at least the system worked – brilliant statesman Boris Godunov was installed as regent and ruled pretty well. He did, however, eventually seize the throne – likely because if he had not seized the throne everyone else would have killed him out of suspicion that he might seize the throne. He died, there was a huge succession squabble, and thus started the Time of Troubles, whose name is pretty self-explanatory.

Historical counterexample the third: Charles II Habsburg of Spain (not to be confused with various other Charles IIs). A strong contender for the hotly contested title of “most inbred monarch in history”, Wikipedia describes him like so:

Known as “the Bewitched” (Spanish: el Hechizado), he is noted for his extensive physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities—along with his consequent ineffectual rule…

Charles did not learn to speak until the age of four nor to walk until eight, and was treated as virtually an infant until he was ten years old. Fearing the frail child would be overtaxed, his caretakers did not force Charles to attend school. The indolence of the young Charles was indulged to such an extent that at times he was not expected to be clean. When his illegitimate half-brother Don Juan José of Austria, an illegitimate son of Philip IV, obtained power by exiling the queen mother from court, he covered his nose and insisted that the king at least brush his hair

As Charles’s father died when Charles was 3, he was given a regent – his mother (another case in which the most qualified statesman in the land is the monarch’s mother! What are the odds?!) But when his mother died, Charles took power in his own name and ruled for four years. His only notable achievement during that time was presiding over the largest auto-da-fe in history. He died at age 39. Again quoting Wikipedia:

The physician who practiced his autopsy stated that his body “did not contain a single drop of blood; his heart was the size of a peppercorn; his lungs corroded; his intestines rotten and gangrenous; he had a single testicle, black as coal, and his head was full of water.” As the American historians Will and Ariel Durant put it, Charles II was “short, lame, epileptic, senile, and completely bald before 35, he was always on the verge of death, but repeatedly baffled Christendom by continuing to live.”

Oh, and thanks to the vagaries of self-interested royal dynasties, his passing caused a gigantic succession struggle which drew in all the neighboring countries and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Historical counterexample the fourth: Henry VIII. Really? Yes, really. While perhaps calling him an idiot or psycho goes too far, he certainly thought that marrying confirmed hottie Anne Boleyn and having a son with her was worth converting England to a newly-invented Protestant religion – a decision which killed tens of thousands, displaced some of the country’s oldest and most important institutions, and set the stage for two hundred years of on-and-off warfare. Whether or not you like the Church of England (or, as it was almost named, Psychotic Bastard Religion) yourself, you have to admit this is a sort of poor reason to start a religious revolution.

King Henry wasn’t an idiot or a psycho. He was just a selfish bastard. You can’t expect his father to pick up on that. Even if you could, his father wasn’t exactly Mahatma Gandhi himself. Worst of all, his personality may have changed following traumatic brain injury from a jousting accident – something that could not have been predicted before he took the throne.

This is exactly the sort of problem non-monarchies don’t have to worry about. If Barack Obama said the entire country had to convert to Mormonism at gunpoint as part of a complicated plot for him to bone Natalie Portman, we’d just tell him no.

There’s another important aspect here too. Reactionaries – ending up more culpable of a stereotype about economists than economists themselves, who are usually pretty good at avoiding it – talk as if a self-interested monarch would be a rational money-maximizer. But a monarch may have desires much more complicated than cash. They might, like Henry, want to marry a particular woman. They might have religious preferences. They might have moral preferences. They might be sadists. They might really like the color blue. In an ordinary citizen, those preferences are barely even interesting enough for small talk. In a monarch, they might mean everyone’s forced to wear blue clothing all the time.

You think that’s a joke, but in 1987 the dictator of Burma made all existing bank notes illegitimate so he could print new ones that were multiples of nine. Because, you see, he liked that number. As Wikipedia helpfully points out, “The many Burmese whose saved money in the old large denominations lost their life savings.” For every perfectly rational economic agent out there, there’s another guy who’s really into nines.

2.5: Are traditional monarchies more politically stable?

Reactionaries often claim that traditional monarchies are stable and secure, compared to the chaos and constant danger of life in a democracy. Michael Anissimov quotes approvingly a passage by Stefan Zweig:

Michael’s comment: “[This] does a good job capturing the flavor and stability of the Austrian monarchy…it’s very interesting to read this in a world where America and Europe are characterized by political and economic instability and ethnic strife.”

I am glad Mr. Zweig (Professor Zweig? Baron Zweig?) found his life in Austria to be very secure. But we can’t just take him at his word.

Let’s consider the most recent period of Habsburg Austrian history – 1800 to 1918 – the period that Zweig and the elders he talked to in his youth might have experienced.

Habsburg Holy Roman Austria was conquered by Napoleon in 1805, forced to dissolve as a political entity in 1806, replaced with the Kingdom of Austria, itself conquered again by Napoleon in 1809, refounded in 1815 as a repressive police state under the gratifyingly evil-sounding Klemens von Metternich, suffered 11 simultaneous revolutions and was almost destroyed in 1848, had its constitution thrown out and replaced with a totally different version in 1860, dissolved entirely into the fledgling Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867, lost control of Italy and parts of Germany to revolts in the 1860s-1880s, started a World War in 1914, and was completely dissolved in 1918, by which period the reigning emperor’s wife, brother, son, and nephew/heir had all been assassinated.

Meanwhile, in Progressive Britain during the same period, people were mostly sitting around drinking tea.

This is not a historical accident. As discussed above, monarchies have traditionally been rife with dynastic disputes, succession squabbles, pretenders to the throne, popular rebellions, noble rebellions, impulsive reorganizations of the machinery of state, and bloody foreign wars of conquest.

2.5.1: And democracies are more stable?

Yes, yes, oh God yes.

Imagine the US presidency as a dynasty, the Line of Washington. The Line of Washington has currently undergone forty-three dynastic successions without a single violent dispute. As far as I know, this is unprecedented among dynasties – unless it be the dynasty of Japanese Emperors, who managed the feat only after their power was made strictly ceremonial. The closest we’ve ever come to any kind of squabble over who should be President was Bush vs. Gore, which was decided within a month in a court case, which both sides accepted amicably.

To an observer from the medieval or Renaissance world of monarchies and empires, the stability of democracies would seem utterly supernatural. Imagine telling Queen Elizabeth I – whom as we saw above suffered six rebellions just in her family’s two generations of rule up to that point – that Britain has been three hundred years without a non-colonial-related civil war. She would think either that you were putting her on, or that God Himself had sent a host of angels to personally maintain order.

Democracies are vulnerable to one kind of conflict – the regional secession. This is responsible for the only (!) major rebellion in the United States’ 250 year (!) history, and might be a good category to place Britain’s various Irish troubles. But the long-time scourge of every single large nation up to about 1800, the power struggle? Totally gone. I don’t think moderns are sufficiently able to appreciate how big a deal this is. It would be like learning that in the year 2075, no one even remembers that politicians used to sometimes lie or make false promises.

How do democracies manage this feat? It seems to involve three things:

First, there is a simple, unambiguous, and repeatable decision procedure for determining who the leader is – hold an election. This removes the possibility of competing claims of legitimacy.

Second, would-be rebels have an outlet for their dissatisfaction: organize a campaign and try to throw out the ruling party. This is both more likely to succeed and less likely to leave the country a smoking wasteland than the old-fashioned method of raising an army and trying to kill the king and everyone who supports him.

Third, it ensures that the leadership always has popular support, and so popular revolts would be superfluous.

If you remember nothing else about the superiority of democracies to other forms of government, remember the fact that in three years, we will have a change of leadership and almost no one is stocking up on canned goods to prepare for the inevitable civil war.

2.6: Are traditional monarchies more economically stable?

Once again, we come to Michael Anissimov’s claims about Austria:

Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the “People,” such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems. On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.

The economic growth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1.76% per year) “compared very favorably to that of other European nations such as Britain (1%), France (1.06%), and Germany (1.51%)”.

The growth of Austria-Hungary was higher than that of other European countries for the same reason the growth of sub-Saharan Africa right now is outpacing the growth of America or Europe – it was such a backwater that it had more room to grow.

Urbanization is a decent proxy for industrialization, and we consistently find that throughout the Kingdom of Austria and Austro-Hungarian Empire period, Austria had some of the lowest urbanization rates in Europe, just barely a third those of Britain, and well behind those of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. In order to find a country as poorly developed as Austria-Hungary, we need to go to such economic powerhouses as Norway, Portugal and Bulgaria.

Nor was its economy especially stable. The Panic of 1873, probably the worst financial depression during the period being discussed and perhaps the worst modern economic crisis before the Great Depression, actually started in Austria-Hungary and only spread from there to the rest of the world. This is especially astounding given Austria-Hungary’s general economic irrelevance at the time.

2.6.1: What about Germany? Isn’t the German Empire a good example of an industrially successful Reactionary country?

I consider the Reactionary credentials of the German Empire extremely open to doubt.

The German Empire was a utopian project created by people who wanted to sweep away the old patchwork system of landed nobility and local traditions that formed the Holy Roman Empire and turn it into a efficient modern state. The Progressive origins of both the Italian and German unification efforts shine through almost every word of a letter from Garibaldi to German unification pioneer Karl Blind:

The progress of humanity seems to have come to a halt, and you with your superior intelligence will know why. The reason is that the world lacks a nation which possesses true leadership. Such leadership, of course, is required not to dominate other peoples, but to lead them along the path of duty, to lead them toward the brotherhood of nations where all the barriers erected by egoism will be destroyed. We need the kind of leadership which, in the true tradition of medieval chivalry, would devote itself to redressing wrongs, supporting the weak, sacrificing momentary gains and material advantage for the much finer and more satisfying achievement of relieving the suffering of our fellow men. We need a nation courageous enough to give us a lead in this direction. It would rally to its cause all those who are suffering wrong or who aspire to a better life, and all those who are now enduring foreign oppression.

This role of world leadership, left vacant as things are today, might well be occupied by the German nation. You Germans, with your grave and philosophic character, might well be the ones who could win the confidence of others and guarantee the future stability of the international community. Let us hope, then, that you can use your energy to overcome your moth-eaten thirty tyrants of the various German states. Let us hope that in the center of Europe you can then make a unified nation out of your fifty millions. All the rest of us would eagerly and joyfully follow you.

The result of this idealistic vision – the destruction of the ancien regime in Germany – was a state much stronger than the traditional-but-weak Holy Roman Empire or anything that had existed in that part of the world before.

Sure, Otto von Bismarck was no hippie, but he was first and foremost a pragmatist, and his empire combined both conservative and progressive elements. It was based on a constitution, had universal male suffrage (only 5 years after the US got same!), elected a parliament, and allowed political parties. Granted, the democratic aspect was something of a facade to cover up an authoritarian core, but real Reactionaries would not permit such a facade, saying it will invariably end in full democracy (they are likely right).

The amazing growth of the German Empire was due to two things. First, the virtues of the German populace, which allow them to continue to dominate the European economy even today with an extremely progressive and democratic government. And second, the catch-up effect mentioned earlier. Germany had been languishing under traditional feudal and aristocratic rule for centuries. As soon as the German Empire wiped away that baggage and created a modern Progressive state, it allowed the economic genius of the Germans to shine through in the form of breakneck-speed economic growth.

2.6.2: Is Progressivism destroying the economy?

Another frequent claim. But remember how Michael said Progressivism went into high gear around the time of the French Revolution in 1789. Here’s a graph of world GDP over time:

To put it lightly, I see no evidence of a decline starting around 1789?

Maybe the effect is just in the United States?

This image is actually even more astounding and important than the above, because it shows how growth keeps to a very specific trendline. On the graph above, the Reactionary might claim that technological advance was disguising the negative effects of Progressivism somehow. Here we see that no second variable that is not perfectly consistent has been interfering with the general economic growth effect.

I literally cannot conceive of a way that the data could be less consistent with the theory that Progressivism inhibits economic growth.

2.7: Are traditional monarchies just in general more successful and nicer places to live?

Great Britain and America have throughout their histories been the two most progressive nations on Earth. They’ve also been, over the past three hundred years or so, the two most successful. Other bright spots in the progressive/successful cluster include 1600s Netherlands, classical democratic Athens, republican Rome, and Cyrus’ Persia. In fact, practically every one of the great nations of history was unusually progressive for its time period, perhaps with the exception of China – which is exceptionally complicated and hard to place on a Western political spectrum. Other possible exceptions might include Philip II’s Spain, Louis XIV’s France, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia – but the overall trend is still pretty clear.

Limiting our discussion to the present, our main obstacle to a comparison is a deficit of truly Reactionary countries. Reactionaries are never slow to bring up Singapore, a country with some unusually old-fashioned ideas and some unusually good outcomes. But as I have pointed out in a previous post, Singapore does little better than similar control countries, and the lion’s share of its success is most likely due to it being a single city inhabited by hyper-capitalist Chinese and British people on a beautiful natural harbor in the middle of the biggest chokepoint in the world’s most important trade route.

Saudi Arabia also gets brought up as a modern Reactionary state. It certainly has the absolute monarchy, the reliance on religious tradition, the monoethnic makeup, the intolerance for feminist ideals, and the cultural censorship. How does it do? Well, it’s nice and stable and relatively well-off. But a cynic (or just a person with an IQ > 10) might point out that a lot of this has to do with it controlling a fifth of the world’s oil supply. It’s pretty easy to have a good economy when the entire world is paying you bazillions of dollars to sit there and let them extract liquid from the ground. And it’s pretty easy to be stable when you can bribe the population to do what you want with your bazillions of dollars in oil money – in fact, Saudi Arabia is probably that rarest of birds – a Reactionary welfare state.

(Actually, this point requires further remark. Reactionary states tend to be quite rich. In the case of Singapore, Reactionaries trumpet this as a success of Reactionary principles. In the case of Saudi Arabia, that sort of causation is somewhat less credible. I propose an alternative theory: Reactionary states can maintain themselves only by bribing the population not to revolt. These bribes may be literal, as in the case of the Saudi welfare state. Or they may be more figurative – “Look how rich my government has made you – you let me stay in power and I’ll keep up the good work.” China is the classic example of this particular formulation. This is important because contra Moldbug’s inverted pendulum theory it suggests Reactionary regimes will be inherently unstable.)

But getting back to the issue at hand – given all these economic confounders, it’s hard to compare Reactionary and progressive regimes in an even-handed way.

This is par for the course. Political science is notorious for its inability to perform controlled experiments, and no two countries will differ only in their system of government.

2.7.1: If we could perform a controlled experiment pitting reactionary versus progressive ideals, what would it look like?

Well, assuming you were God and had infinite power and resources, you could take a very homogeneous country and split it in half.

One side gets a hereditary absolute monarch, whose rule is law and who is succeeded by his sons and by his sons’ sons. The population is inculcated with neo-Confucian values of respect for authority, respect for the family, and cultural solidarity, but these values are supplemented by a religious ideal honoring the monarch as a near-god and the country as a specially chosen holy land. American cultural influence is banned on penalty of death; all media must be produced in-country, and missionaries are shot on site. The country’s policies are put in the hands of a group of technocratic nobles hand-picked by the king.

The other side gets flooded with American missionaries preaching weird sects of Protestantism, and at the point of American guns is transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Its economy – again at the behest of American soldiers, who seem to be sticking around a sufficient long time – becomes market capitalism. It institutes a hundred billion dollar project to protect the environment, passes the strictest gun control laws in the world, develops a thriving gay culture, and elects a woman as President.

Turns out this perfect controlled experiment actually happened. Let’s see how it turned out!

Talk about your “Dark Enlightenment”!

From the Reactionary perspective, North Korea has done everything right. They’ve had three generations of absolute rulers. They’ve tried to base their social system on Confucianism. They’ve kept a strong military, resisted American influence, and totally excluded the feelings of the peasant class from any of their decisions.

Reactionaries, behold your god.

South Korea, on the other hand, ought to be a basketcase. It’s replaced its native Confucian traditions with liberal Protestant sects, it’s occupied by US troops, it’s gone through various military coups to what the CIA calls a “fully functioning modern democracy”, and it’s so culturally decadent and degraded that it managed to produce Gangnam Style. Yet I don’t think there’s a single person reading this who doesn’t know which one ze’d rather live in.

Yet according to the principles of Reaction (first quote Michael Anissimov, second Mencius Moldbug)

Legally speaking, monarchies tend to have fewer laws, but enforce them more strictly, following Tacitus’ dictum: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” In general, monarchies put more power into the hands of local government. A key argument in favor of monarchy is that leaders tend to have a lower time preference, meaning they have a greater personal stake in the long-term well being of the country, compared to career politicians oriented towards four-year election cycles.

A royal family is a family business. Not one king in European history can be found who ruined his own country to enrich himself, like an African dictator.

North Korea is a family business. And the Kim family has done very very well for itself. But it’s not something I would like to see spread.

3: What is progress?

Reactionaries are not the first to notice – but may be the most obsessive in analyzing – a certain directionality to history. That is, rather than being a random walk across the space of possible values, at least the past three hundred years or so seem to have shown a definite trend. Those who are in favor of this trend call it “progress”. Those who oppose it call it things like “moral decay”.

However, it is notoriously difficult to determine exactly what this trend is and what drives it. A theory to this effect is at the core of what separates Reactionaries from simple conservatives.

In the remainder of this section, I will replace the word “progress” – with its connotations of inevitability and desirability – with the preferred Reactionary term “progressivism” – that is, the political ideology which flows with the historical trend under discussion.

3.1: Might Progressivism be merely a secular strain of some Protestant religion?

Reactionaries seem to agree that Progressivism is a religion. Perhaps Calvinism. From Moldbug:

I prefer “cryptocalvinism” [as a name for progressivism], meaning two things: that, like Calvin and as a direct result of his intellectual heritage, cryptocalvinists are building the Kingdom of God on Earth, a political system that seeks to eradicate every form of unrighteousness; and that they prefer not to acknowledge this characterization of their mission and heritage. Since I’ve changed the name, let me repeat the four ideals of cryptocalvinism: Equality (the universal brotherhood of man), Peace (the futility of violence), Social Justice (the fair distribution of goods), and Community (the leadership of benevolent public servants).

Or perhaps Quakerism. From Isegoria, quoting a different Moldbug theory:

Modern progressivism is in fact a form of secular Quakerism, with its doctrine of the Inner Light only slightly modified.

Or how about Judaism? From Age of Treason:

In a nutshell I object to [Moldbug]’s definition of Universalism, which is what he calls “the faith of our ruling caste”. It’s an important observation, but I think he gets it only half right. He associates Universalism only with Progressivism, which he blames entirely on Christianity. He does not address the Globalist tendencies of our ruling caste, and he pretty much gives Jews a pass…The close alignment of PC with Jewish interests? The Jewish support for Marxism and Bolshevism and hatred of Nazism perhaps?

Reactionaries seem much more certain that Progressivism is religious in origin than they are which religion exactly it originates from. And the differences between Calvinism and Quakerism are not subtle.

Given their total lack of consensus on a matter as basic as which religion, why is it so important to Reactionaries that progressivism be descended from a religious background? Moldbug explains:

[Progressives] believe their ideals are universal, that they can be derived from science and logic, that no reasonable and well-intentioned person can dispute them, and that their practice if applied correctly will lead to an ideal society. I believe that they are arbitrary, that they are inherited from Protestant Christianity, that they serve primarily as a justification for the rule of the cryptocalvinist establishment, or Polygon, and that they are a major cause of corruption, tyranny, poverty and war.

So the reason Reactionaries want the Left to be religious is to disprove the contention that it is based on reason. This would presumably discredit the Left and restore preeminence to Reactionary ideas such as that people should be ruled by a king, live in strong heterosexual nuclear families, avoid sexual promiscuity, and derive their values from fixed traditions rather than modern ideas of self-expression. You know, ideas with no religious background whatsoever.

3.1.1: Stop being snide and answer the question? Might Progressivism, far from deriving from some universal moral principles, actually be an arbitrary and parochial set of Calvinist customs and taboos?

The ideals commonly called progressive predate Calvin by several millennia. Consider the example of Rome. The early Romans not only overthrew their kings in a popular revolution and instituted a Republic, but experienced five plebian secessions (read: giant nationwide strikes aiming at greater rights for the poor). After the first, the Roman government created the position of tribune, a representative for the nation’s poor with significant power in the government. After the third, the government passed a sort of bill of rights guaranteeing the poor protection against arbitrary acts of government. After the fifth, the government passed the Lex Hortensiana, which said that plebians could hold a referendum among themselves and the results would be binding on the entire populace, rich and poor alike. By the later Empire, even slaves were guaranteed certain rights, including the right to file complaints against their masters.

The Empire was remarkably multicultural, even at its very highest levels. Emperor Septimus Severus was half-Libyan and some historians think his appearance might have passed for black in modern America. Emperor Maximinus Thrax was a Goth, Emperor Carausius was Gallic, and Emperor Philip the Arab was…well, take a wild guess. Although Rome did have a state religion, they were extremely supportive of the rights of minorities to continue practicing their own religions, and eventually just tried to absorb everything into a giant syncretistic mishmash that makes today’s “ecumenialism” seem half-hearted in comparison. Although their tolerance famously did not always extend as far as Christianity, when the Romans had to denounce it they claimed it was not a religion but merely a “superstition” – a distinction which itself sounds suspiciously Progressive to modern ears. Indeed, the insistence of Christianity (and Judaism) on a single god, and their unwillingness to respect other religions as equally valid (in a very modern and relativistic way) was a large part of the Roman complaint against them.

The Romans pioneered the modern welfare state, famously memorialized by its detractors as panem et circenses – bread and circuses. Did you know welfare reform was a major concern of Julius Caesar? That ancient Rome probably had a higher percent of its population on the dole than modern New York? That the Romans basically worshipped a goddess of food stamps?

And no discussion of ancient Rome would be complete without mentioning their crazy sex lives. Wikipedia explains that “It was expected and socially acceptable for a freeborn Roman man to want sex with both female and male partners, as long as he took the penetrative role. The morality of the behavior depended on the social standing of the partner, not gender per se. Gender did not determine whether a sexual partner was acceptable, as long as a man’s enjoyment did not encroach on another’s man integrity.” Gay weddings were not uncommon in ancient Rome, and were neither officially banned nor officially sanctioned. Juvenal and Martial both wrote satires condemning what they considered an epidemic of gay marriages during their era. And at least one Roman Emperor – Nero – married a man.

(well, married two men. One as groom and one as bride. And castrated one of them. And probably only married one of them because he was said to have an uncanny resemblance to Nero’s mother. Whom Nero had previously had sex with, then murdered. I didn’t say Nero was normal. Just unusually forward-thinking on the gay marriage issue.)

Moldbug listed the cryptocalvinist ie Progressive program as having four parts:

Equality (the universal brotherhood of man), Peace (the futility of violence), Social Justice (the fair distribution of goods), and Community (the leadership of benevolent public servants)

Yet Equality has a clear antecedent in the plebian secessions of ancient Rome, peace in the Pax Romana, social justice in the Roman welfare system, and community in…well, it’s so broadly defined here that it could be anything, but if we’re going to make it the leadership of benevolent public servants, let’s just throw in a reference to the philosopher-kings of Plato’s Republic (yeah, fine, it’s Greek. It still counts)

3.1.2: Yes, okay, the Romans tried to keep the peace and help the poor and stuff. That’s a pretty weak definition of Progressivism. What really defines Progressivism is this messianic fervor that if we just do this enough, we can create a perfect utopia. That is what these ancient cultures were lacking.
Even if you’ve never read The Republic, you can still get a sense of the utopian striving in the classical world from reading some of the stuff written during the reign of Emperor Augustus. Here’s Dryden’s translation of a passage from the Aeneid:

An age is ripening in revolving fate
When Troy shall overturn the Grecian state…
Then dire debate and impious war shall cease,
And the stern age be soften’d into peace:
Then banish’d Faith shall once again return,
And Vestal fires in hallow’d temples burn;
And Remus with Quirinus shall sustain
The righteous laws, and fraud and force restrain.
Janus himself before his fane shall wait,
And keep the dreadful issues of his gate,
With bolts and iron bars: within remains
Imprison’d Fury, bound in brazen chains;
High on a trophy rais’d, of useless arms,
He sits, and threats the world with vain alarms.

So please, tell me again how utopian desires for peace and social justice were invented wholesale by John Calvin in 1550.

3.2: Is the move toward Progressive social policy masterminded by “the Cathedral”?

Reactionaries have to walk a fine line. They can’t just say “people consider liberal policies, decide they would be helpful, and form grassroots movements pushing for the policies they support”, because that would make leftist policies sound like reasonable ideas pursued by decent people for normal human motives.

But they can’t just say “There’s a giant conspiracy where the heads of all the major Ivy League universities meet at midnight under the full moon”, because that would sound ridiculous and tinfoilish.

So they invent this strange creature, the distributed conspiracy. It’s not just people being convinced of something and then supporting it, it’s them conspiring to do so. Not the sort of conspiring where they talk to one another about it or coordinate. But still a conspiracy! Michael Anissimov describes it like so:

[The Cathedral is] the self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service…the Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil […]

Government and social policy is manufactured in universities, first and foremost at Harvard, followed by Princeton, then Yale, then the other Ivies, Berkeley, and Stanford. As far as politics is concerned, institutions outside of these are pretty much insignificant. Memetic propagation is one-way — it is formulated in the schools and pumped outwards. The universities are not significantly influenced by the outside. The civil servants that make government decisions are either borrowed from universities or almost totally influenced by them. The official mouthpiece of this ideological group is The New York Times, which is the most influential publication in the world outside of the Bible.

So now that we have this formulation of the problem, we can ask some more specific questions.

3.2.1: Are Harvard and the New York Times disproportionately linked to the Progressive ideas that now dominate society?

That depends partly on what “disproportionately” means, of course. But we can make some vague and qualitative observations.

The Roman and Persian Empires held some very Progressive ideals, all without the help of any universities or newspapers whatsoever. Parsimony suggests that whatever process pushed Rome to the left could be doing the same to the modern world.

But a better counterexample might be noting that even modern progressivism predates this institutions. The history of modern Progressivism – even as told by Reactionaries – goes from John Locke to the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution to the French Revolution to the US Civil War on through John Stuart Mill to the New Deal and the United Nations and civil rights movements and on to the present. While Harvard (est. 1636) does predate all those events, I don’t think even its most fervent critic would accord it any level of influence on world ideas until the 1850s at the earliest. And the Times was founded in 1851. It is hard to chart the precise progress of Progressivism, but I don’t notice any sharp discontinuity at any point. Once again using parsimony, we might expect the forces that promoted Progressivism during the French Revolution and before to be the same forces promoting Progressivism afterwards. This takes any special role of Harvard or the New York Times entirely out of the pictures.

And modern progressivism doesn’t seem linked to Harvard or the Times in space either. New York and Boston are pretty progressive – by American standards. But there’s a whole world out there. Canada is further left than America; Britain is further left than Canada; France is further left than Britain; the Netherlands are further left than France; and Sweden is further left than the Netherlands. Russia and China are complicated, but they’ve certainly had their super-leftist periods. In fact, pretty much the entire developed world is further left than anywhere in the United States, New York and Boston not excepted. This does not seem an entirely recent development; for example, the Netherlands’ liberalism has clear roots in the Dutch Golden Age of the 1600s.

It is true that sometimes a prophet is without honor in his own country. Yet for an American college and a newspaper read almost uniquely by Americans to have affected every other country in the Western world more effectively than they were able to affect the United States seems, well – unexpected.

3.2.2: Do Harvard and the New York Times invent Progressive dogma and then shove it down the throats of a hostile country?

Gay rights will be an interesting test here, because it’s one of the issues on which society has shifted leftward most quickly and dramatically, and because it’s relatively recent so its history should be easy to trace.

Modern gay rights movements trace their history to Germany, a country not known for having Harvard or the New York Times, or for that matter Puritans and Quakers. The German movement included such pioneering activists as Magnus Hirschfeld and Max Spohr, but Germany kind of dropped the ball on gay rights with the whole Nazi thing, and the emphasis shifted to elsewhere in Europe. In America, the movement finally gained steam in the 1960s with a picketing in Philadelphia and a community center in San Francisco, and finally the Stonewall Riots in New York.

I can’t get any good information about Harvard’s position, but the New York Times helpfully has an online archive of every article they have ever published. So what, exactly, was America’s Newspaper Of Record doing while all this was going on? It was helpfully publishing articles like GROWTH OF OVERT HOMOSEXUALITY IN CITY PROVOKES WIDE CONCERN:

The problem of homosexuality in New York became the focus yesterday of increased attention by the State Liquor Authority and the Police Department…The city’s most sensitive open secret – the presence of what is probably the greatest homosexual population in the world and its increasing openness – has become the subject of growing concern of psychiatrists, religious leaders, and the police.

Sexual inverts have colonized three areas of the city. The city’s homosexual community acts as a lodestar, attracting others from all over the country. More than a thousand inverts are arrested here annually for public misdeeds. Yet the old idea, assiduously propagated by homosexuals, that homosexuality is an inborn, incurable disease, has been exploded by modern psychiatry, in the opinion of many experts. It can be both prevented and cured, these experts say.

The overt homosexual – and those who are identifiable probably represent no more than half of the total – has become such an obtrusive part of the New York scene that the phenomenon needs public discussion, in the opinion of a number of legal and medical experts. Two conflict viewpoints converge today to overcome the silence and promote public discussion.

The first is the organized homophile movement – a minority of militant homosexuals that is openly agitating for removal of legal, social, and cultural discriminations against sexual inverts. Fundamental to this aim is the concept that homosexuality is an incurable, congenital disorder (this is disputed by the bulk of scientific evidence) and that homosexuals should be treated by an increasingly tolerant society as just another minority. This view is challenged by a second group, the analytical psychiatrists, who advocate an end to what it calls a head-in-sand approach to homosexuality…

On and on and on it goes in this vein. And that’s not even counting other such wonderful New York Times articles as WOMEN DEVIATES HELD INCREASING – PROBLEM OF HOMOSEXUALITY FOUND LARGELY IGNORED. These aren’t editorials – this is the headlines, the supposedly fact-based objective reporting section. The editorials are worse – I particularly like the one warning that we need to fight increasing gay influence in the theater industry because gays cannot authentically write plays about love or relationships.

Now, to the Times’ credit, it eventually changed its tune and is now mostly in favor of gay rights. That’s fine for the Times but not so good for Reactionaries. The story here is very clearly of a gay rights movement that began as a grassroots push in favor of more tolerance. The New York Times opposed it, but somehow the movement managed to gather steam despite that crushing blow. Eventually its tenets became accepted by more and more people, and one of these late adapters was the New York Times, which now atones for its sin by defending gay rights against even later adapters.

This is not the pattern one would expect if all Progressive ideas were fueled solely by the New York Times’ backing.

3.2.3: Do Harvard and the New York Times successfully impose their values on the rest of America and the world?

Let’s examine exactly how opinions have changed on a host of important political issues. These are taken from the National Election Survey, Pew Research, and Gallup. I’ve tried to avoid cherry-picking – I took every issue I could find, starting from the first year data was available. In cases where I could find two different polls, I kept the one with a longer data series:

Of thirty-four issues that made the cut, opinion shifted to the left on 19 and to the right on 13. There was an average shift of three points leftward per issue. Contrary to Reactionary claims that Americans do not appreciate the extent of the leftward shift affecting the country, in a recent survey based on a similar chart, most people, regardless of political affiliation, slightly overestimated the extent to which values had shifted leftward over the past generation.

Not only is the leftward shift less than people intuitively expect, it does not affect all issues equally. The left’s real advantage is limited to issues involving women and minorities. Remove these, and opinion shifts to the left on 11 issues and to the right on 12. The average shift is one point rightward per issue.

On the hottest, most politically relevant topics, society has moved leftward either very slowly or not at all. Over the past generation, it has moved to the right on gun control, the welfare state, capitalism, labor unions, and the environment. Although the particular time series on the chart does not reflect this, support for abortion has stabilized and may be dropping. This corresponds well with the DW-NOMINATE data that finds a general rightward trend in Congress over the same period. The nation seems to be shifting leftward socially but rightward politically – if that makes any sense.

If the Left had seized control of the government, or the media, or the institutions of the country, we would expect it to do a better job pushing its cherished policies like abortion rights, gun control, environmental protection, et cetera. Instead, beliefs on those issues have remained stable or shifted rightward, while issues like marijuana legalization – an issue more libertarian than progressive, and with minimal support from leftist institutions – succeed wildly. Whatever advantage the left has, it must be something skew to politics, something that institutionalized leftism, from the Democratic Party down to the Humanities Department at Harvard, can neither predict nor control.

3.3: Then where does progress come from?

So the cultural shift of the past few centuries isn’t toward some weird Christian sect. And it wasn’t caused by Harvard or the New York Times. What was it and who did it?

The World Values Survey is the official academic attempt to understand this question. They’ve been polling in eighty countries around the world for thirty years trying to figure out who has what values and how they have been changing. Maybe you’ve seen the most famous summary of their results:

There is no end to the fun one can have with WVS data, and I highly recommend at least Wikipedia’s Catalogue of Findings if not the original studies. But the most important part is that dimensionality analysis finds that answers to value questions cluster together onto two axes: survival vs. self-expression values, and traditional vs. secular-rational values.

Over time, societies tend to move from traditional and survival values to secular-rational and self-expression values. This is the more rigorous version of the “leftward shift” discussed above.

Both within a single time period and between time periods, traditional and survival values are generally associated with poverty, low industrialization, and insecurity. Secular-rational and self-expression values are generally associated with wealth, industrial or knowledge economies, and high security. The difference is not subtle:

And if you want to know why countries are becoming more democratic and less monarchist, it’s hard to get a more direct answer than this graph (although its attempt at a linear fit was a bad idea):

All of this provides a simple and elegant explanation of the distribution of leftism, both in time and space. The most progressive countries today tend to be very wealthy, very peaceful, and comparatively urbanized. The least progressive countries tend to be poor, insecure, and comparatively rural.

Remember Michael Anissimov’s description of the leftward shift above? That the world has been growing further to the left ever since the French Revolution? Take a look at the course of the world economy:

Riiiight about the time of the French Revolution – which also happens to be around the time of the Industrial Revolution – the world economy suddenly shifts into hyperdrive, starting in the USA and Western Europe, spreading to Japan after World War II, and not quite yet having reached Africa or Southeast Asia.

And, well, right about the time of the French Revolution Europe and the USA started shifting to the left, with Japan following after World War II, and Africa and Southeast Asia still lagging behind.

This progressivism/economics link is so obvious that anyone who thinks about it for a few minutes can reach the same conclusion. I wrote “A Thrive/Surive Theory Of The Political Spectrum long before I was familiar with the World Values Survey, but its conclusions match the survey’s in pretty much every respect: rightist values are those most suited for hardscrabble existence where everyone must band together to survive a dangerous frontier; leftist values are those most suited for a secure postscarcity or near postscarcity existence with surplus resources available to devote to more abstract principles.

I’d like to examine one more aspect of this before I stop beating this dead horse, which is the rural/urban divide. The history of industrialization is in many ways the history of urbanization, and the distinction between insecure frontier life and secure postscarcity life mirrors the rural/urban divide. This predicts that more rural countries should be more traditional/survival and more urban countries more secular-rational/self-expression, which in fact we see. Of the countries furthest to the top-right on the WVS diagram, Sweden, Norway and Denmark all have about 85% urban populations. Go down to the three countries at the bottom left – Jordan, Morocco, and Zimbabwe – and despite Jordan’s anomalously high level they’re still averaging about 55%.

This is true even in the United States – the denser a county, city, or state, the more likely it is to lean Democratic, as we can see from this terrible and confusing graph:

Rural counties – those with <200 people per square mile - lean red at about 65%. Once they pass that 200 person mark, they very quickly start leaning blue until the densest areas - true cities, approach 90% Democratic. Or as Dave Troy notes, "98% of the 50 most dense counties voted Obama. 98% of the 50 least dense counties voted for Romney." This density effect applies even within cities. Here are America's largest cities graphed by density against percent Romney vote:

My sources point out that “graphs of the UK, Australia, and Canada look very similar during the same period, with left voting concentrated in urban and mining districts” and theyalso mention (just to fend off the inevitable reactionary critique) that “interestingly — and contrary to the much-stated view that Obama purchased the election with welfare, food stamps, and other entitlements, our analysis turned up no statistically significant association between Obama votes and the metro poverty rate and only a very small one for income inequality across metros.”

Why am I making such a big deal of this? Well, here’s America’s percent urban versus percent rural population over the period of time when our values were shifting to the left:

So please. Tell me again how the leftward value shift over the past two hundred years was caused entirely by a sinister conspiracy of Ivy League college professors

3.3.1: Can you give a more detailed explanation of why increasing wealth, technology, and urbanization would lead to the values we call Progressive?

Here are five specific examples.

Multiculturalism is a forced adaptation to the culturally unprecedented situation of large groups of people from different cultures being forced to live and work together. This situation arises because of technology and urbanization. Technology, because more Somalis are going to immigrate to the US when that means booking a plane ticket over the phone than when it meant a six month journey over stormy seas. Urbanization, because it’s much harder to immigrate into an agrarian society where every family knows each other and farmland is at a premium than into an urban society where you can apply for the same factory job as everyone else.

Modern gender roles are a forced adaptation to the existence of cheap and effective contraception, which decouples sex from pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is relegated to people unwilling or unable to use contraception, allowing other women to pursue the same careers as men rather than dropping out of the workforce to become full-time mothers.

The welfare state is a forced adaptation to mobile and urban societies. In agrarian societies, most people owned their own means of production – their farms – and “unemployment” wasn’t a salient concept. It was usually possible to get what you needed through the sweat of your brow, even if that meant chopping down trees to build a log cabin, and there was little sympathy for people who didn’t bother. In urban societies, people need jobs in order to support themselves, and those who cannot get them starve in full pitiful view of everyone else.

Socialized health care is a very big part of the welfare state – probably the majority depending on how you parse the numbers. As recently as a century ago there really wasn’t much in the way of health care technology for people to spend money on, and most people died quickly and simply without having to be kept alive in expensive hospitals for months. As health care gets beyond most people’s ability to afford, and the average lifespan lengthens, there becomes more demand for government to step in and fill the gap.

Secularism is a more viable intellectual option once Science has discovered things like evolution and the Big Bang. Just as “there are no atheists in foxholes”, people with a comfortable urban existence not dependent on the whims of the weather and the plague are less likely to worry about placating the Lord. Multiculturalism means that faiths no are no longer immune to challenge, as Christians and Muslims and Buddhists have to live next to each other and notice how totally unconvinced outsiders are of their ideas. And the movement from closely-knit communities to sprawling cities mean that the local church is no longer ties together your entire actual and possible social network so closely that it can exert pressure on you to conform.

And yes these are just-so stories, but the relationship between all these factors and wealth/urbanization are pretty much beyond dispute – so if it’s not true for these reasons it’s true for reasons no doubt very much like them.

3.4: Do you believe in “Whig history”?

Whig history is an approach to historical study that emphasizes how the past has been groping towards the truths and institutions of the present. It is usually used derisively, in a sense of “Oh, so you think the era in which you were born just happens to be perfect, and everyone else from Aristotle to Galileo was just failing at being an American of 2013.”

There is obviously a strong meaning of the term which cannot help but be false. The past did not share our values, it did not move linearly, and the present moment is neither perfect nor universally superior to other periods.

On the other hand, in a world where progress in areas as diverse as cars, computers, weapons and health care has been blindingly obvious, we shouldn’t place too low a prior on the possibility that there has been progress in social institutions as well. Such progress could be motivated by the same factors that advance other areas.

First, a greater store of empirical results. As time goes on, we have more virtuous examples and terrible warnings. No one pushes for prohibition of alcohol anymore because we’ve seen how that turns out – and in thirty years, people may say the same about other drugs. Very few people push full hold-a-revolution Communism anymore, and for the same reason.

Second, better data. With the invention of statistics and information technology, we now have numbers on everything from income inequality to how different types of policing affect the crime rate. Members of the civil service, politicians, lobbyists, and even voters use these numbers to decide what policies to support. Neither the data nor its interpretation is always unbiased, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the old method of doing whatever your prejudices tell you to do.

Third, social evolution. This is a complicated one, because all evolution is evolution to a niche, the niche is different in the modern world than in the medieval world, and so modern and medieval societies are optimizing for different things. But at the very least, we can say that modern institutions are better adapted to the modern niche than medieval institutions. Those governments that did not adapt were overthrown; those corporations that did not adapt went out of business; those institutions that did not adapt became unpopular and saw their influence shifted to other institutions. Those governments, corporations, and institutions that did adapt prospered and spun off copycats with small variations, and the evolutionary cycle repeated again.

To these three we could add things like greater education, better access to information, and more rational values (you can no longer get away with saying “Follow me because I’m the Messiah”, and that’s probably a good thing). So although it’s not some a priori law of nature that the modern period must be the best period in history, we do have some reasons to expect things to be getting better rather than worse. As Part I pointed out, those expectations have mostly been realized.

3.5: Is America a communist country?

Reactionaries tend to push this line by finding the platform of the US Communist Party from some year well in the past, then pointing out that a lot of their goals were achieved, then noting that since America did what the communists wanted, we are a communist country.

Moldbug and others have claimed it, it even has its own Facebook page, but Free Northerner has done by far the most complete job analyzing it and finds that of demands in the 1928 Communist Party platform, 70% of all demands, and 78% of domestic demands, have been met as of 2013.

I don’t want to belittle Free Northerner’s work – he did a great job, he was much more rigorous than I’m about to be, and anyone who writes a blog post on how awesome Turisas is is a friend of mine regardless of his political beliefs.

But although I can’t get my computer to load the platform directly, I notice when I check his transcription that the Communist demands mysteriously lack points like “workers control the means of production” or “all property held in common”, or even “not capitalism”. They do, on the other hand, include policies like “abolition of censorship”, “right to vote for everyone over 18”, and “paid maternity leave during pregnancy”.

Rather than conclude that America is a communist country, a better conclusion might be “the Communist Party of 1928 wasn’t especially “communist”, in the sense that we use that word today.” That’s no surprise. The meaning of words changes over time, and the Cold War made the more moderate elements of communism drop the “communist” label. Using a liberal definition of “communist” to claim that we satisfy the definition, then suggesting we should draw the conclusions and connotations we would from the strict definition of “communist” remains the worst argument in the world. Take out the Worst Argument In The World, and all the Communist Party platform experiment proves is that we support policies like “no child labor” and “free maternity leave” – ie things we already knew.

There’s a second counterargument, though, which is more interesting. Free Northerner writes:

I don’t have time to analyze the Democratic and Republican platform demands of the same year at this time, but I would bet significant sums that less than 80% of their demands were met and upheld by our present time.

I’ll take that bet!

I mistakenly got the Republican platform for 1920 (someone else can double-check 1928 specifically). The Republicans failed to conveniently list their demands in bullet-point format, but from their long manifesto I managed to extract 37 different points:

1. Give farms right to cooperative associations
2. Protection against discrimination for farmers
3. End to unnecessary price fixing that reduces prices of farm products
4. Facilitate acquisition of farmland
5. Reduce frequency of strikes
6. Good voluntary mediation for industry
7. Convict labor products out of interstate commerce
8. Reorganize federal government
9. Simplify income tax
10. Federal Reserve free from political influence
11. Fair hours and good working conditions for railway workers
12. Private ownership of railroads
13. Immediate resumption of trade relations with all nations at peace
14. Restrict Asian immigrants
15. No one becomes citizen until they have taken a test to ensure they are American
16. American women do not lose citizenship by marrying an alien
17. Free speech, but no one can advocate violent overthrow of the government
18. Aliens cannot speak out against government
19. End lynching
20. Money for construction of highways
21. Save national forests and promote conservation
22. Reclaim lands
23. Increase pay of postal employees
24. Full women’s suffrage in all states
25. Federal gov should aid states in vocational training
26. Physical education in schools
27. Centralize gov public health functions
28. End child labor
29. Equal pay for women
30. Limit hours of employment for women
31. Encourage homeownership for Americans
32. Make available information of housing and town planning
33. Americanize Hawaii
34. Home rule for Hawaii
35. Join international governing body such as League of Nations
36. No mandate for Armenia
37. Responsible government in Mexico

Not being too familiar with the 1920 political milieu, I don’t really know what they mean by 2, 22, 32. Others seem so broad as to be hard to judge: 4, 6, 8, and 37. That leaves 29 points.

I think the Republicans have achieved 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 33, 34, 35, and 36 – some unambiguously, others if nothing else by the very sketchy criteria Free Northerner used to rule in commie achievements. They have definitely failed 9, 12, 13, 14, and 30. As for 18, 27, and 31, these seem ambiguous – let’s count them half a point. That means they got 23.5/29 of the points they wanted – 81%. That’s better than the Commies, who only got 70%.

(if we were really trying to do this right, we’d want to have the person who evaluated the success or failure of a party plank blinded to which party it came from. I’ll leave someone else to try this).

So apparently the US is a Republican country even more than it’s a Communist country. I bet if we looked over the Democratic platform for the same time frame, we’d find it was a Republican, Democratic, and Communist country. And if we check the Nazi Party platform, we find that some of the same points Free Northerner counts as Communist victories – abolition of child labor, expansion of old age welfare – are also Nazi Party policies at the same time. So we are, in fact, a Democratic-Republican-Commie-Nazi country.

The alternative is that all parties liked to promise they would throw money at popular feel-good projects. Shorter working hours! Better welfare! Freedom of this! Freedom of that! As the country became richer it was able to support more feel-good policies, and so every party got much of what they wanted.

4: Could a country be ruled as a joint-stock corporation?

This is the plan of Mencius Moldbug, who gets points for being clever and creative rather than trying to rehash 13th century feudalism. I’ve heard different rumors as to whether he still supports it and whether it might or might not be a cover for supporting 13th century feudalism. Nevertheless the idea is interesting and deserves further investigation. However, it is missing some key details and suffers some probably irresolvable conceptual problems.

4.1: Would a joint-stock corporation prevent government decisions based on political tribalism and sacred values, in favor of government decisions based on maximizing economical value?

According to the theory, just as modern corporations like GE successfully remain dedicated to profitability, so America could be sold off in an IPO and restructured as a corporation dedicated to maximizing the value of US land.

But just calling something a corporation doesn’t make it start worrying about profitability. Making its shareholders worry about profitability turns out to be surprisingly hard problem, even though these shareholders themselves would benefit from its profits.

We can imagine two different distributions of shares: either everyone gets one, or only a few aristocrats get one (the degenerate third possibility, where only one person gets them, isn’t really a “joint-stock company”).

The first possibility might be suspected of being democracy: after all, every citizen equally has one share and therefore one vote. Moldbug argues it wouldn’t be: shares are transferable, and citizens have an incentive to maximize the value of their share.

So chew on this: suppose that banning abortion would earn the American government $10 billion dollars a year (how? I don’t know. Let’s just say it does). This corresponds to about $30 for every American.

How many leftists do you think would vote to ban abortion for $30?

What if their $30 was entirely illiquid, only accessible by the one-time event of selling their single share of stock, and would probably be so lost in noise that they would never see tangible evidence of it?

Okay, what if they don’t even know it will give them $30? No doubt Planned Parenthood will author a very scholarly report giving excellent reasons why an abortion ban will make stock shares plummet, and the Catholic Church will author an equally scholarly report giving excellent reasons why it will make everyone rich. Which side will people believe? Why, whichever side matches their natural prejudices, of course! As well ask a Democrat or a Republican whether Obamacare will increase or decrease the deficit.

The only thing that giving everyone a share of American stock would do to politics in the US is allow both the Left and the Right a chance to accuse one another of being secretly in it for the money, while both continue to do what they did before. Perhaps this wouldn’t happen in a country created de novo out of thin air, but US politics are far too entrenched for giving people little stock certificates to help anything.

Anyway, it would take about ten minutes for poor people to sell their shares for easy cash. So this case would immediately degenerate to the second possibility – one where only a small “ruling class” owns all the stock certificates. I think a few Reactionaries have proposed this, and then they can be “nobles”, and make up an “aristocracy”, and…

Hold your horses. Suppose a new ruling class of ten thousand people possess all these certificates.

By definition all of these people will be multibillionaires – once you own one ten thousandth of America, you’ve got it made. And we observe something interesting with multibillionaires – Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Page. They find other things much more interesting than money. Bill Gates is working on curing malaria. Warren Buffett is trying to give all his money away to charity. Larry Page is working on fascinating but bizarre projects with minimal chance of success during his lifetime. Once you’re a multibillionaire, you need more money less than you need to feel like you’re making some kind of wonderful contribution to the world that will make coming generations revere you.

In other words, these shareholders won’t care about the monetary value of their shares either. Take people like Ted Turner or the Koch brothers, give them a big chunk of the US government, and you expect them to focus on its monetary value just because you’re calling it a stock?

4.2 Would corporate governance at least have lower discount rates?

Likely no.

Do corporations today have low discount rates? Consider the example of Lehman Brothers and other pre-crash investment banks. They happily accepted (and invented) subprime loans that would raise their profits today at the cost of likely financial disaster tomorrow.

More broadly, reflect upon how few companies pursue long-term revolutionary technology. Even though nearly everyone agrees that the future will be less based on fossil fuels, research and development of the likely replacements – from fusion power to solar power to electric cars – is either run by the government or grudgingly performed by corporations only after being promised huge government subsidies. When companies do develop exciting new technologies of their own accord – Google’s Calico, SpaceX’s rockets – they tend to be associated with some already-super-rich Silicon Valley mogul who has enough money to play around, rather than a sober corporation driven by the bottom line or investment opportunities.

A quick reflection on corporate incentives explains this pattern nicely. In the case of Lehman Brothers, traders got bonuses linked to year-on-year profitability, and because of coordination problems each had incentive to maximize his own bonus but no incentive to maximize the solvency of the company as a whole over time.

But why would a CEO or other corporate governor create such a structure? Well, although Reactionaries mock elected politicians for having a four-year time horizon, the average CEO stays only 6.8 years. That’s less than a two-term president. And their own incentives are often also based on bonuses linked to short-term profitability.

In theory, the incentive to increase shareholder value ought to counteract short-term-ist tendencies. But it’s an open question exactly how much of a time horizon is built into stock prices. The average investor holds the average stock for about seven months. Although the hope is that stock prices are set by the market discount rate, at an weighted average cost of capital of 10%, this ideal situation still means that anything happening thirty or more years from now determines only 4% of the stock price.

In the real world, it’s even worse than this – CEOs have strong incentives to try to fool the market into short-term inflation of stock prices at the cost of real future profitability. This is both common and successful. With many investors using formulae that extrapolate from past or present earnings to determine future earnings, it is unsurprising that the CEOs of companies like Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs were able to increase both their stock prices and their bonuses for many years until the inevitable letdown came – hopefully on someone else’s watch.

4.3: Could a joint-stock corporate state ensure complete security by mandating cryptographic locks on all its weapons?

This is one of Moldbug’s proposals, and although I think it’s been blown out of proportion and he’s probably a little embarrassed by it now, it gets brought up enough to be worth addressing.

The idea is that shareholders of a corporate state possess cryptographic keys, and that these keys are necessary to fire the weapons in a country’s arsenal. Therefore, any military coup can be stopped in its tracks.

The first question is exactly how these keys work. Suppose there are 100 shareholders. If all keys are necessary, then a single shareholder can paralyze the military. If 51 of the 100 keys are necessary – well, I don’t know if cryptography can implement such a scheme securely, but let’s suppose that it does.

One can raise some peripheral problems with this scheme. Having all your country’s guns connected to the Internet might not be such a good idea…

…and it would be sort of unfortunate if your entire military could be brought down by a clever hacker or Scott Aaronson building a quantum computer in his basement. Further, the guns would have to be either default-on or default-off. If they were default-on, then military conspirators could disable the communications network (or just the radios on their weapons) and have free rein. If they were default-off, then a foreign military could disable the communications network and take over the country because none of the military’s weapons would work.

More important, this only protects against a small subset of rebellions. If every unit has a separate code, it may be able to give loyalist military units the advantage over treasonous units in the case of intramilitary feuding. But it can’t can’t stop a popular revolution – the type where rebels become guerillas and gradually defeat the military in combat. It happened in China, it’s happening right now in Syria, and it could happen again regardless of any cryptographic locks on weapons.

4.4: Would shareholder value maximization be a good proxy for making a country a nice place to live?

Suppose that all the above problems are solved, and we have installed a genuinely self-interested CEO with a long time horizon. Will the new policy of increasing shareholder value really make the country a nicer place as well?

In many ways the equivalence holds. If, as Moldbug suggests, a corporate state’s profits came from land value taxes, and so profits came from increasing land values, then things like decreasing crime, pollution, and poverty would be in the corporate state’s best interests. So would allowing its residents enough freedom to make moving to its land attractive.

But the ways it doesn’t hold are really horrible.

Businesses have an incentive to please their paying customers. As Mitt Romney informs us, a large proportion of Americans don’t pay taxes. In fact, they consume government resources in the form of welfare, while providing no economic value in return. In some cases, these citizens are “fixer-uppers”, people who with enough investment could become productive. In other cases – the indigent elderly, the physically and mentally handicapped, or just people with no useful skills – keeping them around would be a poor financial decision. When regular companies find they have people who aren’t producing value, they “downsize” them. It’s unclear what exactly would be involved in “downsizing” unproductive American citizens, but I’m betting it wouldn’t win any Nobel Peace Prizes.

In a post called The Dire Problem And The Virtual Option, Moldbug discusses some of these problems with his system. He admits that this is a major issues (the titular “dire problem”). With his trademark honesty:

As the King begins the transition from democracy, however, he sees at once that many Californians – certainly millions – are financial liabilities. These are unproductive citizens. Their place on the balance sheet is on the right. To put it crudely, a ten-cent bullet in the nape of each neck would send California’s market capitalization soaring – often by a cool million per neck. And we are just getting started. The ex-subject can then be dissected for his organs. Do you know what organs are worth? This is profit!

But his proposed solutions are bizarre and in many cases incomprehensible:

The simplest, broadest, and most essential prevention against this degenerate result is the observation that the royal government is a government of law, and a government of law does not commit mass murder. For instance, no such government could take office without promising to preserve and defend its new subjects, certainly precluding any such genocide.

A government of law is different from a “law-abiding citizen” or “law-abiding business” in that governments, in addition to occasionally following the law, also get to make the law. If the government had some strong incentive to shoot citizens, it could pass a law allowing it to shoot citizens. It is no more than dozens of other governments have done throughout history. Such a law need not even ruffle the feathers of its more productive “assets”: it could come up with some very clear criteria for whom to shoot and then stick to those criteria scrupulously.

No government could take office without promising to preserve and defend its new subjects in a democracy. Or, to be broader, no government could take office under such conditions as long as it was responsible to its populace and depended on their support. The entire premise of Moldbug’s utopia is a government whose rule is by force and does not depend on the consent of the governed.

If Moldbug’s King needed to gain the consent of the governed before taking power, they wouldn’t stop at making him sign a promise not to shoot anyone. They would make him sign a promise to rule for the good of the people rather than in order to maximize shareholder value. Heck, the last time we tried something like this, the people made the government sign the Bill of Rights.

Here Moldbug wants to have his cake and eat it too. His government will be unconstrained and effective because it doesn’t rule by consent of the people. But when we start examining how horrible an “unconstrained effective government” really would be, he promises that need for the consent of the people would rein it in.

Positing a government that can ignore the age-old constraint of popular consent is far-fetched enough. Positing one where the constraint only arises in those situations where it would be optimal for it to arise, but not otherwise, is just dreaming.

But do we really know it? The explanation that Royal California will not harvest the poor for their organs, because it will have promised not to harvest the poor for their organs, and its most valuable asset is its reputation, while certainly accurate, is too narrow for me. Having established this legalistic defense, let us reinforce it with further realities. More broadly, Royal California will in all cases treat her subjects as human beings. The maintenance of equity, as well as law, is crucial to her reputation. Thus, the Genickschuss is out, with or without the organ harvesting.

Our second layer of protection is that the king will preserve human rights and maintain equity among persons. I wonder if the person writing this has ever read Mencius Moldbug. He has some pretty interesting arguments against human rights and the equity of persons, and I’d be interested in hearing a debate between the two of them.

Carlylean to its core, the ideology of Royal California is that the King is God’s proxy on earth; whatever God would have him do, that is justice; the King, having done his best to divine God’s will, shall see it done. Or else he is no king, but a piece of cardboard, a “Canadian lumber-log.” Clearly, God is not in favor of harvesting the poor for their organs. You’re probably thinking of Huitzilopochtli. So this is another safeguard.

So our third layer of protection – and I am not making this up – is “the will of God”. Don’t you feel safer already? Politicians would never do bad things, even when it is in their own self interest, because God wouldn’t want them to. I think that’s pretty much all the protection citizens might need from their government, don’t you? Let’s write a letter to the libertarians and tell them they can all go home now, God has this one covered.

But I should not be too harsh on Moldbug. He goes on to admit we probably do need a fourth layer of protection, beyond the three he has mentioned. And he even steel-mans the case against him, noting that in a higher-technology world, more and more people will become unproductive until, instead of being a tiny proportion of citizens, it may become the majority or (in the post-Singularity case) everyone who has to worry about this. He gives a few possible solutions:

First, the King has no compunction whatsoever in creating economic distortions that produce employment for low-skilled humans. A good example of such a distortion in the modern world are laws prohibiting self-service gas stations, as in New Jersey or Oregon. These distortions have gotten a bad name among today’s thinkers, because makework is typically the symptom of some corrupt political combination. As the King’s will, it will have a different flavor.

As both a good Carlylean and a good Misesian, the King condemns economism – the theory that any economic indicator can measure human happiness. His goal is a fulfilled and dignified society, not maximum production of widgets. Is it better that teenagers get work experience during the summer, or that gas costs five cents a gallon less? The question is not a function of any mathematical formula. It is a question of judgment and taste. All that free-market economics will tell you is that, if you prohibit self service, there will be more jobs for gas-station attendants, and gas will cost more. It cannot tell you whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

There may be no jobs for men with an IQ of 80 in Royal California – at least, not in a Royal California whose roads are paved by asphalt rollers. But suppose its roads are paved in brick? A man with an IQ of 80 can lay brick, do it well, and obtain dignity from the task. Nothing whatsoever prevents the King from distorting markets to create demand for the supply he has.

Okay, so the corporate CEO in a government based solely on maximizing shareholder value will decide to trash his own economy in order to provide jobs for the jobless, because that’s just how much corporate CEOs respect human dignity. This is just like corporate CEOs today, who never fire anyone to increase profitability because maintaining jobs is more important. Sure, let’s roll with that.

Since we have abandoned the free market here, we no longer have the free market’s safeguards on job tolerability. Depending on how many make-work jobs the King creates, we will have either an oversupply, an undersupply, or a just-right-supply of unskilled laborers to fill them, which in turn will determine workers’ wages and living conditions. Will the King maintain them at a living wage in good conditions, or at conditions more like the immigrant farm laborers of today? If the latter, I suppose that’s better than killing off the unproductives, but it’s still pretty dystopian. If the former, then that’s quite nice of the King, but I can’t help noting that by instituting useless make-work government-provided jobs for everyone at guaranteed salaries, he has kind of just re-invented Communism, which seems to be the sort of thing I would have expected Reactionaries to try to avoid.

I would compare this idea to the idea of a Basic Income Guarantee. Both cost the economy the same amount of money. Yet in Moldbug’s plan, the poor spend their entire day digging ditches and filling them in again. In a basic income guarantee, the poor spend their days doing whatever they want – producing art, playing games, or working to make themselves more productive. Moldbug may wax rhapsodic about the dignity of work, and he is not entirely wrong, but the sort of work that has dignity is not the sort of work where you dig ditches and fill them in again to earn a government-set paycheck. I wonder if you asked the employed gas station attendant and the unemployed bohemian to rate the level of dignity they feel they have, would this support Moldbug’s thesis?

But never fear, Moldbug has yet another plan:

Or not. The low-browed man of 70 (and remember – for every 130, there is a 70) may still require special supervision. Besides a job, he needs a patron. Productivity he has, but direction and discipline he still requires. His patron may be a charity, or a profitable corporation, or even – gasp – an individual.

In the last case, of course, we have reinvented slavery. Gasp! Since the bond of natural familial kindness is not present in the case of an unrelated ward, the King keeps a close watch on this relationship to protect human dignity. Nonetheless, his wards are farmed out – it is always better to be a private ward than the ward of the State. Bureaucratic slavery is slavery at its worst. Adult foster care, as perhaps we will call it, is a far more human and dignified relationship.

So, we will force people to work for other people against their consent, but it will all be okay and humane, because the government will be keeping “a close watch on this relationship”? Darnit, I liked it better when we were being protected by “the will of God”.

If Moldbug agrees that bureaucratic slavery is “slavery at its worst”, what exactly does he mean when he says the King will “keep a close watch” on these “adult foster care” institutions. Will the King personally go out to each of them and evaluate? That seems like a lot of work in a state of 40 million people. Or will he appoint some government officials to do so, to inspect each institution and make sure it is up to code? If so, how is this different from “bureaucratic slavery”? Is it because the bureaucrats and slaveowners aren’t literally the same people?

Look, Moldbug. I know you don’t think you’re reinventing Communism, but you are.

Luckily he has one more trick up his sleeve:

If a human being cannot support himself in a civilized manner in the King’s economy, which has been carefully tweaked to match labor demand to labor supply, the King does not provide a “safety net” in the 20th-century style, in which he may lounge, sag, bob and fester forever. No – then, it is time for the Virtual Option.

If you accept the Virtual Option – always a voluntary decision, even if you have no other viable options – California will house, feed and care for you indefinitely. It will also provide you with a rich, fulfilling life offering every opportunity to obtain dignity, respect and even social status. However, this life will be a virtual life. In your real life, your freedom will be extremely restricted: to the point of imprisonment. You may even be sealed in a pod.

The result is that the ward (a) disappears from society, and (b) retains or (hopefully) increases his level of dignity and fulfillment. He remains a financial liability, because it is still necessary to prepare his meals and maintain his pod. But other residents of California no longer feel menaced by his presence. For he is no longer present among them.

This doesn’t sound so bad to me, although I’m probably a huge outlier on this and if you actually tried it on people you’d have a civil war on your hands.

But first of all, it’s impossible with current levels of technology, always a bad sign.

Second of all, it’s something that would be equally viable in a democracy and a monarchy. Compare these pods to television. Right now, we pay welfare money to the poor, and, in some cases, they use that money to watch television all day. When they complain, it generally is not due to a lack of television but to a lack of money. If we had virtual reality pods, no doubt the situation would look little different, and conservatives and Reactionaries would be the ones complaining that we pay the poor money to sit in virtual reality pods all day instead of getting a real job.

Third of all, it would probably cost more than any other option. Putting a man in prison – feeding him, boarding him, and putting some guards on the doors to make sure he doesn’t escape costs about $50,000 a year – more than sending that same man to any college in the country. The bulk of the expenses are health care and security – two problems that would be equally dire in these pods. In fact, solving the medical problems associated with prolonged immobility in a virtual environment might be further beyond our current technology than the virtual environment itself.

If the true reason behind the Virtual Option is keeping the poor out of everyday society – even though many of its residents would be old people, disabled people, and the like – why not just offer those people $40,000 a year to live in some nice community out in the country made up solely of other non-working poor? It would be cheaper, more humane, and after a few years with a stable income and a normal life the people involved might end up being unexpectedly productive.

This is, of course, a question one could ask of our own society as well as of Moldbug’s hypothetical. So let’s stick to criticizing Reactionaries, which is more fun and less depressing.

4.5: Would exit rights turn countries into business-like entities that had to compete with one another for citizens?

Exit rights are a great idea and of course having them is better than not having them. But I have yet to hear Reactionaries who cite them as a panacea explain in detail what exit rights we need beyond those we have already.

The United States allows its citizens to leave the country by buying a relatively cheap passport and go anywhere that will take them in, with the exception of a few arch-enemies like Cuba – and those exceptions are laughably easy to evade. It allows them to hold dual citizenship with various foreign powers. It even allows them to renounce their American citizenship entirely and become sole citizens of any foreign power that will accept them.

Few Americans take advantage of this opportunity in any but the most limited ways. When they do move abroad, it’s usually for business or family reasons, rather than a rational decision to move to a different country with policies more to their liking. There are constant threats by dissatisfied Americans to move to Canada, and one in a thousand even carry through with them, but the general situation seems to be that America has a very large neighbor that speaks the same language, and has an equally developed economy, and has policies that many Americans prefer to their own country’s, and isn’t too hard to move to, and almost no one takes advantage of this opportunity. Nor do I see many people, even among the rich, moving to Singapore or Dubai.

Heck, the US has fifty states. Moving from one to another is as easy as getting in a car, driving there, and renting a room, and although the federal government limits exactly how different their policies can be you better believe that there are very important differences in areas like taxes, business climate, education, crime, gun control, and many more. Yet aside from the fascinating but small-scale Free State Project there’s little politically-motivated interstate movement, nor do states seem to have been motivated to converge on their policies or be less ideologically driven.

What if we held an exit rights party, and nobody came?

Even aside from the international problems of gaining citizenship, dealing with a language barrier, and adapting to a new culture, people are just rooted – property, friends, family, jobs. The end result is that the only people who can leave their countries behind are very poor refugees with nothing to lose, and very rich jet-setters. The former aren’t very attractive customers, and the latter have all their money in tax shelters anyway.

So although the idea of being able to choose your country like a savvy consumer appeals to me, just saying “exit rights!” isn’t going to make it happen, and I haven’t heard any more elaborate plans.

5: Are modern ideas about race and gender wrongheaded and dangerous?

The past century has seen a huge opening up of racial and sexual norms, as a closed-minded traditional society willing to dismiss everything against their personal morals as disgusting or evil started first discussing and later embracing alternative ideas.

This was followed by a subsequent closing back up of those norms, as society decided it was definitely right this time, and this time for real anyone who brought up any alternative possibilities was definitely disgusting and evil.

Reactionaries deserve kudos for lampshading these taboos and pointing out various modern hypocrisies in a frank and honest way. But to invert an old saying, I will defend to the death their right to say it, but disagree with what they say.

5.1: Are modern women sluts?

This is a surprisingly important question in Reactionary thought. Just to prove I’m not strawmanning:

So you might say, Bryce, if you want an objective and useful definition of the word slut, you would have to conclude that most Western women are sluts. That’s not good. And I say “Exactly.”

Anarcho-Papist

Obviously democracy is not working, is failing catastrophically. The productive are outvoted by the gimmedats, in large part non asian minorities and white sluts.

blog.jim.com

Why would you take a slutty girl seriously? Once she accepted slut into her life, keep her out of yours. It is rare for a slut to truly reform so I would not even take the chance. Once a slut, always a slut. Do you really want your kids coming out the same place 10 other men have gone into? “But doesn’t that pretty much rule out about 85% of women or so?” Well, unfortunately it does. I wish there was a better answer but there is not. Do not settle for sluts, if they have such little respect for themselves imagine how little respect they will have for you. Manning up does not mean settling for a hopeless graying slut.”

Occidental Traditionalist

We live in strange times. Recently several religious conservative bloggers have suggested that the word “slut” is a slur against all women, and that it is a type of profanity. My best guess is they feel that sluts know that what they are doing is wrong, so even using the word in general is cruel to their already convicted hearts.

Dalrock

Telling women that sleeping around is bad just because it’s “slutty” is argument through mere connotation of words. Then again, accusing these people of “sexism” or “misogyny” would be the same. So let’s bury the insults and try to figure out what’s going on.

Are people becoming sluttier? Several studies have addressed this question (though, uh, not in those exact words). In America, we have only a few scattered studies recording a shift from an average of two lifetime sexual partners for women and six for men in 1970 to about four partners for women and six for men in 2006. But we change methodologies midstream and have to confuse means with medians to get those numbers. France is the only country to do the study properly, perhaps unsurprising given their legendary love of all things amorous. Their numbers seem similar to ours but more precise, so let’s use the French results:

Number of partners reported in the lifetime remained stable between all three surveys for men of all ages (11.8 in 1970, 11.0 in 1992, and 11.6 in 2006). For women, mean lifetime number of partners increased from 1.8 in 1970 to 3.3 in 1992 and to 4.4 in 2006.)

One of the first things we notice about these data is that they cannot possibly be true. Men cannot be having more (heterosexual) sex than women, nor can the two statistics trend in different directions. The least mathematically impossible explanation is that between 1970 and 2006, women have become less likely to lie about all the sex they’re having.

Does that contradict common sense, which tells us everyone is really slutty nowadays but was perfectly chaste in the past? Maybe, but common sense seems to be not entirely correct. Common sense would tell us that modern young people are having much more sex than youth fifteen years ago, but according to the study “no increase was observed between 1992 and 2006 in women under thirty; for men under thirty a decrease in the mean was seen in the most recent period – 10.4 in 1992 and 7.7 in 2006, p < 0.00001" (the growth of the Muslim population in France from 7% to 10% during that time period seems insufficient to account for the changes) 5.1.1: If a woman is a slut, does that mean her future marriage is doomed to failure?

Before you answer, consider a common failure mode. Some rule catches on for some very useful reason. Like “don’t have sex with your cousin, you’ll have kids with two heads.” Biological or memetic evolution selects for people who follow the rule, and eventually the rule becomes an unquestionable taboo.

But historically no one understood Mendelian genetics. The rule didn’t make sense, but it had to be followed. And so people came up with rationalizations. Some of them were simple rationalizations for simple folk: “don’t have sex with your cousin, God hates it.” Or “Don’t have sex with your cousin, it’s disgusting.” More sophisticated people demanded more sophisticated rationalizations: eventually you get “Don’t have sex with your cousin, it could go wrong and damage the structure of trust necessary for an extended family”, or “Don’t have sex with your cousin, it is contrary to this here complicated conception of natural law”.

Then suppose the original reason for the rule is taken away. Someone wants to have protected sex with their cousin, understanding that they cannot ethically have children. Or someone invents a gene therapy that allows people to have sex with their cousins without additional risk of birth defects.

Doesn’t matter. Everyone will have had so much fun making up rationalizations that they will object to the new harmless act almost as much as to the old dangerous act. “God still hates it!” “It’s still disgusting!” “It still damages the family structure of trust!” “It’s still contrary to the natural law!”

But it would be very strange if, the original reason for the belief having been neutralized, by coincidence the belief happens to be right anyway. Imagine that an explorer comes back from a distant jungle with a tale of a humongous monster. Everyone catches monster fever and begins speculating on how the monster may have gotten there. Then the explorer admits his tale is a hoax. Objecting “But there could still be a monster there!” is fruitless. If the original reason anyone held the belief is invalid, it’s unlikely that by coincidence the belief just happens to be correct.

Let’s get back to sluttiness. (I am following the lead of my interlocutors in concentrating on female sluttiness only here, since it seems to be the only type anyone cares about. Yes, you’re very clever for pointing out that men can be promiscuous as well. Why don’t you follow it up with the phrase “double standard” or a reference to “playing the field”?)

We know two very good reasons why sluttiness has been stigmatized in nearly all societies. First, slutty women were more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases. Second, slutty women were likely to end up with children outside of wedlock. Back when men were the sole providers and didn’t have much providing to spare, that would have been just about a death sentence.

These are two huge issues. These two issues alone are more than sufficient to explain the taboo on sluttiness establishing itself on every continent and in every major religion. These are more than sufficient to explain why some people think sluts are disgusting, why they’re low status, why we have a cultural taboo on sluttiness.

But of course, most sluts today have these two issues figured out. Contraception prevents the out of wedlock births. Protection and antibiotics prevent the STDs. So the old reasons no longer hold.

It would be quite the coincidence if a taboo that formed for one reason just happened to be vitally important for society for totally different reasons.

I admit the Reactionaries have their justifications for why sluttiness is bad. They say sluttiness before marriage can lead to sluttiness after marriage, and thither to infidelity, divorce and broken families. Or the slut’s previous experiences might have given her higher expectations, leading to divorce and broken families again. And…

…no, that’s actually all the justifications I can find. There are people who think they have other justifications, but they can never explain them in so many words. Read this article. No, really, read that article. Gods! Have you ever seen so many mere assertions and Arguments From My Opponent Believes Something in one place?

So okay. They have two just-so stories. I can come up with just-so stories too! Like – if a woman sleeps with a lot of people before marriage, she’ll be better able to estimate how compatible she is with any given partner. Or – if a woman can sleep with men before marriage, she won’t be compelled by horniness to marry the first loser she meets just so she can have sex with someone. Or – if a woman has a couple of relationships before she marries, she’ll have practice with relationships and won’t screw the important one up. This is fun! How about – if a woman sleeps with people before settling down, she won’t feel curiosity that makes her stray afterwards?

The reason these sorts of just-so stories about sluttiness keep popping up is the disappearance of the good historical arguments against the practice, leaving behind only a feeling of disgust in search of a justification.

One might argue – isn’t the proof in the pudding? Divorce rates have been going up lately, infidelity rates have been going up; correlation isn’t always causation but isn’t it at least suggestive?

In this case, no. We can even check. From Social Pathology:

Women with zero or one premarital sexual partners have more stable marriages than women with two or more partners. Okay. Who gets married a virgin these days? Super-religious people. They’re not going to divorce. And from the source, I gather that most of these stably married one partner women are women who had premarital sex with their future husband. Super-religious people who slipped up. Their poor self-control earns them a 15% lower likelihood of stable marriage: harsh, but fair.

The people with two or more partners are the ones who we know are “experimenting” – having sex with at least one person other than their future husband. Among this group, likelihood of unstable marriage goes down with more partners up until you reach the 20 partner or so level – at which point you’re probably capturing prostitutes, cluster B personality disorders, and other people outside the mainstream.

The data provide some evidence that an absolute commitment to purity – no sex before marriage, or sex only with your husband-to-be – predicts marital stability. But beyond that – in the two to twenty partner range in which recent social change has been occurring – there’s no correlation between increasing sluttiness and decreasing marital stability.

5.1.2: Woman only put out for macho but antisocial men. Our society encourages that tendency and shames “beta males” who are nice and prosocial but cannot get women. This incentivizes men to become jerks, and men follow those incentives in droves. Don’t we need to do something about women’s tendency to make poor choices?

There’s no shortage of places to find this argument, but the obligatory link goes to Free Northerner for One More Condom In The Landfill, a particularly good presentation of the idea.

In a broad perspective the point is correct – empirically, men with more psychopathic traits, less agreeableness, and greater narcissism have more sexual partners.

On the other hand, it is kind of ironic that the pickup artist community – one of the few communities to be perfectly honest about the above point – has become obsessed with scoring the hottest girls and denigrating the others, no matter how perfect they might otherwise be.

The complaint tends to be “You women keep asking where the good men are, but they’re right where you left them when you refused to date them because you only cared about cockiness and bulging muscles.” The countercomplaint might be “You men keep asking where the good women are, but they’re right where you left them when you refused to date them because you only cared about stylishness and big breasts.”

I also suspect (though I have no evidence) that it is primarily the hotter women who have been socialized to be irrationally attracted to “bad boys”, and that pickup artists’ disproportionate focus on this demographic skews their assessment of the problem.

If one were to phrase the problem as “Men and women both make stupid and counterproductive sexual choices; how can we optimize for avoiding those?”, then that might make the sane 30%-or-so of feminists join the conversation and get something done.

If you phrase the problem as “Those women make stupid and counterproductive sexual choices, how can we shift the balance of power toward men?”, even the sane 30%-or-so of feminists will ignore and oppose you, and with good reason.

I have no idea how to solve the object-level problems, by the way, although I would tentatively recommend my own strategy of sidestepping the problems with both hot men and hot women by dating a hot genderqueer.

5.2: Are Progressive values responsible for rising divorce rates?

Let’s get the obvious objection out of the way first: divorce rates have been falling since about 1980. They’re now at their lowest level since 1970 or so, and dropping still.

The other thing this graph tells us is that rising divorce rates were a phenomenon very specific to the period about 1965 – 1975. This was a good decade for liberal values, but little moreso than decades before and after it. The strictly time-limited nature of the phenomenon suggests something more specific (and no, it’s not no-fault divorce laws). The Pill, which came out in 1960, is an extremely plausible candidate, but a full treatment of this topic is beyond the scope of this essay.

Now that the obvious objection is out of the way, let’s discuss some less obvious objections. If progressive values cause divorce, how come people with more progressive values are less likely to divorce? College-educated women have about half the divorce rate of the non-college-educated (source). More conservative states have higher divorce rates than more liberal states (source). Atheists have divorce rates below the national average (source). Some of these factors seem to remain even when controlling for wealth and the other usual confounders (source, source). The link between sluttiness and stable marriage mentioned above reinforces this point.

I think this data is consistent with the following theory: new technology and changing economic conditions produced a strain on family life that was reflected in an explosion in divorce rates. Society’s memetic immune system sprung into action to contain the damage through the creation of new laws, institutions, and social norms. People who adopted the new ways survived the crisis and their family lives returned to a sort of normal. People who failed to adapt…well, don’t be one of those people.

The new norms created by the memetic immune system are exactly the progressive values that Reactionaries blame for the damage: marrying later, trying more partners, using more contraception, having fewer children.

This theory explains both why the progressive values arise at the same time as the broken families, but also why people with progressive values are less likely to have broken families than others.

The data on illegitimate children and single motherhood mirror the data on divorce and do not require a separate discussion.

5.3: Are we headed for a demographic catastrophe?

First of all, before we pretend that the minutiae of who has which values and who goes to church how many times affects fertility rate much, let’s see the inevitable GDP/fertility rate graph:

And before we worry about the United States experiencing demographic collapse and tumbleweeds rolling through the streets of New York City, let’s double-check to make sure that US population isn’t a near-perfectly straight upward-trending line:

Western Europe?

A few countries do have demographic problems. Singapore, for example, has the lowest fertility rate in the world – 0.79, 224th out of 224 countries. It should probably do something about that. But given that it’s generally accepted to be the most Reactionary country in the world, it’s hard to blame this one on Progressivism or suggest Reactionary values as the answer.

5.3.1: But what if I am racist? Isn’t it possible that fertile minorities and immigrants are hiding a fertility deficit among precious, precious, white people?

According to Edmonston et al’s projection of US racial fertility trends:

In 2100, the total U.S. population will eclipse 550 million people, and the racial composition of the country will be 38.8% white, 30.6% Hispanic, 15.6% black, 14.9% Asian and Pacific Islander, and 1% American Indian.

The absolute number of white people will be only a few million less than today, 209 million. That’s more than enough to run a wide selection of excellent country clubs, or achieve whatever other strategic aims we need a large white population for.

Perhaps most gratifying if you are a racist, the percent of black people will increase only about three percentage points. The biggest increase will be in Asians, a so-called model minority.

After that? If there are still biological humans in organic bodies transmitting genes naturally much after 2100, we have much bigger problems than race on our hands.

5.3.2: Are we headed for an idiocracy?

Poor, uneducated, low-IQ people have higher fertility rates than wealthy, well-educated, high-IQ people in almost all countries. Therefore, one might worry that this will have a dysgenic effect, selecting against genes for intelligence until eventually everyone is stupid or has other undesirable quantities anticorrelated with wealth and education. This was the premise of the movie Idiocracy, and in principle people are far too quick to dismiss it.

But in practice, the effect is too small be significant. Richard Lynn, who is the closest we will get to an expert on dysgenics, calculates that American society as a whole is losing 0.9 IQ points per generation. So by 2100, people will have lost on average 4 IQ points.

Since it’s hard to get a good intuitive graph of what 4 IQ points means, consider that IQ has been increasing by about 3 points per decade (average is still 100, but only because they recalibrate it). So absent any further Flynn Effect, losing 4 IQ points would take us back to…about as smart as we were back in 2000. I won’t say that won’t be unpleasant – the people of that era elected George W. Bush, after all – but it’s not quite convert-all-written-language-to pictograms-because-everyone-has-forgotten-how-to-read level unpleasant.

And what comes after 2100 doesn’t matter, because even on the off chance we’re still using human brains to reason at that point, it sure won’t be human brains in which the genes have been left to chance. To paraphrase Keynes, in the long run we’re all either dead or cyborgs.

5.4: Aren’t modern dogmas about race and sex and sexuality stupid and evil?

Let me be clear here. There is no excuse for the sort of extremist folk social justice crusades one can find on Tumblr or Twitter or Freethought Blogs. With a few treasured exceptions they are full of nasty and hateful people devoid of intellectual integrity and basic human kindness, and I am suitably embarrassed to be in the same 50%-or-so of the political spectrum.

Then again, there are lots of nasty and hateful conservatives and reactionaries devoid of intellectual integrity and basic human kindness too. Go take a look at Free Republic. Maybe we can call it a tie?

But this has surprisingly little bearing on the particular question above. As Christians are obligated by circumstance to point out, an idea is not responsible for the quality of people who hold it. And modern dogmas about race are agreed by very nearly everyone – including most Reactionaries! – including you! – to be both correct and very important.

Three hundred years ago, a pretty high percent of Americans were okay with black people getting kidnapped, enslaved, forced into back-breaking labor on plantations, raped, separated from their children, whipped if they protested, worked to a very early death, and then replaced with other black people.

Nowadays Reactionaries like to think of themselves as racist just because they believe the average black IQ is a standard deviation below the average white IQ. But one standard deviation implies that about a fifth of black people are smarter than the average white person. If you were to go back to 1800 and tell a conference of the most extreme radical abolitionists that you thought a fifth of black people were smarter than the average white person, they would laugh and not stop laughing until they died of laughter-induced asphyxiation.

And at least there the traditional and modern stereotype are still going the same direction. Did you know there used to be a stereotype that Jews were stupid and boorish and didn’t belong in polite society? A stereotype that Chinese people were dumb? A stereotype that black people were bad at sports? To make a corny statistics pun, there seems to be very poor inter-hater reliability.

Homosexuality is little different. Reactionaries take a bold stand against sexually suggestive displays at gay pride parades or whatever, but when it comes to why two people who love each other can’t get married because they’re both the same gender, they tend to be just as confused as the rest of us. Mencius Moldbug writes:

Although I am straight as an iron spear, I happen to see nothing at all wrong with “gay marriage.” In fact I am completely sympathetic to the Universalist view, in which the fact that couples have to be of opposite sexes is a sort of bizarre holdover from the Middle Ages, like the ducking-stool or trial by fire. It’s not clear to me why homosexuality, which obviously has some extremely concrete biological cause, is so common in modern Western populations, but it is what it is. However, because I am straight etc, and also because I’m not a Universalist, I happen to think the issue is not really one of the most pressing concerns facing humanity.

Moldbug is welcome to his opinion on what is or isn’t one of the most pressing concerns facing humanity (I would have said a couple of brain-dead Internet thugs from Gawker beating up on a random Twitter celebrity isn’t one of the most pressing concerns facing humanity, but to each his own) but I wonder if Moldbug notices that merely his unconcern on this issue makes him in let’s say the 95th percentile of most Progressive Americans who have ever lived. 95% of Americans throughout history have been quite certain that eradicating sodomy was one of the most pressing concerns facing humanity, and boy did they act on that belief.

In fact, if we put a Reactionary in a time machine headed backward, and made it stop when the Reactionary was just as racist, sexist, et cetera as the US population average at the time, I predict they wouldn’t make it much past the 1970s. Go into the 1960s and you get laws banning colleges from admitting both black and white students to the same campus (one helpfully specified that the black and white campuses could not be within twenty five miles of one another).

Now, there’s no problem with this – except for Nixon and disco, the 1970s were no worse than any other period. But Reactionaries insist that all Progressivism since 1600 has been part of one vast and monstrous movement – maybe a religious cult, maybe a sinister power-play, maybe just the death throes of the western intellectual tradition – dedicated to being wrong about everything. And that a very big part of this vast movement focused on race. And when they have to whisper “Except we agree with 99% of what it did, right up until the past couple of decades, and in fact they got it right when everyone else was horribly, atrociously wrong”, that is – or at least should be – kind of embarrassing.

5.4.1: But there’s a clear difference between the past policies Reactionaries support and the modern ones they oppose. Past policies were going for equality of opportunity, modern ones for equality of results. Isn’t seeking equality of results laden with too many assumptions?

Arguing about whether a post-racial society should provide equality of opportunity or equality of results is a little like arguing about whether in the worker’s paradise, everyone should have a pony or everyone should have two ponies.

Right now, there is not even equality of opportunity. Rigorous well-controlled study after rigorous well-controlled study has shown that women and minorities face gigantic amounts of baseless discrimination in various areas, most notably employment. This remains true even when, for example, the experiment is sending perfectly identical resumes out to companies but with the photo of a black or white guy at the top.

Once we have equality of opportunity, then we can start debating whether we should go further and try for equality of results. Until then, it’s kind of a moot point.

5.4.2: What about the studies that have shown black people have lower IQ/higher violence/other undesirable trait than white people?

If genetic differences across races prove real, this would be a good argument against seeking equality of results, but no argument at all against continuing to seek equality of opportunity – which, as mentioned above, mountains of rigorous well-controlled studies continue to show we don’t have.

If, as the scientific racists suggest, black people have an average IQ of 85 compared to the white average of 100, then there is still a pretty big civil rights battle to be fought getting the average black person to do as well as the average white person with IQ 85. After controlling for IQ, the average black person is still twice as likely to be in poverty, 50% more likely to be unemployed, and 250% more likely to be in prison (source, other gaps appear to disappear or reverse once IQ is controlled; see link for a more complete analysis.)

5.4.2.1: But this is exactly the kind of discussion progressives won’t let us have! It is an unquestioned dogma of our society that all cross-racial differences must be based entirely on discrimination! In fact, people educated in public schools are incapable of even conceiving of the possibility that they could be otherwise! How are we supposed to be able to disentangle equality of opportunity from equality of results in such people?

From this Gallup poll:

83% of white people agree that the poor position of blacks in society is mostly not due to discrimination.

Want to see something even cooler?

60% of black people agree that the poor position of blacks in society is mostly not due to discrimination.

So no, doubting that all racial disparities in the US are due to discrimination isn’t a thought crime. It’s the majority position, even among black people themselves.

True, the number of people willing to consider genetic differences in particular would probably be far lower. But the great (and very legitimate) fear motivating more-than-academic interest in this question – that white people will forever be blamed for and forced to atone for minorities’ problems – is one that can be talked about productively and perhaps banished.

5.4.3: Even if the establishment has not managed to completely ban all discussion of race that contradicts their own ideas, isn’t it only a matter of time before political correctness takes over completely?

It’s hard to measure the power of the more intellectually bankrupt wing of the social justice movement, but as best I can tell it does not seem to be getting more powerful.

According to Rasmussen, support for “political correctness” is declining in America. As we saw above, fewer and fewer people are willing to attribute black-white disparities to “racism” over time. Gallup finds that in the past decade, the percent of blacks satisfied with the way blacks are treated has gone up nearly 10% (I can’t find similar numbers for white people, but I bet they’re similar). Both white and black people are about 25% less likely to consider the justice system racially biased than 20 years ago. The percent of whites who think government should play “a major role” in helping minorities has dropped by 10 percent since 2004; for blacks, there is a similar drop of 14 percent.

The percent of people who think women have equal job opportunities to men has gone up 15% in the past nine years. Women are less likely to identify as feminists than twenty years ago, and support for affirmative action is at historic lows.

Here we see really the most encouraging combination of trends possible: actual racism, perceptions of racism, and concern about racism are all decreasing at the same time.

5.4.3.2: So how come social justice people have been making so much more noise lately?

My guess is changes in the media. The Internet allows small groups to form isolated bubbles and then fester away from the rest of society, becoming more and more extremist and paranoid and certain of themselves as their members feed upon each other in a vicious cycle.

Of course, as Reactionaries, you wouldn’t possibly know anything about that.

At the same time, the relative anonymity of the Internet promotes bad manners and flame wars and general trollishness. It’s not just that the writer is anonymous and therefore doesn’t fear punishment for what he or she says. It’s that their enemy is some nameless evil, rather than a person with a face whom they will treat as a human being.

And again at the same time, the national media has become more and more efficient at detecting outrageous events associated with some small town or some B-list celebrity and publicizing them to the entire world. This allows the hatred of the entire world to be focused on a single random person for a short period of time, which usually results in that person’s life being ruined in a way that would be impossible without this media efficiency.

But these processes are at least partly nonpartisan. With a rise in extremist online social justice has also come a rise in groups that didn’t even exist before, like men’s rights advocates.

5.4.3.2.1: Still, isn’t the fact that progressivism was responsible for this sort of zealous and hateful social justice movement is a point against it?

I identify the worst parts of the social justice movement as basically reactionary in their outlook, even though from a coalition politics point of view they have been forced to ally with progressives.

Chief in this assessment is their strong beliefs that some topics should be taboo and bowdlerized from society. In the old days, you would ban books because they talked too much about sex. In the new days, we laugh at their prudishness, but still seriously debate banning books because they are “demeaning towards women” or “trivialize rape culture”. The desire to ban books that promote different sexual norms than we ourselves promote hasn’t changed, only the particular sexual norms we are enforcing.

The same is true of race. In the old days, we would ban books that insulted the King or the upper classes. In the new days, we ban books that insult the poor, or disprivileged or disadvantaged classes. Again, the desire to ban books insulting the classes we like doesn’t change, only to which classes we afford this privilege.

Real Progressivism is Enlightenment values – like the belief that free flow of information is more important than any particular person’s desire to “cleanse” society of “unsavory” ideas. Real Reaction is the belief that free expression isn’t as important as making sure people have “the right” values. Upper-class white Reactionaries will try to enforce values protecting upper-class white people. Lower-class minority Reactionaries will try to enforce values protecting lower-class minorities. Whatever. They’re still Reactionary.

Likewise, real Progressivism is color-blind. It may be sophisticatedly color-blind, which involves realizing that just saying “I’m going to be color-blind now, okay?” doesn’t work, and that affirmative-action type policies may paradoxically lead to more genuinely color-blind results. But it would be unlikely to promote the idea that people should have racial pride, or that one particular race is evil and is not allowed to have racial pride. “White people should identify strongly with white culture; black people have no culture” is the upper-class white Reactionary slogan. “Black people should identify strongly with black culture; white people have no culture” is the lower-class minority Reactionary slogan. “Lots of races have culture but let’s ignore them and let individuals identify with what they personally like” is the academically-neglected but still-popular true Progressive position.

Finally, real Progressivism opposes segregation in all its forms. Upper-class white Reaction says that it’s necessary to protect white people from being “polluted” by black culture like rap music. Lower-class minority Reaction says that it’s necessary to stop white people from “appropriating” black culture like rap music. Either way, we get white people not allowed to listen to rap music. Progressivism is the position contrary to both: that everyone can listen to whatever music they damn well please.

The conservative nature of social justice isn’t surprising if you, like me, believe the liberal/conservative divide mirrors a self-expression/survival divide – more simply, whether or not you feel safe. As society becomes more economically and politically secure, we expect it to become more liberal and progressive. But we also expect the subgroups of society that are least secure to remain conservative, and to continue to use conservative strategies to protect themselves in their unsafe environment. Those subgroups are women and minorities.

Because more liberal white people are more likely to be tolerant toward minorities and the poor, minorities and the poor are by political necessity forced to ally with liberal parties. But when we are able to separate issues out from political coalition-building and self-interest, the natural tendency of economically and physically insecure minorities to be more socially conservative shows itself. Black people are more religious, more likely to support amendments banning gay marriage, and more likely to oppose stem cell research, abortion, and out of wedlock births.

If you do not like certain extreme versions of social justice, then fighting their Reactionary memes favoring poor minorities with your own Reactionary memes favoring rich whites is unlikely to work. At best you would just end up with two angry clans demanding more power for them personally; more likely financial and signaling incentives will prevent rich whites from wanting to take their own side in a conflict and everyone will just ignore you. A better strategy would be to take the moral high ground and promote Progressive memes to both sides.

5.5: Is our society hopelessly biased in favor of minorities and prejudiced against white people?

The most visible parts of society, like affirmative action and conversational norms around political correctness, are biased in favor of minorities and against white people. But this is intended to counter less visible parts of society, which are biased in favor of white people and against minorities. Whether this gambit works is anyone’s guess. See An analysis of the formalist account of power structures in democratic societies for a more careful evaluation of this claim.

5.6: One particularly annoying politically correct idea is the demand that everyone feel guilty about colonialism. Colonialism helped industrialize the developing world. Wasn’t the Progressive attempt to “help” the developing world through enforced decolonization and self-rule actually a big step backwards?

There are a couple of studies on this question, but all have their issues. A particular problem in the comparison of colonized to uncolonized countries is the possibility that more prosperous countries would be more likely to attract colonization and more likely to successfully resist potential colonizers. This makes an attempt to formally compare colonized with never-colonized countries directly nearly impossible.

I am least dissatisfied with Sylwester 2005, which compares colonial countries before, during, and after decolonization. It finds that:

There was no decrease in growth [for newly independent countries] relative to the alternative of remaining a colony. The reason why decolonizers exhibited lower growth than did those not concurrently undergoing a political change is that decolonizers grew slower than did nascent countries. These results provide evidence against the claim that this type of political transition caused lower growth than experienced previously. There is no evidence of transitional costs.

The paper also finds that previously independent countries grew faster than did the existing colonies. Whether or not a region is independent or controlled by an external power appears important for growth outcomes”

In other words, countries grew faster after independence than they did as a colony. This provides some support for the leftist idea that colonial powers drained more resources than they introduced, at least towards the end of the colonial age.

5.6.1: Forget economics, then. Wasn’t decolonization a human rights disaster, considering all the civil wars and coups and mismanagement in former colonies that could have been prevented by a competent colonial government?

Everyone from every side of the political spectrum agrees decolonization could have been handled better. It might be that no decolonization at all would have been better than decolonization the way the Great Powers historically went about it. And it’s hard to excuse all the civil wars and mismanagement that caused.

On the other hand, the colonial era wasn’t exactly free of bloody wars either. Colonial wars included the Mahdist War (100,000 deaths), the Algerian Revolution (500,000 – 1.5 million deaths), the Rif War (70,000 deaths), the Italian-Ethiopian War (500,000 deaths), the Mau Mau Rebellion (20,000 deaths), Mozambique War Of Independence (80,000 deaths), Angolan War of Independence (50,000 deaths), the Herero Genocide (100,000 deaths), the Java Wars (200,000 deaths), Sepoy Mutiny (~100,000 deaths), the Mad Mullah Jihad (100,000 deaths, but on the brighter side, an awesome name) Philippine-American War (220,000 deaths), First Indochina War (200,000 deaths), Aceh War (100,000 deaths) et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

If we don’t limit ourselves to just wars, and include famines, genocides, and general mismanagement, we can add Congo Free State (8 million deaths), genocide of Brazilian Indians (?200,000 deaths), forced labor in Portuguese colonies (250,000 deaths), forced labor in French colonies (200,000 deaths), Italian colonial genocide in Libya (125,000 deaths), French colonization of Algeria (500,000 deaths, European eradication of Native Americans (350,000 deaths), and the Australian and New Zealander eradication of aborigines and Maori (440,000 deaths). If we are willing to count famines worsened by colonial mismanagement we can go almost arbitrarily high, 20 million deaths or more.

It is certainly possible to imagine a wise and paternalistic colonial government coming in, cleaning up after native misrule, and introducing things like sanitation and industrialization. But that’s not what happened. It’s not fair to compare an imaginary ideal version of one policy with the real-world version of another.

5.6.1.1: Weren’t a lot of those colonial wars and human rights abuses actually caused by demotism and Progressivism? If people hadn’t revolted against their colonial masters, there wouldn’t have been these bloody colonial revolts.

Not a straw man!

The first answer is that even if we accept this weird premise, there are still hundreds of colonial atrocities that do not stand excused. Many of the above conflicts occurred during original colonial invasions, and a tendency to resist those hardly requires demotism. Others were simple genocides, during which resistance was minimal.

But let’s not accept the premise. I admit placing blame is complicated. To give just one example, thousands of homosexuals were killed in Nazi Germany. We usually blame the Nazis for this. But from a formal math point of view, it would be equally valid to blame homosexuality. After all, if not for homosexuality, those people would not have been killed, Nazis or no.

How to avoid such bizarre conclusions? One method is moral – even if both Nazism and homosexuality were to blame according to purely mathematical casual models, Nazism seems more morally to blame. Another method is practical- homosexuality is as old as the human race and probably not going away, so it’s easier to view homosexuality as a constant and vary Nazism than it is to hold Nazism as constant and vary homosexuality.

We can apply these same methods to the colonial wars. Morally, the colonized people seemed to be morally in the right – they were sitting around trying to live their ordinary lives when people invaded and tried to turn them into forced laborers. And practically, the desire for self-rule is older and harder to root out than the colonialism. Indeed, colonialism pretty much died off after a century or two, and the desire for self-rule is stronger than ever.

Some Reactionaries would contest this hypothesis. They would say that it is only the spread of Progressive ideas that make people want to revolt against their colonial masters – that if not for the New York Times deliberately sowing pre-revolt memes, no one would consider this a worthwhile thing to try.

Historical counterexamples abound, but the Jewish-Roman Wars (66-135 AD) seem like a particularly good one. If they don’t appeal to you for some reason, pick your own favorite example out of Wikipedia’s List of revolutions and rebellions.

And as we saw above, if Progressivism is an inevitable historical reaction to rising technology and security, rather than a meme spread by the New York Times or anyone else, then saying “My scheme would have worked if not for the spread of Progressive ideas” is no more virtuous than saying “My scheme would have worked if not for the conservation of matter”. Congratulations, you’ve found something that might have been a good idea in an alternate universe that ran on different rules.

5.6.2: Even if colonialism was historically bloody, wouldn’t today’s human-rights-obsessed, racism-hating era be able to sustain a type of colonialism that gives the good parts without the evil?

Yes, it’s possible that modern progressive ideals would be able to rescue colonialism. But it’s hard to imagine a nation being simultaneously progressive enough to colonize other countries wisely, but still so unprogressive that it would want to. It would have to be a country whose progressivism evolved on a path much different to our own.

5.7: Are schools are places where children get brainwashed into leftist and blame-America-first values? Are all parts of history that don’t fit with a progressive worldview whitewashed from the curriculum?

Our source here is James Donald, who for example says:

History gets radically rewritten at ever shorter intervals, and all older history books are effectively banned. Consider, for example the ever more radical rewrites of the career of Daniel Boone, which ended with him being expelled from history altogether, and that today’s student has no idea what “The shores of Tripoli” refers to. Ninety nine percent of what students used to be taught not very long ago, is now unthinkably controversial, shocking, and disturbing…

Look [these things] up in a history book written before the days of hate-America-first history. The New Century Speaker for School and College, published 1905.

Of course this would require you to read old books, but old books are like kryptonite to a progressive. Since they were written by dead white males, no respectable person will read them for fear that dangerous and forbidden thoughts might contaminate his brain. Like a vampire confronted with a bible, a progressive will cringe in fear before any dangerously old book. Ever since 1905 or so, kids have been taught hate-america-first history.

I worry James is confusing the sign of a value with the sign of its derivative. Certainly schools are becoming more willing to discuss leftist issues. But are they now disproportionately willing to discuss them?

Let’s take the example of Columbus. Modern Americans are taught not only the old history that Columbus was a brave explorer who sailed forth to boldly discover that the Earth was round, but also the new history of “yeah, but he was bad for the Indians”. The feeling I got was that sure, Columbus was all nice and well, but his bold voyages paved the way for later people to settle the New World which sort of by coincidence hurt the Indians because people were squatting on their ancestral lands. This is about as far as so-called liberal schools will go, and this is probably the sort of progressivism being introduced to history classes which James is complaining about.

But actually, Columbus was…well, The Oatmeal is kind of a low-status source to link to, but I think they said this one better than I could. It starts off with :

Upon his arrival, he demanded that the Lucayan [Indians] give his men food and gold, and allow him to have sex with their women. When the Lucayans refused, Columbus responded by ordering that their ears and noses be cut off, so that the now disfigured offenders could return to their villages and serve as a warning to others. Eventually, the natives rebelled. Columbus saw this as a perfect excuse to go to war, and with heavily armed troops and advanced weaponry, it wound up being a very short war. The natives were quickly slaughtered…there are eyewitness accounts of fallen Lucayan warriors being fed to hunting dogs while they were still alive, screaming and wailing in agony as the dogs feasted on their limbs and entrails.

(a commenter points out that some of its other claims are exaggerated)

As much as James may complain about how people vaguely mutter about something something Indians something on Columbus Day, I bet he didn’t learn this in school. In fact despite his protestations, I bet he didn’t learn very much leftist history at all in school, given that he thought Eugene V. Debs was a Supreme Court case.

One day, our school curriculum may become so leftist that the Right needs a book like A People’s History of the United States or Lies My Teacher Told Me (which was created not by armchair contemplation of what society’s biases must be, but by reading twelve actual history textbooks and spotting the actual lies in them). But that day hasn’t come yet.

What is James’ own evidence for a leftist bias? As far as I can tell, they’re things like that US classrooms keep going on about US enslavement of black people, but never mention the (African) Barbary Pirates enslaving white Americans. But this may have less to do with liberal bias and more to do with the fact that, as far as I can tell, only 115 white Americans were ever enslaved by the Barbary Pirates (and then released a few years later), whereas about 500,000 African slaves were brought to America, kept in slavery for centuries, precipitated the bloodiest war in our country’s history, and then became a racial group that makes up 12% of Americans today – over forty million people.

Oh, and actually, I did learn about the Barbary Pirates in history class, thank you very much. So it seems that prediction of James’ has been disconfirmed. Although he seems to have thought the government shutdown might end with Tea Party members and lawmakers being shipped to concentration camps, so I imagine having his predictions disconfirmed is a pretty common occurrence for him.

I apologize for the insulting tone of this FAQ entry, but I was accused of cringing in fear before old books, and being vampire-to-Bible-level afraid to study history. That hurts.

6: Any last thoughts?

6.1: Does this mean you hate Reactionary ideas and think they have nothing to teach you?

Absolutely not. Compare to communism. The people who called themselves communists had some great ideas, like shorter workweeks and racial equality. It was just that the narrative they used as a framework for that idea – historical dialectic, workers controlling the means of production, violent revolution, destruction of capitalism, destruction of democracy – were horrible. Their ability to notice problems tended to be better than their specific policy proposals which in turn tended to be better than their flights of fancy.

I feel the same way about Reaction. Some Reactionaries are saying things about society that need to be said. A few even have good policy proposals. But couching them in a narrative that talks about the wonders of feudalism and the evils of the Cathedral and how we should replace democracy with an absolute monarch just discredits them entirely.

6.1.1: What exactly do you like about Reaction?

I like that they’re honestly utopian. Their scathing attacks on everyone else for being utopian merely punctuate the fact, like the fire-and-brimstone preacher denouncing homosexuality whom everyone knows is secretly gay. The Reactionaries wants to throw out the extremely carefully fine-tuned machinery of modern society which evolved over several hundred years, and replace it with a bizarre Frankenstein’s Monster of modern and traditional elements that they dreamed up in an armchair, which has never been tried before and which, they say, will instantly fix all social ills like crime and poverty and war.

And this is awesome. Utopianism – trying to think up amazing political systems that lie outside the local Overton Window – is very nearly a dead art. The failure of the Communists’ utopian designs probably killed it – the Right made “utopianism” into a dirty word so they could use it to bludgeon the Left, and the Left turned against utopianism en masse to avoid getting bludgeoned. Right now the only two permissible dreams of a better future are a society much like our own but a little more libertarian, or a society much like our own but a little more progressive. Boring!

The more utopian ideas we have the more sources we have to draw from when trying to decide which direction our own society should go in, and the broader the discourse becomes. Reactionaries are geniuses at inventing new systems that have never been tried before and some of whose components deserve serious contemplation. And if there was a science fiction book set in Moldbug’s Patchwork or Royal California, I would buy it.

6.1.1.1: But?

There are a few good things you can do with utopianism.

You can use it as a generator for ideas that become gradually adopted into the mainstream, as mentioned above. Communism was good at this – in the US, instead of starting a revolution, they just helped spark the modern labor movement, which eventually came to coexist with the rest of the economy and is now probably a useful part of the memetic ecosystem.

You can use it to start interesting intentional communities. There were a couple of communist communes within capitalist countries; some people even built phalansteries, and more modern versions like Twin Oaks are more successful. You can start a non-communal subculture, like the polyamory movement. If you happen to have a free land, you start a country or subnational government – it worked for the early American settlers, and it may yet work for seasteaders. The Free State Project is another noble goal along these lines.

But until it works in an intentional community or something, trying to push it on everyone else seems premature and irresponsible.

6.1.2: If we don’t do Reaction, does that mean we’re stuck with a boring inoffensive centrist democracy forever and ever?

No. There are lots of extremely creative ideas for radical new forms of government that don’t involve any Reactionary ideas at all. The better ones are off of the right-left spectrum entirely. Futarchy is my favorite. Or we could all just go live in the Shining Garden of Kai-Raikoth.

6.2.1: Has anyone written a response or rebuttal to this FAQ?

Ohhhhhh yes.

I am indebted to Reactionary blogger Legionnaire for putting together a good list of responses to this document, which I am reproducing here with only minor aesthetic changes.

RESPONSES TO PART 1: IS EVERYTHING GETTING WORSE?

Foseti – An Anti-Reaction FAQ

Xenosystems – The Decline Frame

Jim – Anti-Anti-Reactionary FAQ Part 2: Crime

More Right (Michael Anissimov) – Response to Anti-Reactionary FAQ, Lightning Round, Part 1

RESPONSES TO PART 2: ARE TRADITIONAL MONARCHIES BETTER PLACES TO LIVE?

Jim – Anti-Anti-Reactionary FAQ Part 1: Terror And Mass Murder (this limited its complaint to a single example and seemed quite fair, so I have since removed that example from this document)

Jim – Anti-Anti-Reactionary FAQ Part 3: Freedom And Monarchy

More Right (Michael Anissimov) – Response To Anti-Reactionary FAQ Part 2: Austrian Edition

RESPONSES TO PART 3: WHAT IS PROGRESS?

Jim – Progress

Jim – Anti-Anti-Reactionary FAQ Part 4: Ever Leftwards Movement

Anarcho-Papist – The Theory Of Demotist Singularity

Habitable Worlds – The Motives Of Social Policy

RESPONSES TO PART 4: SHOULD A COUNTRY BE RULED AS A JOINT-STOCK CORPORATION?

Anarcho-Papist – The Informal Systems Critique of Formalism

RESPONSES TO PART 5: ARE MODERN IDEAS ABOUT RACE AND GENDER WRONG-HEADED AND DANGEROUS?

Anarcho-Papist – On The Opposition To Sluttiness, Among Other Things

Free Northerner – Sex: A Response To Scott Alexander

Jim – The Anti-Anti-Reactionary FAQ: Sluts

MISCELLANEOUS RESPONSES

Nick Steves – Shots Across The Bow

Suntzuanime – Comment On Anti-Reactionary FAQ

I’ve only managed to read about 50% of these so far, but of the ones I have read, I am especially impressed with Anissimov’s Lightning Round Part 1 and Free Northerner’s post on sex issues as well-argued and pretty comprehensive critiques.

I will continue to update based on his list as a definitive resource, but if you’ve written something and want on here, post in the comments of this thread or email me and I will eventually get you up. This is likely to update very irregularly.

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810 Responses to The Anti-Reactionary FAQ

  1. P. George Stewart says:

    I love Reactionary writings in the same way that I love those old, cheaply-produced communist and anarchist pamphlets – feverish, impassioned rants, largely potty, but always with a nugget or two of thought-provoking stuff here and there. I’m glad they do their thing, and I want them to keep on doing it. Everyone should immerse themselves in extreme views now and then, even extreme views one disagrees with, so long as they’re in some sense meant well, and not obviously malicious. But at some point you’ve got to surface for air and swim for dry land.

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  6. Taco says:

    “The closest we’ve ever come to any kind of squabble over who should be President was Bush vs. Gore”

    umm…

    i mean, there’s this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_civil_war

    or hadn’t you heard of that?

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  8. Bill Graham says:

    Thank you for this site. I appreciate the directions of topic and depth, as well as the clear intent toward examination of methods for understanding. Sadly, I see many axes being ground in the replies.

  9. Put Down Artist says:

    I’d consider myself libertarian, and not reactionary, but there’s quite a bit in this article that requires a response. I don’t have much time, so I’d like to point out two things. Please excuse me if these have been addressed already elsewhere in the comments.

    The first thing is crediting progressivism with positive trends in human happiness over recent decades. As you yourself point out, attitudes in the mainstream have not moved far off the left in the USA in particular. While I do believe ideology can influence human happiness, the real fruit of progressivism is only being harvested in the current generation as these ideas are becoming mainstream which means it may be too early to measure its effects. What is far more likely to be the culprit is the massive boom in human creativity, productivity and problem solving created by the explosive growth of capitalism and attendant technological development over the last century. To give credit to progressivism for this is quite deceptive, particularly since the modern incarnation of a progressive will tend to oppose free market capitalism – ie the very force that emancipated so many people from limited resources and the time and convenience that recent inventions have permitted (feminists do this too when they credit feminism for the emancipation of women, when the vacuum cleaner, washing machine and pill were probably far more important).

    If you were to take a relatively undeveloped country, say Papua New Guinea, and introduce all the benefits of capitalism, along with a strict program of progressive indoctrination, you’d no doubt see a spike in human happiness. To gauge the true effect of progressivism on actual progress, you need to measure its effect on populations that are not simultaneously experiencing paradigm shifts due to changes in technological advancement.

    From what I can tell this observation invalidates much of the article, as so many of your points are painting progressive progress over a backdrop of technological advancement created by the very same free markets that many progressives would dearly love to eliminate.

    The other point I’d like to bring up is your misrepresentation of the cathedral, which I find to be one of the most useful ideas presented by the Dark Enlightenment.

    There’s quite a lot to mention here, but for a start claiming that the NYT was to the right while universities were too the left during the 1960s ignores the obvious fact that progressivism was first incubated in universities (cathedrals!) and then spread to organizations fed by the university system. That meant there was an inevitable lag. Universities had to consolidate on the left before they started producing their progressive stormtroopers who took up positions throughout mainstream tenured academia, the civil service and the media.

    You’re also using the old ‘conspiracy’ slide to defame the idea that this was in any way conspiratorial. If you know about the activities of the Frankfurt School this is extremely disingenuous. There programme was an explicit conspiracy to achieve a Marxist society by hijacking Western Academia. Many of their most prominent people said this many times in their own words. But don’t believe me, here’s Willi Munzenberg ” [We must] organize the intellectuals and use them to make Western civilization stink. Only then, after they have corrupted all its values and made life impossible, can we impose the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    Sound like a conspiratorial tone to you? Sure does to me. Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Jürgen Habermas – heard of these guys. I did majors in Sociology and Psychology, and these men’s ideas were FUNDAMENTAL to what we studied, we studied all of their theories in depth. They were not the only vector of progressive ideology, but to deny their importance is ridiculous. They tipped some of the first dominoes in the destruction of the existing order – their students (many of whom considered themselves disciples) flesh out liberal arts academia to this day. This movement now has its own momentum, yet it is still funded by special interests who benefit from a strong centralized state, which would suggest this ‘conspiracy’ is ongoing.

    Another important thing to consider about the cathedral is that it indicates religious belief. I argue with progressives less eloquent and informed than yourself all the time. The vast, vast majority of them are unable to defend a single one of their ideas. They respond to any challenge to their ideology with immediate attack and ad-hominems. They cannot talk through the obvious contradictions and hypocrisy that they inevitably confront when they meet an ideological dissenter. It took me a long time to figure out why, but the answer is because progressivism is a religion to these people. They simply believe what they are told by people in authority. There is nothing beneath this belief, just an attraction to being ‘automatically right’ that they see their peers and media imply whenever a progressive idea is flouted, a deeply ingrained trust in authority created by our school system and the human tendency to follow fads, ideological as much as clothing.

    The place from which these ideas are distributed is the university. The modern American university is very leery of any ideas that seriously challenge progressive dogma, and anyone who has encountered a progressive academic cannot possibly think otherwise. Try confront them and you’ll be met by first snark, then dismissal, and ultimately the threat of force. A new dogma has arisen, and new priests to defend and spread it. That it positions a political figurehead as a god makes it no less of a religion then one that channels its god through a political figurehead.

    You also fail to take into account the effect that this religious allegiance has on people who function within academia. People tend to screen data through a filter of their own beliefs, and progressives are certainly not above manipulating data to achieve a goal that seems beneficial to the collective (after all the means are justified by the ends), which means it’s worth taking stats with a pinch of salt, as the reporting of these stats – especially from within the social sciences – are subject not just to the biases and religious convictions of those who report them, but also to censure from both the establishments that support their activities and those that fund them.

    Sorry, this has been a bit rushed, but just needed to raise this issues. I hope someone can do a better job.

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  11. Nathan Metric says:

    Although I do not consider myself a neo-reactionary, Alexander you take WAY too many things about modernity for granted.

    Although you do have a good understanding of neoreaction you completely misunderstand progressivism by confusing it with liberalism in general. Not everything that is against traditionalism is “progressive”. Capitalism for example is not “progressive”. Libertarianism which is just a rebranding of classical liberalism is not “progressive”. And certain things such as the notion of human rights, the Bill of Rights, and a republican form of government are not uniquely progressive ideas. Did the American experiment not start out as an aristocratic one? Did they not start out with only a limited section of the male gender being allowed to vote?

    Second, because you overextend and misuse the concept of progressivism you make NUMEROUS correlation fallacies. For example, you cite that working hours have been decreasing. This is merely a correlation. What reason if there to believe that progressivism (and not the classical liberal wing of liberalism) is the cause of this decrease in working hours? It makes more sense to link this decrease in wages to the industrial revolution which predates progressivism. If you lived in hunter and gathering times were you and your whole tribe could perish in a single bad winter what sense would it make to have an arbitrary 40 hour work limit? It is only because the advances in capital equipment and the accompanying increase in production that having a government imposed work limit becomes possible. Too impose one earlier would of been absurd. Another example you point to the decrease in crime, but there can be literally thousands of reasons why crime is going down. It could have to do with wages going up, it could have to do with changes in parenting attitudes, it could have to do with breakthroughs in firearms by Samuel Colt, it could have to do with the increase in surveillance technology, it could be the breakthroughs in police work such as DNA testing, etc all of which have NOTHING to do with progressivism. Yet you treat these things as though the progressives own them.

    Third, you point out that positive attitudes toward race realism have increased in both the white and black community, but believing is not the same as speaking about it. What information people are willing to reveal about themselves in statistical studies has no relation to what they are willing to talk about openly. For example, you can do a study on people’s sexual fetishes and come to the conclusion that society is becoming more and more kinky, but it wouldn’t change the fact that they don’t want to talk about it in public.

    Fourth, you say that progressivism has nothing to do with Christianity. I could just refer you to Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals but I will try try to make this quick.

    Christ saids that the meek shall inherit the earth. Progressivism is the belief that the weak should rule over the strong via the reverse hierarchy called democracy.
    Christ was altruistic. Progressives believes that altruism is a moral duty that should be enforced against the strong by the state.
    Christ was anti-materialist. Progressives are anti-materialist.
    Christ advocated that you should treat people the way you want to be treated. Progressives like to exploit the Golden Rule in order to rationalize people breaking the rules.
    Christ said to “turn the other cheek”. Progressives dislike justice in the conventional sense of “eye for an eye” and look for excuses as to why people should be “rehabilitated” or put on the government dole instead of punished.

    Come on dude. How could the connection between progressivism and Christianity even be debated? If you disagree with what I say then just read some Nietzsche. He is way more articulate than I am. Christ was a proto-progressive.

    Fifth, you point out that there is less crime, less violence and less political coups in democracies, but why is this automatically good? If you are born under an invincible and unreformable tyranny, why would it be good that no revolution is possible? Why would the decrease in crime be something to smile about when the state is essentially a criminal institution? Laws are nothing more than the will of the conqueror. The will of whoever is the strongest force in society. Laws are fundamentally based on violence and justified with mindlessly repeated absolutism based on LIES. The lack of conflict is not the same as peace. If a population is held in a state of near absolute domination (or stockholm syndrome to be more precise, the fact that everything is going according to plan doesn’t change the fact that the persistence of force everywhere. Any rational discussion on violence goes out the window once you understand that the state is an actor of violence.

    Sixth, you cite that the national debt to GDP ratio is lower than it was in the past. If it really were true that it is right wingers who are behind the debt and not progressives than why is the leftist parties that the primary supporters to raising the debt ceiling? Why do leftists support more spending despite the fact that they haven’t gotten the right to agree to tax increases? Why is that college students who get a worthless degrees via student loans are usually leftist? Your interpretation of the data doesn’t fit with the actions of progressives which clearly demonstrate a drive to increase debt to the expense of everyone else. You refer to Reagan’s military build up, but military expenditures are only about 1/5 of the national expenditures. More than half of expenditures are for progressive policies such as social security, medicare/medicaid and other programs. So what sense does it make to blame it all on the right?

    Seven, you say we should try for equality of opportunity, but how can there be such a thing as equality of opportunity if there is no fundamental biological equality in the first place? “All men are created equal” is complete nonsense refuted by biology and natural selection. Also, the distinction between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity is non-existent. All attempts to increase so called “equality of opportunity” imply redistributions of wealth aka “equality of outcome”. Who do you think pays for those government schools? Who do you think pays for guaranteed student loans?

    Finally, you say democracy is not communist. If you mean that it isn’t like Stalin, Mao or Hitler’s regime then yes, but if we mean communist in the sense of Marxist ideology then absolute not. Every democracy including the U.S. has fulfilled the 10 planks of the communist manifesto.
    http://www.laissez-fairerepublic.com/TenPlanks.html

    • Andy says:

      the fact that everything is going according to plan doesn’t change the fact that the persistence of force everywhere. Any rational discussion on violence goes out the window once you understand that the state is an actor of violence.

      ANY state, even a reactionary state, is going to include some amount of coercion, including violence, as part of enforcing its rules and norms. This is the root of the strongest arguments against the government backing down in the Cliven Bundy dispute – a system that is supposed to enforce rules and norms even-handedly can’t let someone unilaterally declare that the rules don’t apply to him, and threaten violence when he doesn’t get his way. Just like the more violent fringe of the Occupy movement, one side sees them as virtuous rebels, and the other as dangerous anarchists.
      And revolution isn’t impossible, just very very difficult. Want to impose an American monarch? Convince most of the people that a monarch is in their interests, get enough o f the states to ratify it, and done. I have no sympathy for far-rightists who complain that revolution is impossible, just as I have none for far-leftists who claim the same thing as an excuse for advocating violent overthrow of the state. The other option, leaving and starting your own country somewhere else, is even easier, which doesn’t make it remotely easy. But it’s certainly possible. If you’re patient, global warming is apparently going to make Greenland a rather pleasant place to live. Or seasteading is an option. There’s the door – go!
      Yes, yes, I get it, you’re against progressivism. What precisely are you for? What does your ideal state look like? Just as we can learn a lot about Moldbug and Annissimov when they take a break from critiquing progressivism and describe their ideals, I’d like to see where your perspective comes from.

  12. Ken Arromdee says:

    While I’m no reactionary myself, I find some of your statistics questionable. For instance, you show that the US birth rate is below replacement rate, and almost immediately after that is a line showing that the US population is growing steadily. That should have been a tipoff that something is wrong–the US population is growing because of immigration, especially from Mexico. Furthermore, that below replacement birth rate is a composite of an above replacement birth rate for some groups, like Mexican immigrants, and an even lower than replacement rate for others. So those statistics do *not* disprove a demographic catastrophe, they just mask it by adding together a group which is increasing and a group which is decreasing.

    You also have statistics for Germany that seem to show the population increasing, but the line for non-Germans includes very little data compared to the main curve, to the point where it is still possible that the curve for German-speakers only, which equals the difference of two of the curves in the graph, could plausibly be catastrophic if the non-German-speakers one has sharply increased before data was available.

    I’m also skeptical about the usefulness of the graphs showing that both blacks and whites think blacks are not worse off because of discrimination. The key factor is not how many people, but their influence. Given how political and social movements become entrenched, it’s possible to have fewer people blaming problems on discrimination, but more power exerted by people who blame problems on discrimination. Furthermore, as discrimination goes down, those people’s power gets exercised in areas farther from actuial discrimination, making their influence worse.

    • peterdjones says:

      Values aren’t facts. You might not like Mexicans or immigration, but that does not make anything Scott factually false.

      • Ken Arromdee says:

        Yes, it does. That’s why we have a concept of “lying with statistics”.

        He wasn’t stating random facts; he was stating facts to use them in an argument. The omitted details (that there is a demographic catastrophe of one group of Americans that is masked when you take figures for the whole population) directly had bearing on the argument in which he used the statistics.

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  14. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    Before you answer, consider a common failure mode. Some rule catches on for some very useful reason. Like “don’t have sex with your cousin, you’ll have kids with two heads.” Biological or memetic evolution selects for people who follow the rule, and eventually the rule becomes an unquestionable taboo.

    You can say this about *any* preference. We evolved to care about siblings because they can help pass on part of our genes, so surely caring about a sterile sibling beyond what we would for a random acquaintance is a failure mode? Explaining the causal origin of a terminal value doesn’t make it stop being a terminal value.

    • Mark says:

      I interpret your comment as suggesting that just because the standard objections people raise against female promiscuity are flimsy doesn’t mean they’re wrong to nevertheless disfavor it out of some terminal value. But Scott isn’t arguing that anyone’s terminal values are wrong. I doubt he even thinks it’s sensible to argue about terminal values (once recognized as such) at all.

  15. Stuart Armstrong says:

    Re:

    >[Edit 3/2014: I no longer endorse all the statements in this document

    Have you taken into account that your post will attract a disproportionate amount of reactionary counterarguments or counterevidence, and a comparatively small quantity of confirmatory evidence? Few people would bother to send extra evidence to support a well argued position they already agree with.

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  17. Douglas Knight says:

    Huey Long is a good example because people can’t agree on whether he was a fascist or a communist.

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  25. Legolas says:

    That guy is just upset because we took his cape away

  26. Protagoras says:

    When did “PREVIOUSLY AN EXCEPTION TO “DON’T READ THE COMMENT SECTION”” become the subtitle of the blog? Did it have anything to do with the troll-feeding in this thread (which I regret I contributed to?)

  27. TomA says:

    “It is a staple of Reactionary thought that everything is getting gradually worse.”

    This straw man seems to be an over-the-top falsehood, and a such is more disingenuous than clarifying. Would it not be more accurate to say that most people think some things are getting gradually better, some things are staying roughly the same, and some things are getting gradually worse? You could put optimists (and presumably Progressives) at one end of this spectrum and pessimists (and presumably Reactionaries) at the other end.

    The above statement creates the connotation that Reactionaries are irrational extremists in their fundamental premise. Surely you can think of some examples of our culture in decline. We are at record levels of welfare dependence in this country. Is that the type of progress you desire?

    • Arthur Frayne says:

      Record levels of welfare dependence is exactly the sort of progress that is inevitable. As human knowledge and experience expands we are becoming more efficient at doing things and so there are less jobs. Full employment would indicate a backward society. One day this truth will change the world.

      • Record levels of welfare dependence is exactly the sort of progress that is inevitable. As human knowledge and experience expands we are becoming more efficient at doing things and so there are less jobs

        People on the median have been getting poorer since 1972. It is harder to afford children, harder to afford a safe neighborhood. That is not progress.

        The rising cost of safe housing reflects the inability of the state to maintain order, and our diminishing ability to build large complex systems (also manifested in tall buildings getting shorter, despite the rising price of centrally located office space)

        The rising cost of children reflects grade and degree inflation, which reflects state demands that the people be subjected to ever more lengthy indoctrination.

        • Arthur Frayne says:

          Of course it’s more expensive to have children. There is less space and resources than there were in the past. If it was cheap to have kids, everyone would do it. As if poor white trash don’t breed enough as it is, fuck.

          • Of course it’s more expensive to have children. There is less space and resources than there were in the past.

            Plenty of space and resources. The problem is Cathedral controlled inputs – plenty of land for houses, the problem is that there is not plenty of safety, plenty of food for children, the problem is degree in inflation, where a PhD is equivalent to what used to be a high school diploma.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Not quite, kids are more expensive to raise yes, but the main cause is that the opportunity cost of having kids is higher. Whereas kids on a farm are cheap to feed and can help out with chores, now having kids involves paying school fees, college fees (yikes!) among other things. Most importantly having kids involves giving up several thousand dollars per year that you could of earned by having a job.

          • Not quite, kids are more expensive to raise yes, but the main cause is that the opportunity cost of having kids is higher.

            If a high school diploma was as impressive an accomplishment as it was in 1900, the opportunity cost of kids would be a lot lower.

            If poor neighborhoods were safe, the opportunity cost of kids would be a lot lower.

        • Andy says:

          People on the median have been getting poorer since 1972. It is harder to afford children, harder to afford a safe neighborhood. That is not progress.

          Wages have been dropping because of exactly the effect Frayne described – technological progress replacing workers, along with the enormous cheap labor markets of China and India and the rest of the developing world. According to classical economic theory, what happens to a commodity like labor when supply outstrips demand? The price drops.
          I’d call this part of the big global transition we’re going through. Most of the Western world reacted to this by going “MORE EDUCATION,” which I’m not quite sure is the right response, but I’m not sure there is what the right response is to our current set of global demographic-technological-scientific-environmental issues. Eventually we’ll hit on the right solution, but I don’t think either Progressives or Reactionaries have the right solutions.

        • nydwracu says:

          now having kids involves paying school fees, college fees

          This is not an inevitable problem! There are so many things that get written off as inevitable problems, completely two-hundred-percent guaranteed no matter what the political sitaution, that are *not*! Private school fees, suburban drudgery, ridiculously long and expensive commutes — these are not inevitable problems!

          Relevant.

  28. Damien says:

    Polygon here just makes me think of Time Cube. Come to think of it, neoreactionary comments have been much like reading a more grammatical Time Cube.

  29. Kokomo says:

    PolyCatheGon

    “Cathedral” and “Polygon” ought to be separate concepts.

    The Polygon is a subset of the Cathedral. Mises.org is outside both Cathedral and Polygon. Schools and large corporations are in the Cathedral, but outside the Polygon. The Fed is in the Cathedral and Polygon (or would Pulpit do better?).

    To be in the Cathedral is to be a repeater of memes that a recent incarnation of the Polygon has heavily optimised. To be in the Polygon is to be a bearer of the elite progressive, managerial ideology. Borderline Polygon members would understand the elite ideology with System 1, but less so with System 2. I have in mind a junior bureaucrat or average journalist; although of course I’m speculating.

    heroic whites righteously hunting and torturing villainous brown people.

    Tom Wolfe’s latest book has a good little passage on race.

    An inky black headline ran the width of the paper—ROPE-CLIMB COP IN “MAST”-ERFUL RESCUE. On the far right was a lone column of type. The rest of the top half of the front page consisted of an enormous color picture of a white schooner with two towering masts and clouds and clouds of white sails…floating upon the aquamarine vastness of Biscayne Bay…beneath the pale-blue dome of the sky…and way, way, way up there, the equivalent of six or seven stories above the deck, no bigger than a thumbnail against such gigantic expanses, two tiny living creatures, two men whose lives depended on one man maintaining his one-hand grip on a jib sail cable…two specks popping out amid these overwhelming dimensions, two little human beasts this close to plunging to their death…all captured in a photograph by an old Herald photographer named Ludwig Davis, whose talent had spared him the axe. Down below was a two-column picture of a bare-chested young man with muscles on top of muscle, all highly defined, “cut,” “ripped” to the point of looking shrink-wrapped. That picture on page one was a veritable male nude in chiaroscuro, school of Michelangelo.

    Ed Topping couldn’t hold back the sublime joy the big color picture of the schooner gave him. He thumped it with the backs of his fingers. “There you have it!” this semaphore said.

    “No other medium could have come close to that image, Stan!” the suddenly animated editor in chief was saying. “Newsprint is great for color as long as you have big shapes of uniform value, such as the sky, the bay, the schooner, the hull, those huge sails—all white—and you know what? The poor resolution of newsprint makes the color blocks more uniform. It’s like a nineteenth-century Japanese print, the uniform blocks of color. The defects turn into an advantage!”

    Ed opened his eyes wide…and turned them up brighter and brighter and brighter like a rheostat, as if to say, “Now you see what I mean, right?”

    City Editor Stan stretched his neck upward and twisted his mouth and lower jaw in an odd way.

    “No other medium could come close to this,” Ed went on, explaining in some detail why television couldn’t, why film couldn’t, why videotape couldn’t, why the internet couldn’t…why not even a great print of the original photograph could come close. It would have “too many values in the color blocks.”

    • a person says:

      What does that have to do with race…?

      • Kokomo says:

        If we were not to analyse society in crude terms of what “white people” do to “brown” or “black” people, or vice versa, might that not be…nuanced?

  30. odd how the SyFy Earthsea series and M. Night’s Avatar movie got whitewashed in their casting,

    Both movies were so full of strident propaganda that they could not contain any more. When you make a book into a move, something has to be left out, so, necessarily, a lot of propaganda got left out.

    • Damien says:

      “Both movies were so full of strident propaganda that they could not contain any more. When you make a book into a move, something has to be left out, so, necessarily, a lot of propaganda got left out.”

      That’s remarkably nonsensical even for you, James. Obviously the exact same films/series could have been produced but with non-white actors; there’s no crowding out between skin color and other elements. Unless the white actors cast were uniquely talented and qualified, which from what I’ve heard was far from the case in either instance.

      And, propaganda? Earthsea? I suppose I’m not surprised to learn you’re a follower of the Nameless Ones.

      • Obviously the exact same films/series could have been produced but with non-white actors;

        No it could not have, because non-white actors are required to act extravagantly counter stereotypically at all times, which would have utterly derailed the plot, making all the other propaganda in the movie unworkable.

        “Avatar” was evil white cowboys versus virtuous blueskinned Indians in touch with nature. You could not do that with black cowboys.

        In a book, there is room enough for evil horrible hateful white cowboys to oppress blacks, and also oppress blue skinned Indians. In the movie, no room for both completely virtuous black victims and completely virtuous blue skinned Indian victims.

        If you simply made some of the evil horrible hateful white cowboy oppressors black, no one involved in the movie would ever get another job in Hollywood.

        • Damien says:

          I brought up Earthsea and M. Night’s Avatar as examples of adaptations with whitewashed casting. James Cameron’s Avatar with the “blueskinned Indians” is entirely original to Mr. Cameron and not an adaptation of anything. So your thinking I was talking about that makes no sense, if you’d stopped to connect two thoughts together. As ozy says, I was talking about M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, which to be fair was called _The Last Airbender_, but was an adaptation of the thoroughly Asianish fantasy “Avatar: the Last Airbender”.

          As for the poor oppressed right wing writers, Ayn Rand still has good sales, Tom Kratman’s doing fine, OSC’s Empire got published, my impression was that John Ringo’s _Ghost_ was to the right, or maybe just gutterward, of his core taste but it sold well so hey.

          I was amused that the an-cap webcomic “Escape from Terra” went on hiatus due to lack of viewership. No PolyCatheGon to blame here, just market forces.

          • I was talking about M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, which to be fair was called _The Last Airbender_,

            Same principle applies: So far left that no room any more leftism.

            I was amused that the an-cap webcomic “Escape from Terra” went on hiatus due to lack of viewership

            “Escape from terra” opposed taxes and regulation, in good old Ayn Rand style, but was inordinately socially liberal.

            As for the poor oppressed right wing writers, Ayn Rand still has good sales

            Because, were you to ban her, you would be revealed for what you are.

            Tom Kratman’s doing fine

            With an army that, in his latest works, is full of women and gays. Do you think he really wants to write about female soldiers and gay soldiers? Someone is holding a gun to his head.

            John Ringo’s _Ghost_ was to the right, or maybe just gutterward, of his core taste but it sold well so hey.

            Ghost was published in 2006, and there was nothing right wing about it by the standards of 2006.. Not publishable today. Everything published eight years ago is unthinkably right wing by today’s standards, and everything published sixteen years ago is unthinkably right wing by the standards of 2006

        • Multiheaded says:

          Zero Dark Thirty’s message was absolutely hated by most leftists, inviting comparisons to Leni Riefenstahl – and it had a strong female protagonist in a “progressive” role. Oh and yeah, it had heroic whites righteously hunting and torturing villainous brown people.

          • Zero Dark Thirty’s message was absolutely hated by most leftists, inviting comparisons to Leni Riefenstahl

            You hated it because it was set in a world where Osma Bin Laden took down the twin towers, unlike your preferred world where they were taken down by white Christian anti abortionists

            In every other respect however, it was set in the progressive fantasy universe.

            If you think that Tom Kratman is still allowed to write right wing fiction, no wonder you think that Zero Dark Thirty is right wing.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Not publishable today. Everything published eight years ago is unthinkably right wing by today’s standards, and everything published sixteen years ago is unthinkably right wing by the standards of 2006

          The new Star Trek movies by Jar-Jar Abrams have way, way socialist propaganda than Star Trek: The Original Series (notably praised by MLK himself when it was running). Just one of the many reasons they’re “not real ST”.

        • Multiheaded says:

          * way less propaganda

        • ozymandias says:

          Wait, what, James, you think leftists don’t think Osama took down the Twin Towers? Like, seriously, the *closest* idea I can think to that one that I’ve seen leftists espouse is “the US government knocked down the Twin Towers,” since Bush was a white Christian anti-abortionist.

          As a leftist, I am upset about Zero Dark Thirty because it shows torturing people as morally correct. I feel like that’s enough of an objection.

          • you think leftists don’t think Osama took down the Twin Towers?

            You think it and you don’t think it, but find references to the fact to be in bad taste and excessively right wing.

            You still cannot quite admit that the Benghazi embassy was attacked by an Al Quaeda affiliate in uniform fighting as a conventional military unit. Half the time, you think it was a bunch of protesters outraged by a you tube video, and the other half of the time, you try not to think about it.

        • The true thing about the 9/11 attack which gets ignored on the left is that bin Laden grew up extremely rich, and would have continued to be rich if he hadn’t gotten involved in terrorism.

          A lot of people on the left want to believe that terrorism is a result of poverty, and that making less poverty by helping will lead to less terrorism. There’s no evidence for this.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Quite early in the nineteenth century, it was determined that if any female character had any human flaws, this was hateful and hurtful to women. So writers, not wishing to have boring characters, proceeded to leave women out.

          Late in the nineteenth century, it was determined that if any colored character character had any human flaws, this was hateful and hurtful to colored people. So writers, not wishing to have boring characters, proceeded to leave colored people out

          But how can you even say that if you, yourself, don’t believe women and people of color to be human? According to you, they couldn’t have human flaws anyway, only the total disaster of their subhumanity!

        • Andy says:

          But how can you even say that if you, yourself, don’t believe women and people of color to be human? According to you, they couldn’t have human flaws anyway, only the total disaster of their subhumanity!

          Multi, to my knowledge James has never said this. He’s said they aren’t the equals of white males, but he hasn’t said they aren’t human.
          And James:

          You still cannot quite admit that the Benghazi embassy was attacked by an Al Quaeda affiliate in uniform fighting as a conventional military unit. Half the time, you think it was a bunch of protesters outraged by a you tube video, and the other half of the time, you try not to think about it.

          HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
          Joking. OF course I can admit it. Of course I can think about a world where bin Laden took down the twin towers, Al Q attacked Benghazi, and we’re fighting against the extreme right wing of the Muslim world. My preferred strategy is to work with the left wing of the Muslim world, those who are horrified by such acts and want to live in the modern world instead of the 11th century.
          To misquote Ozy: Still a leftist.
          While most of the 9/11 Truthers I’ve met have indeed been far lefties, they were also crazier than badgers on meth, a condition not limited to left-wingers. Right-winger conspiracy theories can get equally loony – water fluoridation as one rather long-lived example.

        • a person says:

          Because team woman always wins, and because any author who uses team woman at the butt of a joke is forced to perform a long and terrible repentance. If they shoot some people to encourage the others, one can assume the others are encouraged without needing to check each case.

          This is absurd circular logic. “I know team women always wins. Your proof that shows that team women does not always win must be invalid, because team women always wins. Therefore team women always wins.”

          The big difference is that your incompetent bureaucrat is in power, and everyone has to suck up to her – that team women always wins, while the fictional Lucille Ball is out of power – she is unemployed, and supported by stern husband who does not put up with her nonsense, so team woman always loses.

          Eh, I don’t know. If you were so inclined you could interpret Leslie Knope being in power as an even more radical anti-women message: “Don’t let women be in charge of anything! They’re naive and incompetent and they’ll screw things up!”

          Plus her boss is Ron, the caricature of conservatism and masculinity, and he is frequently proven right when the two argue. I’ll admit that Leslie is allowed her victories, and when this happens and Ron gruffly admits that she was right all along, the audience cheers for Team Women and Team Progressive. But this is by no means all the time.

          But we could do this all day. You make a ridiculous hyperbolic all-or-nothing statement, people come up with plenty of examples that disprove your claim, and you come up with reasons why they don’t count. I don’t think this debate is going anywhere.

          Like other people are saying, you have interesting ideas that are worth engaging with, but you do yourself and the debate a massive disservice by making these exaggerated claims and refusing to concede a single point.

          I do, however, want to hear your rationalization of why Meredith from The Office is not a character we’re supposed to laugh at for being a slut. Watch this video and get back to me.

          Watch it. It is a good show. The real life Lucille Ball is so very good at dancing and singing that the fictional Lucille Ball, the character she plays, can bungle and pratfall with perfect grace.

          I’ll put it on my list of things to check out.

          • “I know team women always wins. Your proof that shows that team women does not always win must be invalid

            Some of the examples, for example Mimi, I have seen, and I know they are invalid.

            I assert that female comedians are necessarily unfunny because team woman always wins.

            You guys list some shows where, supposedly, team women does not win. To the extent that I recognize those shows, to the extent that I have seen those shows, team woman does always win.

          • Office is not a character we’re supposed to laugh at for being a slut. Watch this video and get back to me.

            Team woman wins again. Notice that this aging overweight slut is improbably popular, incredibly popular. A male says “Oh so good”. The office gets discounts because she puts out. Team women is powerful, her aging saggy pussy in high demand. She is a high status, powerful, empowered woman.

            What would be funny would be if, surrounded by numerous cats, she calls some guy up.

            He asks “Who are you?”

            “Don’t you remember? You banged me against the wall in the alley behind the pub last night.”

            “Oh. You are the fat girl. How did you get my phone number?”

            “I have been stalking you. I tracked down one of your ex girlfriends, who gave me your phone number after I beat her up.” (Hugs cat, cat struggles to escape.)

            Then we would be laughing at her.

          • Plus her boss is Ron, the caricature of conservatism and masculinity, and he is frequently proven right when the two argue.

            The problem is that you have never in your entire life seen team woman lose, nor team man other than defeated, humiliated, and degraded, so you don’t know what it looks like. When you see team women pull of a victory slightly less glorious to team woman, and slightly less humiliating and degrading to team man, you think team woman has lost.

            See my rewrites of Office-Slut skit, and my rewrite of the Captain Zapp Brannigan- fools Leela into sleeping with him skit, for what it would actually look like if Team woman ever lost.

            Or, for cleaner material, watch I love Lucy.

            Women can never be successful as comedians, unless team woman can lose, unless we are permitted to laugh at team woman.

      • Doro says:

        Actually it makes perfect sense. The propaganda was aimed squarely at a white trash audience, so it was only natural for the cast to reflect the audience.

      • ozymandias says:

        James, James, honey, darling, sweetheart, we aren’t talking about the blue people Avatar. We are talking about Avatar the Last Airbender, some of the best television of the last decade, featuring witty dialogue, engrossing plotting, terrifying villains, and gorgeously detailed worldbuilding (seriously, the martial arts! the languages! wonderful!).

        You probably wouldn’t like it. You’d spend the whole time complaining about how blind people aren’t actually that awesome, there aren’t any white people (except Aang The World’s Whitest Tibetan ™), and women are running around electrocuting people and taking over countries rather than having babies and cooking dinner like they should.

        • We aren’t talking about the blue people Avatar. We are talking about Avatar the Last Airbender,

          Same principle applies. If that is your example of story bent to the right by evil white male heterosexual capitalist sexist racists, you don’t have any examples of stories bent to the right.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Our side has many examples of stories bent to the center by white bourgeois sexist racist liberals. (Like this.) It all depends on your system of coordinates.

          • Our side has many examples of stories bent to the center by white bourgeois sexist racist liberals

            But that is not something bent to the center, that is a left wing movie that outsiders demand be even more left wing. It bends left, and you call for it to be bent left even further.

            Gay soldiers are left wing. Female warriors are left wing. Counterstereotypical members of group X are left wing. Female pilots are left wing (your efforts to prove that women make OK pilots just killed another poster girl) You complain it is right wing when Osama Bin Laden is represented as a brown Muslim.

            So you look at a movie featuring gay soldiers, female warriors, female pilots, and white terrorists, and say “oh, no blacks”, therefore right wing.

          • Our side has many examples of stories bent to the center by white bourgeois sexist racist liberals

            No you don’t You have examples of leftism bent to a slightly different version of leftism that not all leftists agree with.

            Your argument is that there is no objective way to say whether a book or movie is left wing, because even if it gives the party line so stridently that it could not be more strident, it could still give the party line at greater length.

            You say that Tom Kratman is right wing, but not because he writes right wing books, but rather that you realize that when he chants the left wing party line, he is winking at his audience, letting them know he is being forced to say stupid things. He is a right winger because you can hear the insincerity in his leftism.

        • ozymandias says:

          My complaint is that, inexplicably, in the movie version, all of the characters were white except the Chinese-expy culture which became Indian (???). (The female characters, I felt, were also distinctly less awesome and the movie was all-around terrible.) M. Night Shyamalan is, of course, not white, which simply goes to show you that bizarre racist casting decisions may be done by people of all races.

        • ozymandias says:

          Multiheaded: Indeed, the blue-people Avatar that James thinks is so lefty it is impossible to put in any more leftiness is an example of what you’re talking about. Fucking White Savior nonsense.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Your argument is that there is no objective way to say whether a book or movie is left wing, because even if it gives the party line so stridently that it could not be more strident, it could still give the party line at greater length.

          There is no single “party line”, you fool, there are people – minorities – who make justified complaints. Most media is slowly becoming more inclusive? Yes, inclusive of real people who actually exist. You view leftism as an organized conspiracy and it looks tangled and incomprehensible to you; if you’d instead view it as a category of people trying to listen to each other and follow the spirit of certain rules, it looks (relatively) internally consistent. And yes, there are cases where we feel we can reasonably demand better adherence to such rules from an otherwise good and well-intentioned work. Like Star Trek.

          Sane right-wing people, unlike you, attack those rules instead of seeing the people who adhere to them as evil conspirators.

          • There is no single “party line”, you fool, there are people – minorities – who make justified complaints.

            I observe that every father on broadcast television is depicted as a useless fool who should be removed from his family by the state for his family’s own good. A lot of males complain about this, but I guess you don’t regard their complaints as justified.

            If it is OK to depict dads as useless fools, when reality is that dads are the keystones of families, and that female headed households work horribly badly, why is it not OK to depict any black person ever as stupid, violent, dishonest, and lazy, when a very large proportion of black people are stupid, violent, dishonest, and lazy.

            And, given that no black person is ever depicted as stupid, violent, dishonest, and lazy, why are these minorities complaining and what makes their complaints justified?

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          You’re allowed to make nuanced arguments instead of hyperbolic, easily falsified statements you know.

          Compare:
          “No father in Television has ever been portrayed as competent in the last ten years”
          with
          “Father’s are disproportionately the but of jokes, satire and ridicule in television even though fathers play a crucial, irreplaceable and often under-appreciated role in the family. The harmful effects on our perception of fatherhood only hurts the family more.”

          Even if you believe the former, you’re going to get a lot more mileage from the latter, since some people might actually continue to listen to you instead of falsifying and dismissing you’re argument.

          Similarly, compare:
          “There has never been a depiction of a violent, lazy or dishonest black person”
          with
          “Black people in films are repeatedly depicted as more competent than they actually are in real life, and it has become increasingly difficult to point out the problems unique to the black community (such as high levels of crime, inability to succeed in education even with remedial work) even though acknowledging these problems are crucial to solving them. People would rather pretend that the problem is solved than do something about them”

          Actually you probably won’t get much mileage out of either of those, but at least the second isn’t subject to instant falsification and dismissal.

          • Would you try to name a good and competent father, or even a not terribly dysfunctional father, in recent broadcast television?

            Nearest thing was Clark Kent’s adoptive father, who was supposedly good because he did not in fact attempt to do any fathering.

            Care to name a stupid violent dishonest lazy black in any television or movie show?

        • Richard Gadsden says:

          James, since you ask: Robbie Stewart in Hannah Montana.

          • Hannah Montana’s father does not appear in the standard lists of “Main characters on Hannah Montana” – he being a minor character, they don’t give him enough screen time to demonize him or ridicule him.

            So again, a father that, though not demonized and ridiculed, is irrelevant and useless to his family.

            Hanna Montana is a doubly fictional character, fictional within the fiction. She does not have a father. She has a manager. The person , Miley Stewart, who in the outer fiction, plays Hanna Montana in the inner fiction, does have a father, but the father is seldom shown .

            So, the show depicts two fatherless families, one in the outer fiction, one in the inner fiction, and they both work just fine.

        • ozymandias says:

          King Fergus from Brave! The dad from Mulan! Powhatan! Mufasa! Hercules has both Zeus and Hercules’s adoptive dad! Marlin from Finding Nemo! Mr. Incredible!

          Similarly, if you are looking for a violent black male character, I propose you look into the career of Mr. Samuel L. Jackson.

          • King Fergus from Brave! The dad from Mulan! Powhatan! Mufasa! Hercules has both Zeus and Hercules’s adoptive dad! Marlin from Finding Nemo! Mr. Incredible!

            Which is why I carefully said “Broadcast television” – broadcast television being even more politically correct than the movies.

        • I don’t follow a lot of television, so I’m guessing– however, how about The Bill Cosby Show for a capable father and The Wire for criminal blacks?

          • In real life, there are some criminal whites and some stupid whites, but if a crime is both vicious and stupid, you can be pretty sure a black did it. “The Wire” depicts the opposite of this reality – all blacks are anti stereotypical.

            Bill Cosby is a good father because all television blacks are anti stereotypical – but that is a very old show. (I did say recent broadcast television). Today, since blacks must be counterstereotypal, and fathers must be stupid or nasty, no black fathers.

          • Today, since blacks must be counterstereotypal, and fathers must be stupid or nasty, no black fathers.

            Boondocks has a fatherless family with a black grandfather who is merely lovably incompetent at fathering, but, being a show written by a black, he is allowed to be less PC than whites – observe his shockingly truthful depiction of white women, which no white person is allowed to even accurately summarize in Wikipedia’s account of the show.

            Main character of “Boondocks” is a completely counterstereotypical black, but still, would have been too unPC to counter stereotypically give him a father, so, he is stereotypical in being fatherless and having an inadequate father figure.

        • ozymandias says:

          James, you said “television or movie show.”

          Unfortunately, I only watch a handful of TV shows, so I am only able to provide you with Legend of Korra (Tenzin and Tonraq), Dead Like Me (George’s dad), Wonderfalls (Jaye’s dad), Heroes (Noah Bennet and D L Hawkins), Doctor Who (Rory), and Avatar the Last Airbender (Sokka and Katara’s dad).

          • Legend of Korra (Tenzin and Tonraq),

            In the synopsis, cannot find a Tenzin and Tonraq family. Tonraq is the absent father of Korra. Tenzin is the father of Jinorah, but somehow we don’t see a Tenzin/Jinorah family

            Dead Like Me (George’s dad),

            Dysfunctional family. Her dad is having an affair and is emotionally distant from his children. Her mother is depressed. In season two, her parents divorce.

            Moral: Divorce you husband and have the state boot him out of the family home.

            Wonderfalls (Jaye’s dad)

            Jaye is 24 and does not live with her family, which she tries to avoid. So does not need a father, or thinks she does not need a father. When family intrudes on her, they are apologetic.

            Heroes (Noah Bennet and D L Hawkins)

            Noah Bennet is the series leading recurring sinister villain. His daughter is one of the heroes.

            Doctor Who (Rory),

            Rory’s daughter is kidnapped at birth, and he never meets her again until she is an adult.

            And so on and so forth.

            Just as the fact that you guys chose Marie Curie for science poster girls shows women cannot do science, and the fact that you chose Amelia Earhart for pilot poster girl shows that women cannot fly, the shows you have chosen show that fathers, when not presented as evil, useless, or ridiculous, are absent.

          • Legend of Korra (Tenzin and Tonraq),

            In the synopsis, cannot find a Tenzin and Tonraq family. Tonraq is the absent father of Korra. Tenzin is the father of Jinorah, but somehow we don’t see a Tenzin/Jinorah family

            Dead Like Me (George’s dad),

            Dysfunctional family. Her dad is having an affair and is emotionally distant from his children. Her mother is depressed. In season two, her parents divorce.

            Moral: Divorce you husband and have the state boot him out of the family home.

            Wonderfalls (Jaye’s dad)

            Jaye is 24 and does not live with her family, which she tries to avoid. So does not need a father, or thinks she does not need a father. When family intrudes on her, they are apologetic.

            Heroes (Noah Bennet and D L Hawkins)

            Noah Bennet is the series leading recurring sinister villain. His daughter is one of the heroes.

            Doctor Who (Rory),

            Rory’s daughter is kidnapped at birth, and he never meets her again until she is an adult.

            And so on and so forth.

            Just as the fact that you guys chose Marie Curie for science poster girls shows women cannot do science, and the fact that you chose Amelia Earhart for pilot poster girl shows that women cannot fly, the shows you have chosen show that fathers, when not presented as evil, useless, or ridiculous, are absent.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          Michael Britton from Awake and Iroh from Avatar the last airbender.

          Now, if you had provided a more nuanced argument as per my suggestion, you wouldn’t have to now redo your criteria or deny that the fathers in question are good fathers. You could simply say – yes but those examples are rare and under appreciated in broadcast television because most Americans would rather laugh at absent and/or incompetent fathers, rather than celebrate fatherhood.

          Come on try it, make an actual argument instead of aiming for shock value and exaggeration – what’s the worst that could happen, someone actually takes you seriously for once?

          • Michael Britton from Awake

            I have to concede that one

            and Iroh from Avatar the last airbender

            Iroh does not have children. By and large, the airbender universe has uncles and nephews, rather than fathers and sons. This is not necessarily a sinister left wing plot, since this device allows nephews to have adventures, when a good father would give the son a thrashing and ground him, greatly inconveniencing the writers.

            Still, the fact that you are picking up uncles, when the plot device is precisely that the uncle connection is loose enough to allow the nephew to have adventures without the uncle being incompetent or irresponsible, tells me you are mighty hard up for fathers.

        • ozymandias says:

          Iroh is a father, actually! His fatherhood is part of his major motivational arc. He once was a great warrior, but his son died in battle, which made him realize the horrors of war and decide to work against Fire Nation domination.

          • Damien says:

            @ozy: Just part of AtLA’s left wing propaganda. Real reactionaries root for the Fire Lords, from Sozin through Ozai! Though Ozai was soft and corrupted too, he let his daughter do things!

            /sarcasm

          • Iroh is a father, actually! His fatherhood is part of his major motivational arc. He once was a great warrior, but his son died in battle

            So the reason we don’t see him do any fathering is that his toxic masculine influence caused, or substantially contributed to, his son’s death.

        • ozymandias says:

          Dude, in season two of Korra the Tonraq/Korra relationship is a major arc and the fact that Korra doesn’t listen to her dad’s advice screws her over. Tenzin’s children are fairly major characters as well (they’re the primary comic relief).

          I don’t think that having an affair actually has anything to do with whether you’re a good dad! Nor does whether you divorce your wife! Pinnacles of family-value conservativism were not asked for; competent and loving fathers were. He is both.

          Jaye avoids her family because she’s a Gen X slacker. Her father is very loving and supportive, but concerned about where she’s going in life. Again, loving and supportive dad.

          Bennet isn’t a villain; he’s occasionally on the side of good, occasionally on the side of evil, depending on which side will enable him to best protect his daughter. He is extremely ruthless in taking care of her.

          • Dude, in season two of Korra the Tonraq/Korra relationship is a major arc and the fact that Korra doesn’t listen to her dad’s advice screws her over.

            But not a family and never were. Progressivism does not mind dads, once their evil toxic influence is removed from the upbringing of their children. (See Clark Kent’s dad in young superman)

            I don’t think that having an affair actually has anything to do with whether you’re a good dad!

            In the progressive universe, it does. George’s father is not depicted as a good dad.

            competent and loving fathers were. He is both.

            According to the wikipedia summary: He had a bad relationship with George, then she died, ending that relationship, then his relationship with his living daughter deteriorates. Then he leaves. So, according to the Wikipedia summary, failure as a Dad

            Jaye avoids her family because she’s a Gen X slacker. Her father is very loving and supportive, but concerned about where she’s going in life. Again, loving and supportive dad.

            But, not needed, arguably his daughter is better off without him. Certainly that is what she, the main character, thinks.

            The accusation I made was primarily that television preached that Dads had no place in families, and to this end, demonized and ridiculed dads.

            OK, you have presented many examples of dads who are not demonized and ridiculed. But they still have no place in families.

            Bennet isn’t a villain; he’s occasionally on the side of good, occasionally on the side of evil, depending on which side will enable him to best protect his daughter. He is extremely ruthless in taking care of her.

            Wikipedia neglects to mention his daughter as motivation for his villainy, indeed that they are related is scarcely mentioned in the synopsis.

        • ozymandias says:

          Also! The prediction that Airbender has Iroh be an uncle because Zuko’s dad would give him a good thrashing instead of letting him do adventures is falsified. Ozai allows Azula to go on many adventures (hunting the Avatar, taking over Ba Sing Se) and for that matter is the one who exiled Zuko with his uncle to go find the Avatar in the first place. Also Ozai is generally less prone to thrashing his sons and more prone to lighting their faces on fire. I am not actually sure if Jim would consider that an example of positive fatherhood.

          • The prediction that Airbender has Iroh be an uncle because Zuko’s dad would give him a good thrashing instead of letting him do adventures is falsified. Ozai allows Azula to go on many adventures

            I think I said, certainly I implied in context, a responsible father, or a good father, would prevent adventures. Ozai is a villain and a parricide. Also, being in prison makes it difficult for him to prevent his son from having adventures, even if he were so inclined.

        • ozymandias says:

          But Ozai isn’t in prison except in, like, the last scene of the show? He spends most of the show being a villain?

          And yes there are evil fathers *and* good fathers in ATLA, just as there are in real life.

          I… have no idea what you’re saying about the Korra/Tonraq relationship. Of course they’re a family? He raises her for her entire life, she goes to train to learn airbending for one season, and then she comes back to him again? Is the requirement for involved fatherhood now that your children never leave the house?

          Jaye is shown in-show to be totally fucking wrong about her relationship with her family and that her life would be much better if she actually related to them.

          I’ll grant you George’s dad; he’s a strongly sympathetic character who obviously loves his family, but his relationships do deteriorate.

          Uh dude the Wikipedia page for Noah Bennet says very clearly “His one allegiance that is clear, however, is that to his daughter, Claire; his son, Lyle; and his wife, Sandra. Bennet loves his daughter profusely, but is also overprotective of her. This sometimes leads him to use his authority and associates in unsavory ways.” I have watched the show and can confirm this is an accurate summary.

          • He spends most of the show being a villain?

            According to the Wikipedia summary he spend all the show being a villain. Among other things he revenges himself on his wife’s unfaithful impulses (never actually put into action) by punishing his son for his wife’s adulterous thoughts.

            Which is pretty much how progressives present dads on TV.

            And yes there are evil fathers *and* good fathers in ATLA, just as there are in real life.

            Nope, only evil fathers and harmful fathers. The evil father punishes his son for his wife’s adulterous thoughts. (Also murders his own father and attempts to conquer the world) The harmful father causes the death of his son by influencing him to be dangerously masculine. Then repents of the horrid sin that is excessive masculinity and attempting to father children.

        • ozymandias says:

          …Being sad that people die in war is repenting of the sin of excessive masculinity now?

          Oh goodness, someone ought to tell that faggot Rudyard Kipling.

          • …Being sad that people die in war is repenting of the sin of excessive masculinity now?

            His son died in war due to his paternal influence – infecting the child with his masculine macho, thereby demonstrating the evil influence of fathers. and proving children are better off without them.

            Seems that masculinity is a disease propagated from father to son, and to prevent transmission of this horrible disease, need to remove fathers from families.

        • ozymandias says:

          What? The Fire Nation has female warriors and male warriors, if the authors are trying to say war is caused by excessive masculinity they are doing a very bad job.

          Also, what would you prefer? That we never show that people die in war and this is sad?

          Anyway that wasn’t even my example of a positive father figure in ATLA. My example was Katara and Sokka’s dad, who is very loving and involved until he has to go off to make war against the Fire Nation. They miss him a lot and there’s a very happy episode where they are reunited.

          • Also, what would you prefer? That we never show that people die in war and this is sad?

            I would prefer that television not blame fathers and intact families for the fact that people die in war.

        • ozymandias says:

          But… they didn’t? Iroh is never not once like “ah, if only I had abandoned my son, then he wouldn’t be dead in war!” nor is this idea ever put forth by anyone else. There aren’t even any children of divorced parents who *didn’t* die in war (or, indeed, any children of divorced parents at all). That is something that you are reading into the story because you want to make every story about how it is morally correct for fathers to abandon their kids.

          • Iroh is never not once like “ah, if only I had abandoned my son, then he wouldn’t be dead in war!

            He repents of the bad influence he had on his son.

            Similarly, Homer Simpson, Raymond of everybody loves Raymond, Family Guy, American Dad, and so on and so forth never say in so many words “The state should remove me from my family” though Homer Simpson comes close to saying it sometimes.

            If you look at old television, kids always had dads, and these dads were wise (relative to kid) protective and competent. That is not what you are likely to see any more. Not on Homer Simpson, and not on airbender.

            Raising female self esteem (fifty one percent female warriors, fifty one percent female pilots, etc) is necessarily accompanied by measures to lower male self esteem. Thus the norm is shows denigrating fathers.

            Similarly, if blacks are required to be on screen, and they are required to be magic negroes, anti stereotypical in every way, then evil white racists need to be on screen – for example avatar with the evil white cowboys and the saintly blueskinned Indians.

            The logic of politics that requires self esteem building for group X, in practice necessarily requires the logic of politics, drama, plot and story, that requires hatred denigration and ridicule of group Y. Family guy for males, Avatar for whites.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Ozy

          I think that the debate over specific fathers has become unproductive. The more general point that father’s in television often suck seems pretty likely to me. Do you agree? Why do you think that is?

          • Damien says:

            “fathers often suck” doesn’t mean much outside of context. Does anyone else suck? Homer Simpson is a buffoon, but Marge isn’t very bright. Stuff with teen protagonists generally has missing or absentee parents to allow more room for the teens to do weird stuff; Buffy had only one working mom to fend off, not two attentive parents.

            I haven’t see much broadcast TV in years, but my memory says that Dawson’s Creek, Roswell, and 7th Heaven all had good fathers, as well as poor or absent ones for the first two. Babylon-5 showed a good relationship between David and John Sheridan, decent with strain between Susan and here father, and John probably would have been good for his son David. DS9 had Joseph, Benjamin, and Jake Sisko, good through three generations.

            So the premise seems dubious. Unsurprisingly, given the source.

            Of course, I thought Jonathan Kent was a good dad on Smallville too; I mean, the Kents *made* Clark Kent, morally. But I only saw a season or two.

          • Homer Simpson is a buffoon, but Marge isn’t very bright.

            Oh come on.

            I haven’t see much broadcast TV in years, but my memory says that Dawson’s Creek, Roswell, and 7th Heaven all had good fathers, as well as poor or absent ones for the first two. Babylon-5 showed a good relationship between David and John Sheridan,

            The Sheridans are adults. We don’t even know if dad was around when is son was young. We see the pregnancy, then skip forward nineteen years to the adult John Sheridan.

            decent with strain between Susan and here father, and John probably would have been good for his son David. DS9 had Joseph, Benjamin, and Jake Sisko, good through three generations.

            Benjamin Sisko is not demonized or ridiculed, but episodes on the relationship between him and his son Jake Sisko show the relationship strained, Dad is in the wrong and unwise, and his influence is harmful. Jake rebels against his father’s manliness, and this is shown as the right thing to do.

            Manliness being a harmful influence transmitted from fathers to sons.

        • Protagoras says:

          @Alexander Stanislaw:

          There’s Brin’s theory for why authorities in lazily-plotted fiction (that is, most fiction) are incompetent; because if the authorities were competent, the problem confronting the protagonists would be handled by the authorities, or perhaps would already have been handled or would never have arisen. That could explain a preponderance of incompetent fathers (indeed, parents; honestly, while James will no doubt disagree, I don’t think the portrayal of fictional mothers is on average all that positive either).

          • if the authorities were competent, the problem confronting the protagonists would be handled by the authorities, or perhaps would already have been handled or would never have arisen. That could explain a preponderance of incompetent fathers (indeed, parents; honestly, while James will no doubt disagree, I don’t think the portrayal of fictional mothers is on average all that positive either).

            Where are the female equivalents of Homer Simpson, Family Guy, Raymond, and American Dad in recent television?

            Bad parents are, as you say, frequently necessary for plot reasons (see your typical fairy tale), but to find some dreadful mums, you have to go a long way back.

            And, of course, whenever team girl confronts team boy, even if it something that boys are markedly better at than girls, team girl always wins. This has become such a standard trope that genre savvy characters pushing on the fourth wall are apt to joke about it.

            More generally, if all negroes have to be present, and have to be magic, and female warriors have to be present, and have to be virtuous and win, then those 49% male warriors have to be wicked and lose. The force of politics and story requires demonization and ridicule for group Y to be paired with self esteem building for group X.

            Thus, negroes should be happy if only a moderate number of black characters are stupid, violent, criminal, incompetent and lazy. Since absolutely zero black characters have been such for the past couple of hundred years or so we really have gone too far in self esteem building – and had gone too far by eighteen fifty or so.

            There was a complaint about a Walt Disney comic that depicted black people as monkeys. How terribly insensitive. No one seemed to notice that the same comic depicted white people as ducks.

        • a person says:

          I think the idiot father, competent mother thing is just a comedy cliche that has become ubiquitous for whatever reason. There are a lot of misogynist tropes, and some misandrist ones. Useless father is one of the biggest of the latter.

          • I think the idiot father, competent mother thing is just a comedy cliche that has become ubiquitous for whatever reason. There are a lot of misogynist tropes, and some misandrist ones.

            Name a modern broadcast television show written around a mysogynist trope.

            In fact, name a mysogynist trope. That women cannot pilot, cannot be warriors, are terrible racing car drivers and truck drivers, are not brave, are afraid of the dark, cannot chop wood nor break a trail effectively, is reality, not trope, and these realities are so systematically denied on television that anyone watching television would get the opposite impression.

            And the only show on which female attraction to bad boys was ever ridiculed is “boondocks”, whose writer, being black, is allowed to ridicule white females.

            “Daddy, but I love him”, is a joke that makes all older males knowingly laugh, but it is a joke you have not seen in books since 1820, let alone on television, though Charles Dickens sometimes came close to making it.

        • ozymandias says:

          You do realize that “magic negro” is a term made up by anti-racist activists to complain about the fact that that trope is racist?

          Like… being a good character and being a good person are not actually the same thing. Characters that are interesting, that are sympathetic, and that audiences love are usually deeply flawed: think of Sherlock Holmes’s cocaine addiction and poor social skills, or Tony Stark’s arrogance and self-destructive tendencies, or Jack Sparrow’s amorality and self-centeredness. Think about villains like Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader or the Joker, who are beloved by audiences because they’re evil. For that matter, the sitcom dad you dislike so much is a great comic part: he gets to be the character who provides all the punchlines, while his wife is stuck being the straight woman.

          And, disproportionately, those great characters are white and male. Partially that’s because there aren’t many female characters or characters of color to begin with; partially it’s because authors feel like they have to make those characters Good Role Models and so sand away all their flaws or problems. But having all the characters who aren’t white men be boring characters SUCKS.

          Like, seriously. If you want you can have one or two white dudes per show, and they’re perfect and completely flawless and once a show we learn it’s Bad To Be Racist Or Sexist Against Them, and we get a lot of amoral, arrogant, cocaine-addicted black women. But I think you ought to doublecheck the fine print on that deal you’re making.

          • You do realize that “magic negro” is a term made up by anti-racist activists to complain about the fact that that trope is racist?

            Leaving the poor white male writers damned if they do and damned if the don’t. See racefail 09 for the general principle that it is impossible for a writer to not be racist, sexist, and homophobic, so all he can do is cringe, grovel, and apologize. John Scalzi being exhibit A, much ridiculed by Heartiste.

            Characters that are interesting, that are sympathetic, and that audiences love are usually deeply flawed: think of Sherlock Holmes’s cocaine addiction and poor social skills, or Tony Stark’s arrogance and self-destructive tendencies, or Jack Sparrow’s amorality and self-centeredness. Think about villains like Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader or the Joker, who are beloved by audiences because they’re evil. For that matter, the sitcom dad you dislike so much is a great comic part: he gets to be the character who provides all the punchlines, while his wife is stuck being the straight woman.

            And, disproportionately, those great characters are white and male

            Quite so.

            Because no one is allowed to present blacks or women or homosexuals like that. It is forbidden. So, all blacks, females, and gays etc, are automatically extremely boring. Gays used to be interesting back when they were frequently pedophiles, serial killers, etc, but this no longer permitted.

            But having all the characters who aren’t white men be boring characters SUCKS.

            Indeed it does. But consider the horrible penance poor John Ringo had to perform for presenting a blonde bimbo character. So, it is absolutely mandatory for all non whites, all females, all gays, etc, to suck.

          • But having all the characters who aren’t white men be boring characters SUCKS.

            Let me give a you a little history of racism and sexism in literature.

            Quite early in the nineteenth century, it was determined that if any female character had any human flaws, this was hateful and hurtful to women. So writers, not wishing to have boring characters, proceeded to leave women out.

            Late in the nineteenth century, it was determined that if any colored character character had any human flaws, this was hateful and hurtful to colored people. So writers, not wishing to have boring characters, proceeded to leave colored people out

            Some time late in the twentieth century, it was determined that the absence of female and colored characters was …

            So writers tended to say “and Bob, the impossibly perfect female transgendered black lesbian, was there also”

            Late in the twentieth century, early in the twentyfirst, it was determined that you not only had to include these characters, but also give them something to do.

            Shortly after this, it was determined that if all of these characters were impossibly perfect, this was racist, sexist and homophobic, but if any of them had any flaws, this was also racist, sexist, and homophobic.

            On the whole, giving them flaws seems to be more racist, sexist, and homophobic than making them boring. So now Bob, the impossibly perfect female transgendered black lesbian, is not only there also, but does something very impressive.

        • ozymandias says:

          You… do realize that there are options besides “gay characters are flawless” and “all gay characters are serial killers and pedophiles”? And that gay people might have a reasonable objection *both* to being depicted as serial killers and pedophiles *and* to being depicted as flawless paragons of virtue and that this is not trapping people in a Catch-22?

          For instance: LGBT activists of my acquaintance have had few objections to Jack Harkness, who’s promiscuous and has no compunctions about occasionally torturing and murdering people, or about the semi-amoral homeless con artist magician John Constantine (except maybe “he’s not bi enough, they should give him a real boyfriend”), or about Willow who among other flaws abuses her partner and at one point attempts to destroy the world, or about the trans lesbian schizophrenic artist protagonist of The Drowning Girl. or about Mystique or Midnighter or a half a dozen other LGBT characters.

          Unfortunately I cannot comment on Mr. Ringo, as my only familiarity with him is that he apparently writes books where the hero adopts prostitutes like an old lady collects cats.

          • And that gay people might have a reasonable objection *both* to being depicted as serial killers and pedophiles *and* to being depicted as flawless paragons of virtue and that this is not trapping people in a Catch-22?

            The racefail09 debate shows it is trapping people in a Catch-22, as even the most politically correct, indeed especially the most politically correct, went in to full on grovel mode.

          • or about Willow who among other flaws abuses her partner and at one point attempts to destroy the world,

            And in the same episode returns to her normal state of angelic perfection.

            Observe that before Willow became lesbian, she was a hollywood ugly nerd. Upon becoming lesbian, she became a complete Mary Sue who warped the entire story universe around her.

            Remember that wonderful clown Lucille Ball?

            There are no more female clowns, because women are not allowed to be ridiculous any more. That is not evil white male sexism and racism denying women and blacks juicy roles. that is you guys denying women and blacks juicy roles.

            Since 1820, no one has been allowed to write Medea any more.

            Since 1900, no one has been allowed to write Othello any more

            Since 1970, no one has been allowed to write Lucille Ball any more.

            Every time a female, or black, or a homosexual comes on screen, you know the story is going to be totally derailed by Mary Sue. It is like the ad break. Boring propaganda will follow, where is the fast forward, we want to skip to the good parts.

        • a person says:

          Dude, have you ever watched any TV? I only watch six shows semi-regularly, but I can name tons of female clowns and flawed minority characters.

          The Office: Jan is a sociopath. Angela is a condescending prude. Kelly is a narcissistic idiot. Erin is a moron. Meridith is incredibly trashy. Stanley (black) is lazy and has massive health issues because of it. Oscar (gay, Latino) is a pretentious know-it-all.

          Parks and Rec: Leslie is a female clown if there ever was one. April is a jerk who can’t adjust to society. Tom (Indian) is a douchey man-child. Probably the most competent, likeable character in the show is Ron, the caricature of conservatism and masculinity.

          Community: Britta is a caricature of a liberal, with all of the stereotypes that come with that (sheltered, vain, un-informed, obnoxious, slutty). Troy (black) is a dumb jock.

          Workaholics: Cast is basically just white men.

          Modern Family: Clair is uptight. Gloria (Latina) is dumb and narcissistic. Alex (girl) is nerdy i.e. she prioritizes learning over social interaction to her detriment because she is better at the former than the latter. Haley is dumb and slutty. Mitchell (gay) can’t stand up for himself. Cameron (gay) has too many flaws to count. This show pretty clearly does in fact have a progressive agenda, and still, look at all the flawed minority characters.

          Adventure Time: Lumpy Space Princess is a repulsive, self-absorbed caricature of a typical teenage girl. Marceline is a caricature of teenage angst.

          You have a point with some of the things you say, but you really should think about dialing down the hyperbole, it would serve your arguments much better.

          • I only watch six shows semi-regularly, but I can name tons of female clowns and flawed minority characters.

            There are females with minor, humorous, flaws, for example Leela on Futurama. But Leela never takes a pratfall. Lucille Ball would never pass up a pratfall. Leela always winds up winning. Lucille Ball always winds up losing.

            Leela is team girl, Fry and Captain Zap Brannigan are team boy. Team girl always wins, team boy always loses. Even when Leela winds up in bed with Captain Zap Brannigan, as happens curiously often considering that she supposedly hates him, it always winds up he is weeping for her ditching him, rather than, more realistically, him kicking her out of his bed to make room for the next space floozy in line.

            Obviously it would be far funnier if Captain Zap Brannigan usually ended the tryst by saying “Wonderful, love you, I have important business to attend to, bye, call you soon. Hey, Kif, bring in that green skinned slut,”, and then a naked green skinned girl with a striking resemblance to one of Captain Kirk’s green skinned slave girls appeared.

            Amy Wong will sometimes take a pratfall, unlike Leela, yet still, team girl always wins. Amy Wong is a slut but all males in the vicinity treat her like a princess, the moral being that being a slut is just fine, rather than that being a slut is funny. This is why John Ringo got in such big trouble, because he treated sluttiness as amusing.

            Where is Othello, where is Medea, where is Lucille Ball?

            None of those you call clowns are remotely as good as Lucille Ball, largely because Lucille Ball would not be permitted after 1970. Just look at Lucille Ball. Every laugh line would today be utterly, shockingly, unthinkable.

            I have not seen the shows you list, but I saw Willow on Buffy the Vampire slayer, and when Willow turned lesbian on that show, she turned into a total Mary Sue, her unlimited wonderfulness warping the story universe around her and making it boring.

            I have seen no female clowns on television. Thus, if there were any female clowns on television, they would be notorious, and I would have heard of them.

            John Ringo had to perform massive repentance for a blond bimbo, therefore, no female clowns.

          • I can name tons of female clowns and flawed minority characters.

            The Office: Jan is a sociopath. Angela is a condescending prude. Kelly is a narcissistic idiot. Erin is a moron. Meridith is incredibly trashy. Stanley (black) is lazy and has massive health issues because of it. Oscar (gay, Latino) is a pretentious know-it-all.

            Parks and Rec: Leslie is a female clown if there ever was one. April is a jerk who can’t adjust to society.

            Not clowns, not a single one of them is a clown. For you laugh at a clown, but, since team woman always wins, you are supposed to laugh with team woman.

            Thus, when Captain Zapp Branigan launches some complicated scheme to fool Leela into sleeping with him, and the scheme works, as it so regularly does, you are supposed to laugh at Captain Zapp Branigan, not Leela.

            You tell us

            Leslie is a clown if ever there was one:

            Here is the wiki for her character. Not a clown.

            If that is the best example you can come up with for a female clown, then females have been forbidden by the politically correct from being clowns since 1970.

        • ozymandias says:

          OK Jim you know how there are all these straight characters, and some of them are serial killers or pedophiles, and most of them are not, and even the ones that aren’t are usually interestingly flawed? That is what I think would be a good idea for LGBT characters! Notice that it is clearly possible to do so, because we are already doing it for heterosexuals!

          Also, I think when you stop (a) having completely unnuanced opinions and (b) being like “I have strawmanned this leftist position as X, therefore every leftist I talk to agrees with X, regardless of their stated position,” we agree on a lot!

          Here are things I agree with:

          1) Dads are more likely to be presented as incompetent than moms are. This is bad.
          1a) Male comedians are more likely to get good comic roles in television shows than female comedians are. This is bad.
          2) Characters of color are often Magic Negroes; female characters are often Strong Female Characters ™. This is also bad.
          3) Characters of color, female characters, disabled characters, and LGBT characters should be interestingly flawed and have a wide variety of different personalities, more than they currently do.
          4) One of the reasons that these characters do not have a wide variety of personalities is that people are afraid of being called *ist.

          See? Lots in common!

          • 1a) Male comedians are more likely to get good comic roles in television shows than female comedians are.

            You miss the point, or you are in denial about the reality that is in front of your face.

            Women are not funny because we are not allowed to laugh at them.

            Thus, for example, Captain Zapp Branigan is a conceited boastful lecher. He also a lot taller, stronger, wealthier and more powerful than any other male on the show. He is always seen giving orders, often stupid orders, but these orders are obeyed. Leela loathes him, though she frequently winds up obeying his orders also.

            Captain Zapp Branigan launches complicated plots to fool Leela into sleeping with him, which plots usually succeed. Then Leela figures out she has been fooled and screwed, and indignantly tells him she loathes him – which reduces Zapp Brannigan to tears because he so much wants a relationship with Leela and Leela does not want a relationship with him.

            Not funny. They could not allow it to be funny, because they could not allow team woman to lose. The punchline of this perennial much repeated running joke should be that Zapp Brannigan kicks her out of his bed because his 8AM whore is due, not Zapp Brannigan bursting into tears. But that would involve team woman losing.

        • Roman Davis says:

          That’s a pretty good point you have about clowns. There aren’t many. But if I think for a second about shows that revel in their anti PCness, I can think of Mimi, from the Drew Carrie Show, who I’m pretty sure lost on occasion. As for women comedically losing, South Park has quite a few, though I’d hesitate to call them clowns.

          • But if I think for a second about shows that revel in their anti PCness, I can think of Mimi, from the Drew Carrie Show, who I’m pretty sure lost on occasion

            Mimi is a fat slut, but everyone is scared of her. She could be a poster girl for fat pride and slut pride campaigns. She is certainly proud. If she ever lost, her terrifying rage would cause all around to flee, thus, team women still sort of wins.

            s for women comedically losing, South Park has quite a few, though I’d hesitate to call them clowns.

            They can say curse words all the time, they can ridicule famous religious leaders, but they cannot quite laugh at a woman losing. Cartman’s mother, we are regularly told is a dirty slut, and the high point of career was that she posed for crack whore magazine. A major plot point of the first series arc was that she did not know who Cartman’s father was. Yet when she is on screen, we never laugh at her. She just hands out cookies and is nice to people.

            Cartman’s mother is based on a real life person, who is, in fact a dirty slut, and who was unfaithful to one of the writers, who would presumably love to have people laugh at her. Not allowed. When she hits on a man, she does so delicately, and he lets her down gently – i.e. treats her with respect. Team woman never loses, so, no clowning, and no real comedy. Cartman’s mum on screen never gives us a real laugh line.

        • a person says:

          Not clowns, not a single one of them is a clown. For you laugh at a clown, but, since team woman always wins, you are supposed to laugh with team woman.

          I have not seen the shows you list”

          How would you know this then? Trust me, most, if not all, of the characters I listed you are supposed to laugh at, at least some of the time. And Meredith, Britta, Haley, and sort of Gloria you’re supposed to laugh at for being slutty. Seriously, just look at the wikipedia for Meredith.

          None of those you call clowns are remotely as good as Lucille Ball, largely because Lucille Ball would not be permitted after 1970. Just look at Lucille Ball. Every laugh line would today be utterly, shockingly, unthinkable.”

          I’ve never seen I Love Lucy, but I gather that it’s about a lovable, naive, earnest woman who pursues dancing and singing despite not being very good at it. Parks and Recreation is basically this but with “managing a small government branch” replaced with “dancing and singing”. The wiki entry you linked is very strangely written, I think they’re going for a sort of alternate universe wikipedia thing? It doesn’t really tell you that much about her role on the show.

          In fact, a good sign that a character consistently loses is if they are the main character of a comedy. If Lucy ever became a successful Hollywood star or whatever, the show would be over. We like the underdog, who we can both root for and laugh at.

          You’re correct that there aren’t very many successful female comedic leads. The only ones I can think of are Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, Tina Fey in 30 Rock, and Lena Dunham in Girls. Like I’ve been saying, Amy Poehler loses, Tina Fey definitely loses (I think this show has some sort of a progressive angle but her character being 30-something and unable to find a boyfriend is a constant failure for her and we laugh at her desperation in that regard), and I’ve never seen Girls so I don’t know, but the impression I get is that Lena Dunham loses – from wikipedia: ‘she and her friends navigate their twenties, “one mistake at a time”‘.

          You may or may not be right about the cause of this lack of female comedians, but all three of these actresses are adored by feminists. It seems to me that even if feminism got us into this situation, they are the ones who are now trying to get us out.

          Not funny. They could not allow it to be funny, because they could not allow team woman to lose. The punchline of this perennial much repeated running joke should be that Zapp Brannigan kicks her out of his bed because his 8AM whore is due, not Zapp Brannigan bursting into tears. But that would involve team woman losing.

          I don’t know, humor usually results from our expectations being subverted. We expect the badass, powerful general to also be emotionally badass and powerful, but he’s not, therefore humor. It seems like you just think women getting put in their place is always hilarious.

          You also said that this is unrealistic, but I thought that manosphere-ists believe that beta males vastly outnumber alphas? It doesn’t seem unrealistic to me.

          • I have not seen the shows you list”

            How would you know this then?

            Because team woman always wins, and because any author who uses team woman at the butt of a joke is forced to perform a long and terrible repentance. If they shoot some people to encourage the others, one can assume the others are encouraged without needing to check each case.

            I’ve never seen I Love Lucy, but I gather that it’s about a lovable, naive, earnest woman who pursues dancing and singing despite not being very good at it. Parks and Recreation is basically this but with “managing a small government branch” replaced with “dancing and singing”.

            The big difference is that your incompetent bureaucrat is in power, and everyone has to suck up to her – that team women always wins, while the fictional Lucille Ball is out of power – she is unemployed, and supported by stern husband who does not put up with her nonsense, so team woman always loses.

            Watch it. It is a good show. The real life Lucille Ball is so very good at dancing and singing that the fictional Lucille Ball, the character she plays, can bungle and pratfall with perfect grace.

            But if you watch it, your reaction is going to be “They allowed this back in those days?”, and you are going to look around nervously for fear that the thought police might catch you watching it and cancel your membership of the elite.

            Amy Poehler loses

            She can’t lose. She is in power. She fails to get a date, but everyone still kisses her ass. Similarly, Leela gets the date she very much does not want, but Zapp Branigan still kisses her ass.

            If you watch a comedy done back in the days when women were allowed to be funny, the difference will be obvious and shocking, in fact so shocking that you will probably immediately delete the show from your hard drive, and look around nervously for the thought police as though it was underage tentacle porn.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          ROFL! Translation “Does not compute, does not compute, I can’t be wrong therefore I am not wrong, does not compute”

          Look you made a hyperbolic ridiculous statement and you lost. Now you can man up and admit your mistake or you can continue to embarrass yourself further. I would advise the former.

          • Look you made a hyperbolic ridiculous statement and you lost.

            True there are some fllawed females and minorities on television – but the writers walk a tightrope that distorts the story universe around it. If Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is your example of a flawed lesbian, you are hard up for flawed lesbians.

            For example, because team women never ever loses, there are no female clowns any more. If you look at “I love lucy” it should be instantly obvious that its like could never be made again after 1970. Even Mimi always wins.

        • a person says:

          Because team woman always wins, and because any author who uses team woman at the butt of a joke is forced to perform a long and terrible repentance. If they shoot some people to encourage the others, one can assume the others are encouraged without needing to check each case.

          This is absurd circular logic. “I know team women always wins. Your proof that shows that team women does not always win must be invalid, because team women always wins. Therefore team women always wins.”

          The big difference is that your incompetent bureaucrat is in power, and everyone has to suck up to her – that team women always wins, while the fictional Lucille Ball is out of power – she is unemployed, and supported by stern husband who does not put up with her nonsense, so team woman always loses.

          Eh, I don’t know. If you were so inclined you could interpret Leslie Knope being in power as an even more radical anti-women message: “Don’t let women be in charge of anything! They’re naive and incompetent and they’ll screw things up!”

          Plus her boss is Ron, the caricature of conservatism and masculinity, and he is frequently proven right when the two argue. I’ll admit that Leslie is allowed her victories, and when this happens and Ron gruffly admits that she was right all along, the audience cheers for Team Women and Team Progressive. But this is by no means all the time.

          But we could do this all day. You make a ridiculous hyperbolic all-or-nothing statement, people come up with plenty of examples that disprove your claim, and you come up with reasons why they don’t count. I don’t think this debate is going anywhere.

          Like other people are saying, you have interesting ideas that are worth engaging with, but you do yourself and the debate a massive disservice by making these exaggerated claims and refusing to concede a single point.

          I do, however, want to hear your rationalization of why Meredith from The Office is not a character we’re supposed to laugh at for being a slut. Watch this video and get back to me.

          Watch it. It is a good show. The real life Lucille Ball is so very good at dancing and singing that the fictional Lucille Ball, the character she plays, can bungle and pratfall with perfect grace.

          I’ll put it on my list of things to check out.

          • Plus her boss is Ron, the caricature of conservatism and masculinity, and he is frequently proven right when the two argue.

            The problem is that you have never in your entire life seen team woman lose, nor team man other than defeated, humiliated, and degraded, so you don’t know what it looks like. When you see team women pull of a victory slightly less glorious to team woman, and slightly less humiliating and degrading to team man, you think team woman has lost.

            See my rewrites of Office-Slut skit, and my rewrite of the Captain Zapp Brannigan- fools Leela into sleeping with him skit, for what it would actually look like if Team woman ever lost.

            Or, for cleaner material, watch I love Lucy.

          • Like other people are saying, you have interesting ideas that are worth engaging with,

            I on the other hand, think you are mechanically spouting frothing-at-the-mouth crazy religion, and if your religion was a minority religion, rather than the official state religion, no one would bother engaging with you, rather you would be hauled off to the lunatic asylum and drugged till you stopped emitting such crazy talk.

        • Andy says:

          I on the other hand, think you are mechanically spouting frothing-at-the-mouth crazy religion, […], no one would bother engaging with you, rather you would be hauled off to the lunatic asylum and drugged till you stopped emitting such crazy talk.

          The same for you, sir. Except for the difficulty of getting anyone to actually fund an insane asylum for non-paying patients, we could be sharing a nice padded room!
          Sigh. Life’s little disappointments…

        • ozymandias says:

          Dude. My favorite comedian is Aristophanes. Unless somehow feminism traveled back in time two thousand five hundred years to prevent Aristophanes from insulting Team Woman…?

          I personally adore the scene in the Assemblywomen where the women communize sex and all the hot young men have to flee horny old hideous women. IDK. Probably that’s misandrist or something.

  31. Kokomo says:

    So tell me, what art do Neo-Reactionaries and Dark Enlightenment folks like?

    I don’t identify as a neo-reactionary, and I doubt that they have especially many artistic tastes in common. Still, I shall answer for myself.

    I haven’t read much 20th century literature. I’ve admired Philip K Dick for a long time; his short stories are a handbook of wisdom. I would expect many on LessWrong to be fans of PKD; he has the same fascination to pierce through to reality, however far that takes us from comforting, mundane illusions.

    Miles Davis was a genius, as a player but especially in his ability to get the most out of ensembles. Britten’s Winter Words, which I associate with Waiting for Godot, fascinates me. I find The Death of Klinghoffer difficult to listen to, but it’s brilliant and I admire the lady who wrote the libretto—very darkly enlightened. Einstein on the Beach is also amazing; it’s a shame that Philip Glass didn’t push these musical ideas further. I like the first 20 minutes of Boris Godunov, with original orchestration, and also the section where the fool confronts Boris. Magnificent intensity, and perfectly illustrative of the Russian psyche that fascinates us. I find that Glass, a more accomplished composer than Mussorgsky, tries throughout Satyagraha to capture the spirit of those 20 minutes, but falls ever so slightly short.

    My favourite film director Andrei Tarkovsky made a production of Boris Godunov. Unlike other producers he has the boyars’ retinue carry large axes; this is (dramatically) correct.

    I’m conflicted about Wagner. He anticipated totalitarian culture, was a flaming romantic nationalist and can share the blame for Nazism; yet in parts of his mature operas, the scope and vision seem to invalidate everything else.

    As far as popular music goes, I only take seriously “progressive rock” music. This was wildly creative music that originated in the English upper middle class and flourished from the late 60s to mid-70s. In hindsight this genre has earned a bad reputation, for whatever reason, but the stereotype is false. The Canterbury Scene was at the heart of it all.

    In cinema I prefer Andrei Tarkovsky, and secondly Michelangelo Antonioni. I also admire Dario Argento, who is much less accomplished but somehow a kindred soul. I associate giallo films with progressive rock music, they have something in common, although in this genre one has to be careful to skim off the top 15 or so films. I severely dislike most of mass cinema, although Scorsese, Coppola and others have artistic merit in patches. I like Satoshi Kon, but not anime in general.

    Thinking of a favourite artist, apart from Turner, Dante Gabriel Rossetti came to mind.

  32. Doro says:

    Votre âme est un paysage choisi
    Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
    Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
    Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

    Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
    L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
    Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
    Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

    Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
    Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
    Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
    Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

    • Andy says:

      Via Google Translate:

      Your soul is a chosen landscape
      What are charming masks and Bergamo
      Playing the lute and dancing and almost
      Sad beneath their fanciful disguises.

      While singing in the minor mode
      The winning love and timely life
      They did not seem to believe in their happiness
      And their song mingles with the moonlight,

      Clear calm sad and beautiful moon
      That dream birds in the trees
      And sobbing ecstasy water jets,
      The large slender water jets from marbles.

      I’m curious: What’s your point? Because I’m an idiot when it comes to poetry, and I don’t get it.

      • Doro says:

        Paul Verlaine, the author of the poem, was the homosexual lover of Arthur Rimbaud (Menicus Moldbug’s favourite poet). He is associated with the ‘Fin de siecle’ – a prism through which neoreaction seems like just so much steampunk.

      • Doro says:

        Your soul is a chosen landscape
        Where charming masqueraders and bergamasquers go
        Playing the lute and dancing and almost
        Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

        They all sing in a minor key
        About triumphant love and fortunate life,
        They do not seem to believe in their fortune
        And their song blends with the light of the moon,

        In the calm moonlight, sad and beautiful,
        Which has the birds dreaming in the trees
        And the fountains sobbing in ecstasy,
        The tall fountains, slender amid marble statues.

  33. Kokomo says:

    Yesterday I saw an advert on the side of a bus: The Lego Movie. Let’s take a look.

    In the Lego universe, an ordinary mini-figure named Emmet is mistaken as being the Special (the greatest Master Builder who can save the Lego universe).

    This is a popular trope recently; see also Harry Potter. It compensates for mismatch between the Equality myth and reality.

    Will Ferrell as Lord Business, an evil businessman and tyrant of the Lego Universe who has a second form of President Business.

    This seems like a reversion to crude, anti-capitalist or anti-corporate propaganda, in the wake of widespread skepticism of the central banking system.

    Will Forte as Abraham Lincoln, one of the Master Builders

    Abraham Lincoln is a cartoon character who stands for American unity and all good things: to combat the 21st century’s vast, formless, separatist thing. (Political secession is a bag of worms, and would be prone to demotism. I am a fan of Exit, but not in a crude and thoughtless sense.)

    Will Arnett as Batman, a DC Comics superhero who is one of the Master Builders and Wyldstyle’s boyfriend.

    One of many superheroes in this film. Superheroes appeared in America, as it were, around the same time as Heroes of Socialist Labour and the Horst-Wessel-Lied. So, everyone can agree that this was sensible mass culture.

    What do they—and zombies, vampires etc.—signify now? I think the distinguishing characteristic of superheroes is that whereas they once represented (however trashily) the American way or law & order, they are now pure objects of mass culture, legitimised by history but no longer imparting anything, just subtracting. They also lend themselves to simplified normative contexts, Good vs. Evil, which benefit the people with megaphones.

    Progressives also tend to encourage any cultural, for want of a better word, crossover. Distinctions, discriminations and traditions make for a less manageable populace.

    This song is featured in the film.

    Everything is awesome […] We’re the same, I’m like you, you’re like me, we’re all working in harmony […] Lost my job, it’s a new opportunity, More free time for my awesome community […] It’s awesome to win, and it’s awesome to lose (it’s awesome to lose) […] A nobel prize, a piece of string, You know what’s awesome, EVERYTHING […] Everything you see, or think, or say, Is awesome…

    Who needs parody?

    It amuses me that someone (*cough*) wrote an essay, targeted at intelligent people, on how “awesome” encapsulates all of morality. Here we see what “awesome” really means: total passivity and absence of discrimination. I wonder what Nietzsche would think.

    On this point: a lego face lacks perspicacity. Vacant grins, or wide eyes and gaping mouths, or simpering. I have noticed that progressives like these facial expressions on human beings, too. See: YouTube.

    • Doro says:

      Lego is from France. So is the statue of liberty. And fries.

      • Kokomo says:

        The point being that progressives shouldn’t be proud of the culture they “make”. It’s garbage. I would be embarrassed to do…someone’s…job, especially as a rationalist.

        A simple distinction: the Polygon is good as a damper, a restraining influence on 20th-century-style political culture, but it’s almost incapable of advancing knowledge or creating anything worthwhile. If the Polygon feels as though its myths and attractions are decaying–and starts to give the game away itself–this is a problem caused by its own totalising, if not quite totalitarian, hubris, in behaving as though it were really capable of “making culture” and ought to have an outright monopoly on this.

        • Doro says:

          I’m sorry but I really don’t see what this has to do with steampunk. Meccano is way more neoreactionary.

        • Andy says:

          Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” Most of the cultural zeitgeist is Progressive, therefore most of the crap produced will be Progressive. If the culture was Reactionary, most of the crap produced would be Reactionary.
          Second, I’ve had this kind of argument with people who say that music peaked in the 60s/70s/80s and has been all downhill since – culture has a selective memory for culture from the past. The past looks better because we don’t remember the crap. Yeah, Beethoven was pretty cool, but how many other composers were in the music market then? How many crappy tavern songs were circulating then, but have been lost because they weren’t worth remembering?
          Now, the barriers for entry to culture have disappeared or lowered, making it easier for a lot of crappy musicians to put their stuff on YouTube, but also making it easier for skilled musicians who don’t quite fit the zeitgeist to find their own little audience on the Web.
          So if you don’t like the culture, make some. If you don’t have the skills to make it, curate it.

          Progressives also tend to encourage any cultural, for want of a better word, crossover. Distinctions, discriminations and traditions make for a less manageable populace.

          Oh no! You’ve seen through our evil plot to turn people into sheep by mashing-up Tibetan throat-singing with African chants![/sarcasm]
          No. I’m pretty sure the remix/mashup/crossover culture came from a combination of those reduced barriers to entry and a sense that our world is changing so fast, everything’s up for grabs. I credit the latter uncertainty with the Dark Enlightenment, so IMO, Neoreaction and mashup culture come from some of the same triggers.
          Also, it’s NOT a new phenomenon. “The Star-Spangled Banner” took an existing tune, “Anacreon in Heaven,” and applied new lyrics.
          Same thing happened to a campfire spiritual, “Canaan’s Happy Shore,” which became “John Brown’s Body” and then “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It was the third that went into the cultural memory, and its two musical ancestors are far less well-known.
          Or “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” an 1831 song most American schoolchildren learn in primary school, shares its melody with “God Save The King/Queen,” dated 1619?
          (This may be a sign of my degenerate Progressive sense of humor, but I find this hilarious.)
          Not to mention all the many, many, MANY versions of “God Save The King/Queen” that have circulated in its long lifetime.
          So: if you don’t like the Progressive culture, go forth and make! I’d be fascinated to hear what a Neoreactionary music radio station or podcast would sound like. Make yourself a gatekeeper of your kind of taste.

          • Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” Most of the cultural zeitgeist is Progressive, therefore most of the crap produced will be Progressive.Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” Most of the cultural zeitgeist is Progressive, therefore most of the crap produced will be Progressive.

            Progressive writers, like writers in the Soviet Union, sacrifice story and plot for message. If it is mandatory to churn out hate filled propaganda, you tend to get crap writers. Observe that the ratio of story to message has been steadily and rapidly falling. Recent fiction books are far to the left of books a decade ago.

        • Andy says:

          Progressive writers, like writers in the Soviet Union, sacrifice story and plot for message.

          No, zealot writers, whether Left or Right, sacrifice story and plot for message. Ayn Rand, for example, inspired me (in high school) with her politics, but her characters were so one-dimensional that I can’t even open them without bracing myself for bad writing.
          Anyone who cares more about message than character or story is going to be producing unengaging writing, whether they’re on the Left or Right. Ringo, who you mention in your post, was actually notably left of his current position pre-9/11 – Gust Front includes a line about “Shiva versus Allah” not being important in the face of alien invasion.
          But I’ve seen a number of writers who put Progressive ideals under character and plot and story and world. Eric Flint, Lois McMaster Bujold (who manages to interestingly mix Reactionary and Progressive ideas), Mercedes Lackey…
          I strongly dispute your point that “Hate filled propaganda” is mandatory in any way. And the growth of self-publishing should make it even easier for right-wingers to publish material that doesn’t match the Progressive line, and the Dark Enlightenment part of the blogosphere could spread the word to the poor oppressed elites. I repeat – go forth and make. If your taste doesn’t run to writing, offer to publicize novelists you like on your blog.
          Reading your post, I don’t see any evidence that “Ratio of story to plot is steadily decreasing.” What you present is a number of cherry-picked data points, not evidence of a trend.

          • Progressive writers, like writers in the Soviet Union, sacrifice story and plot for message.

            No, zealot writers, whether Left or Right, sacrifice story and plot for message

            Zealot writers are often very good. Writers required by the state to write propaganda like a zealot are very bad. To publish anything through a mainstream publisher requires that it be turgid hate filled heavy handed left wing propaganda, even if you are John Ringo, whose real opinions are well known, and hilariously different from the message he is forced to present.

        • ozymandias says:

          James, do you have a link to an author complaining about an editor or agent telling them to put more leftist propaganda in their books? It is easy to find authors complaining about being asked to turn gay characters straight or black characters white. Similarly, it is not difficult to find authors complaining about having to edit their books to meet Christian Booksellers Association standards (which, among other things, forbid drinking, dancing, and raffles). If literally every author had to write lefty books against their will, surely you would find someone complaining about it. I will even accept anonymous complaints!

          Conversely, one might point out authors such as David Sim, who devoted an issue of his masterwork Cerebus to explaining his theories about how women are The Literal Worst, including opining that the average woman does not have “a glimmer of understanding of intellectual processes.” While it was self-published, Cerebus has won multiple awards (including after he became a misogynist), is regularly praised for its artistic merit including by at least one feminist blogger, and was a subject of a book of academic essays in 2012.

          • James, do you have a link to an author complaining about an editor or agent telling them to put more leftist propaganda in their books?

            It used to be fairly common for authors to take the micky out of political correctness while purporting to submit to it. If an author tells you that fifty one percent of the warriors are female, or that the proportion of blacks among the cannibals after the collapse of the US is exactly reflects the percentage of blacks in the US population, he is digging his elbow into your ribs saying “They are holding a gun to my head making me say this.”

            John Ringo used to make those little jokes. Now he does not any more, but the glaring discrepancy between the left wing propaganda of his more recent books, and his well known political opinions says it loudly enough.

          • James, do you have a link to an author complaining about an editor or agent telling them to put more leftist propaganda in their book

            This reminds me of a conversation I had about freedom of speech in Cuba. I said that I went to Cuba, and everyone was very afraid. The other guy said he went to Cuba, and everyone told him they had total freedom of speech.

            To which I replied “If you buy someone a couple of drinks and talk to them in private ..;.”

            To which he replied (paraphrasing from memory) “Well of course they say that kind of thing in private, but no one says it publicly”

        • ozymandias says:

          Seriously, I can think of half a dozen authors off the top of my head who are *public* about having pressure to edit their stories in a more conservative direction. Bryan Fuller is open about how the network screwed over Wonderfalls for having a lesbian character and transformed Zach from Heroes and George’s dad from Dead Like Me into heterosexuals. Characters of color regularly mysteriously become white on the cover because editors think readers don’t want a racially diverse book. I’ve heard S M Stirling apparently had to fight to keep his black lesbian Coast Guard officer in the Nantucket series. I’ve also heard of there are romance authors who want to write more empowered female characters and gender-non-conforming male characters but the editors won’t let them (but that is third-hand gossip so you may not take that as credible).

          And you can’t even offer an anonymous essay by an author claiming to have been censored in a conservative direction? Like, seriously, I am *surprised*. I would expect that to happen to at least one person.

          • Damien says:

            @Ozy: also, good luck getting non-white protagonists to stay non-white on covers or in adaptations. For a supposed tyranny of PCness, odd how the SyFy Earthsea series and M. Night’s Avatar movie got whitewashed in their casting, and there’s lots of stories of dark skinned protagonists either showing up white on their covers, or not showing up at all.

          • There are manuals on the internet on how to write in a politically correct manner, which say “You are not allowed to say …”

            If no one is being censored, there seem to be a curiously large crowd of censors who speak with the confident authority that they will be obeyed, and, indeed, must be obeyed.

        • ozymandias says:

          OK, look, James, I will accept “I talked to a dude at a con and he totally said he was censored.” I know that authors often don’t want to burn bridges and that coming forward with “I wanted to tell X story but I couldn’t” could sink someone’s career. But people complain to their friends! People get drunk at cons and complain! Gossip exists! You do not even have hearsay that this is happening, all you have is your reading of the texts, which I am inclined to think is approximately as credible as the slash fangirls who think that Moffat would want to show Sherlock and John fucking if it weren’t for the evil network.

          • I will accept “I talked to a dude at a con and he totally said he was censored.”

            People have told me they have been threatened. People in this very thread have threatened me. People get fired every day for politically incorrect writing, for example John Derbyshire. People get hit by SLAPP suits. From time to time major publishers, for example the Science fiction channel, announces they will have even more black female gay lesbian transgender characters behaving counter stereotypically, which announcements are presumably followed by orders to their writers to write them in.

            These politically required characters have a Mary Sue tendency to completely disrupt story and plot, because everyone has to know about their sexual preferences and approve, just as the black guy on Star Treck the next generation always had to demonstrate non violence and superior intelligence, and to hell with story and plot.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          The reasonable conclusion is that some rightists in positions of power pressure leftists to shift their work to the right, and some leftists in positions of power pressure rightists to shift their work to the right. Which is neither surprising nor does it bother me much. Fighting against it is like telling the sun not to rise – people are tribal, that is never going to change (if the future could prove me wrong, I would be very grateful). You can have things like First Amendment to mitigate it of course, but not eliminate it.

          • The reasonable conclusion is that some rightists in positions of power pressure leftists to shift their work to the right, and some leftists in positions of power pressure rightists to shift their work to the right.

            That is not a reasonable conclusion because your example of work “shifted to the right” was Avatar, which was screaming strident frothing-at-the-mouth far left propaganda.

            You say, perhaps, that the romance genre supports gender normative whatever, and indeed it does. Romance writers do feel constrained to have their females submit. Well let us compare the Romance genre that gets published, with the fan fiction romance genre, where the girls get abducted and ravished all the time. If the fans had their way, would be way more gender normative, except, of course, that the female fans want boys being ravished for much the same reason as heterosexual males like to see lesbians.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          *some leftists in positions of power pressure rightists to shift their work to the left.

        • ozymandias says:

          James, honey, Star Trek is not related to your argument. It was created by Gene Roddenberry with an explicitly progressive aim: to show a vision of a future where everyone is equal and all needs are met. I mean, maybe you’ve changed your complaint from “rightists are expected to espouse leftist ideas” to “leftists are allowed to write things.”

          Similarly, our conversation is about *fiction*. John Derbyshire is, to the best of my knowledge, not an author of fiction. (Obvious joke aside.) And while people have said mean things to you in this thread you have also, for instance, insulted various people’s mothers. It occurs to one that they would probably be much nicer to you if you were nice back.

          For the record: I agree with Alexander Stanislaw. I might even agree that expressing rightist views is more likely to get edited out than expressing leftist views. (Conversely, it is much more likely that your black trans lesbian will be replaced with a white cis dude than vice versa.) I just think that James’s arguments that there’s discrimination against rightists in writing are *really bad*.

          • I mean, maybe you’ve changed your complaint from “rightists are expected to espouse leftist ideas” to “leftists are allowed to write things.

            Leftists are allowed to write left wing fiction, and rightists are required to write left wing fiction.

            Where is the right wing fiction?

            In what fiction written by white males do blacks act like blacks, gays act like gays, women act like women?

            In what recent fiction does the male hero kill a thirty foot crocodile or a tiger? These days you cannot even kill sharks, though you used to be able to.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          ” because your example ”

          My example? You must have me confused with someone else.

          So you think that artists/writers have never been pressured to shift their work to the right? Unlikely, perhaps you think that censorship is only a problem when leftists do it – when rightest do it they are being heroic.

        • There have been some poc characters portrayed accurately on covers fairly recently.

          Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead— one of two main characters is black. She’s on the cover. (This book has been recommended here, and I second the recommendation. It also has a representative of a minority which has been all but driven out of sf– a smoker.)

          Thirteen Orphans‘s Chinese protagonist is on the cover, and there are poc on the two sequels.

          Most of Nnedi Okorafor’s novels have poc on the covers, though not always clearly. I recommend her books as good fiction.

          Steven Barnes Tennyson Hardwick series shows an interesting progression in the covers– Casanegra, the first book (2007) has the black protagonist shown from the back wearing a coat. His race can’t be identified.

          The second book, In the Night of the Heat (2008)– his face is visible, but small and in profile. Subsequent books in the series show him full face.

          So, I’ve got some evidence of a shift in the industry. Anyone have recent examples of white-washing?

    • ozymandias says:

      Wait, in a neoreactionary utopia there won’t be any terrible children’s movies?

      Will they all be made by Disney/Pixar?

      Sign me up.

    • A superficially unimpressive person winning is a basic of fairy tales– frequently a youngest son.

      Ideally, this is because the low-status person has special qualities– usually kindness (oh, no!) and cleverness. Hobbits also have better sense about what’s valuable than a great many of the powerful people of middle earth.

      So far as I know (I’ve never been able to stay awake through the movie), The Matrix is a degenerate version of the trope– Neo is the Chosen One (in an otherwise rationalist movie that doesn’t have room for prophecy) with nothing particularly impressive about him.

      So tell me, what art do Neo-Reactionaries and Dark Enlightenment folks like?

      • Andy says:

        So tell me, what art do Neo-Reactionaries and Dark Enlightenment folks like?

        Second the question. I’d be fascinated to see a Neo-Reactionary novel reading list.
        I’m especially curious about which works produced in living memory would be included, to avoid the filter of limited historical memory.
        (IE, only the Good Stuff from past eras survived to be passed down to the present culture, and the mountain of crap that was produced was more or less forgotten.)

      • Doro says:

        The John Boorman film ‘Zardoz’ is far superior to the film you refer to above. It may be what you are looking for.

      • nydwracu says:

        So tell me, what art do Neo-Reactionaries and Dark Enlightenment folks like?

        If you want to get an idea of what the mindset is, watch the first season or two of Gintama. It’s a very thinly-veiled allegory for pretty much everything bad that’s happened to Japan in the last two centuries, but nevertheless, it’s not that far off.

        As for novels, the consensus seems to be Tom Wolfe, but I haven’t read anything of his.

        • I’ve read some Wolfe and enjoyed it, but I gave up on The Bonfire of the Vanities because Wolfe seemed to be doing too much of a superiority dance about how inferior his main character was.

  34. Doro says:

    I still don’t understand the steampunk connection. Can someone explain it to me? On a number of occasions now, when I have asked people about the neoreaction philosophy, they have responded by telling me “it’s a steampunk thing”. Is this true? I can accept that the handle ‘Menicus Moldbug’ does have a steampunk ring to it, as does his writing style – but is it really true that the whole neoreaction phenomenon is rooted in steampunk?

    • No, not steampunk.

      Indeed the Victorian era was when everything started going to hell, with women and blacks being affirmative actioned into poster girls and poster boys, with the Muslims discovering they could defeat the British army by being deeply deeply offended and extremely angry, with marriage coming under attack by the state.

      Today’s welfare system was prefigured by the Victorian movement to “rescue fallen women” – by removing all adverse legal, social, and economic consequences of falling. Todays systematic removal of fathers from families by the state was prefigured by the 1820s doctrine that women were so naturally pure and chaste that the marital contract never needed to be enforced upon women, only on men, which doctrine was given practical effect in the 1820s, and was given legal effect in written law in 1859.

    • Neoreaction being rooted in steampunk strikes me as very unlikely– steampunk tends to be inclusive about women and poor people. (Probably also sexual minorities and people of color, but I haven’t noticed that as much.)

      It’s possible that there’s a shared root. There’s something about Victorian prose which makes it very good for expressing certainty.

      • The core heresy of the Dark Enlightenment is that all men were not created equal.

        Thus, the Dark Enlightenment rejects Victorians as bunch of feminist commie nigger lovers.

        The Dark Enlightenment position on women is that women are the uncontrollably lustful sex, and therefore need to be controlled for their own good. This is pretty much 180 degrees opposite to the Victorian position, that women are naturally virtuous except that evil men force them to do bad things, a position that gives rise to today’s criminalization of X-rape, where X takes an ever growing range of values.

        • Doro says:

          Seems like you got your goggles all fogged up steamo. Another question. In my early 20’s I was tested to have an IQ of 156 – how many slaves would this entitle me to under a neoreactionary regime?

    • nydwracu says:

      *waves hand* NNNNEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRDDDDDSSSS

  35. Kokomo says:

    Undesirables

    Keith Johnstone’s essay on status is my favourite. It is the dark enlightenment: that we are a species of undesirables, who are all more selfish and deceptive than we portray or think of ourselves. I would suggest that to regard oneself as desirable is more hazardous than to regard others as (particularly) undesirable.

    Also, a probable way to develop generative and flexible styles of thought is that one first scorns diversity, vibrancy and the rest of the zeitgeist, to a point of excess or overshoot. Then we build back to the meritable parts of the progressive world view.

    I think, e.g., of Bryan Caplan and his open border theories for libertarians as part of the Hegelian Mambo; yet the global system does mistreat poor brown-skinned people. We can ameliorate this problem and eventually be able to have open borders, but not by adopting Caplan’s ideology.

    • yet the global system does mistreat poor brown-skinned people.

      Mostly because brown skinned people mostly live in countries where brown skinned people have considerable influence.

      One cure for this problem is old fashioned white supremacist colonialism. Thus, for example, South Africa and Rhodesia had much higher living standards for most blacks and much higher personal safety for most blacks, when white ruled. Similarly the North American slaves had higher living standards and lower death rates than those that failed to catch the boat, and also higher living standards and much lower death rates than when they were freed in the civil war. (The die off, when mentioned, is blamed on white racism, though it was worst during reconstruction, when the South was ruled by Northerner carpetbaggers full of naive ideas that about our “black brothers”)

      Another solution, more politically acceptable, is the Dubai solution. Rule by the best – aristocratic rule (supposedly the King of Dubai is brown skinned, though he looks to me curiously whiter than most of his subjects). Democracy is bad for whites, but far worse for most types of brown skinned people.

      Consider Haiti. It was better off when ruled by the Duvaliers (who also happened to be noticeably lighter skinned than most of their subjects) The streetlights worked, no crap in the streets, no cholera, no starving people eating mud.

      Of course, whiteness does not explain everything – Haiti is now ruled by very white do gooders with Harvard PhDs, and they are totally screwing the place over, as badly as black democracy did, maybe worse.

      • Kokomo says:

        One cure for this problem is old fashioned white supremacist colonialism.

        It isn’t a cure in the sense that it’s likely to happen, except euphemistically and on a very modest scale à la Romer.

        A laudable motive hastily to end colonialism was that it contributed to the world wars. A less savoury motive, taking Rhodesia as the worst example, is that the colonial dynamic could be successful and stable, yet an affront to Western progressivism.

        European colonialism in a negro country has the merit that the small, ruling elite is significantly more intelligent and cultured than the natives. Many of our societies’ problems are caused by ideological signalling, elaborate filtering and methods of obtaining legitimation, which are less necessary when the elite is natural and easily self-identified. (Of course there are also abstract demerits of colonialism.)

        Democracy is bad for whites, but far worse for most types of brown skinned people.

        • nydwracu says:

          A less savoury motive, taking Rhodesia as the worst example, is that the colonial dynamic could be successful and stable, yet an affront to Western progressivism.

          Had an interesting exchange about this on Twitter the other day. Though Rhodesia’s collapse happened during the period of the Cold War, there wasn’t really any Cold War motivation to it that I can find — it was Rhodesia and South Africa against pretty much the rest of the world.

          That said, the rebels did align with either the USSR or China, but it looks like that was a matter of tactics — of who to organize: the urban proletariat or the peasantry.

  36. Gunlord says:

    They do fine handling their underlings.

    But you just said their underlings (I was referring to the recruiters) keep bringing in those “unpleasant elements.” You’d think they’d have managed to get those silly recruiters to stop doing that by now.

    • But you just said their underlings (I was referring to the recruiters) keep bringing in those “unpleasant elements.” You’d think they’d have managed to get those silly recruiters to stop doing that by now.

      Dubai is not a communist state. People can sometimes get away with stuff. Sometimes they get caught. Dubai is besieged by eager people wanting to get in. It wants to let in some people but not others. Sometimes the wrong people get in. A lot of the time the wrong people get in. The Cathedral is not complaining about people of a lower evolutionary level being allowed into Dubai. They are complaining about Dubai’s measures to make sure such people do not stay. Similar to the outrage about Australia’s policy on illegal immigration – that, amazingly, the Australian government treats it as illegal and that Australian marines are apt to do physical violence to people doing illegal things, sometimes resulting in such people getting physically hurt.

      The Cathedral complaint is not that Dubai’s policy is failing, but that it is working just fine.

      • Gunlord says:

        Seems like those recruiters get away with stuff more than “sometimes.” I sense trouble afoot in neo-reactionary paradise!

        • Seems like those recruiters get away with stuff more than “sometimes.”

          Dubai is trying to keep undesirable people out. It is not trying to keep undesirable people from coming to harm. The Cathedral is mighty indignant about this priority, much as it is mighty indignant about Australian marines for very similar reasons.

          Looks to me that both policies are working fine, and are very popular.

          Low IQ, low socioeconomic status people, which in practice mostly means brown people, cannot bring their families with the Dubai. People who might make trouble, for example organize a strike, work as prostitutes, etc, cannot come to Dubai at all. Low IQ, low socioeconomic status people, when they manage to get into Dubai at all, are completely dependent on their employer for continuing permission to stay in Dubai, which frequently means they get abused by their employer.

          Everyone in Dubai, except the previously mentioned brown skinned non citizens, is quite happy with this arrangement.

          • Gunlord says:

            Everyone in Dubai, except the previously mentioned brown skinned non citizens, is quite happy with this arrangement.

            Those “brown skinned non citizens” apparently make up a non-negligible portion of the population. If they’re not happy with the arrangement–and they don’t seem to be–perhaps the arrangement has issues, given how many of them there are.

          • If they’re not happy with the arrangement–and they don’t seem to be–perhaps the arrangement has issues

            Then they should get out and return to their native hell holes. If they were allowed to vote, would turn Dubai into the same kind of hell hole as the hell holes they are fleeing from.

            The basic reason they are unhappy is that they are being prevented from turning the entire world into a pussurating hell hole, the basic reason that they are unhappy is that there are some parts of the world they cannot turn into vomit covered pus.

          • Gunlord says:

            I would recommend Dubai make it even easier for them to leave, in that case. Forgive all their debts, pay for their flights back to whichever “hell-holes” they came from, and perhaps even give them a little extra money to ensure they “stay there.” At least enough that they won’t have to worry about being unemployed for a while.

            Or is that not neo-reactionriffic?

          • I would recommend Dubai make it even easier for them to leave, in that case. Forgive all their debts, pay for their flights back to whichever “hell-holes” they came from

            This assumes some people in Dubai are in debt slavery. which is nonsense. An employer has to put in deposit in order to get a work visa. You cannot incur enforceable debts in coming to Dubai. The deposit is to cover the cost of getting rid of problem people who come in on a work visa, and need to be kicked out. So you can generally get kicked out for free, the only problem being you are never going to get another job or another visa.

            If you are fired for cause, you have to leave in thirty days. If you don’t leave, you get put on a plane for free against your will, possibly after a little stay in jail, and your employer loses his deposit.

          • Gunlord says:

            Alas, “not getting a job” after getting kicked out might make more than a few of the undesirables try not to get kicked out. Even if they’re totally 500% debt-free and can totally charter a plane for 0$ back to their “hellholes,” fear of unemployment is a pretty big issue. Why not just offer the undesirables some sum of money they can bring with them back home? Seems to me all those Bad Bad people will be fleeing Dubai faster than you can say “NeoReaction!” Surely the expense is worth getting them out, right?

          • Why not just offer the undesirables some sum of money they can bring with them back home?

            Because Dubai does not want undesirables coming in the first place, which is why low status, low pay people cannot bring families with them, and why people who cannot rent or own decent accommodation find it a lot harder to renew a visa.

            A better solution would be to cut off one of their ears, rather than giving them money to leave. Giving undesirables money to leave would encourage them to come in the first place, and Dubai already has far too many people trying to come.

          • Gunlord says:

            That might just encourage them to take even more desperate measures to stay, though. Such horror! Chop off someone’s ear and they may stick around rather than leave–revenge is a powerful thing, and even an “undesirable” might try to take a few “aristocrats” down with him rather than just sit back and let them abuse him.

            An even better idea might be to forbid recruiting entirely. Why not start cutting off the ears of the people responsible for bringing workers to Dubai…and presenting the country as a paradise rather than a dystopia everyone, even the third-worlders, would want to avoid? Unattractiveness for the (neo-reactionary) win! That was the “aristocrats” can enjoy their country all for themselves without worrying about anyone else getting grubby hands on it.

          • That might just encourage them to take even more desperate measures to stay, though. Such horror! Chop off someone’s ear and they may stick around rather than leave

            My proposal was to cut off their ear before putting them on a plane to their homeland, so as to mark them so that they could never again sneak back in

            Thereby rendering any plans they might have for vengeance against other people for being more prosperous and successful than themselves irrelevant.

          • Gunlord says:

            I somehow doubt those “third world hellholes” would appreciate a lot of their people coming back maimed. How strong is Dubai’s military, and how good are their anti-terrorism forces?

          • I somehow doubt those “third world hellholes” would appreciate a lot of their people coming back maimed

            I recall when some spoiled American brat keyed an expensive care in Singapore, the Singaporean government gave him a richly deserved flogging. The Cathedral reported this expecting outrage, instead Americans thought it a mighty good idea.

            Similarly when an American did some graffiti on a train.

            My recommendation was that people who were fired for cause and then outstayed their thirty days and failed to return home, should be returned home minus an ear to ensure they could not come back again. I doubt this would amount to a flood of one eared people.

        • Multiheaded says:

          The basic reason they are unhappy is that they are being prevented from turning the entire world into a pussurating hell hole, the basic reason that they are unhappy is that there are some parts of the world they cannot turn into vomit covered pus.

          James, one day, somewhere, someone of consequence and with a personal stake in the issues you discuss – like, say, a woman – might view you the same way, and treat you appropriately. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful day, James?

          • James, one day, somewhere, someone of consequence and with a personal stake in the issues you discuss – like, say, a woman – might view you the same way, and treat you appropriately.

            The fact that you guys use threats in place of evidence, argument, and reason, refutes your entire position.

        • Multiheaded says:

          James, there are threads upon threads of well-intentioned liberals using arguments and reasoning against you. You ignore it all to proclaim your kind of people the greatest, most other kinds of people a waste of oxygen, any slight against people like you an atrocity and any attack on people unlike you insignificant.

          Have you once changed your mind after talking to a person significantly to the left of you? (For an example of the opposite, Hayek’s Use of Knowledge in Society, and Wikipedia being inspired by it to great success, convinced me that central planning might be inherently inferior.)

          • James, there are threads upon threads of well-intentioned liberals using arguments and reasoning against you.

            And when you lose, you utter threats, revealing the hypocrisy and falsity of your purported beliefs, just as the murder of Amelia Earhart and Kara Hultgreen revealed the falsity of your purported beliefs.

        • Multiheaded says:

          P.S.: no really decent people need to fear being treated like they would treat others. That’s one of the many advantages of striving for equity; it allows some coordination through symmetry of relations. Make your self-interest more narrow than it could be, and you get an over-abundance of enemies.

          • P.S.: no really decent people need to fear being treated like they would treat others. That’s one of the many advantages of striving for equity; it allows some coordination through symmetry of relations.

            If you guys were actually striving for equity, you would not so glibly utter threats, nor would you have murdered Amelia Earhart and Kara Hultgreen in your effort to create poster girls.

            Amelia Earhart and Kara Hultgreen were known to be incompetent to fly the planes that they flew, women are known to be incompetent to fly the planes they flew, but they were the best you could find, so you lied to them and put them on those planes regardless.

            If you were actually striving for equity, would not be trying to make women into pilots and truck drivers. If you were actually striving for equity, women would not be overrepresented in universities despite the fact that the SAT and LSAT shows that on average women are less smart and less knowledgeable.

        • Andy says:

          This assumes some people in Dubai are in debt slavery. which is nonsense. An employer has to put in deposit in order to get a work visa. You cannot incur enforceable debts in coming to Dubai.

          This says nothing about debts incurred to recruiters in the migrants’ home countries, which are then enforceable in the home countries. Not something I’d expect Dubai’s government to be able to solve, but part of the overall situation.

  37. Gunlord says:

    At any moment they could just blow off Dubai.

    This happens all the goddam time.

    Citation, please? Really, how much is “all the goddam time?” I’m sure there are a few remittance workers who can come and go as they please (i.e for whom Dubai isn’t so bad). Whether or not those comparatively free workers are at all representative, however, is a very different question. The whole “watch what they say, not what they do” bromide only applies to people who actually have a choice in what they do, which is not necessarily the case for a majority of Dubai’s workers. Some concrete accounts or statistics (beyond the typical “the cathedral must be wrong, it just has to be!” handwaving) would be just delightful.

    • Andy says:

      Second the call for statistics. I’m considering a project on Dubai’s migrant workforce for my advanced cartography class. I’ll be looking for stats as soon as I get back to school and can get to the academic databases, but more statistics would be helpful. In return, I’ll post anything I can find out here.

    • The whole “watch what they say, not what they do” bromide only applies to people who actually have a choice in what they do, which is not necessarily the case for a majority of Dubai’s workers.

      How do I know no one is kept in Dubai against their will?

      Because the Dubai authorities are continually throwing poor people out against their will. because poor people are continually trying to get in, because there are websites that aimed at poor people in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines that tell people how to get in, and how, once you are in, how to avoid getting thrown out, because in every tale of rape, beatings and mistreatment, the reason the victimized employee did not leave the relationship was fear of being sent home by the Dubai authorities.

      • Gunlord says:

        Because the Dubai authorities are continually throwing poor people out against their will.

        How many? C’mon, man, give us some percentages. You’re the expert here, right?

        because poor people are continually trying to get in, because there are websites that aimed at poor people in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines that tell people how to get in

        Because Dubai portrays itself as a paradise in the desert, and people only find out that’s a lie when they get there. Why don’t we see how many poor people try to get in if all the websites attracting them to Dubai portrayed it as a dystopian hellhole rather than a “successful Muslim nation”, eh?

        because in every tale of rape, beatings and mistreatment, the reason the victimized employee did not leave the relationship was fear of being sent home by the Dubai authorities.

        People are willing to accept mistreatment over debt-slavery (remember, it costs money to get back home) and subsequent unemployment. What a shock! I’d take that as a lesson that it’s better to accept a lower paying job at home (regardless of how much your spouse whines) than a higher-paying but considerably riskier one in Dubai or any other similar “paradise.”

        • Because Dubai portrays itself as a paradise in the desert, and people only find out that’s a lie when they get there.

          If you say they are tempting people in, they are using the playing hard to get, reverse psychology method.

          They want to attract high status high IQ workers. Their behavior towards the poor is like a rich man waving away a crowd of flies and filthy beggars.

          If you read the Dubai faqs http://www.dubaifaqs.com/, this is not the voice of a country trying to tempt low status workers in, but the voice of a country besieged by no good low IQ workers trying to get in, while it tries to keep them out. For example it has flat bans on entire countries and informal bans on various types of people.

          The notorious mistreatment of low IQ low status remittance workers by the Dubai authorities reflects the fact that they have seriously mixed feelings about allowing them in the first place, and are apt to kick them out at the drop of a hat.

          The notorious mistreatment of low IQ low status remittance workers by recruiters reflects the fact that these recruiters are often acting illegally, gaming the rules and forging documents get people into the country and allow people to stay in the country that should not have been allowed in, and who should be sent out.

          It is like the Berlin wall in reverse. Everyone wants in, and the Dubai authorities are saying to poor people “You cannot come in, go away, go away, stop bothering us!”

          • Gunlord says:

            The notorious mistreatment of low IQ low status remittance workers by recruiters reflects the fact that these recruiters are often acting illegally, gaming the rules and forging documents get people into the country and allow people to stay in the country that should not have been allowed in, and who should be sent out.

            If this is true, it’s a pretty big mark against Dubai as a neo-reactionary ideal. I thought you guys were all about honesty and reliability and all that great stuff? These Dubai recruiters seem to be pretty dishonest and corrupt. Makes me think that any country neo-reactionaries praise is gonna be filled with “typical” third-world malfeasance and incompetence just under the surface.

          • These Dubai recruiters seem to be pretty dishonest and corrupt.

            The reason Dubai can build tall buildings while America no longer can, is that in Dubai you only have to pay off one Brahmin, while in the America, you have to pay off a thousand.

            In America, if you want to do anything, you need a permit. If you want a permit, well, you will be informed that there is a short list of “consultants”, aka bagmen, whose words the bureaucrats somehow strangely find much more persuasive than your words. So you pay one of these “consultants” ten thousand dollars, and lo, and behold, your permit goes through. The bigger project, however, needs a thousand consultants, and some of these consultants cost a hundred thousand.

            Hydrofluoric acid is a poison. If you spill it on yourself, and do not swiftly wash it off, you will die. To be legally allowed to use it, have to pay off a “consultant”, who tells the bureaucrat that the guy using hydrofluoric acid knows not to spill it on himself, and has a shower nearby. Somehow the bureaucrat is much more comforted by these words coming from a highly paid “consultant”, than from the guy who actually uses the hydrofluoric acid. Multiply this item by a ten thousand items of high technology, becomes very difficult to do anything high tech in the US.

            This is why China entered a dark age after the Song dynasty. Everything high technology was reserved for the state, and required permission from suitably high status people. America with its endless permits and endless payoffs to get permits recapitulates the decline of the Song.

          • Gunlord says:

            They can build the tallest buildings in the world but still can’t keep a handle on their underlings. Sounds like a case of misplaced priorities to me. If that’s the neo-reactionary ideal, then, thanks but no thanks.

          • They can build the tallest buildings in the world but still can’t keep a handle on their underlings.

            They do fine handling their underlings. If underlings make problems, they whack them over the ear with a policeman’s baton and kick them out. Good system. Very popular. We should copy it.

            Similarly, Australia recently took measures to deal with illegal immigration, to the great horror and indignation of the usual Cathedral authorities, http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21595509-tony-abbotts-draconian-approach-has-its-costs-go-north-young-man

            And the reaction of the Australian public is that every time an illegal immigrant whines to the Cathedral about brutal mistreatment by Australian marines, the popularity of the navy, the marines, and the government increases.

            Low IQ people are unproductive. The problem is not that they are being enslaved, it is that no one wants such people even as slaves.

        • Andy says:

          If this is true, it’s a pretty big mark against Dubai as a neo-reactionary ideal. I thought you guys were all about honesty and reliability and all that great stuff? These Dubai recruiters seem to be pretty dishonest and corrupt. Makes me think that any country neo-reactionaries praise is gonna be filled with “typical” third-world malfeasance and incompetence just under the surface.

          I’ll point out that most of the neoreactionary praise of Dubai has focused on its government, not private actors such as the recruitment companies. And from a Google search, plenty of these recruitment firms have Western names, so they may be carpetbaggers setting up in a friendly climate. Third, less-legal recruiters can be set up either in Dubai itself or in source countries such as the Philippines or South Africa, much like ‘coyote’ people smugglers in Mexico, or human traffickers in Eastern Europe. So that’s not necessarily a mark against Dubai’s government.
          Though I’m no fan of Dubai as a standard for monarchy – IMO, neoreactionaries tend to conflate the massive economic benefits of having a resource everyone wants with the benefits of monarchy.
          One could, if one were a smart enough neoreactionary, make the argument that absolute monarchy is a good way to avoid falling victim to the natural-resource curse, by controlling resource production for long enough to set up a self-sustaining economy that won’t be destroyed by democracy. The Middle East as oil declines in importance – or as the oil runs out – is going to be a reeeeeeally interesting place.

          • Gunlord says:

            True, but then it’d be easy to argue that Dubai’s government needs to do a better job of controlling its private actors. Democracy’s supposed to be bad because popularly-elected governments can’t rein in excesses like this, but apparently monarchy’s not that great at it either.

          • Neoreactionaries tend to conflate the massive economic benefits of having a resource everyone wants with the benefits of monarchy.

            Dubai is not oil rich.

            Nor is it rich like Hong Kong or Singapore in having a naturally high IQ population. The median IQ of the native population is alarmingly low.

            What it sells is good governance to businessmen. What it does have is an aristocracy that has been breeding itself and racehorses for excellence, while the British monarchy, unfortunately, has breeding with the likes of princess Di.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          This is why China entered a dark age after the Song dynasty.

          After the Song dynasty?

          If you think it was the slow onset of sclerosis, you should expect it to have already happened at the end of the Song. But if it coincided with the change of dynasties, there’s a much more obvious hypothesis. A bit of a coincidence that Persian science ended at the same. Same way Greek science ended 1400 years earlier.

  38. Kokomo says:

    Anders Behring Breivik

    I don’t think Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn would have thought much of him.

    I would prefer to criticise Breivik for brutality, Nazis and their ilk for demotism, and garden racialists for being base. These three anti-virtues cover the desirable part of anti-racism.

    Many reactionaries will deny that they have anything to do with movements like “white power” and racial purity, for instance. But the way their own leaders – like the Moldbug – talk and present themselves is very appealing to garden variety racists, paranoiacs, militia men, and potential beltway shooters. The language of revolutionary war and violence many reactionary supporters revel in doesn’t help.

    Whereas progressives are just charming.

    Moldbug has the progressive attitude of paternalism towards the masses, that ideologies should be intended for the elite, which I find laudable. His infamous essay about pod people could be interpreted as a paradigm-vector, a sympathetic appeal to progressives that instead of catering to the masses they should humanely but firmly displace their sacred aura, but it fell flat because he is more suited to a literal writing style.

    Moldbug did undermine himself by identifying with the political right.

  39. sado.anarchist says:

    so neoreaction is sort of like steampunk for people too shy to play dress-ups?

  40. Gunlord says:

    but the most terrible threat that their employer/owner holds over them is the threat of sending them back to their homeland.

    Not because their homelands were *that* bad, but because ever since coming to Dubai they’ve been burdened by debt and had their passports taken away. If they’d known how bad Dubai really was (i.e if they hadn’t been lied to), most wouldn’t have come in the first place. It’s not much evidence that one person’s homeland was a “hellhole” if they only emigrated from it under false impressions.

    • Not because their homelands were *that* bad, but because ever since coming to Dubai they’ve been burdened by debt and had their passports taken away.

      Cathedral propaganda. Unsatisfactory employees get sent home from Dubai all the time. It is a punishment. It is the primary punishment. It is the punishment applied when other punishments fail. It is the punishment that makes them feel that they are slaves. You confiscate your maid’s passport so that you can send her home if dissatisfied with her, denying her the chance of changing employers.

      When a remittance worker in Dubai runs away from her employer, often fleeing physical punishment or unwelcome sex, she becomes, usually, illegal (it is more complicated than that, but I don’t understand the complexity) If caught, gets sent home, to experience the wondrous benefits of third world democracy.

      • Gunlord says:

        Aren’t we an expert on Dubai? I’ll be polite and refrain from questioning how you know so much about that country, but I will point out that there’s still not much evidence that “getting sent home” is an indictment of an emigrant’s origin or an encomium to Dubai’s. The thing about getting sent home from Dubai is that you return *without a job,* having wasted however much time you spent abroad. I suspect more than a few of those workers “sent home” regret not finding a lower-paying job back there they would have kept instead of the higher-paying one in Dubai they lost. Not exactly the same thing as unleavened disappointment over getting ejected from your neo-reactionary paradise.

        I could be wrong, though. While I’ve managed to find an article critical of Dubai, I assume you have others more complimentary of its government? Particularly interesting would be any testimony from the low-wage workers themselves supporting your beliefs (i.e that Dubai is so much better than their home countries) It would be quite kind of you to share such, if you’re so inclined.

        • sado.anarchist says:

          They are working in Dubai to send money to family in their home countries. Getting sent home is bad for them in that respect.

        • Andy says:

          The thing about getting sent home from Dubai is that you return *without a job,* having wasted however much time you spent abroad. I suspect more than a few of those workers “sent home” regret not finding a lower-paying job back there they would have kept instead of the higher-paying one in Dubai they lost.

          In addition, while I can’t find a source for this that isn’t behind a paywall, I’ve often heard that the recruitment agencies, being good capitalists and never missing an opportunity to squeeze blood from a stone, charge enormous fees from the workers they’re moving, and those workers end up in debt to the agencies. Thus they do not start over from square one if they are sent back – they end up further behind and in debt. Here’s an example of this kind of thing, but it was in America, not the UAE, and the recruitment agency was Kuwaiti. The workers’ debt – and their families’ debt – becomes a major factor in why they don’t speak up about appalling working conditions.
          http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/344/the-competition
          James, to semi-repeat an argument I made above, would you work in conditions like those described, if you were in the situation of those workers?

        • Look at what people do, not what they say.

          The workers that feel most horribly victimized are those that are sending lots of money home to support their families. These fly home regularly to see the people they are funding, and also to make sure that their husbands and wives have not set up house with someone else on the money they are sending them. (As frequently happens)

          Therefore, not slaves, not prisoners, not stuck in a horrible mistake. At any moment they could just blow off Dubai.

          Typical story. A woman complains that Dubai is hell, she misses her child, and she suspects her husband back in the Philippines is up to no good. So, she decides this is not working, she gives her employer notice that she is going home permanently, she goes home. Her mother weeps that the family needs the money. Her husband promises fidelity. And pretty soon she has applied for another Dubai job and is back in Dubai.

          This happens all the goddam time. They say that Dubai is hell. They go home for a short visit, and they are back, then home for another short visit, and they are back, then they are supposedly going home permanently, and still they come back.

          Remittance workers are being oppressed and exploited all right, but not by Dubai, by their families.

  41. Wibble says:

    The general problem with the voluntary self-framing of the neoreaction movement is that it is drunk on is own joke. By celebrating an outrageous worldview where essentially 400 years of global evolution is a big lie and that everyone who is not a neoreactionary is “plugged into the matrix”, the reactionaries are marketing themselves to outright crazies.

    Many reactionaries will deny that they have anything to do with movements like “white power” and racial purity, for instance. But the way their own leaders – like the Moldbug – talk and present themselves is very appealing to garden variety racists, paranoiacs, militia men, and potential beltway shooters. The language of revolutionary war and violence many reactionary supporters revel in doesn’t help.

    Doesn’t help that neoreaction fans on the internet are, for the moment, flooding comment sections with talk to the effect “we’re out here, we’re coming for you all, you won’t BELIEVE how strong we are already! Oh yes, your world will burn! The reaction is coming for you all!”

    • But the way their own leaders – like the Moldbug – talk and present themselves is very appealing to garden variety racists, paranoiacs, militia men, and potential beltway shooters.

      The beltway shooters were left wing black Muslims with a belief system similar to that of Obama’s beloved preacher, the nominally Christian Reverend Wright, and various Muslim preachers that Obama has embraced as the embodiment of Islamic moderation, before subsequently putting them on the kill-on-sight list for drone assassins.

      • Andy says:

        While I’ll give you the Beltway snipers, I’d say that Anders Behring Breivik’s belief system ran quite close to neoreactionary thought. His manifesto 2083: A Declaration of European Independence makes for very interesting reading. Especially entertaining, to my admittedly low sense of humor, was his asides when discussing forgettable cars and manicures for the sake of good propaganda photos, along the lines of “this might seem gay, but it’s effective.” And then I remembered the big piles of bodies lying that manifesto.
        http://publicintelligence.net/anders-behring-breiviks-complete-manifesto-2083-a-european-declaration-of-independence/
        But Wibble, every single political philosophy has its share of lunatics and violent nutjobs. That is [i]not[/i] a good argument to use against Neoreaction, when Progressivism and all its many bastard forms has spawned more than a fair number of outright lunatics.

        • Gunlord says:

          Another thing to remember, IMO, is that peoples’ ideas and behaviors of accomplish the exact opposite of what they may have intended or wanted. Historians love this sort of irony, but I think you can find it in the present day as well. Scott already pointed out how “uber-leftist” North Korea is governed in a surprisingly “neo-reactionary” manner. My guess is that if these “alt-right” guys ever acquired any sort of IRL power, they’d show themselves to be as brutal (and in many of the same ways) as they claim “leftists” are.

          • Scott already pointed out how “uber-leftist” North Korea is governed in a surprisingly “neo-reactionary” manner

            Scott has pointed out many things that are not so. Dubai is governed in a neo reactionary manner, North Korea, obviously, is not.

            But, you say, North Korea may say it is ruled by the masses, but really it is not.

            And the US says it is ruled by the masses also. Kim needs to control what people think for the same reason as the USG needs to control what people think.

            If Kim changed his story from being the voice of the masses, to being the rightful descendant of a living God, then it would be ruled in a neoreactionary manner.

          • Gunlord says:

            I wouldn’t bet on it being ruled in a much more humane manner in that case, neo-reactionary praise of Fnargl aside. And if Dubai is supposed to be governed by neo-reactionary ideals, I can’t bring myself to feel too bad those ideals haven’t taken off yet.

          • And if Dubai is supposed to be governed by neo-reactionary ideals, I can’t bring myself to feel too bad those ideals haven’t taken off yet.

            Foreign Manual laborers in Dubai complain about being slaves, and to a considerable extent they are – but the most terrible threat that their employer/owner holds over them is the threat of sending them back to their homeland.

            Analogously, those black slaves that caught the boat to America had more surviving children than those that missed the boat, and those children grew taller.

            Allow the manual laborers of Dubai to strike, give the manual laborers and bankrupts in Dubai the vote, they would instantly turn it into a worse hell hole than the countries that they are fleeing from.

        • Andy says:

          If Kim changed his story from being the voice of the masses, to being the rightful descendant of a living God, then it would be ruled in a neoreactionary manner.

          Well, that’s pretty much what happened.
          http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2011/1222/Kim-Jong-il-Legendary-golfer-and-mythical-powers-even-in-death
          After Jong-il’s death, the state news agency released a bunch of stories of ice sheets cracking and the sky over a sacred mountain turning red. quoting from the link:

          Founder Kim Il Sung remains North Korea’s “eternal president” and lies embalmed at his former presidential palace.

          Kim Jong Il’s official biography says he was “heaven sent,” born in a log cabin in Mount Paektu while his father was fighting the Japanese.

          Descendant of a living god, double check.
          The “living god!” prop-meme doesn’t preclude the “I’m the voice of the people!” prop-meme, by the way. By this evidence, I’d safely say that North Korea is ruled partly by neoreactionary principles.

      • Andy says:

        Analogously, those black slaves that caught the boat to America had more surviving children than those that missed the boat, and those children grew taller.

        Cite your sources?
        And when they were in the New World, those children were often sold away from them, they were tortured and raped and dehumanized and treated like beasts of burden.
        James, would you volunteer for slavery in their position, knowing that you would have very little control over what kind of master you got or how you were treated?

        • Damien says:

          Plus, most slaves sent to the Americas didn’t form reliable breeding populations, conditions were that bad. North America was unusual. As for conditions back in Africa, those of course sucked because *people were being taken as slaves*.

        • To be more specific, people being kidnapped as slaves meant a lot of productive people being pulled out of the culture, a lot of grief and misery for those remaining, and a legacy of treachery because sometime the only way for tribes to get weapons to defend themselves was to sell their neighbors from other tribes.

          I don’t want to make this a pure victimization story– there was also African slave-selling because some people were trying to build an empire.

          • To be more specific, people being kidnapped as slaves meant a lot of productive people being pulled out of the culture

            Where we have real data, eg the West Indies, which may not necessarily be typical, it was more “You have no visible means of support, so we are enslaving you for your own good, and to keep you from gathering in other people’s gardens and hunting other people’s herds”. And then some of those slaves were sold off to slave traders, and the lucky ones caught the boat. Slave raiding happened, but there is no good evidence that it is typical. Rather, conquest happened, the conquered wound up impoverished, and impoverishment was apt to lead to slavery.

            Of course, neither do we have any good evidence that slave raiding was not typical, but absence of evidence is at least suggestive of absence.

            The Ashantee empire was a major source of slaves – and also a major example of a well run empire of blacks by blacks. If you purchased slaves from the Ashantee, they were not the result of slave raids. More an aristocrat shipping out those peasants he did not much want to keep around.

            Again, not necessarily typical. But we have no evidence that it was atypical.

  42. VCM says:

    Make a table of contents! You have the structure right there, just do it. Like this, it’s a pretty useless mess of stuff.

  43. Pingback: Barbarism v. 2.0 | Gates of Vienna

  44. Damien says:

    I went bean-counting the peaceful reigns and successions of the kings of England, and was then reminded of this piece; figured my list might make a nice complement. http://mindstalk.livejournal.com/389521.html

    Kings with power were lucky to pass their crown on to their chosen heir, never mind have a reign without rebellions. Once Parliament took over things got *way* more boring and reliable.

  45. Pingback: On Rising Crime | More Right

  46. Pingback: Monarchy FAQ, Part Two | More Right

  47. Pingback: A Response To Apophemi on Triggers | Slate Star Codex

  48. Pingback: Monarchy FAQ | More Right

  49. Pingback: Neo-Reaction : Anarcho-Monarchism

  50. Pingback: The 2013 Anti-Progress Report | Radish

  51. Thank you for laying that out so clearly.

    I hope that there will eventually be a rationalist site that you’re comfortable with. That total freedom of discourse which you find to be a danger signal is merely somewhat squicky for me, and I think the most valuable part of Less Wrong– thinking clearly in order to live better — could develop at least as well in an environment where people don’t entertain no-empathy hypotheses.

  52. CARE says:

    While I appreciate the FAQ as a whole, I wrote this post in response to several posts of yours, including this one.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      You make some good points, but I also have some disagreements. I get the feeling that discussing these disagreements would trigger you, so unless you specifically ask me to ignore that I’m not going to do so.

  53. Pingback: Musings on Free Speech, Civility, and the Constitution | Gunlord500

  54. Arilou says:

    One point to mention when it comes to suicide statistics is the tendency to “hide” suicide. Eg. we know of (through testimony, etc.) that in pre-modern Sweden a pretty common justification cited for murder was that it was a way to end one’s life without actually committing suicide: You’d be pardoned/absolved of sin, and could thus enter Heaven. This would mean that a portion of suicide stats would almost certainly be transmuted into murder stats.

  55. Pingback: Neoreaksjon – det opplyste enevelde slår tilbake | Plausible Fremtider | den som lever får se

  56. Point is, blood ties alone have obviously never been sufficient motivation for men to give a shit about their offspring – see the common neglect of bastards throughout history. There has always been a need for the additional social pressure associated with officialized relationships.

    Before modern paternity testing, no one knew who was the real father of a bastard.

    Today, people do know, and obviously men do care, care enough to kill

    What made children of official relationships more important is that the wife was subject to supervision and social control to prevent infidelity, whereas the mistress was not.

    Social paternity has very little effect on male behavior, unless they have reason to believe it corresponds to biological paternity.

    • ozymandias says:

      If that’s true why do men adopt children?

      • Andy says:

        To play devil’s advocate for a moment, some foster care systems create perverse incentives to adopt children to gain extra welfare benefits and foster care payments, and then spend as little on them as possible. This is one problem with Los Angeles’ frankly horrifying foster care system, but there are men who adopt children for the joys of fatherhood – Dan Savage and his husband is the most famous example I can name at the moment.

  57. Matthew Carlin says:

    Woops, should have kept reading.

  58. Matthew Carlin says:

    As a possible small nit, it’s worth considering whether the murder rate was flat (and the violent crime rate grew) in the 1950-2000 range in part because of improvements in medicine. In other words, more people shot per thousand, but less people dead from shooting, due to improvements in ER medical practice. This has certainly been the case in war zones; perhaps it’s also the case to some degree in civilian zones.

  59. Loving the gist of your argument, just some nitpicking about the gender stuff (sorry if I’m repeating something someone has already pointed out, haven’t read all the comments yet):

    “We know two very good reasons why sluttiness has been stigmatized in nearly all societies. First, slutty women were more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases. Second, slutty women were likely to end up with children outside of wedlock. Back when men were the sole providers and didn’t have much providing to spare, that would have been just about a death sentence.”

    That sounds so common sensical, one might almost forgt that this “men as sole provider” thing was never particularly true for large parts of the population. The strict division of professional and domestic sphere, productive and reproductive labour is an industrial innovation, mainly applicable to middle and upper class. The ideal of the stay-at-home housewife has been out of reach for many even during its heyday in the fifties. Throughout history, women rarely had the luxury of devoting themselves purely to child-raising – they were expected to pull their share on the farm, in the workshop, in the factory, in the service industry or, if sufficiently upper-class, in managing the estate/lobbying/networking at the court.

    This has never been about “who has to provide” but about “who gets to inherit”, and that could be tied to matrilineal descent just as well. Sure, men would need at least some evolutionary incentive to contribute to child-raising, but there other ways to go at this rather than getting pedantic about paternity. If it’s just about evolutionary success… well, why not become a doting uncle instead? No matter who the father is, you can always be sure that your sister’s kids share your DNA. In such a set-up (as practiced, for instance, by the Mosou) there is no such thing as wedlock, all children are raised by the extended family (it takes a village…), and promiscuity is pretty much a non-issue. (Even so, it tends to be about the same rate as we have in progressive societies – turns out that if there’s no enforced sexual exclusivity and people are left to their own devices, they end up practicing pretty much the same serial monogamy we’ve mostly ended up with after the sexual liberation).

    No one would argue that raising a child as a single parent is the ideal scenario. Children need a prolongued period of constant care, during which the primary caregiver is unable to provide fully for herself. This is why Mosuo women for instance get all the support they need from their extended family, which seems to work just fine. There’s nothing about the premise that absolutely necessitates a lifelong committment to the biological father.

    Of course there are reasons, why this model has so far been less globaly successful than the alternative, but they are not necessarily _good_ ones. As long as we’re cooking up just-so-stories…. My pet theory: Matriarchies just work too well. In a patriarchial society the sexual competition will have a slightly more desperate edge to it – paternity is important, so suddenly sexual exclusivity is important, you gotta lock that girl down, you gotta take her off the market – you want a virigin for a wife, and virgins become a scarce resource. It’s a system, that even without institutionalized polygamy (but let’s face it, even societies with monogamy often allow for de-facto-polygamy for the leaders; kings always have concubines), often results in a pretty cushy situation for the guys at the top, who can have their pick, and a lot of sexual frustration for the guys at the bottom, who will never be marriage material. And if we know one thing about sexually frustrated angry young men throughout the ages it’s that they make for grade A canon fodder. It’s really easy to sell them on any type of war. That’s the stuff empires are made of.

    It works in so many ways – you get to rape the enemy women, and when you come back there’s less competition for those at home, because the war has killed off a large percentage of your cohort. At least that’s idea. In reality, you’re the guy who bleeds out on the battlefield, or falls into enemy hands and gets sold into slavery, so you’re the one who gets raped, and even if you survive and make it back home, you’re most probably in some way crippled, physically or emotionally and getting laid is the least of youre worries after all. The only ones who really reliably benefit are still the guys at the top. But you will fall for it, lifetime after lifetime, because you only ever see the few guys who luck out when you cheer for your fearless leader and the faintest hope of replacing him one day is still sexier to you than the thought of society that’s somewhat less unfair to begin with. Or maybe you just lack the imagination to think of anything else.

    Or maybe it’s a matter of religion. I have a dim memory of reading something somewhere that any matriarchal tendencies in a society have a bad prognosis once religion reaches a certain degree of organisation, but I don’t remember the exact argument. Maybe it’s mere coincidence. The major religions that really caught on all happened to be patriarchal, and that’s that.

    Since I’m a strong believer in multi-causality, I’d never blame it all on religion though. At best, it’s one factor among many. Another, while we’re at it, would probably be capitalism, with its strong reliance on the notion of private property (= women and children in the case of patriarchy) and occassionally rather artificial
    scarcity (=a fetish for virginity and the weird sexual politics resulting from that quirk). A certain amount of competition is a pretty natural state of affairs in a world of unlimited wants and limited resources, which is why the whole thing seems so “No, d’uhh” to so many people. But while more collectivist cultures apparently see certain scenarios in which cooperation can soften the problem, a properly capitalist society actually operates on the notion that it serves the greater good to make any competition as desperate as possible, because the idea is that competition promotes innovation and the occassional bout of “creative destruction” (see Schumpeter), which makes the most desperately competitive culture also the most dynamic and thus the most “successful” one (for capitalist notions of success). Hence, the capitalist boner for artificial scarcity. (see for instance intellectual property rights. There’s no material reason why certain information or creative products should be scarce, but people fear, and maybe not unfoundedly, that our system will break down if we don’t take legal steps to counteract that reality). This is and isn’t actually true to various degrees (my personal feelings on the issue would take too long to elaborate in the space this post) but it certainly sounds very logical.

    Patriarchy, just like capitalism, is such an easy sell, because it doesn’t require much altruism to buy into, since it seems to operate on the basis of everyone (who’s granted a degree of agency by the system) just maximizing their personal benefits. Now, me, I don’t think that’s actually the case – I suspect the system would rapidely break down if libertarians got their utopia, since capitalism has actually historically always relied on quite a bit of self-negation (see Max Weber, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism) – but that’s not the point. The point is, that people _believe_ it works that way. Capitalism is hardly the most reasonable system (see prisoner’s dilemma, tragedy of the commons, the insane reliance on eternal growth and the ecological wall we’re soon going to crash into), but it’s certainly the one most easily rationalized. If you ask me, the perfect market is just as much of a pie-in-the-sky fantasy as bipolar benevolent/terrifying sky-dad, but that doesn’t matter one bit as long as believing in it makes people feel fairly good about themselves (= ie. not like a chump who wastes efforts on intangible goals that may or may not end up benefitting himself; both capitalism and patriarchy seem to promise a transparent, if admittedly not always perfectly proportional relationship of investment and reward).

    Simple systems for simple minds, neatly re-enforcing each other, and thus getting codified, reified and entrenched beyond any pragmatic function they might have initially served. Where we’d be back at your original argument.

    • Sure, men would need at least some evolutionary incentive to contribute to child-raising, but there other ways to go at this rather than getting pedantic about paternity.

      Oh come on.

      Men are responsible for civilization, as is obvious when we observe fatherless children. If men are going to work, invest, build, and transmit civilization to posterity, they need families and security of paternity. Which means that wives have to obey and be faithful.

      And if women are disinclined to do that, men are going to play video games in Mum’s basement.

      • But men in this proposed scenario (responsibility for childcare shared by a wider community instead of being exclusively placed on the nuclear family) do have stable families. They have their sisters and brothers, their nieces and nephews. They also can be reasonably sure that their own children are taken well care of, since in this system all mothers receive sufficient support, regardless of romantic relationship status. Children wouldn’t lack male role models, because uncles are expected to take a more active role in raising them. All men would get laid more, since women can afford to be more sexually generous/be driven by their own sexual desires instead of pragmatic considerations in this scenarios. From a purely evolutionary perspective (spreading as many genes as possible), it would be pretty efficient.

        Of course there are other more sentimental reasons to care about paternity, and they are perfectly valid, and I’m sorry that I’ve phrased this so flippantly in my original comment. Still, just because involvement of the biological father wouldn’t be strictly necessary, doesn’t mean it would be prohibited of course.

        I’m not really suggesting a transition to the Mosou model – that ship has sailed, I’m afraid. Families in industrialized nations are no longer large enough for that kind of model to be workable (and that’s mostly a positive development, considering that we’re already using up more than our fair share of the planet’s ressources anyway). Just pointing out that the nuclear family headed by the pater familias is not the only viable approach.

        • Andy says:

          Another example would be the Cherokee, who were matrilineal and matrilocal, so a child became part of its mother’s family. It would be interesting to figure out whether patriarchal or matriarchal Native American tribes did better or worse against the European invasion.

        • But men in this proposed scenario (responsibility for childcare shared by a wider community instead of being exclusively placed on the nuclear family) do have stable families. They have their sisters and brothers, their nieces and nephews.

          A lot of societies have in fact implemented this solution. See JD Unwin’s survey. They live in grass huts. The men do not defend their society or their womenfolk against external aggression, nor do they work, save, build, or invest. The men do little work, other than a bit of mugging, pimping their sisters, and rape. It is pretty much the society celebrated in rap videos.

          If a foreign invader has sex with your wife, or invades with the intent of having sex with your wife, you are going to kill him or die trying. If a foreign invader invades with the intent of having sex with your sister, you are going to try to overcharge him for tobacco when he has a smoke after fucking your sister. With no expectation of chastity or fidelity, there is no one who will defend the women, who become whores, because withholding sex is apt to get a woman smacked with a big stick (a familiar item in rap videos, not a stick no bigger than a woman’s thumb, but a stick about the thickness of a woman’s wrist) and nobody cares.

        • In this scenario, your sister is almost certainly only your half sister, so your incentive to protect her is one half the incentive to protect your own children, and your incentive to protect and support her children is one quarter the incentive to protect and support your own children.

          The coefficient of relatedness for your own children is one half.

          The coefficient of relatedness for your half sister is one quarter

          The coefficient of relatedness for your half sister’s bastard demon spawn is one eighth

          So, without nuclear families, why work, why fight?

          And, in practice, by and large, men in such societies do not work or fight.

        • ozymandias says:

          Among the Musuo, women typically have one romantic partner at a time and it is embarrassing if she doesn’t know the father of her children. So brothers and sisters are, in fact, generally full-blooded and no one beats women until they can rape them. In addition, while a father usually invests in his nieces and nephews, he can bring gifts to his children. So paternity is not generally unknown and you do, in fact, get some paternal investment.

          • Among the Musuo, women typically have one romantic partner at a time and it is embarrassing if she doesn’t know the father of her children./blockquote>

            It would be politically incorrect for an academic to report that life among the Musuo resembled a rap video, and any academic that did so would find that tenure was not exactly tenure as his office was moved to behind the water heater in the basement.

            So, to ascertain how the Musuo live, should pay attention to non academic sources. Tour guides report that the Musuo lifestyle resembles a rap video. Academics piously sneer at the tour guide version – but anthropologists have a long history of being highly unreliable sources, as for example Margaret Meade.

        • Of course tour guides have no incentive at all to go with the lurid version more titilating to the western tourist….

          You mentionned weakened blood ties in the context of decreased motivation for male involvement in child raising. Point is, blood ties alone have obviously never been sufficient motivation for men to give a shit about their offspring – see the common neglect of bastards throughout history. There has always been a need for the additional social pressure associated with officialized relationships. You better take care that your kids turn out well, because otherwise they will bring dishonor on your name – if they carry your name, that is. (As bastards in our system don’t. As your nieces and nephews in the Mousou system obviously do – if they are ill-mannered and neglected, that will reflect badly on your repetation. If they do well, you can take pride in their accomplishments. Being a mentor, being able to transmit your values, being a role model, being admired and emulated by the younger generation is something that makes most people feel good about themselves, no matter how closely they are related to their protégé.). In the Mousou system that social pressure is placed on uncles rather than biological fathers. There’s a certain elegance to it – in the absence of DNA tests, you could always deny paternity, but you can’t deny that you and your sister came from the same womb.

          • You better take care that your kids turn out well, because otherwise they will bring dishonor on your name – if they carry your name, that is. (As bastards in our system don’t. As your nieces and nephews in the Mousou system obviously do

            You are making stuff up. No one who directly observes the Mosuo system observes any male support of children. According to the documentary “The Ladies of the Lake: A Matriarchal Society” by Journeymen Pictures, men have no responsibility, no jobs, and rest all day – the direct equivalent of the modern American male playing video games in his mum’s basement.

            And I don’t see any evidence to the contrary from anyone who bases his story on actually going there and actually observing the Mosuo.

            Plus, your account is simply contrary to male nature. As a male, I know what males are like, and anyone who tells it differently is lying.

            Men will raise their own children. If they find themselves raising someone else’s children, the child will be at best treated as a pet, and at worst, and the worst happens rather frequently, should the husband find a cuckoo in the nest, that cuckoo is likely to suffer a fatal accident sooner or later.

            You know what happens to kids that are sent to foster care, despite the fact that the foster carers volunteered and are paid for it. Social assignment of paternity just does not work in our society, and I see absolutely no evidence it works in Mosuo society.

        • Andy says:

          Plus, your account is simply contrary to male nature. As a male, I know what males are like, and anyone who tells it differently is lying.

          Typical mind fallacy. Many men are like you, but not all of us. I am a male, and I am not like you, therefore… just no.

          • Many men are like you, but not all of us.

            You have presumably seen families where one child is adopted, and another is not, and families where one child is a stepchild, and another is not.

            Progressives believe they can transcend biology, but it does not seem to be happening. One might expect it to happen in families formed by adoption, but even in families formed by adoption, one is a child, and one is a pet.

        • ozymandias says:

          The Lugu Lake Musuo Cultural Development Association seems to believe that Musuo female promiscuity was made up in order to attract tourists, particularly to the brothels.

        • “If a foreign invader has sex with your wife, or invades with the intent of having sex with your wife, you are going to kill him or die trying. If a foreign invader invades with the intent of having sex with your sister, you are going to try to overcharge him for tobacco when he has a smoke after fucking your sister.”

          Nice theory. I happen to have a brother. He’s not much of a warrior (because fortunately he doesn’t have to be), so I don’t know how effective he would be in case of foreign invasion, but so far he’s had a very good track record of having my back. I absolutely trust him to defend me to the best of his abilities as much as I would trust any romantic partner, possibly more so, to be honest.

          My father also has a sister and I’m absolutely certain that he would defend her just as ferociously as he would defend my mother and me. Same goes for his two other brothers, my cousins and their sisters, etc.

          I’m very sad for you that you apparently lacked any male role model worth anything during your formative years, but fortunately that was not the case for me.

          Reminds me of the old saying that a feminist is a woman who has an unusually high opinion of men.

        • Andy says:

          Reminds me of the old saying that a feminist is a woman person who has an unusually high opinion of men.

          Fixed (Sorry, Adele) by a male feminist who prefers not to be a penis with legs as the Dark Enlightenment often seems to imply.

        • ozymandias says:

          James, my second hit on Google for “musuo promiscuity” is the cultural development article I already linked. Do I need to explain links to you…?

          Regardless it seems like the men coming there can be explained by the fact that THERE ARE BROTHELS THAT HAVE ALLEGEDLY MUSUO WOMEN IN THEM AND PLAY ON THIS EXACT INCORRECT IMPRESSION.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          The Philippines are not a developed country and I remain skeptical that there is any systematic way to raise the fertility rate in developed countries above replacement levels.

          • “@James The Philippines are not a developed country

            It is a lot more developed than many countries with a far lower fertility rate, and one hell of a lot more developed than any country with a comparable fertility rate.

            In any case, Economics 101:

            The incentives for men to support progeny and posterity have been getting steadily worse since 1820, and, lo and behold, surprise surprise we now have about fifty percent bastardy. What would you expect? What would any sane person expect?

            If the data did not support economics 101, I would say “so much the worse for the data”, but the data does support economics 101.

      • Multiheaded says:

        And if women are disinclined to do that, men are going to play video games in Mum’s basement.

        Projecting harder than a movie theater!

        • Which means that wives have to obey and be faithful. And if women are disinclined to do that, men are going to play video games in Mum’s basement.

          Projecting harder than a movie theater!

          Every successful marriage that I know, the husband and wife perform their eighteenth century roles. Egalitarian marriages are uncommon, and fail horribly after a short period.

          You sought to replace eighteenth century marriage with something more progressive, and wound up with cat ladies and fatherless children instead.

        • “Every successful marriage that I know, the husband and wife perform their eighteenth century roles.”

          Every successful marriage that I know (eg. my own parents), the husband and wife are egalitarian.

          Don’t see why your anecdata should trump mine.

          • Who picked up your dad’s socks?

          • It occurred to me when James made his original comment about about the only successful marriages he knows of being traditional (male-headed), that reasonably happy people with egalitarian marriages wouldn’t want to associate with him.

            Of course, this is doing him the courtesy of assuming he’s being accurate about his social circle, which may be excessive kindness.

          • that reasonably happy people with egalitarian marriages wouldn’t want to associate with him.

            In the supposedly egalitarian marriages that you know of, who picks up the husband’s socks?

            If picking up the socks is equally shared, where does the husband sleep?

        • “Who picked up your dad’s socks?”

          That’s indeed a frequent point of contention between them. Mostly they pay a cleaning lady. You can argue that this is just a classist transfer of the problem and still counts as exploitation of female labor. Personally, I don’t feel my parents are super rich. That’s pretty much the only “luxury” they indulge in – mum might have sometimes liked fancy jewelry, dad might have sometimes liked fancy cars (not saying my parents transcend all gender stereotypes), and they might have afforderd it since they’re solidly middle class, but them’s the breaks if none of you is particularly into cleaning.

          But yeah, not trying to paint my dad as some paragon of feminist virtues here. Of course he is a product of his socialization, of course he drags his feet about the chores. Then again, my mum’s the one who yields absolute power over the remote control (another popular measure for that kind of thing, no?) and has final say about all vacation destinations (and most major financial investements, frankly) – not exactly getting a strong vibe of obedience here. (I’ve always suspected that dad might be able to negotiate a better deal for himself, if he picked up more socks. But bad habits die hard, so who am I to judge…).

          Here’s what I know: They’ve been married for thirty years. They come from an equal economic background, they have an equal level of education. They had exactly the same opportunity costs. They both have careers they take a certain amount of pride in. And they both had to forgo carreer opportunties and certain personal amibitions for the sake of the family and they both have at times been somewhat bitter about it (midlife crisis…) but they both got over that and seem for the most part pretty content with their various compromises now.

          I’m no great romantic. I think the secrect of any stable relationship is in no small part related to the sunk cost fallacy. Once people have made enough investments in something, they’re likely to see it through. My parents’ relationship is so robust, because they’ve both had to make a roughly equal amount of sacrifices to make it work. That, for me, seems pretty egalitarian.

          • “Who picked up your dad’s socks?”

            That’s indeed a frequent point of contention between them. Mostly they pay a cleaning lady.

            Chances are that your mother’s “job” consists of doing wifelike stuff for a higher status male, higher status than your dad, your dad’s job consists of making the world actually function, while the cleaning lady does wifelike stuff for your dad.

            Which feminists tell us is so much more empowering for the wife.

        • ozymandias says:

          James: My parents have been happily married for over two decades. My father was the first man to go on the “mommy track” at his workplace so he could watch his kids grow up and allow my mom to prioritize her career. He was my primary caregiver for most of my life. And, yes, he’s an adult, he picks up his own fucking socks.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          Are you actually denying that there are women who do important things in the world that help make society function? What do you have to say about female surgeons? Or female engineers? Or female medical physicists? Female teachers, female entrepreneurs etc.

          • Are you actually denying that there are women who do important things in the world that help make society function?

            The most important thing that women do is bear children and take care of them, which is of course far more important than anything males can do, which is why men are the expendable sex, and women are not.

            Feminists, however, denigrate and despise anything women do, anything women like to do and are good at, and want women to do things that men are good at, that women do not like to do, and do very badly. There is a reasonable supply of female doctors, and I suppose that plenty of women make fine doctors, but I notice that when a woman takes charge of a tech firm, for example Hewlet Packard, it usually bites the dust.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          Also stop moving the fucking goalposts, you wanted to know who picked up the socks – and your hypothesis was falsified twice: allow me to falsify your hypothesis for the third time – my father also picks up his own socks.

          • Lot of people are reporting their dad picks up his own socks. Frankly, I do not believe it.

            Men who pick up their own socks, except they do it because the wife gets sick or something, don’t have children.

            I think what is happening here is that people are brainwashed to believe that men who fail to pick up their own socks are monsters and their wives hate them, they recall that their dad was a nice guy and his wife loved him, so they confabulate that their father picked up his own socks, much as it was confidently confabulated that Musuo males take care of their nephews, despite the complete and total lack of any reports to that effect.

            In fact, what happened, is that the socks mysteriously vanished from the floor and mysteriously reappeared in the laundry hamper, and they failed to pay any attention to how this process happened. Males seldom do pay any attention to this, unless the floor becomes substantially covered with dirty socks, and there are no more clean socks in the cupboard.

            So, not recalling any of the mysterious details of sock disappearance and reappearance, they confabulate that their dad did it.

          • Damien says:

            “Lot of people are reporting their dad picks up his own socks. Frankly, I do not believe it.”

            That’s because you are a man of very little brain.

            I am currently staying with friends, where the husband picks up his socks. He did the dishes today as well, after cooking brunch. He’s also the breadwinner with a six-digit salary — and has three children, going to the best private school in town. He doesn’t do all the cooking or cleaning, actually there’s a maid for that during the week, but even back in the US it wasn’t “he brings in the money, she does all the housework”, though the wife probably did more than half, just as she does the bulk — but not all — of childrearing now.

            Given that my family’s laundry basket was in my father’s bedroom, I’m pretty sure he picked up his socks, or more likely threw them the three feet into the hamper. As with the family I’m staying with, he was the tidiest person in the household. My friend has OCD, my father was an army vet. Everyone else around tends to disorder.

        • Andy says:

          Are you actually denying that there are women who do important things in the world that help make society function? What do you have to say about female surgeons? Or female engineers? Or female medical physicists? Female teachers, female entrepreneurs etc.

          Had this argument for a long, frustrating time in the comments of the Left-Libertarian Manifesto-Is Thing.

          https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/12/08/a-something-sort-of-like-left-libertarianism-ist-manifesto/#comment-24531

          pasted directly because I can’t seem to so hyperlink coding in this comment section right. My apologies.

        • Nice try. They are both civil servants.

          Even so, your argument only works if you assume that tasks that are traditionally coded feminine are somehow less useful and important, which is an assumption I obviously don’t share.

          Point is that my mother doesn’t financially depend on my dad.

        • And you better bet that financial autonomy is empowering. If you need a feminist to tell you that, I can’t help you either.

        • ozymandias says:

          Once again, James, your prediction is falsified w.r.t. my family. My mom ran a magazine with a circulation of 90,000.

          Don’t worry, honey. If you make enough predictions one of them will be right by sheer dumb luck!

          • Once again, James, your prediction is falsified w.r.t. my family. My mom ran a magazine with a circulation of 90,000

            And did the magazine make a profit entertaining people, or was it funded for reasons of politics and vanity?

        • ozymandias says:

          Hrm, my mom worked and I still feel pretty born. Must be an illusion. *pinches self*

          Also if you put “bear and raise children” as what women do and “literally everything else” as what men do several things are more important than raising children. Like, farming? It is very hard to raise children if everyone is starving to death. (Of course that’s stupid because throughout history women worked and provided for the household just as much as men did (although in different ways). However if James admitted that he might have to accept that women providing for the household *now* is an okay thing, and then where would we be?)

        • Andy says:

          That’s because you are a man of very little brain.

          Oh, be nice. C’mon dude, you can be better than this.
          A more complex and nuanced interpretation is that James is a prisoner of his notions of How The World Should Be, and not recognizing room for nuance. Which is certainly not just a Reactionary vice.

          • Damien says:

            “Be nice”?

            We’re talking about someone who’s said:

            whites were doing American Indians a favor
            the Tiananmen Square massacre was justified
            women can’t do science
            Jim Crow laws were nice and functional
            “The tea party of 2012 was far to the left of Obama in 2008”
            that the American overclass intends to kill all normal Americans
            that there’s state sponsored gay terrorism in the US
            that there weren’t any famines in India under the British, except for one caused by the Japanese

            Oh and (ArsonMurderAndJaywalking) if you remember your father picking up his own socks you’re confabulating.

            There’s not having room for nuance, and then there’s being wrong about pretty much everything, to the point where if they say it’s a nice day you reach for your umbrella.

          • We’re talking about someone who’s said:

            whites were doing American Indians a favor

            I did not say that. They were not doing American Indians a favor. Rather, at least some whites, a great many whites, probably most of them, in particular Daniel Boone, the archetypical white pioneer, were trying to make a fair deal with the Indians that would benefit everyone, but were prevented by horrifyingly bad indian behavior.

            the Tiananmen Square massacre was justified

            Mandate of heaven. You cannot overthrow the legitimate regime unless it is screwing up. The current Chinese regime is doing pretty well.

            I observe that pretty much everyone who supported the Tiananmen square protest was horrified and outraged by any opposition to Mao, whose artificial famine killed tens of millions.

            women can’t do science

            There is one legitimate example of a woman doing high level maths, but there are no legitimate examples of a woman doing high level science. If there were, you would have a better poster girl than Marie Curie.

            Jim Crow laws were nice and functional

            Back then blacks generally worked, married, had families. The black middle class did real jobs instead of fake jobs.

            “The tea party of 2012 was far to the left of Obama in 2008″

            Tea Party of 2012 proposes substantially higher levels of government spending relative to GDP than did Obama 2008. Similarly, gay marriage.

            that the American overclass intends to kill all normal Americans

            They don’t consciously think of it like that. Rather they are working their way up to it. Much like the way they are dealing with the Tutsi problem in the Congo. Even as Tutsi are being eradicated, they don’t consciously think of themselves as intending eradication. It is just something that is mysteriously happening for absolutely no reason and there is nothing to be done about it

            Like their position on the Congo, also like their position on the knockout game. It is not happening, and if it is happening, has absolutely no connection to the fact that schools teach hatred of white people.

            that there’s state sponsored gay terrorism in the US

            Floyd Lee Corkins was state sponsored.

            that there weren’t any famines in India under the British, except for one caused by the Japanese

            OK, on that one, I was incorrect. Rather, there were no recent famines in the British empire, no famines after they had economically developed the place.

            Oh and (ArsonMurderAndJaywalking) if you remember your father picking up his own socks you’re confabulating.

            Males do not remember socks being picked up. Males do not see socks being picked up if it happens right in front of them. If a daughter claimed to remember her father picking up fifty percent of the socks, I would consider that evidence.

        • ozymandias says:

          James: am I just confabulating that my dad vacuumed the floor this afternoon? Because like I was here for it. It might have been a hallucination though. Or maybe men’s mysterious infertility or blindness choice only applies to socks and they are perfectly capable of cleaning the rest of the house.

          Also my mom’s magazine was pretty damn profitable, yeah. A lot of advertisers are willing to pay to get in front of ninety thousand eyeballs.

          James, I am going to let you know a powerful tool. It is that outliers exist. You can claim that my dad and everyone else’s dad and so on are outliers and in fact the *vast majority* of men don’t pick up their socks for fear of not having kids. That way you do not have to pretend that everyone made up their dad picking up socks or their moms with successful careers.

        • “James, I am going to let you know a powerful tool. It is that outliers exist. You can claim that my dad and everyone else’s dad and so on are outliers and in fact the *vast majority* of men don’t pick up their socks for fear of not having kids.”

          But see, if these men exist and still have successful, stable marriages – even if they are outliers – he can’t claim that any egalitarian marriage is bound to fail…. He could claim that the probality for failure might be higher, because generally people find it easier to just run with the herd and stick to convention, forever re-enacting the established scripts (because deviating from standard procedure requires more thinking for yourself), but that would make the whole state of affairs sound slightly depressing, wouldn’t it?

          “We’re talking about someone who’s said:

          whites were doing American Indians a favor
          the Tiananmen Square massacre was justified
          women can’t do science […]”

          Don’t forget, any brother would gladly watch his sister be raped, and pimp her out if given an opportunity.

          I dearly hope he doesn’t have any aunts (even I would wouldn’t assume he has sisters), because that would say horrible things about his father.

          I won’t draw any inferences about his intellectual abilities/integrity, but it seems pretty obvious to me that he himself must have had horrible male role models (the internalized misandry is heart-breaking) and is traumatized by the experience.

          • Don’t forget, any brother would gladly watch his sister be raped, and pimp her out if given an opportunity.

            I did not say “gladly”, I said he is not going to excessively risk his life over over a sister’s chastity, the way he will over a wife’s chastity.

            As for pimping, in matrilineal cultures, most brothers do pimp their sisters out, given the opportunity. This, however, is the characteristic behavior of bastards, not the characteristic behavior of men raised by fathers.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Can the ad hominems against James please stop? You’ll notice that while James makes controversial and sometimes harsh statements – those are not attacks on his interlocutors.

          I’m not very confident in my thoughts on this topic but here there are right now:
          Men and women generally have comparative advantages in different things – there are good evolutionary reasons that women would have a comparative advantage in childrearing (which isn’t to say that its true, but its plausible). Therefore the idea that “women can and should do anything men do” is wrong and harmful. I doubt anyone really believed that line anyway.

          However, women can still have careers and raise children, and I think that forcing women to choose between their careers and having a family is horrible*. Nordic countries seem to have solved this problem and they have fertility rates close to replacement levels even with most women working (I’m aware that immigrants drive up the fertility rate, but even still Nordics have high fertility rates compared to other Europeans).

          *not to mention dysgenic

          • Nordic countries seem to have solved this problem and they have fertility rates close to replacement levels even with most women working

            How do you know? That is official truth, not actual statistics.

            Evidence about Nordic countries social programs resembles evidence about Cuba’s health scheme. There is more censorship and cooking the books in the Nordic countries than there is here, and there is a lot of it here.

            The official truth is

            public policies that include a comprehensive system of subsidized child care encourage childbearing by reducing the role conflict between work and parenthood. Swedish male partners are expected to help with housework and child care. The support from partners also reduces the tension between work and parenthood. Swedish women stay home the first year after birth and return to a part-time status during the pre-school years.

            How wonderfully PC, especially that part about support from partners. How do they know? Particularly as most of the fertility is coming from single women. The PC picture of a single mum is just like a married mum, but the picture depicted in black culture is that usually their main boyfriend drops in on the day the welfare money arrives to rough them up and help spend the welfare money, and they seldom see him the rest of the month.

            In fact, how do they know any of that stuff? It appears to be a blissfully optimistic interpretation of data that could be equally interpreted, or perhaps better interpreted, as evidence of a soaring female underclass having lots of demon spawn by lots of different thugs, of permanently unemployed and unemployable women having lots of permanently unemployable babies by lots of permanently unemployable criminals.

            Could well be interpreted as evidence of Sweden spitting into a non reproducing and rapidly shrinking employed majority, and a rapidly reproducing and rapidly expanding permanently and irreversibly unemployed minority.

            Sweden has a multitude of government programs aimed at encouraging women attached to the workforce to reproduce and aimed at encouraging reproduction by couples, rather than singles, which, logically, should produce a storm of statistics about reproduction by women attached to the workforce and women attached to a man. Strangely, I could not find such statistics. Perhaps this was my bias causing me to look in the wrong places.

            Given these programs, there should be data telling us the fertility rate among women attached to the workforce or to a man attached to the workforce, as compared to women not attached to the workforce, nor attached to a man attached to the workforce. Strangely, I cannot find such data, cannot find the data measuring the problem that these government programs are intended to correct, just optimistic announcements that the data looks sweet.

          • think that forcing women to choose between their careers and having a family is horrible*. Nordic countries seem to have solved this problem

            Sweden has as many programs to encourage fertility among people with workforce attachment, as the US has programs to close the gap between black and white schoolchildren. Regular announcements that these programs are working naturally follow.

        • Well, he did try to invalidate my argument by making all kinds of wild guesses about _my_ family background….

          But I can see how any further engagement with him won’t be productive for me, so I’m out.

        • Roman Davis says:

          The PC picture of a single mum is just like a married mum, but the picture depicted in black culture is that usually their main boyfriend drops in on the day the welfare money arrives to rough them up and help spend the welfare money, and they seldom see him the rest of the month.

          So, I’m sure this is a thing that happens. There definitely are some nasty cultural memes among blacks and the poor. But is this most single mothers? Is this really most black single mothers? I don’t know. And unless you’ve done some serious teeth counting, you don’t know either.

          I mean, my mom was a (white) single mother, and it certainly wasn’t exactly the same as if she had been married. And there is a case that it was worse for us. But it wasn’t that bad.

          I’d be much more sympathetic to your cause if neoreactionaries were out trying to acquire data sets that were “uncooked”, rather than blithely spouting their worldview and pretending that that made them brave, persecuted ubermenschen.

          • So, I’m sure this is a thing that happens. There definitely are some nasty cultural memes among blacks and the poor. But is this most single mothers? Is this really most black single mothers? I don’t know. And unless you’ve done some serious teeth counting, you don’t know either.

            Well I don’t know from personal observation that most single moms only see their main boyfriend when the welfare money arrives, but I do know from personal observation that most white single moms have no stable boyfriend, and are alone most nights, that their erratic, infrequently visiting, and frequently changing boyfriends treat them extraordinarily badly, and vice versa.

        • Roman Davis says:

          My experience simply doesn’t match up with this. That’s cool. I already knew that. The question is: How should we count teeth?

        • Andy says:

          I’d be much more sympathetic to your cause if neoreactionaries were out trying to acquire data sets that were “uncooked”, rather than blithely spouting their worldview and pretending that that made them brave, persecuted ubermenschen.

          But “brave, persecuted ubermenschen” has a much higher signaling return on investment than seeking out unbiased data!
          (And yes, I’m leaning toward thinking of the Dark Enlightenment as a bunch of guys signaling how much better they are than anyone else, and how persecuted they are by the world not conforming to their head-canon.)

        • Roman Davis says:

          Um, usually if a person really wants to show up every night, they just move in. Which happened, and that’s the pattern I have the most experience with.

          And, while there is some amount of drama in every relationship (this was not what we were disputing) there was, in fact, in the period of ten years between my mom’s first and second marriage, one fairly bad flare up of drama. Both myself and my mom have, I think, fairly good records for amicable break ups. This wasn’t one.

          No one was traumatized, I don’t think. Still, yes, drama happens.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @James

          You happen to think that 18th century sexual norms and barring women from the workplace (or at least reducing their presence) will solve the fertility problem that we are seeing in the developed world correct? Well how about some data to demonstrate that?

          If you look at the Middle East where sexual norms are pretty old fashioned, the rich countries still have low fertility rates: Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia all have fertility rates of less than 2.5 and are falling. This leads me to suspect that 18th century sexual norms don’t work in developed countries. Which brings me to my hypothesis:

          Feminism and decreasing fertility rates happen in developed countries because the opportunity costs of having a child are higher. A women who is pretty intelligent living in a third world country isn’t too upset about being a housewife and having 4 kids because what else is she going to do with her time? An intelligent women in a developed country on the other hand has the potential to become say an investment banker, so being a housewife is a pretty raw deal. This is a problem and you’re not going to solve it by imitating 18th century sexual norms – they were a product of the economic and social environment at the time and you have to deal with the economic realities now if you are serious about fixing the problem. I think that making having children more attractive is a good first step and making working less attractive simply doesn’t work.

          Even if you get 70% of the companies and schools in a country to discriminate against women, the remaining 30% will simply skim off the most capable female workers and outcompete the 70%. If you have a way of getting around this problem I’d like to hear it.

          • Damien says:

            “the remaining 30% will simply skim off the most capable female workers and outcompete the 70%. If you have a way of getting around this problem I’d like to hear it.”

            Easy! He’d just deny that there are capable female workers to skim off.

          • “the remaining 30% will simply skim off the most capable female workers and outcompete the 70%.

            There have never been any laws, nor any need for laws, forbidding employers from employing female workers (except for certain entertainment industries where such employment was likely to be a cover for prostitution, or a gateway to prostitution) and yet, before anti discrimination laws, employers were generally reluctant to employ females except in certain tasks where female characteristics were advantageous, such as nursing, sewing, performing music, managing small children, taking care of sick or distressed animals, etc.

            Absent laws forbidding “discrimination” we can expect a return to form. Restore freedom of association, and state manufactured opportunities for female employment would disappear. Female employment would then return to historically normal levels in most professions – which in most professions is very low, and in some professions, absolutely zero, except for cases of nepotism.

          • You happen to think that 18th century sexual norms and barring women from the workplace (or at least reducing their presence) will solve the fertility problem that we are seeing in the developed world correct? Well how about some data to demonstrate that?

            If you look at the Middle East where sexual norms are pretty old fashioned, the rich countries still have low fertility rates: Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia all have fertility rates of less than 2.5

            I doubt that any Christians would call Muslim mores old fashioned.

            Iran, with new fashioned sexual mores has even lower fertility rates

            Economics 101. Consider the incentives. If the data say that incentives do not work, the data is wrong.

            Polygamy reduces fertility, because only a few males get to invest in children. Saudi Arabia has low fertility because the oil money flows through a few families, who monopolize the females.

            Abolishing Pauline marriage, which is to say female freedom of contract, not allowing them to irrevocably commit to bear children for one man and enable him to raise those children, also prevents males from investing in children, because they cannot contract to safely do it.

            Pauline marriage – irrevocable consent to sex and mutual support by both parties, with chastity and monogamy, maximizes fertility, because almost every male has the opportunity to invest in posterity – it maximizes male investment.

            The relevant comparison is not Saudi Arabia, but the Christian community of the Philippines, where they still have old fashioned Pauline marriage.

        • Army1987 says:

          @James A. Donald:

          There is one legitimate example of a woman doing high level maths, but there are no legitimate examples of a woman doing high level science.

          By what standard don’t Chien-Shiung Wu or Rita Levi-Montalcini count as True Scots^W^W high level?

          • By what standard don’t Chien-Shiung Wu or Rita Levi-Montalcini count as True Scots^W^W high level?

            Who?

            Looks up Chien-Shiung Wu.

            Ah, she was the chick who made coffee for Lee and Yang, the men who discovered paritty violation.

    • Multiheaded says:

      A very excellent comment, Adele!

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  63. James S says:

    Random comment on North Korea: I’m not sure if it really counts as ‘Confucian’ in any meaningful sense. I’m not sure exactly what, if anything, the Reactionaries should make of it. Take BR Myer’s “The Cleanest Race” ( this video – http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/292562-1 – gets all of the relevant points across) – paints a different picture of North Korea than “the Kims are all-powerful dictators with no need to rely on public support”.

    (tl;dw: North Korea has a fundamentally racist worldview and relies on racial pride and a sense that the Korean people are innocent and need the protection of a ‘Mother’ – the Kims – to protect them from the evils of the world, especially the evil Americans. Current propaganda and military provocations are the result of the collapse of the information cordon and the knowledge that the South is more economically prosperous, and thus the only source of legitimacy for the regime is that they are standing up to the Yankees. Any attempts to talk them down from a military standoff are doomed to fail, because it means giving up any claim to legitimacy.

    Interesting data point: of those North Koreans who leave for China to find work, many wind up bribing the border guards to get back into NK.)

    That’s not to say that they’re progressive in any meaningful sense – but that it’s a complicated situation and that the progressive/reaction dynamic, such as it is, might not be the a very good model for it.

    Addendum: BR Myers is my main source for this, and I’m not terribly well read on NK in general. I haven’t seen any serious criticism of his views, but then, not being familiar with the state of NK scholarship, I’m not sure where I’d look for them anyway. If someone does know more, or better yet has an accessible summary, I’d love to see it.

  64. Damien says:

    More delusional filth. The best argument against neo-reaction is what comes out of the mouths of reactionaries.

    “In actual history, the only famine in British ruled India was a war famine imposed by the Japanese”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_major_famines_in_India_during_British_rule
    mixes both British and non-British famines, but several are definitely British, starting with the Great Bengal Famine. Of course I include the East India Company, whose policies of plunder and cash crops turned an agricultural hiccup into Holocaust-level deaths. But the British government itself racked up its own megadeaths in the Great Famine of 1876 with laissez faire grain policies and Temple wages, or in 1896 with grain exports in the middle of famine, and again in 1899.

    The Japanese were certainly part of the problem in 1943, but so was the lack of an India-wide food policy, British confiscation of fishing and trade boats, Churchill’s greater concern for Greeks than Bengalis. The British rail system was also not designed to facilitate intra-Indian trade or supply movement.

    I don’t expect to convince you, of course, that’s clearly impossible, but unchecked you might confuse the innocent.

    “after 1870, no famines at all” 3 major famines in 30 years.

    “British abandon their empire. Famines all over the place.” In India? No.

    “The famines before 1870 do not count, because India was extremely poor” They do count, because Company (and later, Raj) policies exacerbated that poverty, by raising taxes, refusing to be flexible, and converting food to cotton or indigo production.

    “Just as if women could do science, you would have a better poster girl than Marie Curie, and if blacks were wrongfully lynched”

    Wow. Just… wow.

    • According to Wikipedia:

      The construction of the Indian railways between 1860 and 1920, and the opportunities thereby offered for greater profit in other markets, allowed farmers to accumulate assets that could then be drawn upon during times of scarcity.[22] By the early 20th century, many farmers in the Bombay presidency were growing a portion of their crop for export.[22] Wheat, both food and cash crop, saw increased production and export during this time; in addition, cotton and oil-seeds were also exported.[22] The railways also brought in food, whenever expected scarcities began to drive up food prices.[22]

      There were other changes in the economy as well: a construction boom in the Bombay presidency, in both the private and public sectors, during the first two decades of the 20th century, created a demand for unskilled labour.[22]

      Which sounds to me as if white rule was creating prosperity, consistent with the fact that famines were diminishing over time.

      And, just as the fact that you guys make a poster girl out of Marie Curie shows that women cannot do science, the fact that you want to blame the Bengal famine on colonialism, capitalism, white racism, etc, shows that colonialism brought people out of poverty.

      It is easy to rewrite long ago history. Let us look at more recent history.

      Detroit reverts to wilderness. Obviously there would be famine in Detroit if whites were not supporting them through welfare.

      Before white rule, Rhodesia was cannibal infested jungle. During white rule, prosperous. After white rule, back to cannibal infested jungle.

      South Africa is not jungle yet, though some cannibalism has reappeared, but the upper stories of tall building and the lower depths of mines have become uninhabitable, foreshadowing that the jungle is on its way.

  65. Troy says:

    8) I thought your anti-colonial arguments were a bit quick. I agree that colonialism did some pretty bad things. But some colonizers were better than others. We don’t need “an imaginary ideal version” of colonialism; we can just take Britain’s colonies, and look at the most successful. Some of them did pretty darn good.

    Moreover, your economic argument against colonialism is a little unfair to the colonial countries. Colonial countries in the 60s and 70s had the significant disadvantage of economic embargoes and the like from the international community. And yet Rhodesia, for example, did remarkably well in the 60s and 70s despite having almost no international recognition. South Africa was not quite so isolated, I think, but still faced enormous international disapproval. It doesn’t seem quite fair to compare those two countries with majority rule Zimbabwe and South Africa.

    Actually, come to think of it, those two countries shouldn’t be thought of as colonial at all: they were independent, but white-ruled. And it might be that countries like that are/were better than actual colonies. So there’s another variable to consider.

    • Damien says:

      “We don’t need “an imaginary ideal version” of colonialism; we can just take Britain’s colonies, and look at the most successful. Some of them did pretty darn good.”

      Just looking at the most successful is cherry-picking, and invalid. Also, which ones can be said to have done unambiguously well? Hong Kong and Singapore, which are (a) Chinese, who whether due to race or culture do quite well in general when not kept down by their own government and (b) geographically advantaged to an unusual degree, especially Singapore. That doesn’t make a strong case for the British having been good colonialists.

      • Troy says:

        I take it that part of the exercise in 5.6, and in the FAQ in general, was comparing the best realistically possible instances of different forms of government. A reactionary needn’t endorse everything flying under the banner of colonialism, he can just endorse British colonialism, or British colonialism as it was practiced in a few particular places, or white-ruled non-colonies like Rhodesia and RSA.

        I have seen studies looking at former British and non-British colonies and finding that even after controlling for other variables, the former do better (I’m afraid I don’t have any citations on hand, though). Anecdotally, this seems right to me in Africa, the area I know the most about.

        I do agree that if the differences between the good instances and the bad instances are due to random chance rather than some actionable variable, it’s bad to look just at them. But it’s at least not obvious to me that that’s the case, even focusing on the best of the British — maybe their policies were different in more successful colonies, for example.

        I do think, though, that if you focus on the best instances of colonialism, you ought to look at the best instances of post- or non-colonialism (holding constant race, etc.). So, if Rhodesia is a good white British-ruled country, we can compare it to Botswana, a good post-colonial majority-ruled country, rather than to present-day Zimbabwe (which it would beat on most metrics). I’m honestly not sure which method of government would come out best on various metrics if we did this.

        • Damien says:

          I’ve often heard British colonies did better than others; that might be true, but it’s not the same as being a net positive.

          “Look at the best” is useful only you could (a) identify what causes made them the best and (b) reliably implement them for Colonialism 2.0. If your best hope is a British distribution that is occasionally positive but has a negative mean, that’s not a good thing.

          I also wonder if those “British did better” lists have been updated since Zimbabwe’s crash. And Mugabe is at least a partial product of British culture and education (Rhodesian upbringing, Salisbury and University of London education).

          Stross had a pointed post on why post-colonial countries tend to crash and burn: the colonialists deliberately fostered ethnic divisions, with minority administrators. This might mean sudden decolonization was a bad idea in short-term utilitarianism, but it’s hardly a defense of colonialism per se. http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/11/trotskyite-singularitarians-fo.html#comment-1810033

      • The reason I did not respond to the remarks about colonialism was that it was frothing at the mouth raging moonbat lunacy unworthy of rebuttal, a pile of madness set in a counter earth with no detectable relationship to our earth.

        Compare Rhodesia with Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a hell hole.

        India is doing OK now, but the immediate consequence of independence was mass murder and famine, followed by a long period of bitter economic stagnation.

        When the British left, chaos, bloodshed, and economic ruin followed. And if you care to read old books by the colonized, for example Munshi Abdullah, you will learn that before the British arrived, there was chaos, bloodshed and economic ruin.

        • Damien says:

          “the immediate consequence of independence was mass murder and famine”

          As opposed to the ongoing consequence of colonialism: mass murder and famines. And the last major famine in India was before independence, so you’re wrong as usual.

          • “the immediate consequence of independence was mass murder and famine”

            As opposed to the ongoing consequence of colonialism: mass murder and famines.

            In the PC history of your parallel universe.

            In actual history, the only famine in British ruled India was a war famine imposed by the Japanese, which allegedly was somehow the fault of the British in that the British could have prevented had they been more socialist, since we know the wonderful success socialists have had in preventing famines.

            As I said, frothing at the mouth moonbattery unworthy of rebuttal. The supposed famines of British ruled India are in fact one famine, the 1943 Bengal famine. The 1943 Bengal famine was a war famine caused by a Japanese blockade. The market ceased to function for rather obvious and compelling reasons, and had the British buggered the market even further, the famine would have been considerably worse, not magiced away.

            The famines before 1870 do not count, because India was extremely poor when the British took over, stuck in malthusian equilibrium, and under British rule, it came out of Malthusian equilibrium.

            In order to argue that British rule caused famine, rather than eliminated famine, you need a famine late in the period of British rule, which you do not have.

            Just as if women could do science, you would have a better poster girl than Marie Curie, and if blacks were wrongfully lynched, you would have a better poster boy that Emmet Till, if British rule brought poverty rather than prosperity, you would have a better famine than the 1943 Bengal famine.

            Before British rule, regular famines.

            Under British rule, fewer and fewer famines, and after 1870, no famines at all. (When your enemies create famine by military means, does not count)

            British abandon their empire. Famines all over the place.

  66. Troy says:

    And now, let’s talk about race! Moving from less to more serious, there are several things to say here:

    3) A historical note: Although I do appreciate (on an aesthetic level) the rhetoric of 5.4 (you want to think of yourselves as racist! but you’re really not) I think you oversell the disagreement between contemporary reactionaries and people in the 18th and 19th centuries. I think there was considerable debate at that time, at least among colonialists, to what degree black people could improve themselves, and I think the “more extreme abolitionists” would have been today’s environmentalists. But of course you’re right that general opinion has moved far to the left from then.

    4) Though I think your data on racism decreasing are generally accurate, it’s worth noting that one explanation of some shifts in expressed views is not that people’s opinions have changed, but that they’ve become less willing to express them. (How would you feel telling someone you don’t approve of interracial marriage?) The better psychologists are trying to test this: see, e.g., http://personality-testing.info/tests/PCS.php

    5) In 5.4, you use inaccurate stereotypes to denigrate all stereotypes. (I’m also wondering what your sources for these stereotypes are.) Ignoring the self-referential irony, there has actually been empirical work on stereotype accuracy, and it’s found that stereotypes are generally pretty accurate. See, for example, Lee Jussim’s new book, Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, or this co-authored chapter: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jussim/unbearable%20accuracy%20of%20stereotypes.pdf

    6) You say:

    If, as the scientific racists suggest, black people have an average IQ of 85 compared to the white average of 100,

    You’re misrepresenting what’s established and what’s controversial. Racial differences in IQ are established fact. The controversial question is what causes. “Scientific racists,” as you call them, think it’s partly genetic. That’s the controversial issue (although the majority of psychometricians agree, when asked anonymously).

    7) Can we please stop calling the claim that racial IQ differences have a partly genetic cause “racism” (or “scientific racism”? You tacitly indicate that you’re following your opponents’ lead here – “Reactionaries like to think of themselves as racist” – but, although I don’t know whether I’m a “reactionary,” I’ve considered this question and hold this view, and I do not consider myself a racist, or my views racist.

    I admit that this is a verbal dispute. But the term “racist” has such negative connotations that in the interests of impartiality I do not think it should be used here. Moreover, it has plain meanings which should not encompass empirical beliefs about racial differences: e.g., dislike of other racial groups, or a belief that certain racial groups have less moral worth. I do not hold to the latter view, and while I do react more negatively to blacks than whites on the IAT, I also make an effort to make non-white friends and interact with people from different racial and cultural backgrounds. (For example, I live in a majority black neighborhood.) I agree with progressives that such is valuable. Moreover, I think that the reality of biological differences is important partly because denying these hurts black people (and other disadvantaged groups, but blacks especially)! See, for example, Education Realist’s excellent blog for the harmful effects – for those of lower cognitive ability! – of assuming cognitive equality on education policy.

    In these attitudes I do differ at least with some of the commentators on HBD sites, though less often with the bloggers themselves (see, e.g., Steve Sailer’s site – I don’t think Steve is racist, but some of the people who post there definitely are). It would be taxonomically helpful to have a term to describe people like me, who are not racist in the more narrow sense just described but who do believe that there are biological differences between races. Your usage of “racist” makes that harder.

    • Troy says:

      7), cont.: Also note that “scientific racism” (in your sense) need not go together with the measures of racism in the studies you cite (e.g., opposition to interracial marriage). You could be married to someone of a different race and accept the reality of biological differences between your race and theirs. (Or you could be the offspring of an interracial couple and accept this reality — see Jayman’s blog.)

  67. Troy says:

    I just read this and all the other reactionary posts (and most of the comments!). I agree with others that in general this post is very good; I especially appreciated your arguments against monarchy. But – and I realize I’m pretty late here – I think there are some significant weak points relating to race and social issues in particular, which I’ll try to note on this and the other threads.

    1) You rightly note that there are some positive trends at least in recent history, e.g., in crime. This may refute an “everything’s getting worse” narrative (to which I don’t subscribe), but it doesn’t refute the claim that we ought to adopt certain conservative policies, re: (again, e.g.) crime. For example, it may be that crime has declined because blacks (it’s mostly black crime that has fluctuated in the past 50 years) have moved away from blaming whites for their problems, or because cities realized that not going after black criminals because of white guilt was a bad idea (even if they couldn’t come out and put it in precisely those terms). See this revealing interview in Macleans, for example: http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20060116_119563_119563. Thus, that crime has dropped is far from an argument against these policies or ideas.

    Sticking with crime: that crime is not as bad as it could be doesn’t mean it’s not a serious problem. World hunger is a serious problem even though it’s much better than it used to be. Not being afraid of going outside at night alone, of leaving stuff on your porch, of leaving your car unlocked, etc. – these really do affect your quality of life. And lowering crime improves other outcomes too, especially for the lower class. So I think it’s entirely reasonable to be disproportionately concerned with it. Moreover, crime is not evenly distributed, and so is more of a serious problem in particular cities and areas. I live in a multiracial, multiclass neighborhood and I am definitely concerned about crime. Ironically, I think that most upper class whites are too concerned about it on an implicit level – in that most would never live where I live – but too unconcerned on an explicit level – in that they don’t want to support “law-and-order” politicians or police because they see them as racist.

    2) You say,

    before we pretend that the minutiae of who has which values and who goes to church how many times affects fertility rate much, let’s see the inevitable GDP/fertility rate graph

    Much too quick. It’s most likely that rising GDP causes progressive values – as you yourself suggest in your 10/31 post! – and that these cause lowered fertility. Data on the higher fertility of the religious, for example, bear this out. So it’s perfectly consistent with that graph that we ought to promote more conservative social values to increase (eugenic) fertility.

    • Damien says:

      “For example, it may be that crime has declined because blacks (it’s mostly black crime that has fluctuated in the past 50 years) have moved away from blaming whites for their problems, or because cities realized that not going after black criminals because of white guilt was a bad idea”

      The fact that crime went up and then down again in the 1960s and 1990s, almost in synchrony, across the whole Western world, much of which has no blacks to speak of, and also in parts of the US without many blacks, makes a mockery of such racial ideas. There’s also a similar pattern in countries that are entirely black. Compare to, say, lead pollution, which explains things much better.

      • Troy says:

        I don’t deny that crime has fluctuated everywhere for all races, and that these fluctuations have happened around the same time and in the same direction. However, I stand by my statement that black crime has fluctuated significantly more than white crime. I can only find data for 1976 onward, but here’s an illustrative graph: http://www.claremont.org/repository/imgLib/20090206_LatzerChartA.jpg .

        I have not looked at data comparing American trends with other countries, but I would be surprised if they’re greater for other first-world countries. (I’m open to disconfirmation here, if you have any contrary data.)

        Now, I definitely agree that my two proposed (hypothetical) explanations, or any other plausible ones, will not completely explain changing crime rates. Crime is a very complicated social phenomenon. But that doesn’t mean that the explanations I offered, or similar ones, are not partial explanations – especially if, as I’ve suggested, there’s more of a variance to be explained for American blacks than for other groups. NYC seems to have lowered crime significantly more than other cities, and continued lowering it in periods when others have seen increases, and I think this is plausibly because of changes in policing of the kind I mentioned. See for example the “New York City Exception” section of this (excellent) article by Ron Unz: http://www.unz.com/article/race-and-crime-in-america/ .

        As for lead: I expressed skepticism about the lead theory in one of the other threads. To paraphrase myself there, I believe that Steve Sailer crunched the numbers for various counties and found little correlation between lead and crime when race was controlled for (he made posts to this effect on the MJ threads on lead and crime, I think). Also, the proposed mechanism (lowering IQ) doesn’t explain the increase in crime in the 1960s. Most of what I’ve read suggests that IQs were rising at that time for everyone (Flynn effect), but crime increased. So it doesn’t seem that lead caused crime by lowering IQs. If I were looking for a whole Western-world explanation, I’d probably favor large-scale social changes like the sexual revolution and the rise of divorce and out-of-wedlock births.

        • Damien says:

          In the US whites fled the cities for the suburbs. Urban blacks bore the brunt of leaded gas pollution. Especially in housing projects literally right next to the freeways that whisked the suburbanites in to work.

          Does the Flynn effect apply to *everyone*, or just national IQ averages? Crime is done by the outliers. If the average rises due to nutrition but you also get pockets of worse IQ due to pollution, that’s enough to explain it.

          “I believe that Steve Sailer crunched the numbers for various counties and found little correlation between lead and crime when race was controlled for”

          How does that even work when nearly monoracial countries both white and black have shown the rise-and-fall pattern?

        • Troy says:

          Does the Flynn effect apply to *everyone*, or just national IQ averages? Crime is done by the outliers. If the average rises due to nutrition but you also get pockets of worse IQ due to pollution, that’s enough to explain it.

          That’s a good point. You’re right that to get rising averages, not everyone’s IQ has to rise. On the other hand, for a rising average to be compatible with lead causing crime by lowering IQ, it would have to be selective enough to lower IQs of prospective criminals without noticeably bringing down the average. This is plausible for whites, but less plausible for blacks, since the latter were (by the theory’s own lights) more affected by lead and a smaller population to begin with. Even at the peak of the crime wave, only a small proportion of urban blacks committed violent crimes; there doesn’t seem to be a plausible way for lead to have lowered their IQs without lowering most of the non-criminals’ IQs as well.

          How does that even work when nearly monoracial countries both white and black have shown the rise-and-fall pattern?

          I think you may have misread my comment: I was talking about U.S. counties, not countries.

          I can’t find the comments I was thinking of, but I did find some old essays of Steve’s which offer some other reasons for skepticism:

          http://isteve.blogspot.com/2007/07/lead-poisoning-and-great-1960s-freakout.html
          http://takimag.com/article/did_heavy_metal_brain_damage_cause_the_1960s_steve_sailer/print#ixzz2IwDkbwOX

          They’re too long to summarize, but a couple of notable points from the first post:

          – Japan never experienced a crime wave in the 60s and 70s, despite having a very dense population and lead pollution from cars.

          – The lead studies found strong correlations between lead and overall violent crime rates, but not murder rates. However, as noted above, murder is the most reliably reported crime. And it doesn’t seem plausible that lead would have made people just impulsive and stupid enough to assault someone, but not impulsive and stupid enough to kill them.

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  70. Damien says:

    “So we see Zhang Xianzhong’s regime was clearly nasty rightism, cleverly disguising itself under leftist slogans.”

    The one undeniable thing about Zhang is that he was a military warlord, i.e. the sort of person who usually establishes a hereditary monarchy if they can, and definitely not a democrat, nor living in a democracy. So yes, that trumps any putative progressivism on economic issues. Give one man tons of power and they can go mad and try to kill everyone. Monarchy at work.

    • But Zhang Xianzhong could not kill everybody with his own sword. He could only kill everybody if his followers believed they should kill everybody, including each other.

      Thus, not a warlord, but a prophet and an ideologue. A warlord is not going to be able to do the stuff he did.

      Perfect leftist singularity: Kills the rich for being rich, then the intellectuals for dissent, then poor for political incorrectness, and then the killers kill each other for insufficient purity.

      A simple warlord is not going to be bothered by intellectuals, and not going to be obeyed when he starts massively purging his own people.

      When Aristide gouged out the eyes of one of his underlings, the non politicals went over the the revolution, while the politicals remained loyal. Obviously Zhang Xianzhong followers were politicals.

  71. jmac says:

    You should not be using Rome as an example of how “Good” progessivism is. One of the reasons rome fell was because of how much “Welfare” it was handing out to it’s poor and the corruption in the democratic senate. I am not for reactionaries and totally dispise the idea. Just commenting on how Rome is not a good example of ow progressivism is better.

    • ozymandias says:

      I am not sure how Rome could have fallen because of corruption in the Senate when it fell when it was an Empire.

    • Protagoras says:

      The Roman elders (whose titles are almost always left untranslated for some unaccountable reason) were among the least democratic components of the Republican system, and most stories of the collapse of the Republic blame too little “welfare” rather than too much (specifically, endless stonewalling of much needed land reform by the wealthy conservatives is blamed for the unrest and eventually widespread civil war in the last century of the Republic). The fall of the Empire was, of course, another story, but as Ozy says that’s obviously not something to blame on democracy, and in any event in that case it’s really more of a mystery how it lasted so long, when most empires find ways to collapse much more quickly.

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  74. Damien says:

    typo: “mean that the local church is no longer ties together”

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  77. Slackermagee says:

    “orming bizarre but intellectually fecund communities that will inevitably end up with everyone involved moving to the Bay Area and having kids together.”

    But, but, I wanted to go to space eventually! This can’t be the future… *cue Skywalker scream of denial*.

  78. Srogerscat says:

    It seems to be that the Cathedral is something of a distraction/excuse.

    Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs is sufficient explanation for why the general population follows (some, occasionally) progressive ideals:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

    In short, as people get more physical and financial security, they act more like the rich. They begin to want political power that matches their economic power.

    So. How do neoreactionaries respond to this problem? The Cathedral is a comforting trope that allows them to pretend that there is a Silver Bullet: Eliminate the rabble rousers and Those People will stay in line and submissive to the new aristocracy… but I don’t think it will be that easy.

    After all, one of the problems the political left is having in the USA is dealing with the fact that the Tea Party Movement started as a grassroots movement and despite funding and somewhat successful coopting by big money fundraisers, has and will retain a strong grassroots element, no Silver Bullet against big money conservative funding will make it go away.

    • So. How do neoreactionaries respond to this problem? The Cathedral is a comforting trope that allows them to pretend that there is a Silver Bullet: Eliminate the rabble rousers and Those People will stay in line and submissive to the new aristocracy… but I don’t think it will be that easy.

      Supposing that the new Aristocracy corresponds to a majority of La Griffe Du Lion’s smart fraction, a majority of a minority of adult males.

      In today’s society, I don’t see any genuine trouble making coming from outside the smart fraction. All the leftist troublemaking is astroturf, and all the genuine trouble making, for example the tea party, is smart fraction.

      • srogerscat says:

        A Tea Party that, at the grassroots level, is very Populist. And to the neoreactionaries, suspect , very suspect by definition.

        The Tea Party will not be amenable to a New Aristocracy at all.

        Unless the neoreactioaries manage to sell the idea that the Tea Party is part of the con… but that just postpones trouble, and quite a lot of it, does not avoid it all together.

        • A Tea Party that, at the grassroots level, is very Populist. And to the neoreactionaries, suspect , very suspect by definition.

          The Tea Party will not be amenable to a New Aristocracy at all.

          The tea party hates the American overclass, because the overclass is in alliance with the underclass, the gimmiedat majority, because the overclass will not prosecute people who play the knockout game. In this sense they are populist.

          The American overclass hates hates normal Americans who live normal lives and wishes them dead, and intends, in the long run, to kill them all. The Chinese overclass rather likes normal Chinese that live normal lives. The Tea Party is populist in the sense of being aware of this problem. If we had an overclass resembling the Chinese overclass, they would be fine with that.

        • ozymandias says:

          The rhetoric of the Tea Party seems… somewhat anti-China? Because Communism?

          A naive person would suggest that if the overclass is allying with the underclass, they don’t seem to be doing a very good job, given that the underclass is still, well, under.

          Do you have any evidence that people are actually playing a game that involves knocking strangers out, as opposed to the media taking a dozen assaults and being like “this is proof a knockout game exists, watch our show!”? (It is true that random assaults are not better, but I feel like if you are going to refer to a ‘knockout game,’ it is reasonable to require that it actually be a game.) Also, do you have any evidence people aren’t being prosecuted for randomly assaulting people? The Wikipedia page for “knockout game” involved a lot of phrases like “arrested” and “sentenced” and “fifty years in prison” that would lead an innocent like myself to believe that people are being prosecuted for it.

          • A naive person would suggest that if the overclass is allying with the underclass, they don’t seem to be doing a very good job, given that the underclass is still, well, under.

            See black privilege: http://blog.jim.com/culture/black-privilege-2.html

            Do you have any evidence that people are actually playing a game that involves knocking strangers out, as opposed to the media taking a dozen assaults

            A congresswomen got it, not because she was a congresswoman, but because she was a random white person. Therefore a significant percentage of all random white people have been subjected to hate attacks, whereas white hate attacks on black people are so rare that you guys are reduced to making them up.

            The extraordinarily high level of hate attacks reflects an extraordinary reluctance to prosecute black crime, as we also saw with when Martin Trayvon’s career came to light.

          • The Wikipedia page for “knockout game” involved a lot of phrases like “arrested” and “sentenced” and “fifty years in prison” that would lead an innocent like myself to believe that people are being prosecuted for it.

            If a black erroneously attacks a Jew or a politician, he gets prosecuted.

            If he attacks anyone in certain parts of the US, quite a lot of the US, he gets prosecuted. And in those parts of the US, such attacks are rare. The attacks are common where they are not prosecuted.

            In much of the US, race based justice does overwhelmingly favor blacks, as was illustrated in the George Zimmerman case, where it was discovered that No Limit Nigga had stolen twelve pieces of jewelry, but was not prosecuted for reasons of race, and the jewelry not returned to its owner for reasons of race.

            And where race based justice overwhelmingly favors blacks, you get the knockout game.

  79. ChenChen says:

    Re: crime stats, look up lead (the element) and it’s direct relationship to criminal behaviour.

    Also fuck you for the crack about Ireland.

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  82. Argon says:

    This post demonstrates that “don’t read the comments section” holds true. Sorry, but the comments are fully of raging fucknuts, idiots of all stripes, and general scum.

    If this were my blog I’d be engaging in a little devowling, dehighlighting, and even whole-scale deletion.

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  84. Karl Siegemund says:

    Another remark:

    Norway actually is an economic power house, ranking 4th in the world in GDP (PPP) per capita or about 30% more than the U.S..

  85. Karl Siegemund says:

    Both of you, Moldbug and you, completely missunderstood Stefan Zweig (for reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Zweig ).

    When Stefan Zweig wrote this (in 1942), it was close to his suicide by barbiturates. He was a writer, who fled Austria in 1934, fearing Hitler, who just rose to power in neighbouring Germany. In this text, he compares the turmoil of World War II and the destruction of all culture and humanism by the Nazis. Compared with Europa during the War, monarchist Austria really looked like a stable paradise, and the time he experienced in Austria (born 1881) before the first World War was comparably calm and stable.

    If both of you take the writing of a man close to his suicide, who sees all he has loved as a child in ruins, as the reasoning of a rational, thoughful person, then something is clearly wrong.

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  99. Sniffnoy says:

    A thought: What current countries could not be classified as “demotist”? Browsing Wikipedia a bit, I’m coming up with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Brunei, and Swaziland. Do those seem accurate (to the extent it is possible to judge the accuracy of such a thing)? Are there any I’m missing? Vatican City, maybe?

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  104. Minstrel says:

    Very interesting piece, thanks for writing it up.

    One (pretty minor, really) question has nagged at me, though: what distinction or difference are reactionaries drawing between “demotism” and populism?

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  107. Kevin says:

    This may be the longest blog post ever written. I think it is certainly the longest one I’ve ever read. (I am in >99% agreement with you about Reaction and the contents of this post; I just enjoy reading what you write.)

    It’s not fair to compare an imaginary ideal version of one policy with the real-world version of another.

    You should link to Valleys have two sides here.

    I worry James is confusing the sign of a value with the sign of its derivative.

    That is an awesome description of a fallacy. Does it have a name?

  108. Anonymous says:

    “Once we have equality of opportunity, then we can start debating whether we should go further and try for equality of results. Until then, it’s kind of a moot point.”

    Michael Young’s Rise Of The Meritocracy, which coined the latter term (as a pejorative) suggested that actual equality of opportunity requires equality of outcome, because in the absence of the former it would always be the case that people would use their superior outcomes to benefit their offspring. Additionally, he felt that merit-based competition would inculcate a sense of desert in those who succeeded, making them callous to the well-being of the poor.

    I tend to believe that he’s right, but that achieving either of these things would require basically taking a sledgehammer to things like familial love and the nurturing instinct which make life liveable in the first place.

    • suntzuanime says:

      I suspect life would be quite livable without things like familial love and the nurturing instinct. Have you never met an orphan?

      • Moss_Piglet says:

        And of course we should all strive for livability. Who cares if we end up as psychologically messed up as people who grew up in state orphanages (http://www.valleyhealth.com/Adoption.aspx?id=178) if we can eliminate the evil scourge of people being more successful than average!

        But seriously; IQ is a highly heritable highly polygenic trait, and it strongly predicts everything from educational attainment and income to how responsible and happy people are. Even if you break every single structure in human society down to atoms you will find that a natural aristocracy will re-emerge as the most capable people (and peoples!) rise to positions of power over others. The only way to have every man on a level field is to dump them all in a mass grave together, and ultimately that is the conclusion your politics lead to.

        • Moss_Piglet says:

          (The reason I mention that it’s highly polygenic is that inevitably people give the brain dead responses “Well if it’s genetic, where’s the ‘smart gene’ huh?” or say that we can just hand0-wave the problem away with genetic therapy down the line. Modern research looking at the genetics of intelligence have found that anywhere from dozens or hundreds of genes and epigenes are responsible for general intelligence in humans; even when we identify them all increasing someone’s IQ will be a much more complex issue than just throwing some kbp-sized chunks of DNA in viral vectors at.)

        • Andy says:

          Moss_Piglet:Even if you break every single structure in human society down to atoms you will find that a natural aristocracy will re-emerge as the most capable people (and peoples!) rise to positions of power over others.

          Though in the situation you posit, where institutions have failed and the world is a highly dangerous place, an aristocracy is *exactly* the social form that would be best adapted to that situation. But it’s also the situation that’s the polar opposite of where the world is today. See Scott’s Thrive/Survive Theory of the Political Spectrum: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/
          Using your favorite horse’s best ground as the setting of your example isn’t terribly persuasive.

      • Tommy says:

        Repeatedly. Though most were raised by relatives or adopted, which simulates biological parental affection tolerably well. When children don’t have anyone who is emotionally invested in them specifically, you get things like Ceausescu’s orphanages, which were so bad that I’ve seen at least one feminist use them as the central example of a pro-abortion argument. It’s not just the children’s welfare either: remove the “Give your children a better life than you had’ motive from the population, and it takes an awful lot of meaning, and a ton of motivation to work hard, away from the lives of parents. Or more technically, it would massively lower time preference for a significant chunk of the population.

        I’m not entirely sure whether you’re disputing the underlying point (that familial love is a really, really good thing that improves outcomes across the board) or just my (admittedly slightly glib) use of the word ‘liveable’ (in the Hansonian, poor-people-still-smile sense), though.

      • Tommy says:

        Quite a few. Though most of those were raised by aunts/grandparents or adopted, which simulate biological parental love decently well. Without someone who loves you specifically, you get things like Ceausescu’s orphanages, which were so bad I’ve seen pro-abortion arguments built around them. It’s not just the children either – many parents find ‘give my children a better life than I had’ a primary source of meaning in life (so losing that harms them) and motivation to push themselves at work (the loss of which harms everyone).

        I’m not entirely sure whether you’re attacking the underlying premise (that parental love is a really good thing with massive benefits) or strictly the use of ‘liveable’ (in a poor-people-still-smile sense), though.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I sort of agree, but these factors can be lessened. For example, if everyone has access to good schools regardless of how much their parents can pay, that’s a pretty big leveler. 5.1.3 of the Non-Libertarian FAQ is pretty relevant here – it’s saying that other countries empirically have less of a correlation between parental wealth and child wealth than America, so there must be ways to structure society that lessen that correlation compared to what we have here.

      • Tommy says:

        Apologies for the double post above, dodgy net connection. Feel free to delete.

        That’s pretty much where I am, Scott… in addition to inequality caused by some people trying hard to make their offspring better off, there is also at present inequality caused by people actively (though usually unknowingly) preventing poor/black/female/gay people from achieving their potential. Obviously that kind of inequality is utility-negative, and is well worth combating.

        The problem is that there remain people who do think absolute equality is a desirable end, and to achieve that they’d have to, say, ban me and a friend from betting on our respective beliefs, because whoever won would have money that ze might spend on a science book for zir kid, which would create an inequality vis-a-vis the offspring of the losing bettor. You wouldn’t even be able to make Nozick’s mutually-acceptable trades from an equitable starting position. At that point, you get pretty close to the Reactionaries’ Leftist Singularity.

      • Dan says:

        “if everyone has access to good schools regardless of how much their parents can pay”

        The problem is precisely that certain individuals positively cause a school to be a bad school (mostly by causing most of the time of teachers to be consumed by behavioral issues and remedial material). Unless the student-teacher ratio is reduced to 1:1, certain schools will be worse than others specifically because of the students, and this will be an unsolvable problem.

    • jdgalt says:

      I strongly agree, as far as that goes. If we must push for an equality-of-opportunity so complete that it includes everyone starting wealthy, the right way to do it is to forbid those below a minimum level of wealth (at least, anyone on welfare) from having kids, on pain of having them placed in foster care. (At the very least, religions ought to replace their obsolete commandments against sex outside of marriage with an ethic that it’s irresponsible to give birth to a child without first being sure of adequate wealth to support it.)

      For what it’s worth, I’m a different kind of “reactionary”, one who feels the United States was perfect right around 1880, just before Reconstruction stopped and the so-called Progressive Era replaced it.

  109. Nestor says:

    Shaka is another example of absolute ruler flipping out:

    ” after the death of his mother Nandi in October 1827, and the devastation caused by Shaka’s subsequent erratic behavior. According to Donald Morris, in this mourning period, Shaka ordered that no crops should be planted during the following year, no milk (the basis of the Zulu diet at the time) was to be used, and any woman who became pregnant was to be killed along with her husband. At least 7,000 people who were deemed to be insufficiently grief-stricken were executed, although the killing was not restricted to humans: cows were slaughtered so that their calves would know what losing a mother felt like.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaka

    This apparently went on until one of his followers told him to snap out of it, he wasn’t the only one who had lost a parent.

    “When Shaka’s mother Nandi died for example, the monarch ordered a massive outpouring of grief including mass executions, forbidding the planting of crops or the use of milk, and the killing of all pregnant women and their husbands. Oral sources record that in this period of devastation, a singular Zulu, a man named Gala, eventually stood up to Shaka and objected to these measures, pointing out that Nandi was not the first person to die in Zululand. Taken aback by such candid talk, the Zulu king is supposed to have called off the destructive edicts, rewarding the blunt teller-of-truths with a gift of cattle”

    The cathedral concept reminds me of the idea of manufactured consent that Noam Chomsky talks about in his book of the same name. I don’t think Chomsky is in any danger of being mistaken for a reactionary…

    • Yay for Gala! He might be the most effective speak truth to power person I’ve ever heard of.

      Should Shaka get any points for listening?

      • Nestor says:

        It’s recent history, less than 200 years old – the primary sources are oral, but fixed in writing around 1900 so I’d give it a fair reliability, but I’m no historian.

  110. Daniel says:

    1. Wonderful post. Especially in conjunction with the “Pro” FAQ you did.

    I think there are some real insights about “how good arguments turn bad” that could be shown by comparing the arguments in the “pro” FAQ with the arguments in the “anti” FAQ.

    (Faq the Third: “How to turn a Good Idea into a Bad Ideology.”)

    2. You estimate that only 30% of feminists are sane, and you don’t say that only 30% of reactionaries are sane. So do you feel self-identified feminists are a less reality-based group than self-identified reactionaries?

    When I google “top feminist blogs”, I get Feministe, Feministing, and Jezebel. They’re not intellectually playful like the reactionaries, they don’t do the fun utopias, but they seem as or more reality-based than Moldbug or Anissimov. So if you compare apples to apples, it looks to me like “representative leading feminists” are not crazy by any standard by which “representative leading reactionaries” are not crazy.

    If it’s just that you happen to run into a lot of crazy feminist rants by accident of whom your favorite blogs link to, and you haven’t actually done the apples-to-apples comparison, then maybe you could refrain from painting feminists as significantly less sane than other political groups? It got my attention in a big, alarming way, coming from someone as judicious and fair as you.

    (That Gallup poll you link to says 1 in 4 women identify as feminist. So whether or not feminists are 70% insane is a pretty big deal!)

    • Crimson Wool says:

      When I google “top feminist blogs”, I get Feministe, Feministing, and Jezebel. They’re not intellectually playful like the reactionaries, they don’t do the fun utopias, but they seem as or more reality-based than Moldbug or Anissimov. So if you compare apples to apples, it looks to me like “representative leading feminists” are not crazy by any standard by which “representative leading reactionaries” are not crazy.

      Jezebel literally has an article about how many of the staff beat their boyfriends which treats it like grrrl power stuff. I wish I was joking. As far as I know, Moldbug and Anissimov have never bragged about domestic violence, which gives them a one-up on Jezebel.

      • First, Jezebel is actually widely disliked by feminists themselves. Second, that article is humorous, although I can’t actually tell which parts are serious and which are not.

        • Protagoras says:

          Clearly intended to be humorous, but it certainly isn’t actually funny. Some of the comments seem critical of the piece, but sadly not all of them. It has actually been my experience that there are more than a few women who seem to have come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly OK for women to hit men when they’re sufficiently upset. While I disagree with MRAs about most things, I have to agree that this is in fact not remotely OK and, contra Jezebel, not something to be trivialized with humor.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          I ran Jailbreak the Patriarchy on that article. See if your opinion of it is the same… with the genders reversed!

          With Amos Winehouse busting open a can of whupass on his wife last week, we decided to conduct an informal survey of the Jezebels to see who’s gotten violent with their women. After reviewing the answers, let’s just say that it’d be wise to never ever fuck with us.

           

          One Jezebel got into it with a lady while they were breaking up, while another Jez went nuts on his gal and began violently shoving her. One of your editors heard his girlfriend flirting on the phone with another boy, so he slapped the phone out of her hands and hit her in the face and neck… “partially open handed.” Another editor slapped a gal when “she told me she thought she had prostate cancer.” (Okay, that one made us laugh really hard.) And lastly, one Jez punched a steady in the face and broke her glasses. She had discovered a sex story he was writing about another lady on his laptop, so she picked it up and threw it. And that’s when he socked her. She was, uh, totally asking for it.

        • Yeah, there’s an explanation, involving the word “privilege”, for why such genderswaps don’t actually make a real argument. Occasionally, said explanation actually makes sense.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          Yeah, there’s an explanation, involving the word “privilege”, for why such genderswaps don’t actually make a real argument. Occasionally, said explanation actually makes sense.

          One of the privileges which definitely exists is the female privilege to have their DV victimization taken more seriously. How many men’s shelters are there in the USA? It’s not called the “Violence Against Intimate Partners Act.” And so forth. The automatic revulsion to the gender-swapped article that does not exist for the original article is actually a sign that men are less privileged in this regard.

        • suntzuanime says:

          “Real Progressivism is gender-blind. It may be sophisticatedly gender-blind, which involves realizing that just saying ‘I’m going to be gender-blind now, okay?’ doesn’t work, and that policies of selectively ignoring domestic violence by women may paradoxically lead to more genuinely gender-blind results.”

          Sometimes swapping “gender” for “race” can be as interesting as swapping “male” for “female”.

        • Crimson Wool says:

          “Real Progressivism is gender-blind. It may be sophisticatedly gender-blind, which involves realizing that just saying ‘I’m going to be gender-blind now, okay?’ doesn’t work, and that policies of selectively ignoring domestic violence by women may paradoxically lead to more genuinely gender-blind results.”

          Sometimes swapping “gender” for “race” can be as interesting as swapping “male” for “female”.

          This would only make sense if people had a pre-existing tendency to care more about male victims of female-perpetrated domestic violence than about female victims of male-perpetrated domestic violence, and thus counteracting it with an inverted tendency to care more about male-on-female DV made sense. However, the problem is that the exact opposite is true.

      • Gunlord says:

        I didn’t find the original article amusing, but I don’t find your gender-swapped version to be any more or less amusing. Violence against one’s significant other is shamefully crass and (worse, in my view) profoundly wasteful, foolish, and self-defeating. This is the case regardless of whether or not you are a man bullying a woman or a woman bullying a man.

      • The Jezebel piece was appalling, and no one seems to be mentioning what I’d count as the worst bit– “Another editor slapped a guy when “he told me he thought he had breast cancer.” (Okay, that one made us laugh really hard.)”

        What could possibly be appropriate about hitting a man for saying he thinks he has breast cancer? It’s something that really happens, though it’s rare compared to breast cancer for women. What’s funny about doing that?

      • coffeespoons says:

        That Jezebel article is horrible.

        As far as I know, Moldbug and Anissimov have never bragged about domestic violence, which gives them a one-up on Jezebel.

        I believe Roissy has though. I know he’s not a reactionary, but he’s part of a heavily linked movement.

  111. Julia says:

    Wow. I am so impressed.

    Re: the graph of divorce rate by women’s number of sexual partners in 5.1.1: I don’t think you’re being fair in writing off the first two columns as zealots. As a person in column two of that graph, I suggest that we may not all be “Super-religious people who slipped up” with “poor self-control.” We could also be… picky people? People who wanted marriage and didn’t want to get too close to someone until finding someone we really liked? People who wanted sex but whose partners didn’t? There are a lot of reasons for having few sexual partners – don’t assume religion is the only one.

    • Apprentice says:

      Good point. I’ll add one scenario: I married my high-school girlfriend even though neither of us is religious. There’s just never been any reason to break up.

      Then again, we may be traditionalists in the way that is relevant here. We both had the assumption that any relationship, even at the age of 17, was an attempt to establish a permanent bond – with marriage and children to come down the road. I didn’t even realize until later that not everyone thought in those terms.

  112. deathpigeon says:

    I agree with almost all of this. I agree that reactionary states, especially monarchies, are horrible and western liberal democracies are a big improvement, but I fear you’ve a bit over romanticized how great western liberal democracies are and I’d disagree with you calling “workers controlling the means of production … destruction of capitalism” bad things, and I view violent revolution as necessary self-defense.

    This is not to say I like anything about the Soviet Union. They didn’t have worker control of the means of production, for example, only state control of the means of production, and their command economy was, in many ways, worse than the capitalist mode of production. To me, communism is a good thing and does not need the transitional stage coming from the marxist historical dialectic that the Soviet Union was attempting to be. True and direct worker control of the means of production is a good thing and the opposite of capitalism, and free gifting is vastly superior to market economies and ultimately can and have worked, such as in the Ukrainian Free Territory during the Russian Civil War.

    However, beyond those minor quibbles over stuff that don’t detract from your main point or were fully incidental to your main point, I think this is wonderfully written. 🙂 Good job.

  113. Lead and crime.

    More lead and crime.

    Do Reactionaries have a word for heterosexual men who have irresponsible sex lives?

    • No, but they have expressed frustration at heterosexual men who are uninterested in having children, getting married, or forming stable children. In any event, their argument is that women have changed and men have mostly stayed the same (which I think is moderately accurate). My own view is that relaxation of overly strict social rules about promiscuity and love is a great social benefit, but has come with some negative side effects in terms of expectations and duty to society. In the future, I hope for more formalized polyamories, more marriages, less slut-shaming, and possibly the development of a non-sexist variety of the old romance-marriage splitting.

    • Crimson Wool says:

      Do Reactionaries have a word for heterosexual men who have irresponsible sex lives?

      From what I have read, they seem to tend towards using the terms “player” and “alpha,” at least the ones who talk about sexual promiscuity to any substantial degree (almost universally Christians). It’s the product of a really weird crossover between PUA and conservative Christianity. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that these two groups got together.
      &nbsp
      The language of slut/alpha is interesting in that there’s a lot less negative implications to slut. Like, a slut is just, definitionally, a woman with a good number of sexual partners, who is by implication not likely to be sexually loyal in marriage, more flighty, etc. Alphas have this as well, but they are also heavily associated with manipulativeness, incorrigibility, and dark triad traits. Thus, “alpha shaming” is viewed as pointless because these men are basically incorrigible, and preventing premarital sexual promiscuity relies on getting women to stop having sex with them. It’s not that men in general are viewed as sex-obsessed sociopaths – just “players” are.

    • Do Reactionaries have a word for heterosexual men who have irresponsible sex lives?

      Impossible a heterosexual male to have an irresponsible sex life, because seriously illegal.

      Let us imagine a rock star. Thousands of women want to sleep with him. Suppose he sleeps with a few thousand. Suppose he does not use a condom. Pretty soon he is hit with a thousand paternity suits and government child support orders.

      Suppose he sleeps with a few thousand and does use a condom. Pretty soon he faces a hundred rape charges.

      • That is not even slightly how it works. You might generate one or two false rape claims from a sufficiently ridiculous number of women, but people normally don’t do that.

        Also, I note that normal-ish women are often called sluts, but the male slut has to be some kind of freakish Don Juan with 99th percentile prowess at finding sexual partners.

        • Gunlord says:

          Many reactionaries, particularly within the associated ‘manosphere,’ believe that most if not all rape accusations are false and that it happens constantly, everywhere, to all men.

          That said, there’s an IRL example of Jim’s thought experiment: Wilt Chamberlain. He claims to have slept with literally thousands of women, and yet I’ve read no account of him being accused of rape even once.

        • Protagoras says:

          Wilt Chamberlain is also the example I thought of for a male who did actually get some criticism for his promiscuity. But of course he didn’t just have thousands of partners, he was also black.

  114. ivvenalis says:

    Could you please add a hyperlink index to the front of this?

  115. identitynotpublic says:

    The slut stuff is actually pretty upsetting to read. As a single woman who is approaching 30, and has had a fair few partners (I spent a lot of time hanging around quite promiscuous communities (e.g. the poly community)), I am pretty sure reactionaries would hate me (which is why I’ve used a different name than usual for this post). I don’t think they’re correct, but I couldn’t undo sleeping with everyone I’ve slept with if they were!

    I think I have a similar reaction to it as men often have when women talk about them being creepy.

    I’m going to give internet dating a go soon, and I am worried about what more mainstream guys will think of my past. I’ll certainly tell them all about it early on! It was probably the wrong time to read reactionaries views on women.

    Not that whether it’s upsetting to me is relevant to whether the reactionaries are right or wrong (though I do still think they’re wrong), but I thought the fact that it’s pretty upsetting might be useful information.

    P.S. No I’ve never had an STI or got pregnant.

    • identitynotpublic says:

      Sorry about poor grammar etc in that post – I was pretty nervous when writing it, despite the anonymity!

    • Protagoras says:

      If it helps any, I tend to assume that a woman who has had very few partners either has a lot of sexual hang-ups or more charitably just isn’t very interested in sex, and either way that means she seems much less likely to be very compatible with me. I find experienced partners to be much more fun in bed. The opinions of the reactionary guys certainly aren’t universal among men.

    • I’m inclined to empathize with you; this is a bad case of the trappings outracing the substance. (which is structure, parenting, duty to society, and inter-generational stuff, which I think poly likely does *better*.) There are some really unfortunate ties between the “manosphere” and reaction. However, I agree with Protagoras that neither the reactionary nor manosphere views are at all widespread.

    • DB says:

      My own position is [woman honest about their sexual history, regardless of what it is] >= [woman with no or limited sexual history] > [woman with not-that-limited sexual history who tries to hide it from me]. But it seems difficult to signal this preference effectively.

    • misha says:

      I think the anti-slut branch of Reactionary thought is really just an outgrowth of puritanical strains that happen in every ideology. There are always strong believers that associate self-abnegation with virtue and are quick to condemn anything they don’t personally like as a sin. Slut-hating reactionaries are basically equivalent to Dworkin: Taking their own hangups and getting angry at everyone else about them.

      I think all it takes is the example of Rome to tell us sluttiness at worst takes centuries to destroy a glorious empire. If it’s evil it’s a very minor one. On the other hand it’s a very obvious one to see and be upset and jealous about. People get angry about income inequality and they also get angry about sexual inequality.

      re: internet dating, you may as well ignore mainstream guys. As a young woman you’re EXTREMELY advantaged compared to men and will receive many messages if you’re at all attractive (which you probably are). You can afford to be picky.

      • Multiheaded says:

        Also: take the example of the USSR to see how enforcing gender and racial equality with an iron fist, if anything, can make a society stronger rather than weaken its cohesion/stability/etc. E.g. the Soviet state generally tried to paper over any ethnic tensions under the surface and pretend they’d been all eliminated already, but came down like a ton of bricks on any group that actually tried to start shit along national lines. Although re:gender the Eastern block was generally very mix and match, of course; lots and lots of divorces, abortions and single mothers, especially after the war – yet a puritan anti-sex climate.

  116. Dan says:

    So many things wrong… where to begin…

    “the destruction of the ancien regime in Germany”

    The Ancien Regime would have been easy to destroy in Germany because it never existed in Germany, silly. It was French. Maybe the fact that the word is French should have clued you in that the Ancien Regime was, um, French.

    “Look up demotist in a dictionary – Wiktionary will do – and you will find it means “one who is versed in ancient Egyptian demotic writing”. Mr. Anissimov’s use is entirely idiosyncratic to Reactionaries, or, to put it bluntly, made up.”

    Pure comedy. Hard words! So confusing! So Scott Alexander personally doesn’t know the meaning of a word and consults the Wiktionary. Lol. If Scott Alexander has consulted the American Heritage Dictionary, he would have gotten as the first definition, “Of or relating to the common people; popular: demotic speech; demotic entertainments”. No cherry picking on my part: This is the very first item that appears you get when you type the word into Google.

    Pro-gay South Korea? Dude, no idea what you are talking about. South Korea is one of the least ‘pro-gay’ of all the developed countries. It’s not ever talked about or discussed. I’ve been there three times. You? Are you basing this on watching K-Pop on Youtube and thinking it looks gay? Those are hateful and intolerant stereotypes you are projecting, Mister 😉

    Arguing on crime without talking about the astonishing levels of incarceration and the enormous new police state in every US city needed just to keep it to reasonable levels is to have no understanding of what’s going on. Did you see the massive militaristic response to the two Boston Bombers, as though it were the US military occupying Baghdad? That was just Boston’s local force, and every major city has that now. Bloomie got into hot water because he’s been using martial law to control NYC crime all these years.

    Happiness? Here’s Harvard Medical School on the topic.
    “23% of women in their 40s and 50s take antidepressants, a higher percentage than any other group”
    “the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.”
    http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624

    Happiness, yes I suppose so. Kind of a gross way to get happiness though.

    You talk about ‘progressive’ Europe and cite all the good things about it. Actually the progressive part was the eastern, Communist half (you know, rivers of blood, Gulags, economic collapse, blah, blah, blah) while the conservative half was Western Europe.

    Almost all the pluses are technological. The output of those horrible, non-diverse, high-achieving white men, with a few Japanese men tossed in later.

    • Aris Katsaris says:

      “Pure comedy. Hard words! So confusing! ”

      You should tread more carefully with your sarcasm, when you yourself just confused “demotic” with “demotist”.

      “You talk about ‘progressive’ Europe and cite all the good things about it. Actually the progressive part was the eastern, Communist half (you know, rivers of blood, Gulags, economic collapse, blah, blah, blah) while the conservative half was Western Europe”

      And now you’re confusing progressive social democracy with revolutionary communism.

      Progressivism in the given context is the same as the “Anglo-american liberalism” or “Universalism” described by Moldbug as one of the ideological combatants of the 20th century — the ideology which ended up victorious in the Cold War, not the defeated Soviet communism.

      Until World War 2 the ideological combatants were:
      Communism – centered in Soviet Union
      Fascism – centered around Nazi Germany
      Liberalism – America and UK

      After World War 2, and the defeat of Nazi Germany the remnants of fascism got allied to the West (e.g. Franco, Greek junta):
      Communism – centered in Soviet Union
      Liberalism & remnants of fascism – NATO

      And the way I see it, after Cold War ended, Europe has now two centers of gravity:
      Progressivism – centered around Brussels
      Remnants of communism & remnants of fascism – centered around Moscow

      If you doubt this, then let me note that the most reactionary (as in “the only nation that has neoNazis in the parliament), the most “revolutionary communist”-friendly (as in “burn the banks and kill the bankworkers”), and the most *failed* nation in the EU, has also been the one who has been most friendly to Moscow (namely Greece).

      • Multiheaded says:

        Hungary also has a fascist-like party in parliament, IIRC a far-right bloc even controls its government now, and it’s been getting all sorts of flak from Brussels.

        • nydwracu says:

          I wouldn’t call Fidesz far-right, and didn’t they change the constitution to pretty much guarantee themselves wins from now until forever?

          I would expect Greece to pass on one of those first two criteria in favor of Belarus — the only one I know of whose government has gotten approving coverage from both internet Communists and Counter-Currents.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Ancien regime is a broad term that can be used to describe various ancient regimes. As well argue “France never had a monarchy, because ‘monarchy’ is an English word”.

      I feel like your selection of antidepressant use as the criteria for happiness is a bit unfair. While I admit that technically no one in Elizabethan England used antidepressants, one wonders if this might be for reasons other than all Elizabethans being constantly elated.

      Your discussion of “progressive” Eastern Europe is turning into a dispute over word meanings. I’ve already said I don’t like or endorse Communism and do like and endorse liberal democracy. Liberal democratic Europe has done very well for itself. So the thing I’m actually arguing for is supported by the evidence I’m citing. This sounds like the eargreyish fallacy again.

      • nydwracu says:

        If you support Enlightenment ideals and dislike Communism, it would be less confusing for everyone — or at least reactionaries (who are naturally going to think historically) — were you to find a different label than ‘progressive’, which Moldbug is completely historically right about.

        Even ‘liberal’ is suspect; I’ve heard it applied to people like the Hollywood Ten, who were, well, Communists. In a Communist Party. Which was under direction from Moscow.

    • Damien says:

      “Arguing on crime without talking about the astonishing levels of incarceration and the enormous new police state in every US city needed just to keep it to reasonable levels is to have no understanding of what’s going on”

      This is silly, since it doesn’t acknowledge the War on Some Drugs and the concomitant manufacturing of crimes to keep the police (and now, private prisons) funded and busy. Nor is there evidence of an “enormous new police state” being what’s driving the fall in crime rates.

  117. Harold says:

    First let me join the chorus of those extolling the excellence of this post.

    Regarding sluts and marriage: Most divorces happen when people are young (and presumably still have value in the dating market). Marrying earlier then leads to a greater chance of divorce. One, of course, expects that 30 year olds will have tended to have had more sexual partners than 20 year olds. From these facts alone we would predict that more sexual partners before marriage would lead to a lower chance of divorce.

    Regarding a rise, or lack thereof, in crime: People don’t care about crime rates per se, they care also about how avoidable crime is; how dependent it is upon the choices they make. What they abhor is random crime that could happen to anyone independent of the choices they make; where whether they become a victim is totally out of their control. For example, if women are much less likely to be raped by their acquaintances than they once were, but are much more likely to be randomly assualted and raped by strangers, they may consider the situation to have become worse even if the overall rape rate has decreased (since women have some choice over who their acquaintances are).

    • nydwracu says:

      Crime is very avoidable, but that doesn’t make the situation any better; all you have to do to avoid it is either make a few hundred thousand dollars a year so you can live in a good area and send your kids to private schools or make only one hundred thousand a year, move out to the suburbs, pay out the ass for a car, and still probably send your kids to private schools.

      I have no siblings, both of my parents work, and my father is somewhere near the top of the GS pay scale, but I still had to go to public school and grow up in PG County. Thankfully, we live in a pretty empty area, so I don’t hear gunshots *that* often… but the fact that I have the choice of either avoiding crime, living in an area that has anything whatsoever within an hour’s walk, or saving to retire or send whatever kids I may end up having to college doesn’t make me feel any better about the crime situation!

      • Harold says:

        Sounds like crime is only avoidable at a huge cost. Not very avoidable at all.

        I thought of a real life example of the sort of psychology to which I was attempting to comment on. I support gun rights. Even if I acknowledged that more guns in more houses is likely to result in more lives lost due to accidents and suicides than lives saved by their use in protecting one’s self and one’s family, I would still support gun rights because they increase an individual’s agency rather than leaving them at the mercy of fate. In this case I am not only concerned with the number of deaths, but also with personal agency. Whether this is rational or not is another matter.

  118. Dan says:

    (1) Moldbug should not be the standardbearer for reaction. He has no connection to religion and thus no connection to traditionalist culture.

    Most people from the past would reject someone like that as a rootless leftist radical.

    (2) Demographic replacements are much more dramatic than you acknowledge. Subsaharan Africa has a fertility rate of 4x that of Europeans. If a generation for them is 25 years and about 30 years for a European, we are greater than 100-fold reversal of relative numbers in 100 years among matching cohorts. Yes, birthrates could come down, but the latest trend is for Nigerian birthrates to rise from 6 to 7 in the past decade.

    (3) Communism is not reactionary; it is the bitterest enemy of reaction. That you would even suggest a Communist country suggests zero awareness of conservatism.

    (4) The Moldbug thesis that the dramatic leftist march began long ago in America is baloney.

    The sexual revolution was probably the beginning and that is only just playing out demographically. The shift to a nation largely on the dole just now occurred. Much of Europe went farther, earlier down the road of destructive liberalism and Europe has been an economic basketcase in recent years, even with very advantageous population traits.

    Real Calvinists were humble, feared God, and were builders. The current crop of leftists acknowledge no divine aspect and proudly live by no principle but personal pleasure. Both modern leftists and Calvinists rejected heretics, but the similarities end there.

    Bah, I’m tired.

    • Dan says:

      The roots aren’t Moldbug, although he played a part, helping to reawaken awareness of greats like Thomas Carlyle. But Carlyle came from Calvinism. Here is a bit on Thomas Carlyle, from rationalwiki. Carlyle was not strictly religious but he had a great deal of respect for religion.

      “The Everlasting No is the name given by philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle in his 1832 book Sartor Resartus to an attitude of aggressively malicious unbelief he claimed to find in some people. It is deliberately opposed by Carlyle to the Everlasting Yea, a spirit of resolute faith without a definite object, but it is important to note that the Everlasting No was more than idle atheism. It instead expresses a determination to mock and malign every aspect of the noblest sentiments of humanity.

      Carlyle felt that the truest proof for the existence of the divine could be found in the high feelings and ambitions of mankind, and that a persistent atheism could only exist and grow through the Everlasting No – e.g. by tearing down those high feelings and ambitions. Similarly, the most ideal form of the Everlasting Yea (in Carlyle’s opinion) was only to be found through devout opposition to the grim nihilism.[1] In this way, the Everlasting No and Everlasting Yea each actually owed their existence to the other, and were necessary to each other.

      I am sorry but Moldbug is pretty much the opposite of Carlyle in many things. Mr. Alexander would do better to start with Carlyle. Moldbuggery is lot of what Carlyle railled against.

      • It should also be noted that some of neoreaction is trying to maintain the good aspects of orthodox religion in a world that does not turn out to actually contain a god.

    • Multiheaded says:

      I disagree, this is hardly reactionary. Even the Paleocons at least recognize the huge leftist shift and reconstruction of American society under FDR.

      Proeminent hardline leftists have also criticized such trends, which they date to the completion of the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the “welfare/warfare state”. Without getting into headier stuff like Foucault…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structural_Transformation_of_the_Public_Sphere

      • Multiheaded says:

        If there is a concept similarly prominent on the left that refers to the same phenomena, why didn’t you use it?

        Maybe because leftists tend not to separate these phenomena from their general analysis of the current stage of capitalism; Marxists especially emphasize the impossibility of any real boundary between Capital and the state apparatus, which is nearly the opposite of conventional American liberal assumptions. So they might not see a need to name such phenomena as if those were an aberration or an unexpected reversal in trends. See Marcuse, Illich (more of an anarchist), etc.

        P.S.: Marcuse might’ve not used that exact expression, “welfare/warfare state”, but a quote to the effect that welfare and warfare are the two foundations of the modern capitalist system is very definitely in one of his texts. Hell, Rothbard might’ve stolen that one from some Frankfurt School work – like he stole “libertarian” from, well, libertarians (AKA anarchists).

      • Multiheaded says:

        It’s from The One-Dimensional Man, 1964. Sub-heading: “The Welfare and Warfare State” –
        Late industrial society has increased rather than reduced the need for parasitical and alienated functions (for the society as a whole, if not for the individual). Advertising, public relations, indoctrination, planned obsolescence are no longer unproductive overhead costs but rather elements of basic production costs. In order to be effective, such production of socially necessary waste requires continuous rationalization – the relentless utilization of advanced techniques and science. Consequently, a rising standard of living is the almost unavoidable by-product of the politically manipulated industrial society, once a certain level of backwardness has been overcome. The growing productivity of labor creates an increasing surplus-product which, whether privately or centrally appropriated and distributed, allows an increased consumption – notwithstanding the increased diversion of productivity. As long as this constellation prevails, it reduces the use-value of freedom; there is no reason to insist on self-determination if the administered life is the comfortable and even the “good” life. This is the rational and material ground for the unification of opposites, for one-dimensional political behaviour. On this ground, the transcending political forces within society are arrested, and qualitative change appears possible only as a change from without.

        And yet:
        The critique of the Welfare State in terms of liberalism and conservatism (with or without the prefix “neo”) rests, for its validity, on the existence of the very conditions which the Welfare State has surpassed – namely, a lower degree of social wealth and technology. The sinister aspects of this critique show forth in the fight against comprehensive social legislation and adequate government expenditures for services other than those of military defense.
        Denunciation of the oppressive capabilities of the Welfare State thus serves to protect the oppressive capabilities of the society prior to the Welfare State. At the most advanced stage of capitalism, this society is a system of subdued pluralism, in which the competing institutions concur in solidifying the power of the whole over the individual. Still, for the administered individual, pluralistic administration is far better than total administration. One institution might protect him against the other; one organization might mitigate the impact of the other; possibilities of escape and redress can be calculated. The rule of law, no matter how restricted, is still infinitely safer than rule above or without law.

        Ambiguity tolerance! It’s what separates the “thick”/left-leaning libertarians from the “thin”/unconsciously reactionary ones, IMO. A similar (welfare-critical but anti-reactionary) sentiment has later been expressed by Chomsky as “widening the floor of the cage”.

      • Multiheaded says:

        Chomsky, Expanding the Floor of the Cage”
        We know we’re in a cage. We know we’re trapped. We’re going to expand the floor, meaning we will extend to the limits what the cage will allow. And we intend to destroy the cage. But not by attacking the cage when we’re vulnerable, so they’ll murder us. That’s completely correct. You have to protect the cage when it’s under attack from even worse predators from outside, like private power. And you have to expand the floor of the cage, recognizing that it’s a cage. These are all preliminaries to dismantling it. Unless people are willing to tolerate that level of complexity, they’re going to be of no use to people who are suffering and who need help, or, for that matter, to themselves.

        Yeah, it really sounds like Adorno was on to something with that idea of his.

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  121. Apprentice says:

    You start out defining reactionary politics as being about a) traditional monarchy and b) ethno-nationalism. You trounce monarchy very carefully, for reasons I largely agree with. But a comprehensive critique of nationalism never really materializes. Maybe a follow-up post?

    To pick one potential place to start, here’s a video of some nationalists saying and doing things progressives disapprove of.

    The current majority population of country X would like to retain its status as a majority population. There seems to be a decent case that they are acting in their rational self-interest. But progressives would say that X-ians have a moral duty to help the people of country Y and that a good way to do so is letting some Y-ians into country X. The nationalist X-ians would argue that what Y-ians need above all is to fix country Y and that letting Y-ians into X will do comparatively little good for Y-ians and cause potentially substantial deterioration of conditions in X.

    It seems to me that Scott has already conceded huge swathes of territory to the nationalist position by his open-minded discussion of cultural and genetic differences between population groups. A popular progressive way to argue against ethno-nationalism is to insist on no important differences between nations. If Scott is not going to man that line of defence, how is he going to refute nationalism? I’m not saying he can’t do it but I will say that I haven’t yet seen him do so.

  122. Multiheaded says:

    Two quick remarks:

    1) It’s very odd feeling that yes, in certain regards I am among the other, “weird” kind of reactionary in Scott’s classification in that I’m OK with (some) revolutionary violence, “crazy” feminism and the like, see some issues as a struggle for zero-sum things like relative privilege between groups and not a debate on the optimal way to live together, etc… Some months ago I’ve started to change my mind towards more libertarianism in general, but first and foremost I find myself a Machiavellian. Everyone who’s “weak” and not actively oppressing the other “weak” is my potential tribe, and the “strong” are another potential tribe, and we have incentives to beat them up and take their stuff, while they have incentives to keep the current system going. And it sure hurts! All other social, ethical and practical considerations are just an afterthought – although they do make the basic, asymmetrical struggle into something recognizable as “civilization”.

    2) Another thing that hurts is Scott’s uncritical adoption of anti-feminist language, as pointed out above. Somehow I again feel that the “weird-reactionary”/far-left perspective of attacking even the attempt at a “neutral” position wherever one of “ours” is the victim in an ongoing disaster… well, I’m sliding towards it. I just can’t find it a *worthwhile* part of Enlightenment values to discuss an issue of an unequal, antagonistic society on “neutral” ground. IOW: die cis scum, fear this queer, fuck whitey, etc.

    Let me be clear here. There is no excuse for the sort of extremist folk social justice crusades one can find on Tumblr or Twitter or Freethought Blogs. With a few treasured exceptions they are full of nasty and hateful people devoid of intellectual integrity and basic human kindness, and I am suitably embarrassed to be in the same 50%-or-so of the political spectrum.

    Then again, there are lots of nasty and hateful conservatives and reactionaries devoid of intellectual integrity and basic human kindness too. Go take a look at Free Republic. Maybe we can call it a tie?

    Y’see… NO. A year ago I would’ve agreed wholeheartedly, but now I’ve changed my mind towards the “unenlightened”, “hopeless” option. Things just seem to get done like this in our world: as long as you have a way to suppress the nastiness against the in-group, social violence works wonders.

    Martin Luther King would’ve been closer to an enhanced version of the crazy fiery-eyed feminist blogger than to an enchanced version of you, Scott – and could his people have done much without the Black Panthers on his left (well, you’d call it “black right”) pulling the overton window and framing their struggle as non-fringe?

    http://coreyrobin.com/2013/01/21/the-white-moderate-the-greatest-threat-to-freedom/

    • Multiheaded says:

      A good example of the kind of activist that I like but Scott would presumably find a horrible, hateful person is the lady who blogs at The Bicker (formerly STFUConservatives on Tumblr). Another is Cerberus at Sadly, No! – both of them are much more to my liking than the frankly anemic words in favour of social justice one usually sees in the LW-sphere. I respect righteous anger when I see it, and I see quite a lot of it alongside all the noise and random chaff.

    • Moss_Piglet says:

      You do realize you’re not a Reactionary, right?

      Everything you’ve described puts you pretty squarely on the opposite end of the spectrum, including your preferred methods of “activism,” although admittedly the way you’ve framed it is refreshingly honest.

      I’m not sure where you got the idea that any of this was directed at you or people like you.

      • Multiheaded says:

        You do realize you’re not a Reactionary, right?

        Of course! Most days i oscillate between left-libertarian and full-on commie, basically I support almost everything that rustles your jimmies. I was just attempting to humor Scott when I bemusedly realized that according to him I’m not really his ally in advancing what he sees as Progressivism – he might be viewing the meta-level differences between him and the far-left people he takes shots at as more fundamental than the object-level warfare between said far-leftists (my tribe) and “reactionaries”.

        I’m not sure where you got the idea that any of this was directed at you or people like you.

        See above, Scott described certain far-left movements such as hardline feminism and “anti-white” struggles as anti-Enlightenment and therefore (implicitly) small-r reactionary. I disagree with the classification, but it’s an interesting and curious one.

        • nydwracu says:

          Certainly nothing new. Horseshoe theory and so on.

          Enlightenment/modernist/postmodernist would probably be a better model, especially given the division between the Communists I can get along with and the ones I can’t — I generally align with the modernists, have some respect for the Enlightenment types even though I think they have a hopelessly optimistic view of power, and can’t stand postmodernists. (I’m grouping with the postmodernists the ’60s Freudian types who took a few decades to realize that, you know, perhaps it is not a good idea to advocate for the normalization of pedophilia, but maybe the distance is wider than I realize; people are usually bad at distinguishing between enemy groups.)

        • Multiheaded says:

          I think that, unfortunately, a few of the postmodernist attacks on the modernist Left do have some substance to them – “unfortunately” because its effect has never been to give the modernist Left a vital shock, but always to demoralize it, sell it out and faciliate the great liberal betrayal. They have gradually seized and corrupted the spirit of 1968, making it the great counter-revolutionary force it is today – but if there was nothing true to that spirit in the first place, they couldn’t have crippled the Left with it.

          Add to that the fact that 3rd wave feminism actually started out quite well too, a late 60s backlash against welfare-state paternalism and the narrow conservatism of existing movements – and now it’s also embedded into neoliberalism, empowering the regime even where it says or does worthwhile things.

        • Multiheaded says:

          (Saw a good Guardian article re: that last one, but lost the link. Look under “Feminism” in CiF, I guess.)

  123. KramlmarK says:

    Minor point, but if you’re not willing to provide data, I’d back off on the “30%-or-so” of feminists are not terrible estimation. It’s really, REALLY easy to overestimate the number of terrible feminists when you’re exposed to ten of them on tumblr for every one in real life. My own pulled-out-of-my-ass estimation is more towards 70% not-terrible, but that’s based on my experience at Midwest Hippie Liberal Arts College #237. The number is pulled from air, doesn’t add anything, and will get a negative reaction from not-terrible feminists. Better to avoid presuming to know the relative sizes of the camps without good data.

    • VXXC says:

      Data does not trump life. And yes when it’s my anecdote I have learned to learn from it and not your data.

      Especially when you is Prog. You are about power, money, status from Holier than Thou. Your data will serve these ends.

      I’ve quite had plenty enough wasted time attempting to convince anyone with facts, reason, data. Usually the change the subject, ignore the “data”, or going on the attack to cover weakness – as you did – is the response.

      But don’t worry, I shan’t try to talk ye into anything. It’s pointless. Your passions and casuistry align with interests perfectly. Talk is over.

      • KramlmarK says:

        We’re talking about trends supposedly going back to 1600. Unless you’re a vampire you haven’t lived that long, which alone gives me good reason to believe you’re using rhetorical tricks to avoid having to make a coherent argument (one of those tricks, by the way, is to accuse your opponent of the same — which I appreciated immensely). But I’ll assume you’re only talking about the graphs from the 1950s on, in which case…what is your argument? I’m not asking that rhetorically, I’m genuinely curious. Where does your experience fall into this?

        (Nice change in subtext from “progressivism is wrong because annecdote” to “I as an individual am choosing to ignore your data because annecdote,” by the way. I almost missed it, and I can’t even prove it.)

    • suntzuanime says:

      I’d say the 30% sane number is probably an underestimate for the people who will tell you they’re feminists if you ask, but probably an overestimate for the people who will volunteer without prompting. The problem is that in elite circles not being a feminist is almost as bad as being a Republican (!) so you end up with a lot of people giving lip service to the idea without really substantially checking anybody’s privilege. Especially at Midwest Hippie Liberal Arts College #237.

      • Multiheaded says:

        The good thing is that any actual feminist would be able to detect those within like a minute of polite questioning. Just get a sense of whether the “feminist” has any idea about “deep” issues that aren’t currently in the liberal media spotlight – like the systematic devaluing and exploitation of affective labour, or how chivalry is dangerous and rape-promoting when uncritically accepted. (FYI yes, I think it *is* rape-promoting.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The word “sane” in that context should not be taken to mean “stupid” or even “holds stupid views”, but rather “willing to hold rational discussions about their views with someone they are tempted to consider an evil enemy, based on the Principle of Charity”

      By those standards, 30% is probably an overestimation, as indeed it would be of any group.

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  125. Multiheaded says:

    Tl;dr: “AAAGHH!! I’ll be back when the hyper-anti-proton array is fully charged and pointed at Detroit! Until then, I’ll lick my wounds in the omnious cyclopean moonbase!”