First, an apology to Alf. I have a number of comments in my pending list due to generally avoiding it. I dislike wordpress comments because i) the comments tend to be poor and ii) the systems is cumbersome and awkward. I much prefer communication via e-mail (email@example.com.) Any pending I have approved for now, but again, best to email me. Or better still, write a blog post! As Alf, and previously Sanguine have done.
As for Alf’s post, I am more than happy to offer a counter post.
In regard to point one, I would dispute that the link between De Jouvenel and Moldbug is forced. It took me some time to “get it” myself, so I am not surprised other people don’t see it as well yet. To demonstrate it, I will take a couple of Moldbug posts, and you can see for yourself how De Jouvenel’s insights form the engine of the theory. The first post is ‘Democracy, cis and trans; Maines Law’, I will provide a quote, and will invite the reader to identify De Jouvenel’s observation of high aligning with low to undermine competitors:
“Here we see, in cis-democracy and trans-democracy, the late Joe Sobran’s dichotomy:
There are two possible basic attitudes toward social reality. One of these, as I say, has many names, but I will call, it, for convenience, Nativism: a prejudice in favor of the native, the normal, and so forth, reaching an extreme in lynchings and pogroms. Its most ghastly form was German National Socialism.
The other attitude I am forced, for lack of a better word–or any word at all–to call Alienism: a prejudice in favor of the alien, the marginal, the dispossesed, the eccentric, reaching an extreme in the attempt to “build a new society” by destroying the basic institutions of the native. The most terrible fulfillment of this principle is Communism.
Again we see the opposites: Hitler and Stalin. Any cis-democracy must be nativist – for if its trustees exist to benefit the nation, they must benefit their own nation and not any other. And it is lunacy to assert that the interests of nations never conflict.
Whereas trans-democracy, in its eternal search for meatpuppets, is essentially alienist. This is the fundamental flaw in the alliance of intellectuals and proletarians that was Communism. For the intellectuals, a tiny minority, to build a working majority with the tools of trans-democracy, they must discover and diligently exploit a vast pool of empty heads.
And these people, who are human beings, but not in any sense philosophers, will bealien to the intellectual. Friendship will be asserted – but the relationship is not friendship, for friendship is a relation of peers based on human affinity and human sympathy. The aristocrat has no genuine human connection to the coal miner, the ghetto criminal, the illegal day-laborer. They are, at best, his clients – his peons, his pets. This reality, sordid on its face, cannot be revealed. The aristocrat cannot accept it; the client cannot accept it; the bourgeois cannot be allowed to see it.
Thus the passion of the late 20th-century trans-democrat for, in Brecht’s word,electing a new people. Liberal aristocrats spent the 19th century making sure every native adult with a pulse could vote. Expanding the suffrage to five-year-olds, however laudable a politics it would produce (consider the effect on global warming alone), would expose the entire machine to ridicule – and how many five-year-olds are there, anyway?”
De Jouvenel’s observation, being a fundamental aspect of divided power is something which others have seen (as per Joe Sorban above) but did not elaborate on sufficiently.
Another example of the De Jouvenelian heart of the theory can be seen in this next post ‘A theory of the ruling underclass’:
“So this is the Brahmin-Dalit alliance. Perhaps the most sordid and cynical partnership since Molotov and Ribbentrop clinked over Stoli and Mumm’s, all dressed up in robes of love, screamed into the heads of Yale freshmen, and caroled on YouTube by the composer who brought us “My Humps.” Yes, we can! Bring it on, bitches.
But wait. We’ve seen what J.T. gets out of the deal: money and security. (A lot of government checks end up in his pocket.) But what do the progressives get out of their Machiavellian pact with barbarism, murder and urine-soaked hallways? What could be worth this opprobrium?
Well, first, we have to ask: what opprobrium? I actually had an interesting experience with my attempts to review Gang Leader for a Day. My goal was to answer the following question: did Venkatesh change the name of his gang? Or is there actually an actual organization in Chicago called the Black Kings?
I think there is, but I am not quite sure. If you try to Google, you’ll see that almost every searchable reference to the “Black Kings” gives us… Venkatesh’s book. Eventually I found this link. “Who run Chicago?” Indeed. Note that the “five point star” also makes its appearance. Reproducible results, boys and girls! Social “science” at its finest.
But clearly, our beloved official press, the people we call responsible journalists, have much more interesting things to write about than the racist militias which haveconquered and devastated much of Chicago. (Not to mention pretty much all ofDetroit.)
But I haven’t answered the question. Why this affection? Why are progressives so deeply fond of their friends, the Dalits?
Venkatesh is a little more circumspect than Ehrenreich. But still, when he describes his meeting with J.T., you sense a kind of… vibe. It’s not sexual. But it almost is. J.T. exudes a wave of power, of leadership and stability and pure masculine strength, and Venkatesh is definitely feeling it. It’s actually quite reminiscent of the way Albert Speer, in his memoir, talks about his patron.
As Speer put it: “One seldom recognizes the devil when he has his hand on your shoulder.” In the Brahmin-Dalit alliance, it’s not quite clear whose hand is on whose shoulder. But the Adversary is definitely in the building. If the Robert Taylor Homes aren’t hell, what is?
Imagine if, say, Jonah Goldberg, had this kind of relationship with the Aryan Brotherhood. The great lie of the American political system today is that it’s symmetrical. There is no symmetry between progressives and conservatives. They have roughly the same relationship that Koko the gorilla had with her pet cats.
What the Dalit alliance gives progressives is more than just a vote bank. (This term is one of the few good products of Indian politics since the Raj. It should be much more widely known.) What the Dalits are is muscle, a militia, a mob. And if you don’t think that a paramilitary gang is an asset for a political party, your friends in the universities have not educated you well. Historically, democracies in which parties have no muscle at all are very much the exception. I’m sure J.T. and his muscleboys would get along perfectly with Milo and Clodius, for example.
Did I mention the universities? Oh, no. We aren’t done here. If you can stand to read blue text on black, take a look at this letter. If you can’t bear it, at least scroll to the end. “Up against the wall, motherfscker. This is a stickup.”
Why do you think the universities are full of progressives? If you are a progressive, it is because universities are truth machines and progressives speak the truth. Indeed, they “speak truth to power.” Or is it the other way around? Sometimes I wonder.
Mark Rudd stayed expelled, and perhaps to his credit he put his Semtex where his mouth was and became a terrorist. He did no time for any of his crimes. Like so many of his Cultural Revolution co-conspirators, he is now an elder statesman of the progressive movement, much sought after for interviews. Grayson Kirk managed to last another six months at Columbia before he was forced out, which may be the longest that any university held out against the revolution. The old-line Establishment was doomed everywhere. What was it going to do, call up Bull Connor and ask to borrow some of his police dogs? These days LeRoi Jones goes, of course, by Amiri Baraka, and as for Columbia it now plays home to Venkatesh himself.
We are talking about real power here. In a democracy, the state is guided by public opinion. Who guides public opinion guides the state. Who guides public opinion? Journalists and teachers. And who guides them? Well, Columbia for one. Rocket science it ain’t.
As Tom Hayden put it in the Port Huron Statement:
From where else can power and vision be summoned? We believe that the universities are an overlooked seat of influence.
First, the university is located in a permanent position of social influence. Its educational function makes it indispensable and automatically makes it a crucial institution in the formation of social attitudes. Second, in an unbelievably complicated world, it is the central institution for organizing, evaluating, and transmitting knowledge. Third, the extent to which academic resources presently is used to buttress immoral social practice is revealed first, by the extent to which defense contracts make the universities engineers of the arms race. Too, the use of modern social science as a manipulative tool reveals itself in the “human relations” consultants to the modern corporation, who introduce trivial sops to give laborers feelings of “participation” or “belonging”, while actually deluding them in order to further exploit their labor. And, of course, the use of motivational research is already infamous as a manipulative aspect of American politics. But these social uses of the universities’ resources also demonstrate the unchangeable reliance by men of power on the men and storehouses of knowledge: this makes the university functionally tied to society in new ways, revealing new potentialities, new levers for change. Fourth, the university is the only mainstream institution that is open to participation by individuals of nearly any viewpoint.
These, at least, are facts, no matter how dull the teaching, how paternalistic the rules, how irrelevant the research that goes on. Social relevance, the accessibility to knowledge, and internal openness: these together make the university a potential base and agency in a movement of social change.
If history has any lessons, it’s that when your enemy announces precisely how he is going to fsck you, you should probably listen.
So muscle matters. Or at least it mattered in ’68. The irony, of course, is that the progressives and the gangs never really managed to cooperate effectively. Threatening Grayson Kirk with an all-out race war in Upper Manhattan must have been quite exciting, but coming from the likes of Mark Rudd, it rather reminds one of Owen Glendower. “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.” They were called often indeed, and sometimes they even came. But not reliably, and in the end the sorcerers and their spirits lost interest and drifted apart. As lovers often do. The glory days of Lenny and the Panthers are long gone.
Which is, in a way, one of the funniest things about Venkatesh’s book. The racist militias are still there – they are doing better than ever, perhaps. (In the end the Robert Taylor Homes did get demolished, but there are plenty more like them. And the buildings are not the problem.)
But no one is talking to them! The command circuit is cut. Professor Wilson, Venkatesh’s advisor, is supposed to be an expert on black Dalits. In fact he is terrified that his student is actually going down to the Homes and hanging out with them. He is afraid of the liability. And he probably should be. In fact it’s pretty clear that none of the author’s peers in “sociology” today, who are all I’m sure immensely jealous, could in any way repeat the experiment.
This is why the wonderful world of 2008, with its iPhones and everything, still contains “Black Kings.” It is nothing more than nostalgia. If racist Republican pig cops tried to roll up the Democrats’ underprivileged community organizations, I’m sure they would get nowhere – which may be why they don’t even try. But, in 2008, would it do any serious damage to the progressive movement? I am confident that it wouldn’t. Defending criminals is just a reflex for today’s progressives.
The progressives no longer need muscle. They are in the saddle. There are no more Grayson Kirks, let alone Bull Connors. What they need now is votes, and the biggest vote bank of all is just south of the border. Immigration will keep the progressives in power for the next century. They always have been the American PRI, and they always will be.
And I haven’t even stated my theory yet.
Fortunately, it’s not my theory. It is a very old theory. Perhaps it even predates Mencius himself. It comes from China, so he would recognize it, and it has a catchy name: yi yi zhi yi.
This roughly translates as “using the barbarians to control the barbarians.” Typically the implication is that when you have a problem with some tribe of barbarians, what you need to do is look for a bunch of even nastier barbarians, and sic them on the original barbarians. Ideally, the nastier barbarians are so barbaric that they are not conceivably a threat to you, the sophisticated mandarins of the Middle Kingdom, but still nasty enough to distract your real enemies on the frontiers, who may have learned to read and write or something. When the Romans unleashed the Huns against the Germans, it was a classic case of yi yi zhi yi.
Does this remind anyone of the real meaning of diversity? I’d like to think it’s obvious. But perhaps I should just spell it out.
Basically, the Brahmins have every possible Machiavellian interest in encouraging an invasion of Third World barbarians. The more, the nastier, the better. Their real hereditary enemy is the native barbarian – the half-civilized Vaisya, the ignorant megachurched Okie redneck, the Huckabee voter, the Bircher and McCarthyite, America Firster and Coolidge voter. In the dim, distant past, the spectre of Davis and Lee and Ben Hill looms grimly up.
They will take all the Huns they can get against this breed of barbarian. They are quite aware that if their real enemies ever seize real power, it’s lamppost time. Huns are not available these days, but J.T. is. And if the nationalist, nativist American right ever regrows some little pocket of testicular tissue, he is one more speed bump they’ll have to go through on their way to DC. It never hurts to have a few more well-armed thugs on your team. At least not if you’re a progressive, and you believe in peace and love and hugs and puppies. Yes, we can!
Of course, I’m not saying that the people who believe in peace and love, etc, actually thought up this strategy and have secret meetings where they gloat about how well it’s all working. They don’t need to. However they explain it to themselves, yi yi zhi yi is what they’re doing. And you can’t exactly call it a failure.
Did you watch that Mandela video? The man next to Mandela is Joe Slovo. One of South Africa’s leading progressives active in the liberation struggle. Or, as some might say, Communist terrorists. Do you wonder why this pasty-faced fellow is comfortable in a crowd full of people chanting “kill the whites?”
Actually, the captions on the video are mistranslated. The word in the song is amaBhulu, a Xhosa racial slur which refers not to all whites, but specifically toAfrikaners. Which Slovo (being a cosmopolitan Anglophone) is most definitely not. So the crowd is essentially chanting “kill the rednecks,” ie, Slovo’s hereditary tribal enemies. No wonder he has a smile on his face. Yi yi zhi yi.”
“One of the chief features that makes the Modern Structure pathological, in the present era, is the inescapable alliance of the upper class and the underclass against the middle. Rather than a Brahmin-Vaisya alliance, we have a Brahmin-Dalit alliance. As political structures go, this one is quite sordid and inefficient, but also quite stable.
However, observed in retrospect from a future in which the civilized coalition has reasserted itself, the Brahmin-Dalit alliance makes a distinctly negative impression on the student of history. This impression is easily conveyed to impressionable high-school students – sealing, in a generation or two, the historical fate of democracy. NUSG will certainly have no difficulty in making its predecessor look bad.
In short: all the Reaction must do is convince reasonable, educated men and women of good will to support stable, effective and reliable government. If this cannot be done, we are most certainly all doomed.”
So we can see, the connection between Moldbug and de Jouvenel is not forced, it is clear and direct. Moldbug has taken De Jouvenel’s observation and developed it further and further. It is a genuine objective observation of the ramifications of divided power – You do X and Y will happen. This is approaching theory of governance from an engineering angle as opposed to the platform angle, which is what practically everyone else does. The insinuation from ideology and the like is that governmental formation is matter of devising a platform with a wish list, which everyone is then required to adhere to. You want an anarcho-capitalism enshrining blockchain government? – wish granted! You want a white nationalist government with no immigration? – wish granted! You want a 1950’s style conservative rollback? Wish granted! Just draw up a list of goodies you want, convince a bunch of people to push for it, and then it will all work for the best.
Back in miserable De Jouvenel engineering land, this approach is basically laughable. The engineering of the power centers and the subsequent imperatives it enshrines regarding their behaviour mean that a slow monotonous (or sometimes fast and violent) collapse into communist sex cult world/ kill the kulaks concentration camps/ cannibal holocaust is in your future. No one ever wrote any of that into a political platform did they? So how come those fine constitutions and political platforms ended up there? Wreckers?
De Jouvenel then, is in my opinion, the basis of governmental engineering. It is a solid core of truth around which to begin. If you split power centers, they will engage in high-low battles and other forms covert warfare between themselves.
From this solid core of truth, a great deal of other aspects of governance and politics come into focus, such as what actually constitutes governance structures (both formal and informal,) the fraudulence of revolution, the role of immigration, civil rights, terrorism etc. The ramifications are only just being teased out.
As for the issue of Kings ruling over Brahmins, I don’t really disagree as such, but there is a bigger issue here that has not been addressed adequately, and to explain that I need to bring Alasdair McIntyre into things again.
In a nut shell, McIntyre claims that ethical disputes gave rise to the philosophy of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and then Aquinas/ the Catholic Church and that these philosophers argued in favor of an ‘Ethics of Excellence’ in which ethics are necessarily ordered. This ordering is dependent and only coherent within a context. So to be “good” per se is meaningless mush. Grammatically it makes no sense, because it makes no sense. But to be a “good Christian” does make sense, because it means you achieve excellence at being a Christian, which was determined by the Catholic Church. The simplicity of the error of Enlightenment philosophy in removing context is really that stupid, hence why McIntyre compares the subsequent ethical philosophizing post Enlightenment to the plot line of a ‘A Caticle for Leibowitz” in which a group of monks try to make sense of scientific knowledge which is fragmented and lacking coherence following a nuclear holocaust.
The competitors of Socrates et al were the Sophists who advocated the “ethics of effective co-operation” which in short is a denial of an ordering of goods.
This argument is fairly incendiary, and I will make a point which McIntyre pretty much alludes to – liberalism is just a manifestation of a denial of the ordering of goods, and it is the latest incarnation of the “ethics of effective co-operation” which even in their original Greek articulations sound awfully like democracy, market competition and social Darwinism (note Nietzsche’s Sophist ancestry.) Now how do you maintain a society which refuses the idea of an ordering of the goods? Ask Hobbes, because that was what he was trying to figure out. Did he succeed? Nope. Besides, who needs Hobbes, to paraphrase Moldbug yet again:
“We have popped ourselves right out of the 20th-century Anglophone tradition, and turned the clock back to the 17th – on the royalist side. The conventional intellectual history of the 17th century in England has Locke on the left and Hobbes on the right. Here at UR, we have Filmer on the right and Hobbes on the left. Locke? Dig him up and hang him, like Cromwell.”
Can a society which refuses an ordering of the goods succeed? Wrong question. Can a society which refuses an ordering of the goods even really exist? Along with sovereignty is conserved, I believe we can say “an ordering of the goods is conserved.” This is so because the governing structure must at all times assert an ordering of the goods, even if this is in the name of upholding a rejecting of an ordering of goods. As Mark Christensen put it so well:
“the nature of the state is that sovereignty is conserved. Due to its role as the central sovereign power, the state – or rather, the people who make it up – must develop a common set of normative values in order to operate. Because the state cannot brook opposition to its legitimacy to rule, it must therefore promote and inculcate these values in the population. Liberalism’s distinguishing feature – that it imposes no common good on its citizens – is revealed as a sham. Secularism is not neutrality; it is how the state defends the faith of Social Progress against its more mystical competitors. Note: Social Progress cannot be measured, weighed, or mathematically described. It is a phenomenon unfolding teleologically through human history. It is no less mystical and unempirical than the Hindu Yugas”
So can the king just rule without care of what the ordering of the goods are? No, not at all. That is Hobbesian delusion which some are trying to push with neocameralism. So the claim that:
“Now is not the time for brahmins to devise new post-progressivism cathedrals”
is obviously something I disagree with, because sovereignty is conserved, therefore an ordering of the goods is conserved. A secure power system will have a clear ordering of the goods, and not a diseased mess that a conflicted power system presents, and we should be reasoning how that will play out.