Lawrence Glarus‘ response to my assertion that Liberalism is more left wing than Communism is very much worth reading for those who have not seen it yet. The usage of the metaphor of cephalisation is frankly inspired, and it is something which I have had in mind even if in an unclear way. I am not clear if it was meant to be a rebuttal, because I agree with absolutely everything in the post, and he didn’t really counter my assertion.
The really important part of the whole post is this section:
“It is true that most forms of communism were more cephalized than their democratic counterparts. They had a centralized bureaucracy which had absolute power. However, having a head is no use when you gouge out your eyes and refuse to engage with the world. For whatever control the Soviet union maintained it no more exercised judgement nor “saw” the world than their liberal counterparts. That is exactly what made communism so deadly. At the very least liberalism is a slow death march. Communism, on the other hand, has the power and will to do evil and like liberalism none of the ability to stop.”
On this, I can only again agree. This is where the conflation of reactionary thinking with “commie” by Liberals is so pernicious, and the prevalence of this accusation within the “alt-right” betrays their Liberalism. I have no qualm with accepting that communism’s cephalisation was purely psychotic. The concept brings to mind a comment from Scientism which I don’t think he will mind me repeating, which went along the lines that communism was more damaging in a short time frame because conscious sabotage is more immediately destructive than negligence(Liberalism.) It is worth noting that Moldbug spent a great deal of time trying to disentangle cephalisation from its conflation with communism which the cold war Liberal propaganda has infected everyone with. A dulldozer being driven by a gorilla on hallucinogens is a recipe for disaster, a bulldozer being driven by an expert driver is a force of creation as he noted.
The next part of serious agreement from me is this:
“Again there may emerge circumstances where according to the sovereign’s judgement a company needs to be nationalized that is expected, but probably rare. Just as almost every large corporation is run by a number of people who’s judgement is entrusted to one extent or another, a sovereign would be foolish to run the whole show himself. It is the duty of the sovereign to exercise judgement and part of judgement is allowing the worthy the privilege to act independently. “
That this needs to be spelled out is again testament to the need to constantly explain theory with an eye to the “muh freedoms” and the “don’t tread on me” liberalism that passes for reactionary. There may indeed be situations in which vast areas of industry and the economy may be in need of being shut down by the sovereign. In the current system, at the very least every foundation needs nationalising and their funds appropriating, and vast amounts of wealth should be taken from oligarchs and billionaires who merely use it to pool resources for political agitation (which means nationalising their holdings.) They are a menace and any serious government will deal with them accordingly. But even this obvious series of counter measures just receives screams of horror and reflexive libertarian objection about the free market that are tedious to behold. The right of a dildo factory being able to operate unimpeded is something to storm the trenches over in their eyes.
As for allowing the worthy liberty, I agree, but to do so you would need a central concept of the good in relation to the state so that the worthy can be defined and allowed the greatest level of liberty in relation to the state. This is not that complicated, but it is something which has been surgically removed since the assault on Aristotle by the Enlightenment. Ethics is subsumed by politics, but again those Enlightenment clowns with their hippy shit constantly did away with the state by default in their thinking. From deontological ethics (don’t need the state) to Smith free trade (don’t need the state) the underlying subtext is- don’t need the state.
I am finding that from every angle of worthwhile analysis in a reactionary direction that Moldbug raised, a background figure looms large over them all, this is again that man Aristotle. His finger prints are everywhere. I am not sure if Lawrence is familiar with Aristotle, but in the case he is not, I would recommend ‘The Nicomachean Ethics’ in the strongest terms. All actions, and all ethics are only comprehensible in relation to an end, and all lesser ends are encompassed in the greater end of the state. As Aristotle observe in the very first book:
“But when several of these [ends] are subordinated to some art or science- as the making of bridles and other trappings to the art of horsemanship, and this in turn, along with all else the soldier does to the art of war, and so on,- then the end of the master-art is always more desired than the ends of the subordinate arts, since these are pursued for its sake…”
This master art is Politics, but not in the sense of which we refer to it at present, as it covers the “whole field of human life, since man is a social animal.” Politics in this sense thus:
“Proscribes which of the sciences a state needs, and which each man shall study, and up to what point: and to it we see subordinated even the highest arts. Such as economy, rhetoric, and the art of war.”
This is so far from Liberalism, and so close to what is raised by Moldbug with the sov corp metaphor, as well as the cephalisation metaphor as to be of need of vital study. An entity which has no central goal within which all subordinate goals are made coherent and meaningful is brainless and Liberalism is as Lawrence notes, decephalisation by definition. This is what I have been trying to also articulate with the differentiation between licence and liberty. Liberty is freedom that is granted to act towards the good which is only comprehensible in relation to the state, to which a virtuous state will encourage. Licence is what we have, and what liberal capitalism as embodied by the Adam Smith tradition encourages, hence List’s cutting criticism of its casual undermining of sovereign states in favour of the strongest state (sovereignty is conserved, sorry.)
Liberal Capitalism is utopian, fraudulent and disastrous, and diverting from the issue of it’s incompatibility on a structural basis with a coherent nation or society, and therefore survival; with bluster and squid ink about its “wealth” creation as good, metaphors with regard to nature, and standard incoherent claims of markets being wiser than people etc are not helpful.