Mapping the Dark Enlightenment

The Dark Enlightenment is a group of thinkers and blogs that has aroused a fair amount of controversy in the last several years. Most people who write about them from the outside piously dismiss them as a gang of crypto- and not-so-crypto- fascists, or a sort of grunting neanderthalism dressed up in intellectual clothes. The reality, as usual, is not so simple.

I’ve been meaning to write about them for a while, and the first question I’m going to raise is whether they meaningfully present a single subject at all.

Here’s a recent version of an affinity map that has seen wide circulation. External link, might go stale; if it does, throw “dark enlightenment map” in a search engine to get something similar.

Dark enlightenment map

Dark enlightenment map

Just looking at the map, someone unfamiliar with the players would be justified in wondering if there’s really any coherence there at all. And that’s a fair question. Some of the people the map sweeps in don’t think of themselves as “Dark Enlightenment” at all. This is notably true of the light green cluster marked “Techno-Commercialists/Futurists” at the top, and the “Economists” connected to it in yellow.

If I belonged on this map, that’s where I’d be. I know Eliezer Yudkowsky; the idea that he and the Less Wrong crowd and Robin Hanson feel significant affinity with most of the rest of that map is pretty ludicrous.

Note, however, that one of only two links to the rest is “Nick Land”. This is a clue, because Nick Land is probably the single most successful booster of the “Dark Enlightenment” meme. It’s in his interest to make the movement look as big and various as he can manage, and I think this map is partly in the nature of a successful con job or dezinformatsiya.

In this, Land is abetted by people outside the movement who are well served by making it look like the Dark Enlightenment is as big and scary as possible. Some of those people lump in the techno-futurist/economist group out of dislike for that group’s broadly libertarian politics – which though very different from the reactionary ideas of the core Dark Enlightenment, is also in revolt against conventional wisdom. Others lump them in out of sheer ignorance.

So, my first contention is that Nick Land has pulled a fast one. That said, I think there is a core Dark Enlightenment – mostly identifiable with the purple “Political Philosophy” group, but with some crossover into HBD and Masculinity and (possibly) the other groups at the bottom of the map.

Additionally, maps like this can sometimes reinforce existing affinities if people on both ends notice them and take them seriously. Even in my limited and occasional investigation, I think I’ve seen some signs of convergence between “Political Philosophy” and “Masculinity”, with people in both groups adopting each others’ tropes and language more than they were doing on my first exposure to either.

It would not at all surprise me if there is something similar going on with the “Ethno-Nationalists”, a group about which I know only a little (and most of what I know is pretty nasty). I’m unqualified to write about the “Christian Traditionalists”, about which I know nothing, but I suspect this may be another spurious link. Same goes for “Femininity”.

From my reading, I think we are on firmest ground speaking of a “Dark Enlightenment” if we zero in on the middle tier of the map: “Political Philosophy”, “Secular Traditionalists”, “HBD”, and “Masculinity”. The link density of the map backs this up. Land and other Dark Enlightenment maximalists, though willing to write in spurious connections to inflate the movement, don’t seem to be wrong about these.

My original plan was to write a sort of view from high altitude of the whole congeries, but I think I’m going to have to break that up into several themed blog entries. Watch this space.

117 thoughts on “Mapping the Dark Enlightenment

  1. I think the main link between all of these is simply that they challenge current leftist dogma, often in unusual ways. But there’s a huge gap between those saying (e.g.) “there are measurable differences in average IQ between races” and “the Enlightenment should be reversed.” The map is a bit like that classic Steinberg New Yorker cover, which shows specific New York streets but as it goes west becomes increasingly generalized and vague.

  2. >The map is a bit like that classic Steinberg New Yorker cover, which shows specific New York streets but as it goes west becomes increasingly generalized and vague.

    Fair cop, but. There is nevertheless a common theme that shows up in the middle clusters: taking Darwin seriously. I’ll have much more to say about that in a future blog entry.

  3. That map is pretty accurate as a whole. It wasn’t just made up. All of the sites on it, belong there. I’m just surprised it didn’t include KoanicSoul and the important work on Neanderthal identity that is being done there.

    What Moldbug never mentions, is that the Dark Enlightenment got its main kick from John Rushdoony and his Dominionism/Theonomy. Admitting this would be embarassing to half of the DE, because he was a militant Christian, and they are Darwinists.

  4. You’ve written about John Derbyshire, so there’s a familiar name.

    I wonder if the James A. Donald there is the one who posts here.

  5. …and why is the feminism cluster disconnected, and yet still on the map?

  6. >I’m just surprised it didn’t include KoanicSoul and the important work on Neanderthal identity that is being done there.

    Everything I’ve ever seen on “Neanderthal identity” read to me like it was written by foaming lunatics. Maybe the originator figured they were too crazy for even this map.

  7. >…and why is the feminism cluster disconnected, and yet still on the map?

    I think “Red Pill Wifery” is a clue that there’s a missing link to the “Masculinity” cluster. It makes sense if you know what that group means by “Red Pill” – the semi-forbidden knowledge of how human mating and inter-sexual relationships actually work, as opposed to how we normally delude ourselves that they work (“Blue Pill”).

  8. >I wonder if the James A. Donald there is the one who posts here.

    Sssh! Don’t invoke him. Maybe he went away.

    I think that’s him, yes. Not much of a recommendation, is it?

  9. I didn’t know Nick Land before this, but I was reading Moldbug and some of the others. I think Land managed to sell this into the mainstream, and the subsequent push led me to pick up some more fun blogs to read (though I don’t think I am reading Land’s for some reason- could be a crappy RSS feed or it just wasn’t interesting when I went to look at it).

    I suspect the Grandpappy of whatever this is Hans Herman Hoppe. His book – Democracy, the God that Failed- affected me and has obviously affected a lot of these people too.

    I wonder if Land isn’t trying to do the British version of Cody Wilson’s various attempts at constructing scary, dark narratives for the media to eat up. Wilson is the guy who came up with the 3d printable gun. I think he’s trying to make bitcoin easier for people to use now. I haven’t heard Land talk about what he is trying to do, but Wilson is pretty open about trying to highjack mainstream media- actively trying to come up with imagery that plays to their weaknesses.

  10. >The whole thing is a sham:

    Not quite. See my previous remark about taking Darwin seriously. I’ll expand on it.

  11. Perhaps the Dark Enlightenment movement represents one of the first internet-based group consciousness entities. It seems to model a primordial idea stew.

  12. I like Mencius Moldbug a lot, and I feel like he deserves a more central spot in this graph. Nevertheless, I believe that while he’s always entertaining, the parts where he’s right coincide with the parts where he applies libertarian epistemology: http://bit.ly/1agI3DJ

  13. >I believe that while he’s always entertaining, the parts where he’s right coincide with the parts where he applies libertarian epistemology:

    Your critique of him seems spot-on to me in both the praise and the pans. But that may just be because we’re both libertarians.

  14. Right off the top of my head, I cringe a little at this attempt to reify all this.

    Call me crazy but it seems close to an exercise in guilt by association. Do these people self-identify as a group? Or is inclusion more of an accusation by their critics?

    Call me crazy but the only thing I see that these guys have in common is that their message is being suppressed by various gatekeepers.

    Any connection between Christian Traditionalists and HBD seems tenuous at best. And economists- mainstream or other?

    These groups have no sympathy between each other. If we’re talking directed graphs, these nodes do not have significant positive weights on the arcs.

    What they both have is antipathy towards a certain establishment orthodoxy. There is another node “gatekeeper”, that all these nodes have strong negative arc weights. And that is the real connection they all have.

    Well, this was far more rambly than I though it would be. But that’s an initial take.

  15. The diagram doesn’t show a political movement in the sense of something that could adopt a common programme or platform—it shows an intellectual ecosystem. The links are real, and ideas really have and do flow across the whole map. Some of the doubts above are misplaced: atheist liberals have reached conclusions through a process of reason that resemble those of traditionalist throne-and-altar Christianity, and are attempting, with occasional success, friendly discussion with those traditionalist Christians.

    The “political philosophy” section should be of the most interest here: Moldbug and the other ex-libertarians (who mostly identify as “neoreactionaries” rather than the vaguer “Dark Enlightenment”, though there is room for both expressions). We have not changed the way we think or the way we look at the world since the time we identified as libertarian; what we see differently is largely the manner and effect of the thinking of humans on a large scale. There’s a lot to more to it of course, but I’m not going to write an essay here. I imagine a large proportion of us read this blog, so there will probably be a pile of this stuff in the moderation queue.

  16. I would think that this graph could use a town square and an MMA type octagon. Perhaps a tournament of intellectual combat to be held once a year. We would need a framework, rules, judges, a system of scoring, winner purse, etc.

  17. > …and why is the feminism cluster disconnected, and yet still on the map?

    I don’t know how that map was constructed, and am only familiar with a small fraction of the nodes shown, but it definitely seems to be missing some nodes and links. E.g., Athol Kay might be considered about 2/3 in the Masculinity nexus and 1/3 Feminity. There are non-trivial links missing elsewhere too. E.g., Sailer and Derbyshire both write for VDare (immigration), in addition to the various other subjects they cover on their own blogs.

  18. E.g., Athol Kay might be considered about 2/3 in the Masculinity nexus and 1/3 Feminity.

    I noticed his absence as a glaring missing link after seeing the “red pill” reference. Adding him will certainly remove that island and, depending on your settings, might make the graph a good bit more strongly connected.

  19. @esr: Would you please provide some sort of definition for what is meant by “Dark Enlightenment”? You have a few examples and a few details, but nothing that jumps out at me as “needs its own word to describe or classify”. Until you started going into the issue, I thought ‘Dark Enlightenment’ was a pithy attempt at a name of a spell in WoW or some such thing.

    Other than “opposed to the status quo … in some way”, which pretty much describes every human in existence, I’m not seeing a big connection. I see it as although you’re trying to come up with a descriptive term for “corporations which use green as an accent color in their corporate logos”. Perhaps interesting to a small set of people, but not worth a descriptive term for.

    What have I missed? Please elucidate.

  20. >Would you please provide some sort of definition for what is meant by “Dark Enlightenment”?

    Next post.

  21. I find it funny that Robin Hanson is linked into this graph, but not linked into the political philosophy node. Mainly because he’s the only person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting who has come up with a *novel* form of government (“Futarchy”; basically, use prediction markets to decide what policy would increase national welfare the most and execute that.)

    http://hanson.gmu.edu/futarchy.html

    I’d never heard of the “Dark Enlightenment” until this blog post, and I’m still reading through some of Mencius Moldbug’s writing. My initial reaction is that he appears to have gotten a lot of things wrong, but an *impressive* part of his revolt against conventional wisdom has the ring of truth to it. It’s going to take me a while to sort it all out.

    I’m curious if anyone in this “Dark Enlightenment” is familiar with Hanson’s Futarchy. They seem like the type who might be open to it.

  22. >we are familiar with Hanson and his futarchy. no, we are not open to it.

    Hello, Mencius. Typo in referenced post: “quir”.

    Interesting to know you’re paying attention.

  23. OK, I dipped my toe in the waters of the Dark Enlightenment blogosphere.

    Those guys are very wordy and appear to have the goal of saying everything there is to say about every subject that interests them. Instead of a journey of enlightenment, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of disparate ideas. I have no doubt that there is some credible thinking going on and perhaps a few nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned, but economy of language is not one of their virtues.

  24. Mrf. I’m busy enough as it is. Someone want to do the Reader’s Digest version?

  25. > Those guys are very wordy and appear to have the goal of saying everything there is to say about every subject that interests them. Instead of a journey of enlightenment, I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of disparate ideas.

    Ugh… *yes*, and it’s starting to irritate me. General rule of thumb: If I’m 5 or 6 thousand words into your manifesto(s), you don’t have to keep warning me about how you’re going to challenge conventional wisdom.

    Can anyone point me towards a relatively accurate summary of Dark Enlightenment’s key ideas? I want to give their ideas a fair shot, but there’s a *lot* of text here, and it takes it’s time getting to a point.

  26. I think one of the key (unstated) ideas of the “Dark Enlightenment” (whatever the hell a “Dark Enlightenment” is) is that people whose heads hurt from reading moderate-length essays aren’t and shouldn’t be part of any sort of intellectual discussion. Moldbug, for example, spends half his time telling you to go read tomes by Carlyle, and he’s not just namedropping, it’s his “let only geometers enter”.

  27. There are more tomes and moderate-length essays than anybody has time to read. In fact, I’ll go further: there has been more written about complete bullshit than anybody has time to read, and if you doubt this, try reading everything written by theologians of religions you don’t happen to believe in.

    There is value in establishing some basic credibility in the first few thousand words of your earth-shaking manifesto. If I have to get to part three of a ten-part series of articles just to find out what its author is jawing about, that’s a bug, not a feature.

  28. @esr
    “See my previous remark about taking Darwin seriously.”

    I suggest those who really want to take Darwin seriously should actually look at Dobzhansky. Darwin told us what happened, Dobzhansky told us how to calculate it. (obviously, a lot more has been discovered after he published his works).

    In terms of population genetics, we are currently at a point where interbreeding of all but a vanishing small subset of human communities leads to healthier children. Socially, we are still far from a state where, for most people, genetics is the major determinant of success or any proxy of it (for IQ, see http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/67/2/130/ ).

    Obviously, there will be people here that can prove me wrong with real numbers gathered from all continents, instead of the usual stuff about sub-cultures in the USA.

  29. I have looked at “Futarchy considered retarded”.

    The author seems to loath Academia, but then shows he never entered a real conference, say, on theoretical physics and cosmology, or artificial intelligence.

    A short visit to http://arxiv.org or http://www.plosbiology.org should be enough to show any observer that: “For obvious professional reasons, this structure precludes any genuinely adversarial peer review.” is not really an adequate description of the research community.

    It seems this view of research is not rare in the “darkening of enlightenment” community. Which might be a reason why their ideas tend to go nowhere (with the occasional call to repeat history).

    And if some other would-be blogger wants to attack theories with “First, what the heck do we mean by probability?”, please, please, read up on the subject.

    There have been many theoretical studies on interpreting probability, from Bayesian statistics to Entropy and Information theory to Algorithmic complexity theory. There really is more to that word than the 19th century frequentist interpretation.

  30. > people whose heads hurt from reading moderate-length essays aren’t and shouldn’t be part of any sort of intellectual discussion.

    An *essay* generally has a structure leading up to and aimed at conveying a point. Stream of consciousness ramblings, however formidably knowledgeable and intelligent the rambler may appear to be, do not become essays simply by being long. Futarchy Considered Retarded, I’m looking at you.

  31. I think that Vox doth protest too much.

    There’s definitely a link between Vox and CH/Roissy – in spite of Vox being a creationist, he does accept the conclusions of evo-psych in the sexual field that CH/Roissy and other PUAs use (yes, evo-psych and creationism don’t fit together. Vox argues that it’s purely observational and the evo-psych is an explanation for things that don’t need to be explained). And Vox is also an HBD person. I don’t know the rest of the “Christian Traditionalists” there.

    PUAs have a link across to HBD and also to Moldbug (whom I see as the core of the neoreactionaries, which is what “political philosophy” should be labelled). There are also direct links between HBD and neoreaction.

    I don’t know the ethno-nationalists outside of VDare, but VDare is HBD without the biology (ie, old-fashioned racism).

    Hanson and Yudkowsky really don’t fit, but there is some sort of interaction – Slate Star Codex is a Less-Wronger and clearly ran into enough neoreactionaries to write http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-faq/

  32. (I don’t think Joshua Brulé is Mencius Moldbug — he spends his time on urbit / tlon these days, not on blogs. And he came out and his real name is Curtis Yarvin.)

  33. I was really hoping that you’d find your way around to writing about the Dark Enlightenment. Michael Anissimov is worth checking out, as he is a fairly prolific writer at moreright.net

    Though I don’t consider myself a Reactionary, his post “Reconciling Transhumanism and Neoreaction” got me to take the movement more seriously, and he does a reasonably impressive job IMO of defending monarchy.

    See:

    http://www.moreright.net/reconciling-transhumanismand-neoreaction/

    http://www.moreright.net/monarchy-faq/

  34. The mainstream requires you to toe the line on many different issues. You can disagree with just one to be a dissident, and now you have dissidence in common with others, even if you didn’t pick the same issue. Or, even if you picked the same issue, but have a different position on it, you’re still heretics. Once you are a heretic, the cost of talking to other heretics is lower.

    Modern PC requires not only that you affirm the right beliefs, but it discourages even critical thinking about the wrong beliefs. (e.g. Once you label something as “hate” you’re supposed to condemn it, not open your mind to it any more, even to criticize it better.) When you’ve been cast out into the outer darkness, you can now apply critical thinking to all of the other areas where, before, you’ve had to accept dogma. It’s tough going though, and error prone, because the mass media and the education system are thoroughly PC (including the textbooks, the history books, the documentaries etc.)

    But don’t try groveling your way back into the light by saying that even though you disagree with the mainstream on Z you’re with them on A-Y. You’ll find yourself advocating Z’, and condemning the Y and X heretics.

    Under my understanding of the term, all of the people who realize this process applies to their thinking make up the “dark enlightenment”. Reexamining other issues in the new (dark?) light is taking the “red pill”.

  35. Alex J, excellent summary of the Dark Enlightenment.

    If you place Truth as a value higher than social acceptability, if you would break social Taboo in search for Truth, you are on the path to the Dark Enlightenment.

    Rushdoony, back in the 60′s, was condemning the Renaissance Enlightenment, and its offspring, secular humanism. He did this from a Biblical perspective. The Dark Enlightenment is catching up to him, but using Science.

    HBD? Not Christian, but it is a concept that goes back to the earliest chapters of the Bible.

    The essence of the Dark Enlightenment is the belief that we are surrounded by liars, are being lied to all the time, especially by people who lie to get and maintain power. Since all authority is suspect, everything they say must be investigated.

    Hence, many Dark Enlightenment members have no problem questioning global warming, fiat currency, the nasa moon landings, or WTC 911, or Fukushima 311. When the mob howls in protest, or feigns indifference, those are signs that they have no rational proof to support their position; which is often a good indicator that there is a foul fishy odor coming from their information.

    Henry Makow is also in the DE; many DE people read this blog of ESR, and ESR reads many DE sights. He too could be considered part of the DE, although it would be DE-lite; ESR at least tries to be socially acceptable.

    DE people are generally appreciative of Open Source, Bitcoin, and freedom enabling technologies in general. Until the expose of Ron Paul as Freemason, DE people tended to vote for him.

  36. As an example of this “cast into outer darkness, sharing all together” that heretics exerience, I note that the Mormons were just such heretics. And they ended up absorbing many of the heresies of their day; they believed in little green men walking on the moon, they believed an early form of the British Israel doctrine, and they diverged from mainstream Christianity in ways that many heretics had been clamoring about for years.

    This happened back in the 1830′s.

    It’s lonely in the outer darkness, so fringey people tend to come together and share ideas that noone in the mainstream would even consider.

  37. Jay Maynard: Mrf. I’m busy enough as it is. Someone want to do the Reader’s Digest version?

    I highly recommend Scott Alexander’s “Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous Planet-Sized Nutshell”, which Richard Gadsden linked to above. For a more in-depth exploration of their actual claims, see Scott Alexander’s “Anti-Reactionary FAQ”.

    Taking a cultural rather than factual view of things, it smells like some teenagers have just discovered that there are rules which enforce politeness with varying degrees of severity, and are exploring their freedom to shout “fuck!” and wear black metal t-shirts. Metaphorically speaking. The intellectual justifications seem to be Adam Susan’s “the only freedom left to my people is the freedom to starve…” stability-and-order stuff, but the gut-level justifications have more to do with shooting darkies and raping sluts.

    This all puts one in bed with some pretty marginal figures; trying to do some more reading to make sense of matters, I came across the phrase “HBD/race realism is a bunch of Jew-loving, Asiaphilic crap” and decided that I’d gone far enough down that particular rabbit hole.

    As for Moldbug’s “Open Letter to Progressives”, I made it through five posts before I gave up, at least for now. “Go read the Sequences first” may involve a lot of time and effort, but at least it’s fun.

  38. It seems my longer comments got eaten by the engine, so to sum it up

    1) I disagree with the ethno-racialist aspects of it as I see white progressives on the whole worse than brown people who migrate to first-world nations and bring some traditional lifestyle and traditional masculinity with the – religious crazies, honor-killers and suchlike obviously excepted. But in many ways the average, mostly secularized e.g. Turkish family brings an I think positive contribution of traditionalism to countries like Germany, in fact I would argue for conservatives of all nations allying with brown immigrants except crazies for the preservation of traditional-patriarchial values,

    2) I would prefer if Neoreactionaries would not geek so much into the technique of government but rather map the cultural attitudes, lifestyles, personal values that made people _prefer_ progressive democracies as opposed traditional monarchies, and figure out ways to hack culture first, not politics.

    I think any conservative who is not first and foremost a _cultural_, psychological conservative is misguided: just what exactly do you think has created the political changes you disagree with? Some say it is economics, but I consider it wrong – economics rests on the cultural values that determine what is demanded.

    Hint: consider giving the finger to Kant and give a thought to the idea that if you would see yourself as a means to an end, would it not make it possible to treat others as means and not ends and yet be entirely compassionate and humane with them, because you see yourself and themselves in the same shoes, and it thus creates a sense of camaraderie and sympathy? Hint: soldiers, firemen, paramedics.

    (It is tangentially related, but I am looking into John Médaille type renewed Distributism as well, and it seriously screws with my brain. Basically, I used to define capitalism as the freedom of entrepreneurs, now I am starting to think it could be just as valid to describe it as a structural process, not a certain rules of the game, a structural process that actually eliminates entrepreneurs in favor of public traded corporations led by employee-CEOs. That is fairly intense a thought…

    Interestingly Distributism is largely outside the DE sphere as most folks still see it as a halfway socialism with rosaries, in reality it sounds more like determining the external conditions into which stable free markets can be embedded.)

  39. A bit more seriously, what gets me about all this is how stupid some of the ideas are. There’s serious argument over which of North or South Korea accurately represents Reaction and which Progressivism. (James A. Donald: “If Kim changed his story from being the voice of the masses, to being the rightful descendant of a living God, then it would be ruled in a neoreactionary manner.”)

    This is especially interesting, since North Korea was until relatively recently more prosperous and stable than the South; as it’s become more isolationist and concentrated more power in its hereditary leaders, it’s also gotten more and more dystopian. I don’t exactly see how filing the serial numbers off of their authoritarianism would have solved this.

  40. @grendelkhan given that the vast majority of conservative writers of history were more interested in kinda-aristocratic limited republics (maybe with a very, very limited monarchy on top of it) than absolute monarchies I really don’t understand where it comes from… unless they figured that Carlyle is somehow more relevant than Aristotle, Cicero and Burke + your founding fathers + everybody else I have forgotten all together? Seriously I know a thing or two about the history of conservative thinking and a praise for Absolutism is plain simply not a part of it. Absolutism is seen as an early form of Enlightenment / modernism. This is why I don’t get where they got it from.

  41. Peter Scott said: I’ll go further: there has been more written about complete bullshit than anybody has time to read, and if you doubt this, try reading everything written by theologians of religions you don’t happen to believe in.

    In general, absolutely.

    For laughs, though, let me tell you that I’m a lifelong atheist who read The Institutes Of Christian Religion for fun (and who thoroughly enjoyed Chesterton and Lewis’ apologetics, and likes theology in general).

    That has the moderate excuse, of course, of being culturally and historically relevant, even if still for a faith I hold no belief it.

  42. @Trent I totally get it. Ultra-empowered masses are too powerful and must be ruled. Therefore they will either see the light and make the completely rational choice of giving it up, you know, like, they will listen to the voice of reason like the masses literally always do. Or, alternatively, someone somewhere will find an even more mega-ultra-hyper-empowered elite who will happen to have like three orders of magnitude better molecular weapons and they will just grab the power, easy. Wait, what? I guess I don’t actually get it.

  43. Generally speaking if you have an idea inside democracy, you work it out first and popularize it later. But if the very idea is challenging democracy itself, just how can the question of “And how will the people agree to this?” not be, like, the very first problem to work on?

  44. “…and he does a reasonably impressive job IMO of defending monarchy.”

    @Trent Fowler: uh…no…The writer is like a lot of internet commentators, making breezy generalities about history and politics, totally ignoring how really complicated human societies actually are. I can’t comment on that long line of Austrian rulers, but my maternal grandfather was born into Austria-Hungary in 1890. He was not charmed with it. By all accounts, no one else there was either. Grandfather was very happy when he managed to flee from the Dual Monarchy and get his ass to American democracy.

    Us: What was it like, back in Austria when you were there?
    Grandfather: Oh, dirty country, lousy country, rotten country….
    Us: Don’t sit on the fence, grandpa! Tell us how you really feel….

    Stanislaw Ulam (“Adventures of a Mathematician”) commented on the low opinion that Austro-Hungarians had of the Empire, and told a joke that I’ll reproduce here. Grandfather told the same joke, which shows that the feelings expressed must have permeated the entire population. (I’ll bet that Shenpen, who is Hungarian, knows a whole raft of similar stories that have come down to him through his older relatives and friends.)

    A man is yelling at his son, because the boy failed an exam in school:
    Man: What did they ask you?
    Boy: I had to write an essay, comparing the past, the present, and the future prospects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
    Man: Standard question…what did you write?
    Boy: I wrote, “Bullshit, more bullshit, and still more bullshit to come!”
    Man: That’s the correct answer! Why did they fail you?
    Boy: I didn’t spell ‘bullshit’ right….

  45. Actually, ones grandparents’ opinion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire may depend on whether they’re Jewish. The Jews loved Franz-Josef, because he was relatively philosemitic, at least for that period. This later became a major cause of Hungarian antisemitism after WW1.

  46. @LS actually it is a bit complicated, after the 1967 “Ausgleich” it became really good, this is also called a Gründerzeit, “startup time” as a lot of economic activity kicked in with businesses starting everywhere.

    Franz-Josef II’s way of thinking was an interesting one. Basically if you were a conquered territory he could be a huge asshole. Once he was crowned king of that territory he became a very conscientous, hard-working, judicious, generally good leader, really taking the job seriously.

    The big prob was, he was simply too old to decide whether WWI is a good idea or not. Up to that it was cool.

    Some old stories never really die. Even after 300 years, still not 100% settled in Hungary whether in the 1711-1713 anti-Habsburg revolution which side was actually right. 300 year old monikers are still semi-seriously used in politics. The pro-Habsburg side was “labanc” – lobonz means long-haired i.e. having aristocratic wigs in some German dialect. They represented the upper classes, Westernization, Catholicism, urbanes, kind of progressive development, like some basic early elements of Enlightenment, like, Absolutism, but also accepting a submissive, colonial status and the weakness of this view was/is assuming you can get rich by serving someone else. They were in a way the tories/Canada or perhaps more properly the pro-Spanish subset of Belgians, kind of. The “kuruc”, (German, kurz, short-haired, compare: Roundheads) represented lower classes, usually Protestantism, rural attitudes, a given amount of redneckism but not necessarily in a bad sense, nationalism or patriotism with a certain sense of isolationism. You could say they were the US/Patriots but without all that Enlightenment philosophy (it was a bit too early for that in 1711 to get down to the lower classes), maybe closer to the Dutch rebels, but then again without the shipbuilding/urbanization.

    300 years later, the monikers are still alive semi-seriously, labanc/kuruc meaning the competing attitudes of “get rich by serving the rich nations first, then use that to become free” vs. “become free first, then get rich”, and it is not at all settled which side is right.

  47. “many Dark Enlightenment members have no problem questioning global warming, fiat currency, the nasa moon landings, or WTC 911, or Fukushima 311. When the mob howls in protest, or feigns indifference, those are signs that they have no rational proof to support their position; which is often a good indicator that there is a foul fishy odor coming from their information.

    Henry Makow is also in the DE; many DE people read this blog of ESR, and ESR reads many DE sights. He too could be considered part of the DE, although it would be DE-lite; ESR at least tries to be socially acceptable.

    DE people are generally appreciative of Open Source, Bitcoin, and freedom enabling technologies in general. Until the expose of Ron Paul as Freemason, DE people tended to vote for him.”

    No, this is mostly wrong. Many DE people are ex-libertarians, so we’ve already thought a lot about currency and have made up our minds, and don’t talk about it much now. I’m broadly in agreement with Moldbug on currency. Nick Land-ites are keen on bitcoin. Moldbug sees global warming as more interesting from a sociology of science POV than the science itself. As for moon landings, 9/11 etc, I have never seen any DE thinkers write about them. Henry Makow, who I had not heard of before and does not look interesting, is not in the DE.

    “Until the expose of Ron Paul as Freemason, DE people tended to vote for him.”

    DE people do not vote.

    DE people have no problem with conspiracy theories per se. As RadishMag points out, WW1 was started by a conspiracy and 9/11 was caused by a conspiracy (Al Qaeda). Moldbug is interested in some conspiracy theories. But the sort of conspiracies that interest Moldbug are not stupid ones about the moon landings or Freemasons. Conspiracy theories should not be condemned because they are conspiracy theories, but they should be condemned if they are stupid.

  48. @Milhouse: I dunno…Ulam and my grandpa were Jewish. His Imperial Majesty certainly wasn’t.

    “The big prob was, he was simply too old to decide whether WWI is a good idea or not.”.
    @Shenpen: He might have considered the condition of his army. Grandpa was drafted into it, and was not impressed. Neither was the German general that Kaiser Wilhelm sent down to inspect it (after the war started, of course). He returned and reported:

    “Sire, we are married to a corpse.”

  49. @LS
    “He might have considered the condition of his army. Grandpa was drafted into it, and was not impressed.”

    A good introduction into the morale and mores of the Austrian empire can be found in:
    “The Good Soldier Švejk” by Jaroslav Hašek.

  50. Also … what the hell does “HBD” mean, anyway?

    The internet tells me “happy birthday”, which is… less than helpful.

  51. HBD = human biodiversity, which these days means the un-PC idea that all human ethnicities are not necessarily the same in all ways.

  52. Is HBD the idea to prevent interbreeding of humans with different skin color?

    That would definitely be bad for public health. If you only look at the risks of infectuous diseases alone, we should give bonusses to people interbreeding between continents.

  53. I have not read extensively in the area, but I never saw anything about that. Most of the discussion I’ve seen is about differences in IQ and athletic ability.

  54. Winter on 2014-02-06 at 14:34:03 said:

    “Is HBD the idea to prevent interbreeding of humans with different skin color?”

    HBD is the idea that simplifying the many inherited evolved differences between ethnicities and races to “skin color” is retarded and is indistinguishable from creationism in practice.

  55. @Steve the suspicious part is assuming that race is the most meaningful category for slicing and dicing HBD. Race categories were simply made based on looks long ago. Circassian gals are kinda pretty so let’s call white-ish people Caucasians. It was as simptlistic as that. Why wouldn’t a new science use entirely different, more meaningful categories, like haplogroups? Would advanced marine biology use categories like animals who vaguely look like fish, including fish and dolphins? Same thing. When people calculate average black or white IQ instead of average Oromo or Frisian IQ or haplogroup XYZ IQ they end up assuming that it is somehow a meaningful category or level of abstracting ancestral branching to average over. Suspicious a bit.

  56. Shenpen, that seems like a reach. The categories HBD people use are necessarily imperfect and slightly fuzzy around the edges, but there’s no doubt that categories like white and black in the US are distinct enough to study, not to mention Ashkenazic Jews, East Asians, aboriginal Australians, etc.

  57. @PapayaSF they look distinct enough, but for example http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/World_Map_of_Y-DNA_Haplogroups.png is about how people actually are distinct, as opposed to how they look distinct.

    Having said that, there are certainly really thoughtful ideas in HBD once we look beyond this problem. My favorite is that high pop density, meaning people who live for many generations in the same place, selects for slower reproducing individuals, and migrations into empty (or, well, “emptied”) territories selected for faster reproducing ones although this is not necessarily true today. That means there is a meaningful difference between slow-reproducing Scots who stayed put and the faster reproducing early Scottish settlers in the US merely because the environment selected differently. This is an excellent thought of non-racial HBD as family size implies a few things.

  58. @Steve Johnson
    “HBD is the idea that simplifying the many inherited evolved differences between ethnicities and races to “skin color” is retarded and is indistinguishable from creationism in practice.”

    The “many inherited evolved differences between ethnicities and races”, i.e., human genetic biodiversity, are very low by mammal standards and what there are reside for ~90% in people with recent roots in sub-Saharan Africa.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953791/

    In other words, if you want to talk about the inherited differences between human populations, you can mostly ignore all people whose ancestors originated outside Africa below the Sahara.

    I have yet to see arguments that show me such HBD is not simply old-fashioned racism in pseudo-scientific dress.

  59. @grendelkhan – “raping sluts” – OK, I know your worldview, and understand how snarky overgeneralizations are a common, normal stylistic element of that worldview. Still. This is probably an aspect of life where you should try to resist applying it, because this is something that when applied properly could make a lot of people’s lives better up to and including preventing suicides or school shooters. Of course sexual redpillery certainly has its very dark corners – because every “outlawed” idea attracts “outlaws”. If the idea of social democracy was utterly rejected by the mainstream as something horridly evil, it would attract some horridly evil people like fans of Stalin: this is the general social dynamics of idea-marginalization. RP is based on a few ideas that are generally true when not over-exaggerated by guys who are angry because their life just collapsed around them, and when applied with tact and compassion – see Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life for example – can be a true relationship booster.

    It’s one thing to get snarky about political ideas, deep down everybody knows they don’t amount for much because elites don’t listen to bloggers, so people may as well have fun and screw with each other if they want to. But seriously, don’t be too snarky with something that, dark corners and a subset of crazies notwithstanding, could prevent some guy from committing suicide once he finds out his wife is sleeping with the boss. This, unlike online holy wars of political ideology, is not a game. Even when it is sometimes called Game :-)

    (Besides, if you have any interest in trying to understand why history or human behavior is the way like it is, RP can help in this. Have you ever wondered what was the point in the past kings trying to raising armies to conquer provinces from neighboring lands, when all they could gain with that is more tax, but then only thing to spend that on was to raise even more army, so the whole thing was kind of circular and kind of pointless? The RP view of history would be that sexual selection selects for men who seek the thrill of power trips, and selects for women who find that attitude sexy. So it predicts basically those kings simply enjoyed the whole glory stuff AND it made their wives or mistresses all horny. )

  60. You note a certain lack of coherence, but try viewing it as a matter of comprehensiveness. The Progressive world-view is all encompassing, with dogma on every imaginable issue, from race to crime to climate to economics and so on. No single Leftist institution covers every single issue, yet they are coherent because they are part of a comprehensive worldview. The Dark Enlightenment is coherent in the same way.

    One could argue it is less coherent in its goal because it is a stand *against* something than a stand for something, but Progressives have their own internal dissent. Google “feminism intersectionality” and be ready for a good chuckle.

  61. > “There is nevertheless a common theme that shows up in the middle clusters: taking Darwin seriously. I’ll have much more to say about that in a future blog entry.”

    I hadn’t seen the term “dark enlightenment” until this post, but I will be interested to read your followup. With “Darwin” being shorthand for “evolutionary biology,” I might emend the common theme you identify to: “taking Darwin seriously according to their understanding of Darwin.” Evolutionary thinking should indeed be taken seriously, but evolution is one of those subjects that people often don’t understand as well as they think they do.

  62. I read some of the sites listed on the map. MM has some brilliant moments, his posts on the *true* size, shape, and mode of operation of USGOV are astonishing. And completely on the mark.

    But about all these sites have in _common_, is that they are intelligent opposition to the PC groupthink consensus. (I have a lower opinion of the coherence of the opposition.)

  63. I’m a died-in-the-wool libertarian who stumbled onto Mencius Moldbug last year, and I was intrigued enough to read Unqualified Reservations from start to finish (except the poems, which I just don’t get). I’m still wrestling with the cognitive dissonance it has evoked in me, and have the feeling that there must be some synthesis that makes sense to me (though perhaps it would not to Moldbug). I look forward to your thoughts.

    To all, I recommend Huemer’s _Problem of Political Authority_ and Morgan’s _Inventing the People_. Huemer demolishes all arguments I know of for exactly why government has the right to do things that individuals or non-goverment groups don’t. Most libertarians would at least, I think, find that they agree with his reasoning without *necessarily* concluding that we would be better off without government. Morgan gives a fascinating description of the fairly short interval in England during with the theory of the divine right of kings metamorphosed into the theory of popular sovereignty. Moldbug asserts that they are really equally indefensible, and I don’t see why he’s wrong in that.

    It is a common libertarian observation that America is not a democracy but rather a republic, and for good reason. “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting what to have for lunch.” For long I have seen Friedman’s anarcho-capitalism as a suitable goal, but Friedman’s arguments are almost always vaguely utilitarian — that anarcho-capitalism would do most everything at least as effectively as government does.

    Some of where the Dark Enlightenment comes from, I think, is the notion that even a republic is not an adequate defender of freedom. It leads to a state in which elected representatives spend most of their effort getting and staying elected, and even then cannot make serious changes in the direction of the country; in which the real power is held by unelected functionaries who are by design immune from electoral changes; in which any possible candidates agree on the most fundamental issue — how *very* important to society a busy government is, even if they are so busy they do not have time to read the bills they vote on; in which the dead weight of all this government retards our advancement and degrades our freedom.

    Libertarians like to think that the Constitution provides a great design for a polity, but that somewhere along the way in the last 200 years we missed a few steps and went down a very wrong path. The alternative view, though, is that this wrong path was accidentally baked into the Constitution from the very start, and nothing in the design could have prevented us from going down that path. More and more I have come to believe this.

    Moldbug describes The Patchwork, in which something like the United States is replaced by something like several hundred dictatorships that are absolute in everything except the Right of Exit — which means that they must compete to provide their citizens with a safe, stable, and pleasant place to live and work. In many many ways this sounds a lot like Friedman’s vision, though they came there by very different routes.

    In any case, I recommend trying to see past the veneer of apparent authoritarianism before coming to conclusions about the Dark Enlightenment; I think people like us might have more in common with them than might first appear.

  64. > “Morgan gives a fascinating description of the fairly short interval in England during which the theory of the divine right of kings metamorphosed into the theory of popular sovereignty.”

    But the truly remarkable evolutionary (or perhaps biogeographical) phenomenon is this:

    During precisely that short interval, a subset numbering about 20,000 people taken from the heart of that actively metamorphosing population, removed itself almost in a single body from Old England to New England. Then almost immediately a Civil War broke out in Old England, population transfer was cut off, and the western Atlantic isolate grew and memetically reproduced internally as a de facto independent and self-sufficient culture for perhaps 50 years or more. One could almost say that the American Revolution was really completed by the 1680s; that thing in 1776 was just writing it all down.

  65. @David sorry, I just don’t get this kind of thinking. This is overly mechanical. What you should be looking for is to me, OBVIOUSLY, psychological-cultural changes, not wrong wording of a text or mistakes made in politics. This weird approach is so typical of Neoreaction and libertarians, too – “geeky” approach, as if a society was merely a design problem, a technical problem, instead of as Plato said “man written large”. This was something that the “old reaction” perfectly understood – for example when Burke said “men of intemperate minds cannot be free”. He may have been wrong, but the important thing is the approach, the methodology – that society and politics always reflects the wishes and desires and habits of people which boil down to culture, psychology, character, life choices, personal values, way of living etc. Just how is it not obvious?

  66. Moldbug describes The Patchwork, in which something like the United States is replaced by something like several hundred dictatorships that are absolute in everything except the Right of Exit — which means that they must compete to provide their citizens with a safe, stable, and pleasant place to live and work. In many many ways this sounds a lot like Friedman’s vision, though they came there by very different routes.

    We already have this in a sense. Corporations are effective dictatorships, and in states with so-called “right-to-work” laws (which, really should be called “right-to-be-fired” laws), you are free to leave at any time, but the dictatorship is also free to exile you — and others are free to not admit you. And in early 21s century Murka, you need the dictatorships much more than they need you. Since you must work in order to eat, if your labor is not worth competing over, you have no choice but to exercise what Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello calls the second American freedom: the freedom to starve. And human labor is dropping in market value, as ever more intelligent machines proliferate…

    Libertarian theorizing has this awful tendency to work out all nice on paper, but be absolutely savage in reality.

  67. Some of where the Dark Enlightenment comes from, I think, is the notion that even a republic is not an adequate defender of freedom.

    That’s why I brought up Heinlein, whose works popularized the idea that democracy is inimical to freedom among nerdy libertarian types. But I was too unfair to him earlier. Heinlein actually favored welfare states where he could observe them to be workable; the only example he produced in the 1950s was Uruguay in his nonfiction Tramp Royale.

    Heinlein is better thought of as being like Borges: he played with ideas rather than championing them. He wrote as if these really out-there ideas were actually put into practice, and followed them to their conclusions.

    (Even The Moon is a Harsh Mistress ends with the Loonies setting up a traditional state with all the trappings…)

  68. @Shenpen
    “What you should be looking for is to me, OBVIOUSLY, psychological-cultural changes, not wrong wording of a text or mistakes made in politics. This weird approach is so typical of Neoreaction and libertarians, too – “geeky” approach, as if a society was merely a design problem, a technical problem, instead of as Plato said “man written large”.”

    @Jeff Read
    “Libertarian theorizing has this awful tendency to work out all nice on paper, but be absolutely savage in reality.”

    Actually, that was the central tenet of the old-reactionaries: Men is unable to comprehend the fabric of society, therefore he should not change it

    See also the writings of Karl Popper against Social Engineering or Utopian Engineering.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_%28political_science%29#Karl_Popper

    Libertarians and the Dark Enlightenment are far off in the realms of Utopian Engineering.

  69. Jeff, as it happens, the right to work is something that’s affecting me right now. I’ve got a second job. When I hired on, nobody told me there was a union. I got a nastygram from them a couple of weeks ago demanding that I either join or pay them for the privilege of working for the company.

    My job is in Minnesota, which means I can be forced to do this, even though the company is headquartered in Indiana, the latest right-to-work state. Not only that, the union “local” is headquartered in Long Island. Union types proclaim that joining gives me a voice in my work, but how, exactly, can it do that when the “local” is that non-local?

    Further, the union’s extortion payment if I exercise my rights to not fund their hard-left political activities and pay only those portion of so-called “fair share” fees associated with managing the contract is just under 97% of the amount I’d pay if I chose not to exercise those rights and simply joined. If you believe the union spends only 3% of its budget on political activities, I have a bridge in Chappaquiddick to sell you.

    “Right to be fired”? They have that right anyway. All it takes is some creativity to gin up a cause the union can’t do anything about – and that’s if the union even cares to defend you.

    Union shop laws destroy freedom. They need to go.

    As for me, I’ll probably simply quit the job.

  70. >(Even The Moon is a Harsh Mistress ends with the Loonies setting up a traditional state with all the trappings…)

    But this is presented as a degenerative change. The evidence is pretty clear that Heinlein was already what would today be called a libertarian by 1966. The only complication in this verdict is that Heinlein’s writings were so formative of libertarianism when it emerged as a distinct political program a few years later that it would be better said that libertarians are Heinleinists.

  71. >Libertarians and the Dark Enlightenment are far off in the realms of Utopian Engineering.

    I can’t speak for the DE, but libertarianism is not social engineering.

    Libertarianism is the deliberate and studied rejection of social engineering in favor of the emergent behavior of markets. This rejection is founded in Hayekian skepticism about the ability of would-be social engineers to solve the knowledge problem. Google “Hayek knowledge problem” for background.

    Karl Popper’s polemics against social engineering are in fact one of the historical sources of modern libertarian thought. The timing is right for them to have been a significant influence on Heinlein.

  72. @esr
    “Libertarianism is the deliberate and studied rejection of social engineering in favor of the emergent behavior of markets.”

    I understand that. But what I understand of Libertarianism tries to go their by the willful abolition of (almost) all existing social structures and organization above the family.

    The drastic abolition of social organization is almost by definition social engineering.

    Moreover, what I have read from Libertarians is exactly an exclusive reliance on a completely rewritten legal code. What Shenpen wrote as:

    This weird approach is so typical of Neoreaction and libertarians, too – “geeky” approach, as if a society was merely a design problem, a technical problem, instead of as Plato said “man written large”.

  73. >I understand that. But what I understand of Libertarianism tries to go their by the willful abolition of (almost) all existing social structures and organization above the family.

    Huh? That’s just nuts.

    Nothing in libertarianism requires the abolition of any social structure at all except governments. You have a strangely impoverished view of “social structure” if you think none exists other than government and the family. Do you not live in a civil society? Are businesses, unions, churches, fraternal and sororal orders, professional societies, advocacy and watchdog organizations, and hobby clubs not social structures?

    Weird…

  74. @esr
    “Nothing in libertarianism requires the abolition of any social structure at all except governments. You have a weirdly impoverished view of “social structure” if you think none exists other than government and the family.”

    I do think there exist more (my country is famous for all its private organizations). But many of these are “in contact with” or even dependent on state structures one way or another.

    But are governments, local and national, not social structure?

    Police, military, courts, schools, and all the parts and parcels of the nation state that have to be replaced or abolished under Libertarian plans? Everything from sewage disposal and garbage collection to road building and border patrol will have to be rebuild. It might involve a quarter of all people (it does involve a quarter of GDP in the USA, much more in Europe).

    Everything touched by legal regulation or the law would also have to be reorganized. And it would have all to be done under a single principle, as you said.

    I call that “social engineering”.

  75. >I call that “social engineering”.

    I call it crime prevention. In exactly the same way that breaking up any other protection racket is crime prevention.

  76. @esr
    “I call it crime prevention. In exactly the same way that breaking up any other protection racket is crime prevention.”

    On this scale, that still is social engineering. And there is a strong Utopian component in the plans.

  77. @Shenpen-

    I might find your chastisement more useful if I could make out what you think discontents should *do*. If society and politics do reflect the wishes and desires and habits of the people, is it therefore inappropriate to try and articulate alternatives that might better reflect these wishes and desired, and raise questions about how just and sustainable and good these exact wishes and desires are, or how contrary to these wishes and desires these habits may be? Or should we just fold our hands and try to reconcile ourselves to a world that seems to us to be unjust and doomed?

  78. “If society and politics do reflect the wishes and desires and habits of the people, is it therefore inappropriate to try and articulate alternatives that might better reflect these wishes and desired, and raise questions about how just and sustainable and good these exact wishes and desires are, or how contrary to these wishes and desires these habits may be?”

    No. Just be prepared to represent the opinions of a (small) minority. On the other hand, almost all opinions are only shared by a minority.

    As they sometimes say overhere: Ask two people and ger three opinions.

  79. Winter-

    “Just be prepared to represent the opinions of a (small) minority.”

    Trust me, I’m there.

  80. ESR> Do you not live in a civil society?

    It is my experience that non-libertarians either do not grasp the distinction between between government and civil society, perhaps because (like Winter) they live in a place where the government has its tentacles into society so deeply that there is no such distinction; or do not recognize the significance of that distinction.

    By their thinking, if something needs to be done, then government needs to do it. When we oppose government trying to do ${GoodThing}, they see it as opposing ${GoodThing} itself, which is just proof of how evil we are.

  81. @The Monster
    “perhaps because (like Winter) they live in a place where the government has its tentacles into society so deeply that there is no such distinction;”

    I think we have different definitions of “civil society”. To clear up this confusion, I see “civil society” more in line with:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_society#Etymology
    Note that the use of civil society was started in City States and refers also to political engagement in State affairs.

    I think the difference is that in our view, the Government/State is us. We do not ask the government for hand-outs, we decide to do something about a problem. The government is the organization founded to handle the legal and financial chores and to contract the work.

    I know there is a difference in view point on this matter.

    @The Monster
    “By their thinking, if something needs to be done, then government needs to do it.”

    Not quite. If something needs to be done, we need to do it. The government is just a tool to organize our work.

    So when we had terrible floods in 1953 (sea coast) and 1995 (rivers), we decided to prevent them from happening ever again. We then paid for the work and strengthened the defenses. As a result, under identical circumstances this winter, there were no floods. Contrary to what happened in the UK this winter, and is still happening there.

  82. @The Monster:

    >It is my experience that non-libertarians either do not grasp the distinction between between government and civil society, perhaps because (like Winter) they live in a place where the government has its tentacles into society so deeply that there is no such distinction; or do not recognize the significance of that distinction.

    Well, the whole basis of the American experience is that settlers arrive or go West, make a society for themselves, and government only catches up with them later, afther people formed a society. In such circumstances the government is always indeed like an alien entity, a parasite.

    The whole basis of the European experience is that an army conquers a land and basically calls it their country, and defends it. So the whole concept of a society is created by a governmental action, military action, through violence. The conquerors became the nobility (or Roman citizens), the conquered the serfs (or slaves or taxpayers). The conquerors had the right to bear arms, the conquered not, to not revolt. The conquered pay taxes, the conquerors not, as taxes were not seen as a social contribution but merely extraction by the victor. Neither Roman citizens for a long while nor medieval nobles paid taxes. But they were armed. They were also called free men, which was used interchangebly with nobility – and freedom usually meant arms yes, taxes not. Sounds familiar? :-) It is a long, long historical-cultural inheritance, any Roman would have instantly understood the arms yea, taxes nay attitude – it just meant no being conquered.

    At any rate the point is whatever society originates in a military dictarorship of conquering nobles taking a piece of land as theirs, you cannot really ever separate society from government in it.

    To see a government as an alien parasite is only possible when you first start a society in near-anarchy and gov’t catches up only later.

  83. @Shenpen
    There are argements possible about your view of European history. E.g., many states founded by Germanic people were not based on conquests.

    But mostly, all these people are long dead. Current people living in current states have to deal with their peers. Those working in government are neither conquerors nor nobles.

    The problems of any European or North American country are largely the result of citizens being unable to organize themselves.

    The old truism is painfull but still true:
    People get the government they deserve.

  84. @ESR @Winter apparenly not gettin my point. My point is, succintly, the cultural determinism of institutions, politics, largely everything. Libertarianism can be seen as anti-engineering but that is beside the point.

    The point is either that you see it in a way that it is still a form of technology, a science of controlled demolition, a bunch of genetic algorithms that intellectuals can install on the human hardware anywhere and reliably get good results. This is what I called geeky – trying to approach it technologically like worrying about the text in a constitution the same way as turning knobs to fine-tune the experiment that will result in uncoordinated behavior emerging good results just nice.

    The other option is seeing L. as an expression of a culture that was made generally individualistic long, long ago. That it is whatever makes sense for people who grew up in an individualistic culture almost instinctively. Install the software and for most people it instantly makes sense how to function in it, what to do, not do, what to expect, because it is largely how their family, friendships or local communities worked anyway.

    You can say the same about every single ideology. It is well known how European Fascisms were generally made by WWI veterans. They did not even have anything like a doctrine or ideology in the beginning! They were just like “Guys let’s just do things like we used to on the front!” and those were “OK I guess.” It was the culture of the Frontsoldat creating institutions of politics and not some philosophy.

  85. >It is my experience that non-libertarians either do not grasp the distinction between between government and civil society, perhaps because (like Winter) they live in a place where the government has its tentacles into society so deeply that there is no such distinction; or do not recognize the significance of that distinction.

    Yes, that is all too true.

    >By their thinking, if something needs to be done, then government needs to do it. When we oppose government trying to do ${GoodThing}, they see it as opposing ${GoodThing} itself, which is just proof of how evil we are.

    I had a so-called conservative make essentially that argument to me on a gun forum recently. It made me very sad. Conservatives at least still tend to understand the difference between true charity and ‘welfare’, which is generous and caring (and works!) and which is deadly poison backed with deadly force. But beyond that? They seem to see no distinction between ‘something being done’ and ‘government doing something’.

  86. Careful with that broad brush, Greg…I am a conservative who understands very well the difference between “doing something” and “government doing something”.

  87. @Winter
    > I think the difference is that in our view, the Government/State is us.

    You’ve proven my point that you do not grasp the significance of the distinction. You really don’t see any difference between a government doing ${GoodThing} and some private entity (without the power to obtain resources under threat of violence) doing it.

  88. > Not quite. If something needs to be done, we need to do it. The government is just a tool to organize our work.

    First of all, I would point out that Winter here is assuming that the Government and the People are one and the same. They are not, not even in a Democracy. The “we” that Winter is mentioning contains many people who may oppose that Government action, but are forced to go along–and even pay for it–at gunpoint. And this will happen, even if we recognize that the Government action in question is actually harmful, rather than helpful.

    In contrast, the “American” way is to see a problem, and ask “How can I solve this?”, and then start working out a solution. As the solution takes shape, it becomes prudent to seek out help: going to others, and saying “I’m trying to solve this problem. Can you help me solve it?” and gradually, an entire organization–a corporation, whether it be for- or non-profit–arises to address this problem. Sometimes, perhaps even most of the time, the problem initially addressed turns out to be a non-problem, but a real problem is discovered in the process.

    Granted, sometimes these corporations take on a life of their own, and they things can sometimes sour and even become toxic…but this is certainly true of government agencies as well, which is why it’s questionable at best to claim that we are solving a problem via government. Indeed, the difference between a corporation souring and a government program souring, is that corporations start to shrink, and even disappear completely, if they can’t stop this toxicity, while governments seem to flourish in this same toxicity. (And a key reason for this is that government agencies come into being by fiat, and are fed by spoils taken literally at gunpoint.)

    Second, Winter is illustrating the attitude that Rose Wilder Lane observed in her adventures in Europe. When Italians fixed her car, and she tried to pay them for it, they would decline, saying “We did it for Italy!” She compared it to the American, who would decline the money with something like “Don’t worry about it. I just wanted to be helpful.”

    Eric is right: those of us steeped in the traditions of the State tend to think “The State needs to do this, or it wouldn’t get done!” when in reality, if something needs to be done, people will figure out a way. As an example, in high school, I was led to believe that farmers in the Tennessee Valley would have had to forgo power forever if the government hadn’t stepped in, built a dam, and strung electric lines across the landscape. “The Government had to do this, because it was too expensive for private companies to provide the power lines!”

    Putting aside, for the moment, why governments should be concerned about families who choose for themselves to live in somewhat isolated circumstances, it wasn’t until decades later that I realized that the entire premise was wrong: sure, it might not have been cost-effective for private companies to provide those power lines…at least, not yet…but who said that power lines were the only way to go? Perhaps mini-power plants in each community would have served the farmers better. Heck, perhaps even a generator per household would have been more cost effective than a giant hydroelectric generator and lots of powerlines. And it would certainly be more robust–lots of local generators, so that there is no single failure point, and fewer power lines to be knocked down in bad weather…I’m not nearly as certain that the TVA is as great an example of “government fixing a market failure” as I was originally led to believe…

  89. @ Winter – “the difference is that in our view, the government/State is us.”

    Most democratically elected governments begin life as a political extension of the indigenous people, but over time it can morph into an entity with a life of its own. Once it has amassed sufficient power, this bureaucratic organism will behave like other living things and adopt survive and thrive as its primary imperative. At this point, the people serve to nourish government, not the other way around.

    This phenomenon can occur insidiously and without obvious genesis or motivation.

  90. @The Monster @Alpheus I have pointed out in http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5227&cpage=1#comment-423925 the major reason why the government/society distinction is more clear in certain places than in other places: it largely depends on whether the given society was originally constructed in near-anarchy, or the other way around, was created by conquest, top-down.

    But there is something else that occured to me just now that can explain it. Isn’t it is so that the US government is generally understood as a collective noun for a large number of programs and agencies and bureaus each being very distinct? Thus, it is easy to define where government is or what it is, because one can just point to a list of them? Basically microkernel OS. Isn’t in the average, typical European country more common to see one, monolythical State as opposed to agencies and programs? Basically monolithical kernes OS. This may be one thing that makes them harder to tell apart. For example I think US terminology could call say aid for orphans a program or an agency, and e.g. Hungarian terminology would call it a “state budget sub-chapter”. (And it is almost certainly mirror-translated from German so I would expect the same there.) The second certainly looks more monolythical.

    Does this play a role?

    What can make it more complicated is that either you can call the executive branch of the state government, or all three branches of the state government, including the legislative and judiciary. I am more familiar with the government = executive only.

  91. >Careful with that broad brush, Greg…I am a conservative who understands very well the difference between “doing something” and “government doing something”.

    Maybe you’re right. But 2 things:

    -You seem to have more than the average mental wherewithal to understand these things,
    -When this was going on on the other forum, I was not getting much support for my point of view (I was deliberately arguing the distinction between individual and gov’t action, and precious few were seeing it)

  92. >Once it has amassed sufficient power, this bureaucratic organism will behave like other living things and adopt survive and thrive as its primary imperative. At this point, the people serve to nourish government, not the other way around.

    Heh. Or it can even be intentional.

    >This phenomenon can occur insidiously and without obvious genesis or motivation.

    ISTR reading a piece by Woodrow Wilson, where he explained that government was an organism in its own right, that required nurturing.

    The fact that that wasn’t a warning bell to trigger the tar and feathers, and WW was in fact at the time considered a man of great wisdom and learning (or something)…. is not good. It’s been mostly downhill since.

  93. @Shenpen

    >Isn’t in the average, typical European country more common to see one, monolythical State as opposed to agencies and programs?

    Indeed, most European countries are quite monolithic. The notable exceptions are the (con)federal arrangements in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, which they share with the US. (Russia is nominally a federation, but I don’t believe that in practice it lives up to the name.) The US national government is a creation of the several states it comprises. The Regions, Departments, Arrondissements, etc. of France are creations of the national government, which can redraw their borders any time they want.

    In addition, the US system deliberately separates legislative, executive, and judicial power in a way that even (con)federal parliamentary systems do not. Our government is designed to be compartmentalized both “vertically” and “horizontally”. States tend to extend this further by erecting separate bodies with their own taxing and regulatory authorities, such as school, water, and sewer districts.

    As an extreme example, Missouri severed control over the Kansas City Police Department from the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager, creating a separate board to govern it, in reaction to the horrible corruption of the Pendergast machine. Every few years someone brings up the idea of ending this arrangement, but it never goes anywhere, because people would rather keep the power decentralized, even if it makes city government less efficient to do so.

  94. I think the Dark Enlightenment is basically what the social-media generation is going to have instead of conservatism, just as social justice is replacing liberalism. Both movements are more radical and provocative (and more negative or even paranoid in tone) than their predecessors, and they don’t assume shared trust in institutions or a common national culture. They’re shaped by click-through-rate dynamics rather than electoral or TV dynamics. They’re optimized, in some sense, for addictiveness rather than for appeal.

    “Dark Enlightenment” folks still seem fairly fringe and dysfunctional, but you’ll hear pretty much any non-feminist name-check something from that world now and then. It’s an intellectual culture that reaches people who’d never read National Review.

    I get disturbed when I see signs that people don’t have a sense of *recent* history. Yeah, it’s fascinating to see what happens if you read a lot of original sources from centuries ago. But does anybody have a little William Buckley in their head? Is anybody asking what *he’d* think?

    Some of the people on that map are clever, and I think Moldbug might be the most creative political theorist around, but I remain disturbed by the obsessive, addictive, “Dark” character of internet-based political movements. There is no brake on them; no countervailing pressure where you can become popular by saying “um, this is all very well, but I’m not actually a Fascist sympathizer, let’s not go that far.”

  95. “Once it has amassed sufficient power, this bureaucratic organism will behave like other living things and adopt survive and thrive as its primary imperative. At this point, the people serve to nourish government, not the other way around.”

    The Netherlands exist as a State for over 400 years now. Any predictions when this “inevitable point of change” will happen?

    Oh, and there are quite clear boundaries between state and private sectors.

    The main point here is that the supposed “Us” “Them” distinction is completely different. It is most definitely not based on state power. Fortunes are not made inside the state apparatus or from tax money. Our politicians never become rich in office. They hardly ever become rich at all.

  96. True, the Netherlands is probably safe from that for now… at least until the welfare state goes bankrupt, and/or the Muslims outbreed the natives and impose sharia….

  97. @PapayaSF
    “and/or the Muslims outbreed the natives and impose sharia….”

    The funny thing is, we have had a century of this fear mongering involving the exact same threat from Catholics and Papal rule.

    When Catholics finally reached a majority, nothing happened. Catholics proved to be just Dutch people who ignored Papal rule even more rhan the protestants.

    I think much of your fear comes from misunderstanding Sharia. Sharia is just a word abused to mean whatever a Muslim cares about at a particular point in time. Just like the ten commandments do in the Christian world.

    “at least until the welfare state goes bankrupt”

    After the people from the USA defaulted on their loans and the resulting financial crisis almost wiped out our banks, the Dutch simply lowered entitlements to match the available resources.

    The total meltdown of our country predicted on this block was again postponed (as has happened before in preceeding centuries).

    But maybe next year?

  98. @ Winter – “The Netherlands exist as a State for over 400 years now. ”

    Except for that short interlude in the 1940s when your government (and by extension, its military wing) lasted for less than a week after being overrun by a hungry aggressor. Perhaps your welfare state has been living on borrowed time by virtue of not paying much for your own defense. That strategy works fine in times of affluence and abundance, but may not serve you so well should hard times return.

  99. @TomA
    “Perhaps your welfare state has been living on borrowed time by virtue of not paying much for your own defense.”

    That aggressor overran Europe and was stopped only by Stalin. I am sure you do not want to imply out government should emulate his rule to prevent a new occupation?

    Or do you have other strategic advice for a small country (currently 17M inhabitants) to give it some chance against a country 5 times as big (Germany: 80+M inhabitants) with a stronger industrial base?

    In short, this is such a lame excuse for a Libertarian argument I simply stop here.

  100. @ Winter – “That aggressor overran Europe and was stopped only by Stalin.”

    The Red Army never made it to Holland. And I’m pretty sure that it was US GIs that liberated your country and prevented it from becoming a Soviet satellite for another 40 years. Also, the combined populations, industry, and military forces of France, Holland, Belgium, and England far exceeded Hitler’s war machine. The Germans just fought smarter.

    However, my original point was that government longevity is no guarantee of future success.

  101. @TomA
    That holds for everything, and is therefore, a bogus argument.

    Furthermore, the industrial output of Germany at the time was huge.

  102. >And I’m pretty sure that it was US GIs that liberated [the Netherlands] …
    Canadians, mostly.

  103. shenpen: “raping sluts” – OK, I know your worldview, and understand how snarky overgeneralizations are a common, normal stylistic element of that worldview.

    I’m not using snarky overgeneralizations; the word “slut” is heavily used by significant parts of the neoreaction bunch. See section 5.1 of Scott Alexander’s FAQ, linked above.

    I have been remarkably unimpressed by what I’ve seen from the redpill folks, which has consisted largely of angry defenses of pre-existing notions and bilious revulsion toward entire categories of women (fat, feminist, slutty). The rest–respect for David Wong’s harsh-truth’s article, for example–I can get elsewhere.

    I can’t speak from experience about the idea that believing certain things about women will make it easier for me to survive depression when I get dumped for a stronger, more fertile male. But I don’t think that it makes sense for me to to essentially live in the kind of fear of being dumped or false-rape-accused that these people have.

    And the worst part of it is that there’s interesting stuff to be learned about how men and women relate to one another! There really is! But the redpill folks are certainly not doing it. For instance, here’s a fascinating article by Christian Rudder about how the 1-10 scale used by pickup artists and all of their memetic cousins misses the point; women have more success if they’re someone’s shot of whiskey than if they’re everyone’s cup of tea.

    The fact itself isn’t the important thing here; the important thing is that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit waiting to be discovered in this field, and the redpillers were too busy scratching their biases until they turned into personality-defining abscesses to notice.

    (Lastly, I don’t think that there’s anything new or interesting in redpillery to explain why ancient conquerors kept conquering; people who make good conquerors are going to want to keep conquering even when it’s not that great of an idea, politically speaking. There’s not much need for evo-psych mumbo-jumbo there.)

  104. @grendelkhan:

    That is a fascinating article! Only thing I’ve ever seen that stands a chance of explaining Miley Cyrus’s tongue.

  105. >You are missing the context of that map. It was not made by Nick Land but the author of the blog Habitable Worlds.

    It appears to me from reading HW and Nick Land’s blog that the map was designed to conform to Nick Land’s narrative about the DE. If you have evidence otherwise, please explain and cite.

  106. “I know Eliezer Yudkowsky; the idea that he and the Less Wrong crowd and Robin Hanson feel significant affinity with most of the rest of that map is pretty ludicrous.”

    Maybe not him, but when I used to go there (a few years ago) it seemed like there was a huge strain of red pill and HBD types in the comments sections.

  107. >Maybe not him, but when I used to go there (a few years ago) it seemed like there was a huge strain of red pill and HBD types in the comments sections.

    That…sort of makes sense. Of all the DE subfactions those two are the least likely to have anti-libertarian and anti-science fixations. They have a “we shall be mercilessly truthful” drive that would be compatible with what the Less Wrong crowd is trying to do.

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