Bloody shovel

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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Optimizing for truth

So I wrote about different kinds of reactionaries. I’m quite happy it created a lot of buzz, got thousands of visits, and a lot of links from people I didn’t know about. We all love to talk about ourselves.

Alas I’m not about to categorize our beliefs and let them be happily everafter. I want closure. I’m annoying like that.

So we all know what we hate. Liberalism. The equality cult. But what are we for?

Some people just want heavenly bliss:

If it means a choice between living in a traditional civilization geared toward the spiritual health of its citizens or living in a barbaric society geared toward the physical wellbeing of its inhabitants, I would choose the first, even sans penicillin. As has been said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Some care about their racial brethren:

Whites must return to quality learning, quality thinking, and quality behavior. This won’t guarantee prosperity- that is hard to come by these days for anybody- but it will provide dignity and self-respect, which a jet ski can’t.

And others want to maximize intelligence, people be damned. And they give links to what is coming:

Breakthrough in a theory of intelligence might enable a quasi human AI.  (This is mindblowing shit)

The importance of the Higgs boson. 

Experiment tries to build a perpetual motion machine. 

What do these three positions have in common? Only that they regard the equality cult as working against their goals. The faith addicts believe that the equality cult breaks the authority of God and the religious hierarchy, which breaks the ground for spiritual health.

Ethno-nationalists believe that progressivism undermines tribal solidarity by outlawing discrimination and giving power to individuals who can’t handle themselves. Without the natural laws of tribal organization, hierarchy, a certain amount of xenophobia, patriarchy, etc. society crumbles in disorder.

Singularitarians believe that the equality cult is taking resources from intelligence maximization into caring for unintelligent animals which produce nothing of worth. They believe you need free markets to set up a system in which people are forced to behave rationally and maximize total intelligence, hence techno-capitalists. The sort of society that would result from rationalizing free markets is beyond the point. People suck anyway.

Now I focus on attacking techno-capitalists. Why? Well the traditionalists position is self-refuting. Sorry fellas. If you think that where there is an altar there is civilization, you have a pretty low threshold for civilization. You can keep your sanctimonious highs for yourself, and get stoned with your spiritual health.

Ethno-nationalism sounds good, very good really. But it is not feasible anymore. Nationalism isn’t some natural law of human societies. It is a particular historical phenomenon where modern polities acquired the means to fool their subjects into believing they were part of the same tribe.  David Friedman has this paper on how you can derive the size and nature of a polity by its system of taxation. By depending on income tax, i.e. taxes on labor, states have an incentive to produce a cohesive, monocultural populace that will not want to migrate, i.e. deprive the state of their income taxes. Of course that’s not all the story, but you get the point. Nations were artificially made through massive state propaganda. States today have no incentive for that. They live off financial engineering. Ergo ethno-nationalism is not going to happen. QED.

So the only plausible way out of demotism is techno-capitalism. Now let’s see techno-capitalism from two sides.

One is the moral side. Techno-capitalism is in some sense a sort of religion, in that it postules a purpose for human existence. Nick Land put it square by talking of optimizing for intelligence. Humans are purpose driven animals, and the withering of traditional religion meant people just didn’t know what to do with their lives. What to strive for. Nationalism for a while became a good replacement, an even better replacement than the original, by channelling the most basic human purpose of them all: advancement of the tribe. Of course tribalism is zero-sum, and quite dangerous given the firepower of the industrial age. So after WW2 it was understood that human purpose was to be found in individual utilitarianism. Hedonism. It feels good, but few people can handle it, and if taken to its logical conclusion it destroys you, and society.

We still have no good alternative, but if you listen to what many intelligent people say, there is this common thread that the better people don’t seek pleasure. They seek truth. Why do we write blogs, and read others, spending hours and hours every week? Because we feel good by contributing to what we think is discovering the truth. In an amoral world, truth-seeking is one of the few places where an intelligent man can pursue the moral high ground. Well, truth-seeking taking to its extreme is intelligence maximization.

So the moral foundation of techno-capitalism is solid. It is hard not to feel excited reading those science articles linked above. And even if further technological progress might produce the AI singularity, bringing forth Skynet and Terminators, what is the alternative? Kim Kardashian and Kanye West? Or a “traditional civilization geared toward the spiritual health of its citizens”? Good luck with that. You can have intelligent people feeling good by discovering the truth, or you can have them beating each other in the sanctimony treadmill until they unleash the leftist singularity and go Pol Pot. There’s nothing in between.

In my view argument against techno-capitalism goes against the right half of the term, that is capitalism. The question is, does capitalism, and the concentration of wealth it produces,  enable intelligent maximization? Or it does it inevitably degenerate in an unequal society where cronies become lazy and just use their resources to stay on top and keep everyone else in the bottom? What is hierarchy and does it always work? Are free markets self-sustaining? Leftism has momentum inherent to it, momentum which in the end brings over the leftist singularity. Does libertarianism have momentum though? Or is it self-defeating? My impression is that it is. I will try to elaborate in a later post. The keyword is Korea before 1910.

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Conflict

Nick Land yesterday said I was “conflicted”.

I guess I am. Running into writer’s block perhaps.

When you pursue a line of thought long enough you tend to lose track of where you’re going, and end up reaching conclusions you won’t necessarily agree with if you actually started thinking about it from scratch.

I do generally like to keep things simple, so let’s reboot and try to start again.

Why are we reactionaries? Because modernity sucks. In what way? Well, let’s count the ways:

1. Women are unpleasant, men are unmanly

2. Foreigners everywhere

3. Dysgenics

4. Corruption

5. Aesthetic taste has collapsed

Which can be summed up as a lack of asabiyyah in general. Reactionary thought is based in the idea that modernity is corrosive to asabiyyah  and thus will lead to societal collapse and general misery.

There are two lines of reactionary thought. One is the traditionalist branch, and the futurist branch.

Or perhaps there’s three. There’s the religious/traditionalist branch, the ethnic/nationalist branch, and the capitalist branch.

The religious want to go back to an idealized religious society, where a common faith provides asabiyyah . Go to the Orthosphere and take a look. I wouldn’t say they have any real-world model to push for. But hey when you have faith you don’t need empirical examples, do you?

The nationalist branch wants a mono-ethnic society, believing that a sense of kinship provides asabiyyah. Often cited models are Finland or Japan. A mono-ethnic society in which conflict is pushed outward so the ingroup can be more pleasant and cooperative. The time that Koreans spend hating the Japanese is time they don’t spend hating each other.

There is a certain overlap between the nationalists and the religious. There’s this idea that kinship by itself isn’t strong enough. And there’s this fascination with the Mormon model. Kinship is a very messy concept, and it’s not at all clear that people respond to kinship strongly enough. If it did, there would be no need for religion, right? Nicholas Wade wrote this book on religion being asabiyyah, having evolved as a necessary social glue.

The capitalist branch argue that asabiyyah depends on economic incentives, and smart government policy. The obvious model is Singapore. Moldbug used to be here. Not so sure he still is. Nick Land is certainly here.

The point is that you don’t need an ethereal sense of societal brotherhood if you let the market work properly. Asabiyyah will grow out of aggregate self-interest. You might believe that’s all that’s necessary, and be some anarcho-capitalist twat. Or you might believe that the government must ensure that people respond to economic incentives by working against tribalist psychological biases, which is what Singapore does.

If I had to say where I am, is the nationalist branch. But I used to be more on the capitalist camp. The capitalist argument is quite powerful: ethnic kinship is cool but the necessary corollary of it is National-socialism. Or socialism itself. We used to have more asabiyyah than now, but we also had no economic growth. For all the nostalgia for the Victorian age, who wants to go back there? Who prefers ethnic solidarity and purpose to modern medicine and technology? Reaction is based on a fear of where we are headed, certainly not on a dislike of how life is right now. Yes the proles have become barbarians, but they never were that pleasant anyway. Ethnic solidarity by itself is not necessarily conducing of scientific progress and economic growth. And those I agree are good things.

But the capitalism argument is to allow the market to do its bidding. But what is its bidding right now? In the last decades it has been towards a re-concentration of wealth. Plutocracy is coming back with force. And yeah the plutocrats have made a lot of good stuff. The argument goes that they might do even better stuff if the government wasn’t messing with their ambitions through socialistic regulations. Imagine all the economic growth they might unleash if they were allowed to employ the proles for peanuts! What’s wrong with slave camps if you get cheap cotton, huh?

Besides the hate and contempt I feel for the plutocrats (which you could say it’s just envy), the problem I see with plutocracy is that I don’t like the trends I see. For one I don’t see most plutocrats pushing for a system to maximize economic growth. What I see is them pushing for endless migration of cheap labor for them to use. Even if I didn’t care about the left half of the bell curve having their wages depressed, I do object to Brazilization of the whole world. It seems to me, and many of us, that the plutocrats aren’t fighting to expand human wealth. They are fighting to become an endogamic caste lording over the mongrel masses. They want to become the equivalent of the Mexican ruling class. They want to have their status guaranteed for generations. I don’t blame them, humans are status driven. The corollary of female hypergamy is that all men want to be the top dog. And even is there is no end to status competition, a caste system is the best solution. The only way to guarantee your status in the top is that everyone else is  biologically upwardly immobile.

And if that doesn’t work, what we are seeing is a hard push for the AI singularity. If you can’t have cheap labor to lord over, they’ll have no labor at all. Robin Hanson’s “ems” theory is positively apocalyptic. I don’t know how feasible it is, but we do have increasing automation these days. Of course the irony here is that we are automating productive processes with the end purpose of selling the products to someone. But if economic logic says that most people aren’t employable and so should have no income, then who are we selling all this stuff to? Why produce it at all?

People acquire stuff because, 1: they produce something in exchange, or 2: they can take it by force. Taking it by force might be old fashioned banditry, or sophisticated politics, where a branch of the ruling class funnels stuff to you with the hidden assumption that if you’re not given stuff you might become a violent mob. Of course the military significance of popular mobs today is close to nil. But most people haven’t noticed that yet. Our political arrangements are based on the military balance of the early 19th century. If you don’t give us democracy we’ll rebel à la 1848. But of course no popular uprising could succeed today if the state was willing to fight back. The military today does depend on the loyalty of the soldiery, which also feeds upon a sense of ethnic solidarity. But for how long?

At the end of the day, political systems don’t depend on productive capability per se, or in ideology. They depend on military technology. A lot of assumptions about the future are based in the idea that people won’t go to war anymore so it’s all about economic interaction. But it’s not, in the end it’s still about how has the bigger guns. Can a plutocratic Brazilianized US hold to their military superiority? Or will tight-knit Finland’s superior asabiyyah allow it to develop a superior automated army that allows them to resist USG interference? Or will capitalism reach the singularity, develop Skynet, be destroyed by it, and leave the world to the Mormons, Amish and Haredim who kept on breeding while everyone else enjoyed the Matrix being amused to their death?

In the end that’s all that matters.

Unseemly

I think people are not getting the point of my last post.

Everyone is putting forward their ideas for the “moron problem” as Jim Donald puts it.
Honestly I don’t think that’s rocket science. We know what to do. We do what we have been doing for centuries. Ask Gregory Clark for details.

But that’s not the thing. Nobody gives a shit about the long term sustainability of society. What people care about is feeling good about themselves.
Now imagine there’s a choice between:

1-Being part of a tribe/thede/country in which the low-skilled are put to work in coal mines and worked to death without leaving descendants.
2-Being part of a tribe/thede/country which is so fucking awesome that poverty doesn’t exist because we take care of everyone!

Well obviously 2 is a superior choice. And that’s because people don’t want to see poor people around. They don’t want to be reminded of the existence of poverty. Lest their become poor themselves.
What’s the point of being rich if there are poor people around in the same country? What’s this, India? Not even Indians like India.

And that’s why everyone likes the minimum wage.