Ethics of excellence

Left equates to chaos and disorder, whilst reaction equates to order and cosmos. The right, given it is a phenomena which only occurs in societies that manifest as democratic, is a case of failing to understand this structural underpinning of the formation of political organisation. As such, you end up with right progressives as (aka conservatives) or right nationalist progressives (Nazis.)

The depths of this concept are great, and require a complete re-orientation of the concept of progress. As Moldbug writes:

“First and foremost, Carlyle is a believer in order. To Carlyle, the old order is not “giving birth to the new.” It is rotting slowly into anarchy – or burning fast, as in France or later Russia. The destination is not an order at all, but a blackened waste with clumps of singed ferns. Nor does this observation make the old order good – the ancien regimewas termite bait and a firetrap. But in Carlyle’s mirror, the pattern that the ordinary Whig historian and his ordinary student know as steady progress punctuated by brilliant revolutions, becomes a pattern of inexorable decay punctuated by explosions of barbarism.”

Why Carlyle Matters

Without this understanding, reaction is nothing, it is merely another confused progressive, or more accurately chaos ideology tottering along mumbling incoherently about how great one part of the outright collapsed mess of modern society is, because this is what the right and the alt right is in effect, a collection of confused ideologies desperately trying to negotiate with the disorder as if it is a possible form of order.

What is race realism if not a desperate attempt to locate some means of collective organisation without recourse to actual order? What is conservatism but an attempt to bargain out some form of breathing space from the relentless decay? What is pro-capitalism but a plea for some vague form of order in the form of businesses organisation, no matter how undirected and unethical the form it takes. The right in all it’s guises is chaos infected. It refuses to have a leader, and genuine order based on the character and virtue of the people that comprise the polis.

Once this pattern is seen, it really cannot be unseen, so when for example you read a book such as Alistair McIntyre’s “Whose Justice, Which Rationality?” you cannot but notice that his thesis of the existence of two distinct ethical frameworks pattern matches with Carlye and Moldbug’s acceptance of the chaos/ cosmos divide.  The first ethical framework is that of the “Good of Effectiveness”, the second being the “Goods of Excellence.” The first ethical framework is defined as one in which an order of the goods is not possible, and in fact is rejected outright. Society with the ethics of effectiveness is characterised as one in which all ethics are a matter of negotiation between individuals to maximize desires and wants. McIntyre identifies this model of ethics with that of the Sophists of ancient Greek, and then with the ethics which arose with the Enlightenment project, in particular the fountain head of Hobbes is identified, and great stress is placed on the influence that the sophists have had on the liberal movement through Mill and “a succession of utilitarians, positivists, and pragmatists” (note all are variants of empiricists,), whom saw in the sophists their predecessors. According to McIntyre:

“The sophists anticipated their modern apologists in denying that any standard of right action is to be found which is independent of the wants, satisfactions, and preferences of individual human beings. There is, of course, room for a large number of disagreement as to how such a standard is or ought to be constructed out of the materials afforded by individual wants, satisfactions and preferences, but these disagreements all require a rejection of the view that there is or could be some standard of right action which could be at odds with what human beings generally want. A counterpart to this denial is the belief that human wants, satisfactions, and preferences provide an empirical basis for morality. Being themselves prior to and independent of any set of moral judgements or discriminations, they provide good reason for adopting one type of standard for making such judgements and discriminations rather than another.”

Whose Justice? Which Rationality? P74

Quite how these “human wants, satisfactions, and preferences” can be pre-moral and empirically objective is raised by McIntyre as being absurd, which they are, but these same pattern is found through modern political theory, and this system of justice is unmistakably that provided by the modern liberal state, which through the Hobbesian negotiation of security in exchange for the individual freedom to pursue happiness and goals on an individual basis merely provides a sandbox in which to play. The concept being one in which all individual freedoms are purportedly protected against any form of hierarchy, which in fact translates to an atomisation and control by a faceless bureaucracy which dreams up ever more unordered individual freedoms that it is needed to protect. The direction is towards every greater chaos and ever greater levelling, with the entire process being one which spreads in a cancerous undirected fashion glimpsed to a degree by public choice theory. No one can roll back any of it, as no one is in charge, they are merely facilitating individual goods, however every chance to expand is done so in almost automatic ways. The mechanism is explained in vivid detail by De Jouvenel in his masterpiece “On Power.”

In contradiction to this system of undirected individualised goods of effectiveness, you have the “Goods of Excellence” which asserts that an ordering of goods is both possible and necessary. The avatars of the goods of excellence are Socrates, Plato and above all Aristotle and St Thomas. That the Enlightenment project and modernity stems from Cartesian philosophy and Descartes project of rejection of Aristotlean and Thomistic philosophy should be of no surprise. The Enlightement was the rejection of context, teleology and order. Modernity is clearly a catastrophic error that is still being played out.

It is worth noting at this point that Cartesian philosophy is unavoidably connected with the British Empiricism movement embodied by Hobbes, Bacon, Locke, Hume and Mills, and with the rationalist movement leading through Spinoza and Kant. The importance of this in connection with Moldbug can be seen in the influences on UR. There is a definite and clear  rejection of empiricism and modernism as evidenced in Carlyle who rages against empiricism and the ethics of the utilitarians, as well as De Maistre who identified Bacon and British Empiricism as a fountain head for the Encyclopedists and the French revolutionaries. Add in such writers as Leddihn (Thomist) and also the Libertarian influence via Mises (yes Libertarians are rationalists, but the rejection of empiricism in political affairs is key as noted by Moldbug here) and a picture emerges of the epistemological core that forms the rejection of modernity. Modernity is empirical, which was, and still is, a position that radically anti-order. It roots from Protestantism and its entwinement with Liberalism doesn’t appear to be coincidental, while its claim to being a fountain of discovery is dubious at best. Progress is looking a bit shaky now, and for some reason those dang Africans seem to have problems with the scientific method, but no problem with pumping out “pat on the head worthy” anti-colonial literature and left wing terrorists/ peace nobel prizes winners .

The “Goods of Excellence” model as put forward by McIntyre is one which is characterised by two major aspects, the first is that for any ethics to be coherent, it must have a context within which the action is coherent, thus rendering the “is-Ought” distinction invalid. The second is that this context is only provided by a hierarchy and an order. Whilst St Thomas and Aristotle disagree on many points, this central core is not disputed. This brings us back to the Chaos-Cosmos spectrum of the political sphere. Not one part of the political spectrum from left to right in any way rejects the “Goods of Effectiveness” as identified by McIntyre, but in fact actively embrace them across the board. This is seen via pro-capitalism and alt-right Nietzscheism and even race realist rightists. All are ethically chaos ideologies.

Reactionary ideology having accepted the need of order and a ruler above society is irresistibly drawn to the “Goods of Excellence” as being the basis of order. Indeed, once the rejection of modernity is made, which entails the rejection of the rejection of an outside of society (sovereignty is conserved,) then the only question is how can, and should, the rulers rule, and as rule by law is intrinsically rejected, rule by a virtuous man is the issue. This was forseen by Aristotle as noted by McIntyre:

“Aristotle in both the Nicomachean Ethics (1137b 13-14) and the Rhetoric (1374a25-b3) recognizes the need for a type of exercise of pratical judgement which cannot be guided by rules because it concerns a situation whose relevant particulars are not captured by the best formulated rules so far available, and he also recognizes that it is of the nature of sets of rules that no matter how well formulated they may be, they cannot provide for all such eventualities”

P95 “Whose Justice? Which Rationality?”

This is further elaborated on in reference to ethics on p 195 to 196

“Aristotle in Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics had argued that since in ethics and politics we do not have the same degree of accuracy as in mathematics – his point, as I noted earlier, was that relevant contingent premises have to be introduced into our arguments in ethics and politics in a way which is not itself rule-governed – we must not try to determine what is to be done in particular case in a way which presupposes the necessary applicability of invariant rules. Aquinas agreed: “since discourse on ,moral matters even in their universal aspects is subject to uncertainty and variations”– Aquinas refers here to there being no rules for applying rules—“it is all the more uncertain if one wishes to descend to brining doctrine to bear on individual cases in specific details, for this cannot be dealt with by either art or precedent, because the factors in individual cases are indeterminately variable. Therefore judgement concerning individual cases must be left to prudential of each person….” commentary on the Ethics II, lect. 2.

Chaos is “rule” by system and rule by “laws”, which is to say rule by liars hiding behind fraudulent premises whilst pretending not to rule. Order is rule by a ruler and existence in a hierarchical political entity within which the ethics and actions of the peoples are made coherent and meaningful and are directed to excellence and virtue.