Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Secondhand Synthesis, with a Note on Islam


IF — you are like most people then you have no original opinions.

Most people form their opinions like this; they read or listen to a series of sources; CNN, NPR, Mother Jones, and John Oliver on the left, and maybe Fox Radio, Breitbart, and Facebook on the right. The sources vary, but regardless, they take the information they receive from their particular set of sources and synthesize them into their own "unique" opinion, which can be entirely predicted by a knowledge of their sources. In other words, they have a secondhand synthesis.

This synthesis feels like it is original even though it is not. That sense of originality comes from the fact that they used their own brain to create it. By synthesizing the information they tricked themselves into believing it was their own ideas. But no one actually thinks for themselves. Or in the words of our Supreme Dark Lord of the Sith;
"Two: we might say that whether they teach the truth or not, churches are just a bad idea, period. People should think for themselves. They should not have thoughts broadcast into a little antenna in the back of the skull. Therefore, the state should separate itself from the church, just because a good state should separate itself from all evil things.
But fortunately or unfortunately, there is no kingdom of philosophers. Most people do not think for themselves, should not think for themselves, and cannot be expected to think for themselves. They do exactly what they should be doing, and trust others to work out the large philosophical truths of the world for them. This trust may be well-placed or not, but surely this mechanism of delegation is an essential aspect of human society — at least with the humans we have now.
Three: we might believe that a government should not tell its subjects what to think. Since this is the only option I have left, it is the one I follow. I'd like to think you follow it as well."

Of course by repeating what Moldbug has said I am not thinking for myself. Oh well. . . One has to delegate eventually.

The point here is germane to many things. As an example; it is often asserted that Islam in it's sine qua non is an essentially totalitarian and violent faith. Of course many statistics can be produced to prove this assertion and there is much heated debate. On one side, left-wing people, who by nature are incapable of thought, call it racism, and on the other, right-wing people who mostly don't think answer in the affirmative, that yes, it is indeed inherently violent. But there is a much simpler way to answer this question by asking two questions of our own; one, do people believe what they are told? And two, does Islam tell them to do violent things?

You know the answer to both of these questions.




Monday, January 30, 2017

Injustice is Genetic


Why do rapists exist?

Evolution is a reproduction maximizing algorithm. It does not care if you suffer. It is indifferent. Not only does it not care — worse, it cannot even know it should care. It is just math, a numbers game, an algorithm.

The problem with talking about evolution is that the message is always delivered with moral bias, as if nature was some sort of divine commandment. Even the term "survival of the fittest" contains an implicitly normative (moral) assertion that somehow the existence of some trait that nature favors is proof of its moral virtue. It is not. And to show why, let us go through some examples.

Let us start with the right-wing fear of idiocracy. We will start with this one because the right is the side that likes to make morals out of situations that evolution favors.

The problem is that the welfare state, by taxing the middle class, suppresses their birth rates, while subsidies to the poor increase their birth rates. Thus, the handouts have a dysgenic effect; they make the population stupider over time. This is most acutely illustrated in the cinematic satire Idocracy (2006), by Mike Judge. Evolution may consider the "fittest" to be the dumber ones if the environment favors their reproduction. It is not only an argument against the welfare state, it is a strong argument against regarding nature as a source of moral values.

Whether or not a trait is eugenic or dysgenic is a value judgement. However, we may assert universal standards on the grounds that any individual denying those standards is being disingenuous. No one would honestly argue that stupidity and bad health are virtues, or that beauty and athleticism are not positive things.

The second example I will give you is breast cancer. Simply put, once a human being hits menopause she can no longer reproduce. Thus, evolution has little incentive to ensure her health after that point. Maladies that effect the elderly are largely due to the decreased potential for having children later in life. Long-lived organisms, like the Freshwater pearl mussel, have exceptionally healthy lives. Both their health and longevity are due to reproduction through a longer period of life. The endangered common Freshwater pearl mussel, has a reproductive period of about 75 years. As a result, it has a maximum lifespan of about 210–250 years. Basically, the longer an organism can reproduce, the more of it's lifespan it spends healthy, or the longer its life is. Reproduction creates a positive incentive against disease. Illnesses like breast cancer and prostate cancer are largely due to the fact that humans do not routinely have children when elderly. In the case of women, they can't because of menopause.

So the injustice of aging is biological and evolutionary in origin. It is also sexist, since more women get breast cancer than men get prostate cancer, and at an earlier age. This is no argument for sexism. It is an argument against regarding evolution as a source of morality.

Similarly, the argument for racism on the basis of Human Biodiversity is not cogent. Nature is something to be surpassed. Yes, politics should not base itself on the delusional idea that humans are equal, but we may also regard human inequality as an injustice. If a man is more violent or less intelligent, if he lacks impulse control or mathematical skills as a result of being at the lower end of the bell curve for his people, who are themselves in a lower range, then that is an injustice to him. It is greater injustice to the society that must put up with him. Judgement and pity are not mutually exclusive; we both judge the criminal and pity their genetic inferiority at the same time. No fact of genetics should imply a moral good when it is harmful to society. Patriarchy is not good simply because it out-reproduces egalitarianism. The cognitively challenged are not superior simply because they out-reproduce the intelligent. Women are not inferior because they get breast cancer more often than men get prostate cancer. Pedophiles are not acceptable just because they are genetic in origin. Rape is not moral simply because rapists reproduce their own genes through rape. The IS of a genetic fact does not conclude in a righteous OUGHT to that genetic fact. If you disagree with me on this point then you must explain to me why rape and idiocracy are moral.

We may still judge them all. Even if every nasty trait every human being has is ultimately genetic in origin this proves nothing. Judge them all. Then genetically engineer them to be better.

Let us create a world without war and madness, without pederasts or cancer. We will engineer Blacks with impulse control, creative Asians, and Whites without religious fanaticism. We will create a society where no one is fat, dull, or slow, and where everyone can do calculus — in their heads. Until one can modify his own genetics, free will is basically an illusion.

When a murderer is arrested we will engineer him to be docile and law abiding. To prevent him from resenting the treatment we have given him, we will give him another treatment that makes him appreciate it.

No unsatisfied customers!

Suffering is genetic. Loneliness is genetic. Hypergamy is genetic. Male dominance is genetic. Pedophilia is genetic. Liberalism is genetic. We can make them better! There is a cure. Think of the possibilities!




Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Last Question, By Isaac Asimov


Just reposting this


This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written.
After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short
story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I
won't tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you.
It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They
seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague
thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the
ending. The idea seems to drown out everything -- and I'm satisfied that it should.


The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:
Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face -- miles and miles of face -- of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough -- so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share In the glory that was Multivac's.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth's poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public function, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

"It's amazing when you think of it," said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. "All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever."

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. "Not forever," he said.

"Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert."

"That's not forever."

"All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?"

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. "Twenty billion years isn't forever."

"Will, it will last our time, won't it?"

"So would the coal and uranium."

"All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can't do THAT on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don't believe me."

"I don't have to ask Multivac. I know that."

"Then stop running down what Multivac's done for us," said Adell, blazing up. "It did all right."

"Who says it didn't? What I say is that a sun won't last forever. That's all I'm saying. We're safe for twenty billion years, but then what?" Lupov pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. "And don't say we'll switch to another sun."

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov's eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov's eyes snapped open. "You're thinking we'll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren't you?"

"I'm not thinking."

"Sure you are. You're weak on logic, that's the trouble with you. You're like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and Who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn't worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one."

"I get it," said Adell. "Don't shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too."

"Darn right they will," muttered Lupov. "It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it'll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won't last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that's all."

"I know all about entropy," said Adell, standing on his dignity.

"The hell you do."

"I know as much as you do."

"Then you know everything's got to run down someday."

"All right. Who says they won't?"

"You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said 'forever.'"

"It was Adell's turn to be contrary. "Maybe we can build things up again someday," he said.

"Never."

"Why not? Someday."

"Never."

"Ask Multivac."

"You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can't be done."

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

"No bet," whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten about the incident.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright marble-disk, centered.
"That's X-23," said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of inside-outness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, "We've reached X-23 -- we've reached X-23 -- we've ----"

"Quiet, children," said Jerrodine sharply. "Are you sure, Jerrodd?"

"What is there to be but sure?" asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspacial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship.

Someone had once told Jerrodd that the "ac" at the end of "Microvac" stood for "analog computer" in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine's eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. "I can't help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth."

"Why for Pete's sake?" demanded Jerrodd. "We had nothing there. We'll have everything on X-23. You won't be alone. You won't be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded."

Then, after a reflective pause, "I tell you, it's a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing."

"I know, I know," said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, "Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world."

"I think so, too," said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father's youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth's Planetary AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

"So many stars, so many planets," sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. "I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now."

"Not forever," said Jerrodd, with a smile. "It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase."

"What's entropy, daddy?" shrilled Jerrodette II.

"Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?"

"Can't you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?"

The stars are the power-units, dear. Once they're gone, there are no more power-units."

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. "Don't let them, daddy. Don't let the stars run down."

"Now look what you've done, " whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

"How was I to know it would frighten them?" Jerrodd whispered back.

"Ask the Microvac," wailed Jerrodette I. "Ask him how to turn the stars on again."

"Go ahead," said Jerrodine. "It will quiet them down." (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jarrodd shrugged. "Now, now, honeys. I'll ask Microvac. Don't worry, he'll tell us."

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, "Print the answer."

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, "See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don't worry."

Jerrodine said, "and now children, it's time for bed. We'll be in our new home soon."

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, "Are we ridiculous, I wonder, in being so concerned about the matter?"
MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. "I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion."

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

"Still," said VJ-23X, "I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council."

"I wouldn't consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We've got to stir them up."

VJ-23X sighed. "Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More."

"A hundred billion is not infinite and it's getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years --"

VJ-23X interrupted. "We can thank immortality for that."

"Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problems of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions."

"Yet you wouldn't want to abandon life, I suppose."

"Not at all," snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, "Not yet. I'm by no means old enough. How old are you?"

"Two hundred twenty-three. And you?"

"I'm still under two hundred. --But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we'll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we'll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we'll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?"

VJ-23X said, "As a side issue, there's a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next."

"A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year."

"Most of it's wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those."

"Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We'll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point."

"We'll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas."

"Or out of dissipated heat?" asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

"There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC."

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

"I've half a mind to," he said. "It's something the human race will have to face someday."

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of sub-mesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite it's sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, "Can entropy ever be reversed?"

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, "Oh, say, I didn't really mean to have you ask that."

"Why not?"

"We both know entropy can't be reversed. You can't turn smoke and ash back into a tree."

"Do you have trees on your world?" asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, "See!"

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.

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Zee Prime's mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity - but a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.
Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

"I am Zee Prime," said Zee Prime. "And you?"

"I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?"

"We call it only the Galaxy. And you?"

"We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?"

"True. Since all Galaxies are the same."

"Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different."

Zee Prime said, "On which one?"

"I cannot say. The Universal AC would know."

"Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious."

Zee Prime's perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrunk and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the originals Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and called, out: "Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?"

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor lead through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

"But how can that be all of Universal AC?" Zee Prime had asked.

"Most of it, " had been the answer, "is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine."

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime's wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime's mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. "THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN."

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, "And Is one of these stars the original star of Man?"

The Universal AC said, "MAN'S ORIGINAL STAR HAS GONE NOVA. IT IS NOW A WHITE DWARF."

"Did the men upon it die?" asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.

The Universal AC said, "A NEW WORLD, AS IN SUCH CASES, WAS CONSTRUCTED FOR THEIR PHYSICAL BODIES IN TIME."

"Yes, of course," said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, "What is wrong?"

"The stars are dying. The original star is dead."

"They must all die. Why not?"

"But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them."

"It will take billions of years."

"I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?"

Dee sub Wun said in amusement, "You're asking how entropy might be reversed in direction."

And the Universal AC answered. "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

Zee Prime's thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime's own. It didn't matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.

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Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.
Man said, "The Universe is dying."

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, "Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years."

"But even so," said Man, "eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase to the maximum."

Man said, "Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC."

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and Nature no longer had meaning to any terms that Man could comprehend.

"Cosmic AC," said Man, "How may entropy be reversed?"

The Cosmic AC said, "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

Man said, "Collect additional data."

The Cosmic AC said, "I WILL DO SO. I HAVE BEEN DOING SO FOR A HUNDRED BILLION YEARS. MY PREDECESSORS AND I HAVE BEEN ASKED THIS QUESTION MANY TIMES. ALL THE DATA I HAVE REMAINS INSUFFICIENT."

"Will there come a time," said Man, "when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?"

The Cosmic AC said, "NO PROBLEM IS INSOLUBLE IN ALL CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCES."

Man said, "When will you have enough data to answer the question?"

"THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

"Will you keep working on it?" asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, "I WILL."

Man said, "We shall wait."

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"The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.
One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man's last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, "AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?"

AC said, "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

Man's last mind fused and only AC existed -- and that in hyperspace.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matter and energy had ended and with it, space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.
All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer -- by demonstration -- would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.

And AC said, "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"

And there was light----





Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Conveyor Belt


No enemies to the right is really no enemies ON the right. This concept is misunderstood and it needs to be clarified after the doxing of Mike Enoch.

Maybe the asshole just wanted money? Maybe he is a genuine self-hater? Maybe he suffers from a serious case of false-consciousness? Maybe all of the above?

Who cares.

Back in 2009 Mencius Moldbug used the French term pas d'ennemis a gauche, pas d'amis a droi, which means, no enemies to the left, no friends to the right. He used this term in A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations, (part 1). The implication here, never stated, was that the right should adopt the reverse strategy; no enemies to the right, no friends to the left. This is where the idea came from.

The term never actually meant no enemies to the right. It means no enemies ON the right.

Who is on the right? Well, anyone who is assisting society in rejecting equality. That is, anyone on the ALT-RIGHT and the alt-lite who is part of our little CONVEYOR BELT.

What the fuck is the conveyor belt? It's what we are doing.

Think of this whole movement as a giant conveyor belt designed to move society rightward. The target is society itself. Each group; libertarians, the alt-lite, identitarians, alt-right, NRx, and "there are five lights," are part of a system that moves the blue pilled normie cuck rightward through a series of indoctrinations.

This means that guys like Crowder, Cernovich, Milo, Lauren Southern, and Gavin McInnes, are crucial because they introduce the alt-right to a larger audience. And to be perfectly honest, they have more strategic worth than all the Nazis in this place, because the Nazis are embarrassing, and Nazis engage in circular firing squads.

Seen in this light, everyone who did the Hitler salute at the NPI conference deserves the oven. They are a drag on the movement, and an embarrassment to Spencer.

This is about rightward cultural movement for the whole civilization, not about purity.

Will there come a time to shoot the alt-lite?

Yes. Of course. After the entire civilization worships the God Emperor and they have become the new left. After the Overton window has moved so far right that a libertarian looks like a socialist to every man on the street. In other words, after you have achieved total and absolute cultural hegemony and housewives are shooting feminists. After you have already eliminated everybody to the left of them first.

It's a conveyor belt. Who ever assists in moving SOCIETY right, is right. Whoever doesn't is left-wing. Mike Enoch gave the Hitler salute at NPI. He embarrassed the movement. As a result, fewer people will move to the right. Enoch is therefore an entryist.

Paul Joseph Watson counter signals against the alt-right. He does not want to be part of the conveyor belt. He is therefore an entryist.

Anyone who does the Hitler salute is sabotaging the conveyor belt. They are entryists because they are harming our ability to move society to the right.

The chief characteristic of a good member of the conveyor belt is that they do things that move their audience to the right. Duh. (I think I've said this already). Even a feminist like Camille Paglia is part of the belt. People go in to her lectures left-wing and leave right-wing. And those who are to the right of her tend not to find her that appealing anyway. As a result, she has a net rightward effect on the people she interacts with.

So what are some signs that someone is part of the conveyor belt?

Does someone who starts out consuming their content tend to move on to stronger stuff with the passage of time?

Does the content provider quote favorably sources that are more right-wing than themselves?

Do they give traffic to sources that are more right-wing than themselves?

Do they NOT harm rightward drift?

Contrary to what you might think, a content producer who becomes more right-wing is not necessarily a good thing. This is because those low dose red pills are absolutely necessary as the gateway drug to more intense stuff. A content provider who moves to the right may just alienate his audience. And if there are no alt-lite types then there is no one peddling gateway red pills to the left.

It isn't about shooting left. It's about moving people right.





Friday, January 27, 2017

Civilization, sans Traffic

This is about engineering a system that eliminates rush hour traffic from all but the largest cities.

The main driver of traffic is scheduling. Employers schedule employees during peak traffic periods. This produces the behavior we know of by the terms rush hour and gridlock.

Anything that is not owned is wasted; air, water, roads, etc. That is why pollution occurs. The typical economist proposes to solve this with peak congestion pricing, road tolls or Pigovian taxes. These solutions fall on the poor most harshly and tax the worker, rather than his boss who is creating most of the congestion in the first place.

Capitalism can be thought of as identical to the sum of all its property arrangements. Capitalism is a system of property-based social technologies that allow some things to be owned, (land, cars, etc.) and not others, (people, women, government). Capitalism, unlike feudalism, does not allow humans to be owned in an obvious manner within a liberal democracy. That is why human ownership is on the down low, (H1B Visa, illegal immigrants, etc.) But I digress.

Basically, capitalism likes it when profits are maximized. This tends to work against feudalism, male dominance, hierarchy, and morality. It works in favor of things that maximize profit, (free trade, immigration, corrupt banking, atomized workers, low birth rates). But capitalism is just the summary of all its property relationships in this system of capitalism. And capitalism has not stopped evolving. This is just one of many capitalism(s). So when you talk about capitalism, you must ask; "which one?" Because the capitalism that exists today is not the same as the one that existed in the 1950's, the 1900's, or the 1800's. Property relationships evolve. No one could envision selling "space" on the iPhone by letting developers put their apps on it. The property form of "platform" on a computer system had not yet been invented.

This means that capitalism can be hacked, or modified if you will, by inventing the next iteration of property systems. Since any property system that fulfills a desire that was previously unfulfilled will probably be adopted, the course of society can be determined through the invention of new forms of property.

Everything in capitalism can be thought of as property without losing any ability to represent reality. Money is property in the labor of others. Insurance is property in risk management. Title is property in objects, etc. For a more complete list see this.

Now the act of scheduling employees can be defined as a form of property.

Take a typical day between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. Normally there would be a sudden increase in traffic between around 8 or 9 am and between 5 to 7 pm — about the times people are going to work or coming home.

Now divide the city up in to scheduling squares of about 5 x 5 blocks, or 25 square blocks. Force all employers to schedule in 5 minute increments the beginning and end of their work days, i.e. 9:45, 9:50, 9:55, etc. Start the day at 6 am. Have an even number of increments until 10 pm. There are a total of 192 increments between 6 am and 10 pm, Issue the same number of scheduling increments for every hour. Do NOT have more increments during what would normally be rush hour. Work it out so that there are plenty of increments to start and end an employees shift, but never enough during "peak" times. Then create a market where employers can trade scheduling times with each other within their scheduling block.

The employers who want their employees to go to work during peak times will wind up paying the employers who are willing to schedule their employees during off-peak times. Because the supply of peak times is limited and the supply of off-peak times abundant, a general smoothing out of traffic will occur. Rush hour should be abolished. Instead of having crammed streets during some hours and dead streets during other hours, you will have a steady but manageable hum of cars all day.

Now this does not guarantee the elimination of all traffic. This works best in small and medium sized cities. In Chinese mega cities this may not work at all since the lessening of traffic may just be filled up by an increase in demand. But most societies that have the will to do it could banish rush hour.

Now the question is: could democracy do it? If not, that says a lot about the breakdown of property systems in western societies. It would be a shame if democracy, unlike the monarchical minarchistic feudalism of Great Britain, was incapable of inventing new government-enforced property rights.




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Anonymous Comments are Now Enabled


I used to be a hard-ass about comments. I took a "talk shit, get blocked" approach on the issue. Then I realized that no one was commenting. So I've loosened my policy.

Say whatever you want. Try to keep it civil. If you insult me or degrade anyone else I'll just delete it. I won't bother reading any insulting stuff. I'll just hit the delete key.

Also, I'm such a technological Luddite that it has taken me this long to figure out how to make anonymous comments possible. You can now post without giving away your identity. We'll see how it goes. If all hell breaks loose then I might tighten the reins a little.

Aphorisms no. 30


Technology changes the morals of civilization. The morals, having been changed, foreclose upon a return to the past through conventional political means. Only social technologies can mend the damage of conventional technologies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Good government as good customer service:" Highlighting Moldbug



I find it interesting how even UR readers, who certainly can't be accused of not having thought about the issue (I really have done my damnedest to drive away anyone who has no patience with large thoughts expressed at length, and I'm quite happy with the result), are very used to thinking of the relationship between state and citizen as fundamentally adversarial.

Of course, this is because it is. Clearly, no one who's still reading this blog is tempted to refer to the State as "us," or thinks it somehow constitutes a "community." Most of us are quite sick of this giant cancerous blob which wants to own our minds and tell us what to do.

Nonetheless, it continues to grow. I think it's fair to say that attempts to reverse this trend, or even to stop it, have been quite unsuccessful. Perhaps it's worth reconsidering the strategy.

My theory, which I admit is unorthodox, is that most attempts to defeat or limit the growth of the State have failed mainly because they've tended to attack it on political grounds. That is, they have proposed governmental mechanisms to limit the growth of government. It is not too hard to see why this might fail - see my latest discussion with Nick Szabo and others.

Instead, I think there is a basic economic problem that needs to be solved. To me, the growth of government looks just like the byzantine structures that evolve around any malstructured market, such as a rent-controlled housing market. Effectively, I think, libertarians who don't believe the state should exist are like New Yorkers who don't believe landlords should exist. They pay rent anyway - they just pay it in a bizarre swirl of "fees" to "brokers." And they think it's perfectly normal that in 2007, they live in an apartment with no garbage disposal.

To me, the State is simply a real-estate business on a very large scale. The economic error is in thinking that the rents (taxes) its subjects pay are payments for services - much as the New Yorker can tell you what a tiny percentage of his $500/month stabilized rent goes back into maintenance. (Typically this percentage is zero.)

What the libertarian, like the New Yorker, is neglecting, is the capital cost. The nefarious factions that control the State these days put a whole lot of work into gaining that control. They conspired for literally hundreds of years. They didn't do that for nothing. So, through their system of so-called education, they have convinced us - and, of course, themselves - that we need an enormous variety of "services" and "regulations" which they are happy to administer for lucky little us.

For the most part, these are nothing but disguised profits. And even if you can defeat the interest groups and cut off their lifelines, you create an economic vacuum which, if it can be maintained for a millisecond, will certainly be filled by some other nefarious faction. Like the New York socialist who tries to eliminate rent, you are trying to dig a hole in the ocean.

Of course there is an adversarial relationship between the libertarian and his government, just as there is an adversarial relationship between the New Yorker and his landlord. Every economic relationship which is held in disequilibrium by administrative means is, by definition, adversarial. In both cases, this battle becomes a matter of mental habit.

The New Yorker simply has no conception of what a normal relationship between tenant and landlord, based on mutual interests mutually agreed, might look like. Well, okay, he has some conception, because perhaps he has visited friends outside city limits and noticed that they have garbage disposals, walls that have been painted in the last 20 years, etc, etc.

The libertarian has no such analogy. Nowhere in the world is there a country that is run like a business. The closest examples - places like Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore - are fascinating in many ways, but hardly free from politics.

This is the point - which I don't think I've been very good at getting across - of my Fnarg examples. The goal of these examples has been to use sci-fi magic to try to ask the question: if a country was run entirely for profit, and didn't have to worry about securing itself from its enemies internal or external, what would it do?

Naturally, since the question depends on magic, so does the answer. This gedankenexperiment can't answer the question of how to fix government. But perhaps it's a piece of the puzzle.

There are two variants of the experiment. In the first, the private country is a monopoly. In the second, it's competing with other governments - a much more attractive proposition. Let's answer this one first.

Fnargland is a business. Like any business, it has no reason at all to alienate its customers. Does the barista at Starbucks spit in your coffee? The happier Fnargland can make its residents, the more it can charge them. This is basic economics.

It is also basic economics that you can't make someone happier by reducing the set of actions he or she can take. In financial terms, you can think of the right to do something as an option. There is no such thing as an option with negative value.

Therefore, the corporate administrators of Fnargland can be expected to operate their country under libertarian principles. Fnargland will ensure its customers deal fairly with each other, and otherwise leave them alone. This is both in its interest and in theirs.

(Except, of course, for the taxes. In Fnargland, taxation is not theft. Taxation is rent. Income tax, however, is extremely annoying, so perhaps a property-tax-only regime - a la Henry George - might be preferred. One benefit of this is that FnargCo's shareholders find it easy to calculate the expected return on their equity, because it will follow the presumed ascent of the property market.)

For a little libertarian "red meat," here are some freedoms I think citizens of Fnargland would enjoy. My basis for enumerating these freedoms is not that I think they're cool and I would love to live in a place where I had them - although I would - but that I can't imagine how FnargCo could have even a particle of interest in infringing them.

One, freedom of computation and communication. Fnargites can compute any function and send each other the result. Fnargland is beholden to no Mickey-Mouse copyright monopoly. The Ring protects it from any air, land, or sea assaults by the MPAA.

Two, freedom of contract and arbitration. Unless they are conspiring to commit a crime, Fnargites can make any agreement with each other, assign any arbiter to judge performance, and submit to any penalty in enforcement.

Three, freedom of medicine. Fnargites own and are responsible for their own bodies. No committees of bureaucrats are charged with telling them what pills they can and can't take, what experts they can and can't consult, etc, etc.

Four, freedom of industry. As long as they are not making weapons to assault each other, Fnargites can build anything they like any time for any reason. Fnargland is also not beholden to any patent monopolies. "Intellectual property" does not increase the value of FnargCo's real estate - quite the contrary.

Five, freedom of instruction. Bizarre as it may seem in this day and age, Fnargites are responsible for raising their own children. They may instruct them as they see fit, and own them until they choose to emancipate them.

Six, freedom of finance. Fnargland does not interfere with its customers' financial lives. In particular, it does not subsidize debt, promote "cheap money," run Ponzi schemes, etc. It also respects the right of its customers to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. (A particularly anachronistic provision.)

Obviously, these six liberties are not currently enjoyed by us poor non-Fnargites. Perhaps they are not as valuable as we crazy libertarians think, and the dripping, lava-encrusted waste of Fnargland will remain barren forever. But somehow I doubt it.

Of course, if any readers feel that FnargCo would have a motivation to infringe these freedoms, or to abuse its customers in some other appalling way, the comments section is, as usual, open. It may help to imagine yourself as some hotshot from McKinsey, suggesting new revenue measures to the skeptical board of directors.




Aphorisms no. 29

The left is a totalitarian cult of religious fanatics. Offending them is an act of virtuous bravery, and damn fun too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You Are Here


Superficially, it may look as though some technologies favor either the left or right. Guns created democracy because equal weapons create equal societies. (Just like in ancient Greece). Are guns right-wing? If you listen to the left talk about them they are. But is democracy itself right-wing?

The printing press disrupted the ability of the Roman Catholic Church to maintain a political hold on the monarchies of Europe. The Protestant Reformation and the various religious wars that followed could not have been possible without the the ability of the people to read the Bible in their own native tongues. Superficially we may look at this as a "left-wing" technology.

Birth control is obviously a left-wing technology, right? The sexual revolution would not have been possible without it. I have written a lot about this.

Bitcoin, smart contracts, blockchains, and distributed ledgers are most certainly right-wing technologies. Are they not? In the future, they may enable anarcho capitalism. Certainly, public encryption is right-wing. With it people may build assassination markets for killing politicians. That sounds like a Patriots wet dream to me.

But if you look closer you will notice that while all of these technologies score victories for one side of the political aisle or the other, something is happening in the background over a longer time scale; anarchy is being advanced.

Now why is that?

It goes to the very definition of the word technology.

Technology is defined as a labor saving device or technique. It is anything that reduces the amount of human effort needed to preform a task, produce a product, coordinate people, transact a purchase, etc. Anything that makes it easier for people to do a thing is technology.

Here I am writing a blog that hundreds of people read. In the past, I would have had to operate a wood block printing press that cost me hundreds of dollars to purchase. Just the act of printing so many pamphlets would be exhausting. I know, I took a print making class in college and did this very thing with my own hands. It can take days to set up just one print correctly. Etching a copper plate by hand is a soothing but time consuming thing. It is a truly remarkable art.

Going further back in history I would have had to copy by hand my own handwriting and walk around distributing it to publish anything. That would have taken months, and could not possibly have been profitable.

Labor saving equates to lowering barriers to entry.

And lowering the barrier to entry is ultimately identical to raising the percentage of the population that has access to power.

Peter Thiel invented Palantir; a software system that sifts through massive amounts of data to identify terrorist threats. Using distributed computing, the same software could be developed for personal use, giving everyone the ability to perform the same intelligence analysis as the NSA. The burden of hosting all of that data would simply be distributed across a network of computers. The software does the rest. Call it the Wikipedia of intelligence agencies.












In the near-term robots may put millions of people out of work and require basic income. In the long-term one could build a swarm army composed of privately owned robots controlled by a hacker group like Anonymous.

Any low-cost technology can eventually make its way into public hands.

In large numbers automated cars could be used as weapons. A drug 3D printer could synthesize chemical agents.

One day people will wake up an realize that technology has pozzed them all. The left thought history was inevitable. The right thought. . . what? It looked to the past rather than the future. They will realize that the arc of history is not so much to the left or right as up the triangle. It moves from monarchy to anarchy. This gives history a superficial appearance of marching to the left because the range of possible political systems expands dramatically leftward for a brief time before contracting back to a (hopefully) ordered anarchy. Once communism is surpassed, (fall of the Berlin Wall around 1989) the upward march continues relentlessly towards anarcho capitalism.

In the end technology moves society UP from Absolutism to AnCap, and not to the left.


Up is just the direction
























Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Democracy as Adaptive Fiction:" Highlighting Moldbug

As usual, skip over all the parts of his article that are not highlighted. Though if you ask me, this is one article that is too entertaining for speed reading.

It's been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here, and I have a vague sense that there are some new readers who don't know what they've gotten into. Sure, it's still legal to read UR. But unless you take special precautions, you're leaving a trail of HTTP requests that future regimes may have no trouble at all in tracing to you personally. These may well qualify you for a stint in one of the new inpatient sensitivity facilities. Mellow out, as Jello Biafra put it, or you will pay. Try tapping on the wall - I might hear you.

(The song referenced above is below. California Über Alles, by the Dead Kennedys).




In any case. Today I thought it'd be fun to talk about democracy. Unless you are 107 years old and a veteran of the Austrian Landwehr, you probably associate democracy with peace, freedom, progress and prosperity. Since I associate democracy with war, tyranny, destruction and poverty, we certainly have something to talk about.

My guess is that the conventional view of democracy, which I of course grew up with, is what we can call an adaptive fiction. An adaptive fiction is a misperception of reality that, unlike most such misperceptions, manages to outcompete the truth.

For example, suppose we somehow became convinced that warm beer is refreshing, whereas cold beer is poisonous. Obviously a fiction, and obviously maladaptive in our society. However, if we imagine a hot country ruled by brewers, who control their serfs by paying them only in lager, which being warm leaves them both tipsy and unrefreshed, hence quite incapable of revolt... you get the idea.

In this brewers' republic, the warm-beer fiction is what Gaetano Mosca called a political formula. (Mosca's philosophy is nicely summarized in James Burnham's The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, which at $50 for a used pocket-book is positively a bargain, and about as close as you'll get to Oligarchical Collectivism.)

A political formula is a belief that makes the ruled accept their rulers. Since the former tend to outnumber the latter, a political formula is, if not absolutely essential, an excellent way to cut down on your security costs. A political formula is adaptive because the rulers have, obviously, both motive and opportunity to promote it.

The best example of a political formula is divine-right monarchy - simply because this formula is defunct. Hardly anyone these days believes in the divine right of kings. Since at one time, most everyone did, we have incontrovertible proof that adaptive fictions can exist in human societies. Either divine-right monarchy is a fiction, and people then were systematically deluded. Or kings do rule by the grace of God, and people now are systematically deluded.

Or, of course, both. Because Mosca's second example of a political formula is - democracy.

In UR terms, democracy is a core tenet of Universalism. It's really not possible to be a Universalist and not believe in democracy. It's like being a Catholic and thinking the Virgin Mary was "just some chick."

Universalism is the faith of the Brahmins, the intellectual caste whose global dominance has been unchallenged arguably since World War II, and certainly since the end of the Cold War. Since an intellectual is defined by his or her ability to influence the opinions of others, it's not hard to see why democracy is such an effective political formula. Democracy means that popular opinion controls the State; intellectuals guide popular opinion; ergo, intellectuals guide the State.

As Walter Lippmann pointed out 75 years ago, public opinion in a democracy is a sort of funhouse mirror that reflects - albeit inaccurately, imperfectly and often quite reluctantly - the views of the governing elite. To be fair, it also has a certain filtering effect which discourages some of the nuttiest intellectual fads, if only because they can be positively incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't been to Harvard. But the history of extraordinary popular delusions does not afford much confidence - and with only a few exceptions, the beliefs held at elite schools in the Unionist (Lincoln to Wilson), Progressive (Wilson to FDR), and Universalist (FDR to now) periods have been leading indicators of American public opinion. Very generally, the consensus at Harvard at year Y is the consensus of America at Y+50. If this isn't power, what is?

I don't think anyone reasonable would dispute this. What I do think many reasonable people would dispute is the claim that democracy is a fiction - which, note, I have not justified at all.

In fact it's perfectly possible for a political formula to be an accurate description of reality. If democracy is the rule of Brahmins, fine. But don't the Brahmins seem to be doing a pretty good job of it? Don't we have - with a few small exceptions - peace, freedom, prosperity and progress? And, even more damning, don't the places in the world that lack democracy also seem to lack these things?

It is all very convincing. But, you see, a political formula has to be convincing. We're not talking about something some asshole came up with on his lunch break here. We're looking at the result of 200-plus years of adaptive evolution. We shouldn't expect a sordid little lie. We should expect a spectacular masterpiece of incredible mendacity. If it is, in fact, an adaptive fiction - and it certainly seems prudent to start by assuming the worst - democracy has fooled pretty much all of the people, pretty much all the time. At least for most of the 20th century.

So I could point out that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had plenty of peace, freedom, prosperity and progress, and hardly any democracy. Or that the same can be said of Dubai, Hong Kong, and even in many ways Singapore. Or that the Founders who created the American Republic for the most part feared and despised mob rule, or that the Civil War more than justified these fears. Or that the so-called democracies of the Progressive and Universalist eras, especially colonial confections such as the EU, combine a homeopathic dose of democracy with an allopathic dose of the Hegelian civil-service state, whose functionaries are intentionally unaccountable to "the People," and whose jobs would change not at all if elective offices suddenly became familial - as in fact they may be in the early stages of doing.

But this would be the same kind of argument that is made in favor of democracy. A jumble of negative associations to counter the jumble of positive associations. Hardly effective against a sacred status quo.

As Swift said, it's useless to try to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into, and certainly few of us were reasoned into democracy. However, I do vaguely remember my earliest, and surely entirely received, thoughts on why democracy is so great. And perhaps it's worthwhile trying to unravel the string from the beginning.

As I recall, I thought democracy was great because America was obviously democratic and free, it was opposed to the Soviet system which was non-democratic and non-free, and both had fought a war against the Nazis, who were non-democratic and evil. It was pretty clear to me, as it still is, that the parties running these non-democratic states were simply mafias.

So we have the association again: democracy equals free and prosperous, non-democracy equals tyrannous and poor. Case closed, it would seem.

Unfortunately, correlation does not imply causation. And there's another causal explanation of this correlation that makes at least as much sense.

In the standard view, democracy is like the cure for a disease. This disease might simply be described as primitiveness. The primitive way of government is tyrannous and, frankly, bestial, going back to the chimpanzees with their chief-chimps and chimp wars. Democracy cures this disease and allows us to have HDTVs and iPhones. Those who don't take the democracy pill are stuck in chimp world and have to live under chimp government, fishing for ants with sticks.

In the inverted view, democracy is like a poison. The permanent contest for political power that democracy creates is an extreme case of limited war, in which no weapons at all are allowed, and battle is resolved by counting heads. In other words, democracy is a permanent source of friction. Only very stable, healthy and homogeneous societies can withstand this poison. In those that can't, the cultural convention of limited warfare breaks down, and true civil war emerges, culminating in, of course, chimp government.

So a free, prosperous democratic society is like a person who's so strong and healthy he can take a dose of arsenic every day - or at least, every four years - and still survive, sort of. The free, prosperous democratic society might be remarkably unfree and unprosperous compared to an undemocratic society that never took the arsenic, but so few of the latter survived the last two centuries that we have no basis for comparison. (You can't really compare the US or France to Singapore or Dubai. Even the Central Powers of WWI were anything but free from democratic politics. Any exercise in imagining what 180 years of technical progress would have brought to, say, the France of Charles X, is entirely in the department of fantasy.)

Meanwhile, the undemocratic, tyrannous societies are not those which failed to take the democratic arsenic, but those which took it and found it fatal. Of course they are no longer ingesting the medication. Their lips do not move and their throat does not swallow. Civil society has been destroyed. I'm sure there are one or two 20th-century tyrannies which did not get that way as the result of a democratic degringolade, but I find it hard to think of them.

Both the standard and inverted perspectives are quite consistent with historical fact. And the inverted model is by no means as unusual as one might think. Every time you hear someone decrying the presence of politics in government, he or she is expressing it. Anyone who praises "nonpartisan" or "bipartisan" or, so help me God, "post-partisan" government, or (especially in Europe) decries the existence of "populist" parties or politicians, or even who believes that there is no room for "extremism" in politics, is stating their fear and distrust of democracy.

Yet none of them will put it in these terms. In conventional Universalist discourse, therefore, the democratic state becomes a kind of sickbed patient, an employment opportunity for every chiropractor, homeopath or bloodletter under the sun. Its health is constantly fretted over in the direst of terms. All the problems of democracy can be solved by... more democracy.

Most people don't know this, but Marxist-Leninist thinkers saw socialism in the same way. Socialism had this problem, it had that problem, yes, it was true, the turnips were rotting in the fields and men were sent to Siberia for speaking their minds. But was this an occasion to discard all the achievements of socialism? Wouldn't that be curing acne with decapitation? Shouldn't we instead move forward, to a kinder and more efficient socialism? The temptation to reform, rather than abandon, the adaptive fiction, is omnipresent.

Another way the democratic fiction protects itself is to define "democracy" as "successful democracy." Therefore, it is easy to see that democracy is always successful. For example, there was a democratic election in Iraq - using one of the most democratic of democratic forms, proportional representation, specifically recommended by the UN - and there is now a democratic government. This government is incapable of enforcing the law or even administering itself, however, so it cannot be true democracy.

(And no one thinks the failure of democracy in Iraq casts any aspersion on democracy. Even the pessimists conclude that Iraq is simply not "ready" for democracy. The ultra-pessimists conclude that Iraq may never be ready, presumably because of its strong tribal culture and its national IQ of 87. No one seems to suspect democracy itself. If your medicine routinely kills the weak and spares only the sturdy, Occam's razor doesn't lead you to suspect that it's bad for sick people, but good for healthy ones.)

In fact, the word "democracy" has narrowed over time to focus on those democratic forms which have been more correlated with success. Reversing this definition creep is a difficult and unenviable task, and so I'll resort to my usual tricks and define a new word, which corresponds to the literal derivation of "democracy" rather than its present connotations.

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.

Most people in democratic states tend to instinctively classify political systems into two types: democracies and everything else. (Of course, this dichotomy is typical of all political formulas - any regime constituted under a conflicting formula must be somehow invalid.) The old monarchist-aristocratic order in Europe, which was certainly not perfect, falls into "everything else," and thus we wind up putting, say, Elizabeth I and Stalin into the same bag.

The difference between a monarch and a dictator is that the monarchical succession is defined by law and the dictatorial succession is defined by power. The effect in the latter is that the fish rots from the head down - lawlessness permeates the state, as in a mafia family, because contending leaders must build informal coalitions. Since another name for a monarchist is a legitimist, we can contrast the legitimist and demotist theories of government.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I see legitimism as a sort of proto-formalism. The royal family is a perpetual corporation, the kingdom is the property of this corporation, and the whole thing is a sort of real-estate venture on a grand scale. Why does the family own the corporation and the corporation own the kingdom? Because it does. Property is historically arbitrary.

The best way for the monarchies of Old Europe to modernize, in my book, would have been to transition the corporation from family ownership to shareholder ownership, eliminating the hereditary principle which caused so many problems for so many monarchies. However, the trouble with corporate monarchism is that it presents no obvious political formula. "Because it does" cuts no ice with a mob of pitchfork-wielding peasants.

So the legitimist system went down another path, which led eventually to its destruction: the path of divine-right monarchy. When everyone believes in God, "because God says so" is a much more impressive formula.

Perhaps the best way to look at demotism is to see it as the Protestant version of rule by divine right - based on the theory of vox populi, vox dei. If you add divine-right monarchy to a religious system that is shifting from the worship of God to the worship of Man, demotism is pretty much what you'd expect to precipitate in the beaker.

Demotist political formulas have varied a good bit, but the phrase that expresses demotism as well as any I can think of is "self-government." I frequently see this term used as if it meant something. In fact it does not, which is perhaps the best debunking of democracy I can offer.

Does "self-government" mean "government by yourself"? Certainly "self-employment" means "employment by yourself," "self-abuse" means "abuse by yourself," etc, etc. But the idea of "government by yourself" is inherently tautological. Unless you're possessed by a demon, you govern yourself by definition. If the term means anything in this sense, it means that there is no other form of government, ie, no government at all - anarchy. But clearly this is not what the people who talk of "self-government" mean. If we are governed at all, we are governed by others - and thus "self-government" is a classic Orwellian paradox.

In practice the term seems most commonly to refer to "government by persons of the same race, culture, language, or social class or as oneself." Since I am not, in fact, a bigot, it's quite unclear why this should matter to me. Surely I can be either oppressed or treated decently by people of any race, color or creed, whether my own or someone else's.

From the perspective of its subjects, what counts is not who runs the government, but what the government does. Good government is effective, lawful government. Bad government is ineffective, lawless government. How anyone reasonable could disagree with these statements is quite beyond me. And yet clearly almost everyone does.

If we look at the entire demotist family, consisting of Anglo-American liberal democracy, Marxist-Leninism, and National Socialism, the last two are clearly disasters. (There is a strange tendency in contemporary Universalist thought to see National Socialism as somehow on an entirely different plane of evil than Marxist-Leninism - for example, purging neo-Nazis is routine, whereas purging neo-Communists is McCarthyism. I don't understand this at all, but then again, I don't understand a lot of Universalist doctrine.)

This leaves us with liberal democracy. As we've seen time and again here at UR, the word "liberal" is meretricious to perfection, so we need a substitute - perhaps "lawful" will do. Let's define "lawful democracy" as any demotist government that upholds the rule of law.

In other words, Universalist lawful democracy is the least demotist of demotisms, Demotism Lite if you will. Compared to Communism and Nazism, there's much to be said for it. But this is a rather low bar.

I think it's pretty clear that, if you lived in 1750 and a djinn appeared to you, explained the history of demotism in the next 250 years, and gave you the option of erasing all of it and just sticking with legitimism, you'd have to be a fairly perverse and sadistic fellow to decline the offer. It's difficult to even scrape together 10^6 victims of legitimist government, let alone the 10^8 plus that Communism and Nazism racked up - not forgetting the million or so killed in the ruthless Universalist city-bombings of WWII, which were certainly war crimes by the standard of anyone who can produce a river of tears for the sufferers of Guantanamo.

The reason it's so difficult to oppose lawful democracy is that we have so few alternatives to compare it to. Existential dissidence in the Soviet Union, for example - the desire to defeat the system, not just reform it - derived an enormous percentage of its credibility from the fact that the West clearly existed, and clearly (much propaganda notwithstanding) worked better.

The West has no West of its own. Besides tiny fossils of old Europe like Andorra, Monaco and Lichtenstein, the only successful non-democratic states in the world are Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, each of which is interesting and impressive, but none of which are without problems. (I don't normally spend much time in the Universalist blogosphere, because I consider myself pretty familiar with the product, but these threads on Singapore struck me as interesting and sincere.)

So there is no getting around it: democracy may be, as I contend, a lie, but this lie has us by the gills. It is not going away any time soon. The reason I oppose it is not because I believe there is any chance of getting rid of it in the near future, but simply because I prefer to live with what I consider an accurate perception of reality.

Also, remember that democracy is a state of limited civil war. It is always pregnant with the spark of war proper, at home or abroad. It's fairly obvious that, in many of the international conflicts of the Universalist era, the two sides have been allied or parallied with different American political parties - even when the US military is involved in the war. To call this phenomenon dangerous would be an understatement, and I'll say more about it shortly.

Two 20th-century writers who have existentially opposed democracy are Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Hoppe is a libertarian and K-L was a monarchist, so neither's views are exactly the same as mine, but they are both worth reading. Hoppe is probably the more rigorous thinker; K-L was a much better writer with a broader, more intuitive feel for history. If you're considering the hard and rocky road of the anti-democratic dissident, you should definitely check out their works.




Saturday, January 21, 2017

Watch This


The Human Scale
About social atomization. It's about design for the human (Dunbar) scale. Full length is free. It has tremendous neoreactionary themes without even trying. Skip through the BBC introduction. Absolutely crucial study for the reactionary thinker. Addresses NRx issues from an architectural design standpoint. Vaguely terrifying. They talk a lot about cars. But they are really talking about human isolation. Pay attention to the parts about Dhaka Bangladesh and its massive R selection problem.



The Most Crucial Architecture Documentaries You Will Ever Watch


Click on the title to go to the source.

Objectified
This is about the people who design the products you use everyday of your life. Full length free. Absolutely awesome.





















The Gruen Effect
About the man who invented the shopping mall. Relevant to our strip mall culture. Can't find a full length version. It's on DVD of 16.99 euros. It is probably in PAL format though.














The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
About how everything, even a park bench, is designed by a person. Full length free.





















Regular or Super, Views on Mies van der Rohe
This guy gave you the modern glass skyscraper and gas station. This is why we no longer build nice things. You can get the full length version on Amazon video for a couple of bucks.