Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The case for informalism

Formalism is the doctrine that everything should be out in the open, that all forms of power and influence should be converted to fungible shares of stock, and that the lines of communication, influence, and power of a government should be transparent. It really needs to be pointed out that this was a prescription Moldbug gave for attacking the Cathedral. It is a weapon against the Cathedral.

It is an idea for eliminating conflict by making the outcome of every fight known in advance. It is supposed to be a way of getting power to behave rationally. But applied to the right-wing, it is a way of making every single thing that you do traceable by your enemies. It empowers those who already have power. Used against you it empowers the left.

Moldbug thinks that if a ruler's power is absolute he will behave rationally. He therefore proscribes formalism in order to eliminate ambiguity about power. He thinks that if the left has absolute power it will behave rationally. He looks at the relatively responsible behavior of the Chinese Communist party for evidence of this. But the CCP is still preaching communism, and communism is to the right of social justice. A cultural Marxist "Social Justice party" would be ideologically frozen in the current year, and that means transgenderism would continue to be promoted. Communist victory stops left-ward movement, but does not necessarily reverse it.

We are in a state of cold war against the left. If a right-wing organization "formalizes" all of its power relationships, it hands a map to its enemies that shows how to destroy it. It says, "here are all of the lines of authority in our organization, the names of all of our members, corporate officers, tax records, financial weaknesses, financial sponsors, etc." You might as well hand your enemy a gun.

This is a huge flaw in Bitcoin, which is based on some liberal idea that transparency is good. Every transaction on the blockchain is potentially traceable. That is a huge mistake. Opacity is your friend. The assents nobody knows you have cannot be taxed, traced, or controlled. Italians understand this, and they use cash for almost all transactions, relentlessly evade their taxes, hire people through informal social networks, (guaranteeing that jobs go to family members and not immigrants), and pay protection rackets to kneecap threatening people. Even if the government lets refugees into the country there are no jobs for them because you cannot get a job in Italy without connections.

Hezbollah has "territory" in Lebanon. Being the wrong nationality and walking in the wrong neighborhood can get you killed.

Anglos are irrationally obsessed with having a rule for everything, and loudly announcing what those rules are under some false assumption that everyone is trustworthy, will follow the rules if they are told about them, and will not just subvert them. When you live in a multiracial empire you need to behave like a gang, you need to behave like the Italians and Hezbollah, and you need "informalism."

You need secret male-only fraternal organizations. You need totally informal ways of moving money around like Islamic Hawala banking. If you are using a cryptocurrency, you need everything to be totally untraceable from the ground up. The ideal is to even have a secret ledger that defines what territory is controlled by what reactionary/nationalist gang, for the gangs to know what territory is controlled, but no one outside the system. The ideal is to be able to even record titles to land and property whose ownership is enforced by the goddamn mafia, so that control of land is not even in the hands of the state, and the state's property ledger can "say one thing," while the fists of the Mafia say another, with the fist having more power to persuade than the state. The goal is to simply take all aspects of governance away from the government.

Accountability is evil. It just means accountability to strangers outside your community — to enemies. It just means you can be subverted. Everyone inside the clan knows the score, and that is all the accountability you need. In-group reputations provide the necessary regulation.

The alternative to Twitter, Gab, suffers from the flaw that it concentrates all of the alt-right in one place, slapping a sticker on every person that says, "look at me!"

The ideal informalist tech would combine a variety of different media types, such tweets, texts, phone calls, music downloads, movie downloads, webpages, and crypto transactions, in a vast sea of identical looking jumbled up encrypted data, so that reading a single tweet, or finding the owner of a single crypto transaction would involve decrypting hundreds of terabytes worth of data. Ideally it would also be used by billions on regular people, so that anti-Cathedral messaging would be hidden in plain sight. You want the act of tracking one individual to involve a Herculean effort of enormous cost and time, and everything should automatically self-delete after a fixed period of time, with crucial transaction records getting copied into new code in a different place in the jumble of automatically generated code.

Ghost gunner has value because it produces untraceable weapons. It is opaque. The degree to which Bitcoin has value is the degree of its opacity. The right accomplishes more online than in person because of anonymity, because of opacity. Torrents are opaque. VPNs are opaque. Secret societies are opaque. Grapevines are opaque. Nested cells are opaque. Leaving the cell phone at home and meeting face-to-face in private is opaque. Cash is opaque. Good ol' boy hiring networks are opaque. Wheat pasting counter-propaganda at night is opaque. Putting a reactionary book on the library shelves, if there are no cameras, is opaque. Dropping leaflets in public places is opaque. Tor is somewhat opaque. Duck Duck Go is somewhat opaque. Hawala banking is opaque.

Memorization of names instead of having a ledger of members is opaque. Trading reactionary books is opaque. Phone trees are somewhat opaque. Distributing reactionary literature, or Samizdat, is opaque. Paying cash for a burner phone is opaque.

There are two great books you should read. One is called The Art of Not Being Governed, by James C. Scott, and the other is called How to Be Invisible, by J.J. Luna.

In How to Be Invisible, Luna describes a technique where you go way out on a country road and find a stand of mail boxes sitting there on the side of the road. You take a regular mail box and nail it to an empty spot on the wooden rack of mail boxes. If, say, the address on the box is "607" you can tack on a box labeled "607B" or you can drive around and see that there are no other addresses for "609" and literally just take that number. It's perfectly legal for someone to just set up a mail box. You don't have to notify the postal service. You can then receive deliveries at that address. Just keep in mind that odd numbers are one one side of the street and even ones on the other, (in America). And putting up a mail box is perfectly legal and does not require registration.

Another thing that can be done is a group of people can establish a way of passing notes using a cityscape as the method of doing it. You have a series of spots picked out across the city. Maybe one spot is under a flower pot, maybe another is a brick that has been removed from a wall, and a third is a safety deposit box. A courier goes to each location and puts notes under the rock/under the flower pot/in the safe deposit box. The notes tell a brief story like this.

"Alice goes to the market. She talks to Dave. She retreaves the box."

This is a code. There is a rubric for deciphering it. It is a grid, like this;

A sophisticated enough code can be indistinguishable from normal writing, and even make sense to the casual viewer. You can even have evolving codes where a box in the rubric says, "shift the whole code down three rows, and over to the left two columns," and a box in the rubric which say "for the next message you receive, use rubric number 4." You can have multiple rubrics and they can have boxes within each other than refer to each other, shift columns up or down, rows left or right, etc., so that someone trying to decipher it is constantly being thrown off.

Another method is to have a series of L.LC. companies where the charter on each, lists the owner as another L.L.C., and then to incorporate them in many different states so that an investigator has to fly all around the country to dig up the corporate charter of each, and find out who the final owner in a chain of nested corporations. This allows for the hiding of assets from prying people, or at least it raises the cost of finding the real owner so high that only a well-funded investigator will go to the trouble.

The Art of Not Being Governed is about how to live as an anarchist in practical reality, or at least how the people of the Zomia region in southwest Asia accomplish it. A pdf copy can be found here. In short, it describes various different techniques that people have used for centuries to evade control by governments. The techniques described in this book are some of the same ones that are used in Afghanistan, and why Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires, why we are still there, and why governing them is essentially impossible. These two books, Not Being Governed, and How to Be Invisible, are completely indispensable. The first is for people willing to go off-grid; the second for those who want to hide in plain sight.


  1. The trouble in either case is lack of resources. Capital is still heavily favoring the progressive cause.

    1. "Lack of resources" ? Do you mean lack of alternative technologies? Or lack of a post-scarcity economy?

  2. Interesting post, thanks for the PDF – looks like good reading.
    You are, of course, correct that in a “war” you want to keep secrets and you will probably want to deceive your enemies. Thus, in a war, you do not want overly “formal” structures and procedures.

    Nevertheless, Moldbug is not recommending “formalism” as strategy for attacking the left. Formalism is part of the positive system that, so he argues, could replace the left’s system. Formalism, therefore, is a post-regime change doctrine.

    Your definition of what formalism is could also be tighter. Essentially, formalism is the view that the reality of power should correspond to the form of power. Moldbug’s formalism is derived from legal formalism. With legal formalism the claim is that judges must interpret the law according to what the law says (surprise) and not what they think or want the law to be.

    So it is not, necessarily, about “transparency” or that everything should be “out in the open” or even that shares should be used (that is neocameralism) but that the political formula should match the political reality. Thus, there is no contradiction in having a formalist state that basically never communicates anything at all about policy to the public.

    As for the dismissal of Moldbug’s claim about power and responsibility and the hand waving over China, we wonder if you understand what Moldbug meant when he wrote about Imperium in Imperio…..

    As the name of your blog suggests, you seem to think that leftists have intrinsically evil or malicious properties and that their behaviour is not a response to the incentives that exist as a result of the political structure. Are we wrong with this description?

    1. Who is "we." Are we using the royal we? Or is there more than one person speaking?

      (((Some leftists))) have evil intentions, others are acting on an innate genetic communism that has been brought out and expressed through a form of education designed to make an individual more insane rather than less. "Anti-puritan" is a title expressing opposition to the very existence of this type of character in western civilization. It was chosen because of Moldbug's reference to the;

      "The distinctive whining scream of the Puritan, speaking power to truth as is his usual fashion. Recognizable in any century."


      The name was chosen because "Anti-Gnostic" was already taken. The name was kept because changing the name or domain would be inconvenient to readers, who would have to change all their links to this site.

      Now you know.

      Regardless of what Moldbug is recommending, many people have taken formalism as something to be brought into everything without bothering to understand its limitations. This post was simply to express opposition to mindless importation of formalism into inappropriate areas.

  3. "Who is "we." Are we using the royal we? Or is there more than one person speaking?"

    Of course.

    "(((Some leftists))) have evil intentions"

    But is the cause innate or is it responsive to incentives?

    "others are acting on an innate genetic communism that has been brought out and expressed through a form of education designed to make an individual more insane rather than less"

    Right, so there is an "innate" component to this, and we agree. However, you also say there is an educational element as well that makes them more insane.

    The way we explain this is that these types of people are being "selected" because they are useful to power (as in Elites) and Power (as in the logic or algorithm of power).

    Change the "selector" and you will change who will be selected. Yet, many of the people who would be left in one possible world will be right in a different one. For instance, after Napoleon came to power he tamed the power of the press rather easily and most just went along with the new order.

    Take China, why are Chinese leaders so careful and prudent (or so it seems)? The intuitive idea that they have (and Deng made this point clear in 1978-9) is that "they" (as in the Communist Party) "own the country". It is "theirs" and if they do not look after it, they will lose it.

    Having responsibility and having (real) power tends to sharpen the mind and make men sober in the same way the hangman's noose does.

    We once brought all this up to a Chinese friend and said that in China the government is kind of like a family business and men like Xi want to "take care of their property", she wholeheartedly agreed with me.

    The trick is that the system must be secure and leaders must have power, but they must not be so secure and so powerful that they have no fear of any negative consequences. There must be just enough fear to motivate them to act responsibly, otherwise they might get put up against the wall.

    "This post was simply to express opposition to mindless importation of formalism into inappropriate areas."

    Oh, ok. That's good. But who argues this?