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
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.