Moldbug/Yarvin has been on a publishing and media frenzy over the past year, itinerantly appearing on at least a couple dozen podcasts and serializing his forthcoming book on the blogging platform Substack (graymirror.substack.com). He has been everywhere: I saw a episode featuring Moldbug on a podcast that I had chosen seemingly at random that had nothing to do with politics or without searching for his name. I had intended to listen to an episode featuring the writer Oliver Bateman, and lo and behold there was Moldbug as a guest on that same podcast a month earlier.
Yervin recently appeared on the “Unregistered Podcast” and published on SubStack the article 2020, the year of everything fake.
Similar to Nasism Tooleb, Yarvin is fully onboard the mask wearing (with the ski goggles, no less) and social distancing agenda, and argues that the US government botched its Covid response. He somewhat indirectly praises China’s handling of Covid. This is not that surprising, when you think about it, as Yarvin, philosophically, is sorta a young Hegelian at heart, and sees the People’s Republic of China as being a model or rough blueprint of how the US should be, or at least an exemplar or model of a well-functioning society, in a world in which government dysfunction is otherwise the norm.
Yarvin has never explicitly been right-wing, nor can he be readily pigeonholed within such a left-right dichotomy, as his opinions on Covid demonstrate, which run counter to the general alt/dissident-right consensus of Covid fears being overblown and the lockdowns unjustified. Reading his articles and listening to his podcast appearances, many of his themes are universal. I could take passages from his articles and post them on anti-capitalism, left-wing communities, obviously without referring the original author, and they would be mostly well-received, as the themes he covers are relatable by both extremes of the spectrum. Both the far-left and the far–right can agree that capitalism is broken or not ‘real’ capitalism but rather a form of ‘welfare for the rich’ abetted by the federal reserve, that society is broken, that democracy is broken or obsolete, that social trust is eroding, and that ‘our’ leadership is incompetent.
There is absolutely no reason to relax an eradication strategy. The closer you get to zero, the more progress you are wasting if you celebrate too soon. The only strategies are to accept the virus, or eradicate the virus.
I don’t think total lockdowns would have been feasible for political reasons, which he agrees, nor would they have contained the virus as effectively as they appeared to have in China. I think too little was (and still is) known to make a declaration about what would have worked for the US, so the result was a haphazard trial and error approach that mitigated the spread to a small degree at least initially but was overall infective. Low-IQ communities are more gregarious than comparably high-IQ Asians, with large households, which can explain why Covid has spread so readily in low-income communities in the US, and also more deadly (blacks have a 3x higher IFR compared to whites). This makes even total lockdowns less effective in the US even if they seemed to have worked in Wuhan. There are other factors such as population density, which can explain why Florida has fared better despite lax measures, while New York was a hotbed of infection.
Furthermore, Covid’s spread has proven to be unpredictable, further reducing the efficacy of containment efforts. The initial 25 cases in January dotted the West Coast, yet the virus completely swept New York just a month later while the West Coast was not hit nearly as hard despite being infected first. The first case in New York City appeared on March 1st, yet just a month Later New York City would be the worst-affected area of the country. Even though lockdowns were soon implemented, it was too late (assuming they would have even worked).
I don’t think the economic consequences justified a total lockdown in the US, as Covid has proven to be much less deadly than previously thought for low-risk groups (young or middle-aged people). The original estimates back in January-February were an IFR as a high as 1-4%, but has now been revised as low as .01-0.2% for low-risk groups, making Covid only slightly more deadly than the flu. The IFR is still only .4% for 50-year-olds, yet, similar to the flu, rises exponentially beyond the age of 60.
But why did they go for the soft mitigation strategy? Why not a hard lockdown—an eradication strategy—which would have worked by July, and whose effects on the economy could have been mitigated in a far less shambolic way?
Because America is incapable of a hard lockdown. It is incapable of a hard lockdown because it does not really have a government. It does not have a government because the thing it calls a government cannot tell its people what to do, and make them do it, which is the basic function of a government.
As Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea showed, Covid could be beaten without a full lockdown—though their outbreaks never got as big as China’s. All four countries have one thing in common: a government. They have neither liberalism nor libertarianism. The government is completely in charge of the people, who are just sovereign serfs. While this is true everywhere, these countries have no ancient tradition of denying it.
The US is not a mono-culture or mono-society like China, Singapore, or South Korea. It is federation of differing political values and cultures and local systems of government tied together under a lethargic but powerful federal government. The Supremacy Clause stipulates that powers codified by the federal government override states’ rights, so, unlike the Patriot Act following 911, there was no legislation that stipulated a national state-wide response to Covid, that state governments had to abide by.
Culturally, I can see well-educated types in NYC and the Bay Area complying with even the most onerous of restrictions, but not people in the Midwest or in the South. Moldbug aspires to be a central planner. He imagines moving people around like pieces on a chessboard, with rationality as his guiding principle. But America’s significant ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity, combined with its huge land mass and its culture of independence and individualism, precludes the possibility of any sort of collective action on such a grand scale.