Tag Archives: anti-democracy

The Trump Disillusionment?

The legacy of Trump presidency may be one the greatest examples of voter ignorance or dissonance–by many pundits the ‘right’ who originally supported Trump but later realized he wasn’t who they thought he was…whoops. With Bush (1st and 2nd), it was obvious what you were getting (a big govt. conservative who supports interventionism, lax borders, and supply-side economics); same for Hillary and Bill Clinton (social welfare, big govt.), and Obama (social welfare, big govt.). But Trump is more amorphous, and many pundits projected unto him what they wanted to believe, while ignoring or overlooking Trump’s actual policy (but Trump was never a ‘policy guy’, which contributed to his appeal but also made it hard to understand what he stood for besides ‘making America great again’ and ‘securing the borders’). The narrative was like, “yeah, Bush sucks, Obama sucks, Clinton sucks, but Trump…he’s an ‘outsider’…he’s different…therefore, he must support small government and less defense spending…”

In ‘I don’t think that candidate is who you think he is’, I predicted such disillusionment, and sure enough here are some recent posts on Unz:

Mike Whitney, The Berkeley Incident:

So if the Chancellor had already gone the extra mile to protect free speech, then why did Trump decide to lower the boom on him? Was he genuinely angry with the Chancellor’s performance or did he interject himself for political reasons? In other words, how did Trump stand to benefit from getting involved in this mess?

Trump is not the libertarian many hoped he would be. He’s a big government nationalist with some socialist leanings regarding business, as well as an interventionist who supports a ‘big stick’ approach to foreign policy and more defense spending. This will drive the Ron Paul, small-government folks nuts. He’s also course, heavy handed, and not very erudite, which will annoy some of right-wing punditry intelligentsia, as well, obviously, as the left, to no end.

Other examples:

Patrick Cockburn, Trump’s Comments Towards Iran Could Deepen Conflict in the Region:

President Trump is adding further venom to the raging sectarian hatreds tearing apart Iraq and Syria by his latest ill-judged tweets. These have far greater explosive potential than his better known clashes with countries like Australia and Mexico, because in the Middle East he is dealing with matters of war and peace. In this complex region, the US will have to pay a high price for switching to a vaguely belligerent policy which pays so little regard to the real situation on the ground.

The Trump administration seems to think in tweets and slogans, so it is probably wrong to speak of a coherent change in policy.

And another Trump Presidency — First SNAFUs Already:

If it happens, the US attack on Iran will look very much like the 2006 Israel war on Hezbollah, and it will achieve the same results, only on a bigger scale. To put it simply – it will be a total disaster and it will mark the failure of the Trump presidency.

Trump is not going to attack Iran and jeopardize the war against ISIS. This just posturing and far from a foreign policy failure by Trump.

And from Fred Reeeed Many Storms Gathering: Reflections on Trump:

Trump is extremely combative, erratic, apparently a bully, and responds to resistance by doubling down. To many of us, including me, this was immensely satisfying when he told the press to bugger off, defied the Clinton-Wall Street-Beltway elites, and talked of putting the interests of America before those of big business. The campaign was fine entertainment. Because so many were sick of the elites, he is President. Fun as a candidate, but in a President?

More of his hostility seems to spring from failed developments in Mexico, the Trump Ocean Resort Baja California, in which purchasers of expensive apartments lost large down payments when the developments were not built.

LA Times:

“All told, two years of aggressive marketing yielded $32.5 million in buyer deposits, every bit of it spent by the time Trump and his partners abandoned the project in early 2009 as the global economy was reeling. Most of the buyers sued them for fraud.”

Whether the reason for the failure was incompetence or a deliberate scam depends on who you talk to.

If one actually reads the details about the dissolution of the Trump Ocean Resort, the developer ran off with the money, which Trump obviously could not have foreseen.

In 2016, Social Matter put out kinda a macabre article Mass Shootings Make Sense In A Democracy, which stuck with me.

And therein lies the problem with democracy, politics, and activism: it creates the illusion of individual control and power, when it really just answers to the ‘tyranny’ of the status quo and stability. Stability, generally, is good, but the problem is the disconnect between expectations and reality that arises from democracy. Democracy instills that individuals can make a difference, yet the disillusionment arises when politicians fall short of expectations, but disillusionment also arises when culture and economics rewards individualism as embodied by individual merit, status, and success–while a vote, in the grand schemes of things, is merely symbolic (a lot people would probably exchange their vote for, say, $1,000). The cynicism , predictability, and banality of democracy is masked by a pretense of change and individual empowerment. In the UAE or Saudi Arabia, both of which have absolute monarchies, there is no such thing as politics–but there is also no disillusionment, meaning that the gap between expectations and reality is minimal, but Arab monarchies are bad in their own unique ways, so this is for demonstrative purposes. But one can see how it’s almost cruel or even sadistic, in a way, how democracy dangles the carrot that embodies our hopes and wishes, and just when it’s within reach, pulls it away.

It’s pretty obvious that turning to politics is unproductive. The solution, as outlined here and here, is to focus on ‘localism’ (the inner circle) instead of ‘globalism’.

The Necessity of Power

There seems to be lingering belief held by some, including even a the Flight 93 Election essay, that perhaps democracy can be salvaged if only the ‘right people are put in charge’, or that Trump’s win is a major setback for the left. Bloody Shovel writes:

Trump won! And he did so in a democratic election. The foundational theory of neoreaction, Moldbug’s argument that leftism was unhinged because the Cathedral rules the world and democracy makes it worse can’t quite account for what we are seeing. We have a pretty decent theory of leftist victories, but we don’t have one of leftist defeats.

The word ‘democracy’ can have two meanings: first, the democratic process (as in voting), and second, ‘…a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament.’ The latter implies distributed power involving ‘checks and balances’, not absolute or concentrated power. Even if the the first step were bypassed, #2 (checks and balances) would still be a hindrance. Although a democracy makes it harder to enact legislation and sweeping change, it also makes it virtually impossible to undo it, and as the past two centuries of United States history shows, progress is irrevocable. Suffrage begets civil rights, and then egalitarianism, moral decay, porous borders, same-sex marriage, immigration, and so on, leading to the ‘progressivism singularity’.

Trump’s victory, in terms of reversing progressivism, is analogous to trying to stop a steamroller by putting a mattress in front of it. But an argument could have also been made for Hillary, in that she would hasten the singularity, collapsing progress under its weight, much like a Type II supernova.

Fighting liberalism with democracy means liberalism wins, because you’re playing by the rules created by the opposition, much like a shell game in which the conman lets the mark win a few games before taking all his money. Democracy and representative government creates the illusion of control and change, but nothing happens, because by virtue of the constitution and the separation of power, it’s not supposed to. Is Islamic terror dissuaded by the empty and symbolic threats of democracy. No, and terrorists demonstrated such defiance by killing more people in Germany over the holiday, the same year Trump won and Brexit happened. This is because the modern liberal democracy, being neutered and emasculated, is a facade and isn’t a legitimate conveyor of power.

The question of human nature arises as it pertains to governance. Hobbes and Locke held diametrically opposing views, but both were correct to some extent. The founding fathers understood that man desires autonomy, but the Constitution, which was conceived on Natural Law, ultimately, proved inadequate at enforcing power and order, eventually leading to the situation we have now. On the other extreme, too much power, especially if held by an inept ruler or predicated on a flawed ideology, can also prove disastrous, as the history of communism has shown. High-trust societies should afford their citizenry autonomy…just look at the public school system to get an idea of how too much power, when held by overbearing teachers and administration, suppresses individual talent and exceptionalism.

But it’s safe to err on the side of more power than less, perhaps in the form of a minarchist state where individual autonomy, private property, rule of law, courts, and free markets are preserved–but there is no democracy, meaning that the arrangement of power between the individual and the state is immutable. Divine law, whether codified in the Koran, Torah, or the Holy Bible, is one approach, because ancient religious scriptures cannot be modified, but because man is ultimately doing the interpreting, it’s not fail-safe. The absence of absolute power creates opportunism, corruption, and division. Can democracy work in high-trust societies? No, because the same aforementioned forces will undermine it, if given enough time, as the history of Britain and the United States has shown.

Anti-Democracy Sentiment Going Mainstream

This article is going viral right now on Hacker News: In Praise of Passivity, by Michael Huemer of the University of Colorado.

Political actors, including voters, activists, and leaders, are often ignorant of basic facts relevant to policy choices. Even experts have little understanding of the working of society and little ability to predict future outcomes. Only the most simple and uncontroversial political claims can be counted on. This is partly because political knowledge is very difficult to attain, and partly because individuals are not sufficiently motivated to attain it. As a result, the best advice for political actors is very often to simply stop trying to solve social
problems, since interventions not based on precise understanding are likely to do more harm than good.

This article could be posted anywhere, both on liberal and conservative communities, and it would be praised. Anti-democratic sentiment, as part of the recent backlash against ‘low information’, transcends the left/right dichotomy. Especially since 2013, on forums and communities like Reddit, Hacker News, and 4chan, and in general mainstream discourse, people, particularly smart, well-informed people, have become increasingly skeptical of democracy, for many reasons:

1. Democracy is predicated on the falsehood or wishful belief that humans are intrinsically of equal worth (one person, one vote). However, Social Darwinism, which is becoming acutely relevant in post-2008 society, as wealth inequality keeps widening (particularly with smart people earning more than the less intelligent and having more social status), throws cold water on the hopeful belief that everyone is intrinsically, upon conception, equal. No, by virtue of IQ, which is a biological trait, some are perhaps born ‘better’ than others, and this cognitive disparity manifests in individual socioeconomic outcomes. Even liberals who wish to believe in the false god of egalitarianism and equality, when pressed, concede IQ is accurate measure of the worth/value of an individual to society. Why else are parents, many of whom identify themselves as liberal, in New York spending so much money and time on tutoring and other programs in the hope of having their children admitted selective elementary schools that screen for IQ, in order to give their children an ‘edge’ in today’s hyper-competitive economy. When you read stories of high-IQ web 2.0 founders and venture capitalists making hundreds of billions of dollars seemingly overnight, or high-IQ homeowners in Silicon Valley making millions of dollars as their homes appreciate, or how wealth inequality keeps widening between advanced degree holders and everyone else, it’s hard to accept with a strait face that IQ is just a number or that everyone is equal. Maybe equal under a set of laws or the ability to cast only a single vote, but that’s not saying much. I’m pretty sure most people, if given the choice to forfeit their vote in exchange for a million dollars, would choose the money.

He’s right:

2. As the article mentions, the very people who cast the votes, and thus influence policy, are often ignorant of the issues, as also noted by anti-democracy pioneer Bryan Caplan. Also, voters are persuaded by convenient narratives and sound bites that are repeated by the news media, not cold-hard reality. Sometimes the ‘best’ or most feasible policy, of the alternatives, is not the one that is the most popular. Obama came to power promising ‘retribution’ against Wall St., fewer wars and less interventionism, as well as affordable healthcare and education, student loan debt reform, and an abundance of good-paying jobs for all. It was a message that, not surprisingly, appealed to many voters, but failed to live up to the hype and high expectations. Letting people ‘vote for what they want’ is the fundamental problem with democracy. Most people won’t realize their expectations are unreasonable and or come at a cost to a minority, as well as being naive on important issues. Libertarians, more so than most ideologies, realize the limitations of democracy. Although anyone can have unrealistic expectations or be naive, libertarians and reactionaries are at least aware of this problem, whereas too many view democracy as infallible or an unalloyed good.

3. Efforts costing trillions of dollars and costing many lives to spread democracy in the Middle East, largely failed.

4. Democracy does a poor job allocating public resources, compared to alternatives like utilitarianism. Democracy is about what ‘feels good’ (every life is precious, worth saving); utilitarianism is about optimization. Two examples include special education and healthcare. Because of the belief that every life is worth saving at any cost, a disproportionate amount of public healthcare (5% of patients are consuming 50-80% of healthcare resources) is spent on costly end-of-life care, as well as for rare diseases. Any politician that advocated rationing of pubic healthcare, such as by IQ or prognosis, to control government spending would obviously lose, with expected parallels drawn between rationing and ‘Nazism’ – a label that is carelessly thrown around and has a tendency of shutting down debate. The same misallocation problem is also observed in education, particularly special education, which gets substantially more funding than gifted education even though both extremes are equally represented on the Bell Curve. Instead, too much money is spent on those who will likely achieve the least.

Related: On Not Letting Cognitive Capital Go To Waste

5. Democracy can hurt the productive minority. This is why the founding fathers created a constitutional republic instead of a democracy, to protect land owners who were the minority, and to prevent ‘mob rule’. The phrase “tyranny of the majority” was used by John Adams in 1788, and gained further prominence in Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville. James Madison, in Federalist Paper 51, wrote: “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.” But there are two extremes here: as shown in #4, democracy means spending too much resources on less productive minorities, but democracy can also hurt more productive minorities.

The Facade of Democracy

And for some good news, maybe we’re closer to the ‘dark enlightenment’ than commonly believed, with democracy being mostly a facade. From Taki: Aborting the Working Class

Martin Gilens is a political-science professor at Princeton. Over the course of the past decade, he has authored and coauthored several books and papers in which he argues that the U.S. is essentially an oligarchy. We are controlled by the moneymen, the “1%,” and any claim that our “democracy” is participatory or inclusive is illusory. “Affluence and influence”—that’s what makes the U.S. economic system go ’round. The deck is stacked, and the “liddle peeple” are powerless.

It would seem like growing wealth inequity and Social Darwinisms are making what remnants of democracy left obsolete. Technology is also aiding in the process, amplifying the economic contributions of a handful of ‘winners’. However, this overlooks the issue of people voting in politicians who enlarge welfare spending. Maybe the future if less democracy and more welfare spending – a sort of post -scarcity society where everyone has enough to be placated, but have no power or influence in the process – the ‘un-participatory’ economy and society.

The high incarceration rate of America and the militarization of the police are another examples of how we’re perhaps close to a ‘dark enlightenment’, in contrast to the much less punitive and more ‘liberal’ European countries.

According to Gilens’ research, those dastardly oligarchs, those enemies of the 99%, are overwhelmingly liberal on issues such as abortion, gay rights, race, and immigration. In fact, the affluent are far more “progressive” than the great unwashed whose voices they’ve muted and whose influence they’ve suppressed.

The disproportionate influence of the affluent does not always move policy in a conservative direction. On moral and religious issues, the well off tend to be more liberal than the poor. More equal representation (of the poor) would consequently lead to greater restrictions on abortion, such as banning RU-486. There would also be tighter limits on stem cell research and more support for school prayer.

The poorest and least educated actually tend to vote democratic, not conservative.

“the Democratic agenda has shifted away from general social welfare to policies that target ascriptive identities of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.” The takeaway? The “oligarchs” have pushed to make noneconomic “social justice” issues (especially abortion, race, and gender) the party’s primary focus, at the expense of economic policies that are unpopular among the affluent

I think the distinction here is that classical liberals understand the concept of ‘ownership’, whereas far-left liberals want to spread wealth and abnegate private property through Georgism/land-value taxes and redistribution. I would prefer both social conservatism and property rights, but in a pinch I’ll choose the later at the cost of the former than the former at the cost of the latter.

The Daily View: Prescriptivism , Populism, and Why Democracy Doesn’t Work

In earlier posts I explore the possibility millennials are smarter and less impressionable than earlier generations. Some on the left argue millennials are sloppy at grammar and are careless, but there is an abundance of evidence to the contrary. For example on Reddit this user got rebuked in the comments for his ‘descriptive’ approach to grammar. To many millennials,prescriptivism is very important, as it signals competence and is important for clear, unambiguous communication.

From the comments:

Care with language has a whole lot of connotations. I would not use careless syntax and grammar just like I would not want to be 1 minute late for a business meeting. Laziness is not an appreciated quality.

It does make a small difference in the speed it takes us to register things. Research shows that unconsciously we like ideas conveyed in a more easily read/understood fashion (big, clear, fonts with nice contrast from background for example).

This ‘Life Pro Tip’ LPT: It’s better to have no opinion on something than an uninformed one recently went viral on Reddit. Millennials are correct that we have an epidemic of the uninformed spilling their opinions, which are seldom original but derived from someone else’s wrong opinion – the blind leading the blind, attributable to bad journalism and confirmation biases. The Daily Show and Colbert are especially guilty of this, telling their audiences what they want to hear even if it’s wrong or taken out of context, and then the audience regurgitates it later, thinking it’s the truth or the complete story. This ties in the post-2013 rise of centrism and rationalism and the rejection of ‘low information’.

Bernie Sanders’ brand of populism is another example – the belief you can grow an economy by spreading the wealth of the most productive to the least. Such a message is appealing to his low-information voters, like cattle corralled into the abattoir of reason and rationality that liberalism. Putting the fate of the country in the hands of the least informed, who tend to be of middling intelligence and aren’t economic stakeholders, is the best argument yet against democracy.

Even neoliberal Bryan Caplan, a contemporary anti-democracy pioneer who isn’t in any way affiliated NRx, agrees that the average person is too ill-informed, cognitively biased, or dare we say ‘dumb’, for democracy to work.

In a post-2008 world, tact, nuance, and not overgeneralizing has become important, compared to the shoot-from-hip style of writing that typifies independent blogging – which began its slow decline in 2008 or so with the rise of social media and professionally written long-form online journalism.

In the past, society was slow and uneducated, with interest rates too high. Now it’s smart and fast-paced thanks to the internet, education, financialization, technology, and other other factors. This is the transition from type-0 to type-1 civilization status, unfolding before our eyes…

Voters and Skin in the Game

Soul and skin in the game

So voters are irrational, voting based on emotion than ‘good’ policy. This is not new, Bryan Caplan having written extensively about this. But the difference is Caplan uses this as an argument against democracy, whereas Taleb sees it as a strength or feature due to ‘skin in the game’.

I suspect he has socialist libertarian anti-establishment, SJW-leanings, sorta like Noam Chomsky but slightly more capitalist. Welfare liberals attack rationalism, preferring things be chaotic and decentralized. They want to believe that the ‘everyday man’ is no better than the smartest, and cognitive differences between individuals either don’t exist or are meaningless. Taleb thinks that it’s ‘good’ that irrational, ill-informed people, not elites, make decisions. Part of the problem with welfare liberals, anarchists, and socialists like Taleb is they overestimate the civility and rationality of their fellow man. Headlines from 2015 and 2016 about campus protests, Islamic terrorism, riots at Trump rallies, and Black Lives Matter, is evidence against such rationality an civility. Neoliberals, libertarians, and neoconservatives at least understand the necessity and concept of hierarchy.

And speaking of ‘skin’, Taleb has a tendency of being thin-skinned himself, blocking people on Twitter who disagree with him and starting pointless feuds with people who are smarter and or more knowledgeable than him.

Taleb has been using the 2008 financial crisis as a talking point long after the crisis subsided and the economy picked up. It’s like someone who still stuck in the past, repeating the same thing over and over. Large, interconnected systems are necessary and inevitable part of any modern, commercial society. The fact such systems occasionally fail is not reason to do away with them, but instead have systems and policy in place to contain crisis. Eliminating all systemic risk and interconnections while keeping standards of living unchanged seems impossible. Taleb does a lot of pontificating but offers no viable solutions.

Millennials Losing Faith in Democracy

This is great news for the ‘alt right’ cause: Are Americans losing faith in democracy?

Most millennials don’t think it’s essential to live in a democracy:

If you wonder why I write to much about Reddit and Millennials – this is why. There is a huge demographic here of people who are potentially repetitive to alternative, non-mainstream political ideas, be it NRx, HBD, Rationalism, Techno Libertarianism, Red Pill, and so on, as I discuss here.

Because millennials are so smart, the good news is this heightened intellectual curiosity makes them more receptive to unique/niche ideologies, like Red Pill, libertarianism, rationalism, effective altruism and MGTOW, that don’t fit squarely into a left/right dichotomy. We’re seeing millennials, especially on sites like Reddit and 4chan, take a keen interest in human biodiversity, as well as other perspectives and interests that could be deemed taboo by the antiquated liberal establishment.

And also, the post-2008 dissatisfaction with Obama, who made grandiose promises to his millennial base to get elected, few of which materialized.

Maybe millennials tend to hold views that are more ‘extreme’ or unconventional, either on the far-right or the far-left. The SJW movement represents the latter, and the ‘alt right’ the former, but I hesitate to call it ‘far right’ more so than just common sense, which is what it really is. To quote Kristol, being ‘mugged’ by reality is what turns a liberal into a conservative.

And even more importantly, millennials are more favorable to non-democratic rule than earlier generations:

Gamergate, for example, is a millennial-driven movement, as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash. Such millennials tend to be meritocratic, supporting a system where the best and the brightest rise to the top and keep what is rightfully theirs, but democracy is a system where the unproductive, unintelligent masses can take from the productive class, not by force, but by ballot. As part of the millennial mindset, individualism is celebrated over collectivism – to be a self-made man, intellectually and or financially, who calls the shots and lives life on his own terms either by embracing MGTOW or minimalism. Empiricism and rationalism are guiding principles, with consequentialism and maybe some machiavellianism, too. Democracy ultimately conflicts with human nature – rational wants, needs, and manifest observations – by incorrectly assuming people are irrational, or requiring people to suspend disbelief. People don’t rationally want to support a parasitic class. People don’t rationally believe individuals are equal when HBD renders some possibly better than others, with these differences manifested in real time in individual economic outcomes. Democracy, in effect, is just a false god that we are goaded into believing due to peer pressure and propaganda. To many millennials, the belief that wealth can be created by spreading it around from the most productive to the least is just as irrational as the belief in some omnipotent spirit.

One could argue that millennials are unhappy with democracy because it’s not liberal enough. It would have been nice if millennials were polled for their opinions for alternatives to democracy. But there is reason for hope. If just five percent of disaffected millennials are far to the right, that’s still millions of people.

Related: Could Millennials Be More Conservative Than Previously Thought?

Classical Liberalism, Democracy, Libtertarianism, Nihilism, and NRx

From Peter A. Taylor The Resurrection of Classical Liberalism

Here’s what I think happened. The US began as an expression of classical liberalism. The founders were steeped in John Locke’s ideas about natural rights, as modified and popularized by writers like James Otis, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson. What actually made it into the American political canon was a mixture of beliefs about natural rights and democracy. For example, the Declaration of Independence talks of unalienable rights and states “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….” I see two problems here. First, the clause about securing rights sounds good to libertarians and Objectivists, but what does “consent” mean? And second, the basis for the government’s legitimacy is overspecified. Do “just powers” stem from the necessity to secure rights or from consent?

To some extent (with the exception of SJW radicalism and other elements of post-ww2 liberalism) America still is that way.

Thus Progressives and Libertarians both engage in “cocktail party sophistry”, but their styles are different. Progressives feel good about cogency and political cohesion where Libertarians feel good about elegance and internal consistency. Progressives are having fun running in a potato sack race. Libertarians are having fun daydreaming about the perfect destination for a potato sack race. “Perfect” here more or less means “most elegant”. “Elegance” here more or less means “providing false moral clarity”. Elegance is the curse of the libertarian movement. The tendency to value elegance, combined with a tendency to grade your own work, are what give the libertarian movement the feel of being a “head game”. I believe this emphasis on elegance is closely related to the false diagnosis that a slippery slope problem (i.e. lack of moral clarity) was what did in the classical liberal tradition. Which came first, the craving for moral clarity, or the diagnosis that lack of moral clarity killed classical liberalism? I suspect the craving came first, but I’m not sure.

America is a partial libertarian country – free market capitalism, private property, but also a state, which is similar to a mixed economy. Through trial and error, feast and famine, this seems to be the most successful or stable configuration, with notable examples being China and Russia, as well as other modernized countries that have evolved to this state. That’s why it’s kinda pointless when you have libertarians and conservatives arguing about which is better – America has both (conservatives get military, police, and free markets; libertarians get free markets, and personal autonomy due to the 1st amendment, but with some regulation. Less business regulation and lower taxes would be better.)

There was little ‘democratic’ about early American government, and I’m not sure why so many people, even those as smart as Peter A. Taylor, get this wrong. Nor is classical liberalism the same as a ‘liberal democracy’. A ‘natural right’ does not necessarily include the ‘right to vote’.

Here is John Adams on democracy:

“I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.”

Thomas Jefferson:

This is relevant to the tyranny of the proletariat, in which the underclass using ‘democracy’ tries to overthrow the smaller productive class.

From Wikipedia:

Classical liberalism is a political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. It developed in 18th-century Europe and drew on the economic writings of Adam Smith and the growing notion of social progress.

18th century America and Europe would be considered tyrannical -hardly democratic – by today’s left.

Democracy may be a means of constraining a government to tend to its legitimate business, but it cannot be the source of the government’s moral legitimacy. The distinction between a republic and a democracy sounds promising, but this distinction is only meaningful so long as the voters choose to honor it. Scratch the surface of a republic, and underneath you find a democracy.

The solution is to roll back voting rights to how they were hundreds of years ago, in accordance with the founding fathers, who saw voting as a privilege rather than a right.

The system we have, although certain aspects of it suck, is the best of the alternatives, and it’s what we’re stuck with.

But we can reform it, which is what this blog is about. We don’t need a monarchy. Just turning the dial back 100 years would be immense progress.

One of the questions libertarians sometimes argue about is whether there are moral-practical dichotomies. That is, are there ever situations where doing “the right thing” from a moral standpoint conflicts with doing “the right thing” from a practical standpoint? To someone like me, in the “moral sympathy” school of thought, it’s a silly question. The relationships under consideration are “loose, vague, and indeterminate”. It’s complicated. We probably don’t even have the same people’s interests in mind when we ask the question. Who exactly are my tribe? Is “morality” something I personally choose to benefit myself, or is it a set of social norms my peers impose on me as the (possibly exorbitant and possibly evadable) price of associating with them? Jonathan Haidt’s definition (from The Righteous Mind) mostly supports the latter view:

America is also consequentialist, as are many nations. Examples of consequentialist policy being the 2008 bank bailouts, fed policy, war on terrorism, and others – policies that may not be popular with large segments of the population, but are deemed necessary to stave off a worse problem.

Of course, there are gradations: some countries and government are more socially liberal (European Union); others less so (China, Russia). America seems to have struck a balance that for for the past 240 or so years has worked, although the wave of post-ww2 liberalism may threaten this harmony.

America is an amalgamation or patchwork of many ideologies, and maybe this dynamism is why it has succeed for so long when other nations have failed.

From Bruce Charlton, The salvation of Mencius Moldbug:

But (and you were waiting for that ‘but’, weren’t you?) his system is based upon arbitrary axioms and is pragmatic and ‘utilitarian’ – in the sense that MM argues that his plans for government and society would in practice lead to the greatest happiness and/or the minimum misery for the greatest number of people.

But, to some degree, utilitarianism and policy are inseparable. In order to optimize the ROI of ‘Public Goods’, optimization in the mathematical and socioeconomic sense is desirable. Right now, due to liberalism and other scourges, we have a problem of poor optimization – for example, excessive welfare for those who contribute little, if any, to society.

In other words, Mencius Moldbug is an advocate of pure nihilism: a total denial of reality (since bottom line ‘reality’ – i.e. human emotions and what triggers them – is by this analysis wholly reversible, hence wholly relativistic).

So according to Charlton, Moldbug is not a moral realist.

Charlton’s definition of ‘nihilism’ is frustratingly reductive and doesn’t apply to Moldbug. Anyone who believes in the rule of law, which is what Formalism is about, cannot be a nihilist, by definition.

The essay Why Nihilism is Not Anarchy is relevant to NRx thought, and why Christianity may be incompatible with NRx, bold added for emphasis:

Nietzsche saw the above as parallel to Christianity, an assertion of inherent order based on shared humanity. Science and Nietzsche agree that humans vary so widely that to construct a universal “human nature” or “human morality” is a pointless endeavor toward false inherency. No such thing exists; some humans rise above others.

Anarchy, liberalism and other false social notions of equality and the inherent importance of man are entirely anti-nihilistic. In fact, they’re descendants of Christianity: they are falsely inherent orders based on human desires for the universe to be centered around humans. It is not. We are thinking monkeys, and it’s great we have come so far, but it’s not really that far. We’re not that great. And most of us are morons, perverts, lazybones, selfish people, criminals, or people who smoke in bed.

Maybe also fatalistic, in understanding that economic and biological reality means we’re subject to autonomous forces outside of our control, with the result being humans who are more endowed for success will tend to rise above others. The rule of law is still applicable, even if such views may seem fatalistic, amoral, and nihilistic.

The Rotting Foundation That Is Democracy

Many on the right attack individual symptoms, problems (feminism, crime, growing entitlement spending) without addressing the underlying disease: democracy and the liberal state.

The solution lends itself to NRx, which rejects the post-WW2 ideal of democracy and social liberalism, as quoted by Amerika’s NRx guide:

But as Evola observed, all of us in the post-war period are men among the ruins, because with WWII liberalism achieved its final victory over conservatism. In Europe, states became what we might call 60% liberal, in contrast to the 100% liberal of pure Communism in the Soviet Union. The United States, hovering at 50%, shot upward such that in the present day it hovers in the 90s somewhere.

Also interesting Evola’s Critique of Modernity – Bertonneau:

In words reminiscent of Spengler’s diction, Evola describes the United States “a soulless greatness of a purely technological and collective nature, lacking in any background of transcendence.” Whereas “Soviet communism officially professes atheism,” Evola remarks, and whereas “America does not go that far”; nevertheless, “without realizing it, and often believing the contrary, it is running down the same path in which nothing is left of… religious meaning.”

But the problem is not so much with feminism, but with too much freedom, that I think some mistakenly present as some unalloyed ‘good’, which ultimately gives rise to feminism, excess entitlement spending and other other forms of social liberalism. It’s like building a house of wood and then complaining about termites and rot. Even if the house is structurally sound initially, after many decades things eventually fall apart, and the house has to be rebuilt or town down. Better to just built it out of stone. The ‘liberal democracy’ is a relatively new concept in the history of Western civilization, and for good reasons.

However, in disagreement with Spengler and Evola, this does not mean we have to regress and abandon technology, nor do I share Evola’s detain for the bourgeois, a detain that is also shared by the left. Hating the elite is just another form of populism, this time from the right. If anything, technology is hastening the decline of democracy and egalitarianism, as evidenced by recent trends of growing wealth inequality. Technology does not have to lead to liberalism; in fact, the biggest critics of technology are leftist primitivists like John Zerzan, who argue that the world was ‘nicer’ and ‘fairer’ before agriculture. The left also complains about technology destroying jobs and creating income inequality, in agreement with their affinity for anarcho-Marxism and other leftist ideologies. If so many on the left blame technology and Western civilization for imagined social problems, why do we want to follow their heed?

Perhaps the political spectrum is locally linear (6 o’clock), but when you take higher-order approximations it becomes circular with both the far-left and far-right meeting on the opposite side (12 o’clock). The right-wing anti-populist status-quo is at 3 o’clock; the left-wing variety is at 9 o’clock. Going too far to either the left or the right may lead to disorder, upheaval. Related to my criticism of populism , the French Revolution, which epitomized the populist up-ruling, lead to Napoléon and the Reign of Terror to fill the void, which lead to French First Republic and planted the seeds much later for democracy.

The United Arab Emirates could be an example of a reactionary-style of government given that democracy is rejected and traditionalism and private property are enforced. However, the labour force of the United Arab Emirates is primarily made up of foreign temporary workers, most of whom come from the Indian subcontinent and other parts, which runs afoul of the entho-nationalist elements of NRx.


NRx and Modernity
Embracing Modernity, Part 2

NRx Should Be Anti-Populist

As discussed earlier, NRx is almost indistinguishable from Red Pill, both of which also share many similarities to paleoconservatism. IMHO, the problem with Paleoconservatism is that, like the far-left, it tends to be populist. For the far-left, it’s ‘the prole vs. the rich, big corporations’; for the populist right, it’s ‘the prole vs. big govt., multinationals’. Paleoconservatism is also anti-federalist, which goes against the idea of an autocracy as supported by NRx. On the other hand, neoconservatism and neoliberalism, which flank the ‘radical center’, are not populist, but instead tend to be more pragmatic and utilitarian; however, they are not reactionary. For example, Clinton signing the welfare reform act of 1996 angered a lot of liberals, but was for the ‘greater good’ of society and economy. The same for George W. Bush in 2008 with the bank bailouts, which angered pretty much everyone, but in retrospect was a success and a necessity. A tax cut for the top 5% of income earners (excluding the lower and middle class) I imagine would also be unpopular with the general public, but would help the economy since the wealthiest 5% contribute disproportionately to the economy in terms of job creation, consumer spending, and innovation. Another example would be cutting special education funding and diverting the funds to gifted education, which is still neglected, but would be a much better use of public resources since the gifted tend to contribute more to the economy in terms of innovation and job creation than the dull, who are often dependent on government assistance. Another idea is eugenics, which I imagine would also be unpopular, but in the long-run would make the country smarter, hence boosting the economy and reducing entitlement spending and crime. The idea is to maximize ROI, even such policy is unpopular with the majority. Neoliberal Bryan Kaplan’s skepticism of democracy agrees with the anti-populist view that average people are ill-informed and should have as little influence as possible in the policy making process, a view that is also shared by many neoconservatives.