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The rightist singularity

Statistics is what you use when you don’t know what’s really going on, so you’re reduced to see patterns in data. It is useful, but it’s not an ideal situation. Ideally you want to know exactly what mechanism is producing that data.

But of course data is in many cases infinitely divisible, and you can always go more micro in searching for causes. You want to know why society is changing so you do sociology, then you want to know the mental processes of the individuals so you do psychology, then you want to know what the neurons are doing so you do neuroscience, then you want to know what the neurons are all about so you do biochemistry, then you want to know how electrons move so you do physics, then you go into quantum physics, and then you realize that you still don’t understand why engineer schools have so few women. Must be evil spirits.

To avoid the reduction treadmill humans use labels, or what we call names. Most names are quite accurate, some cause more problems than what they tried to fix. Say the political labels, ‘left’ and ‘right’. We all know that they were just a convenient shorthand for the physical location of the different factions on the France National Assembly in 1789. The naming was very arbitrary, and nobody before the time had thought of studying politics through such a simplistic framework, yet it has become one of the most productive frameworks in the history of mankind. As it happens, in almost all human polities, before and after 1789, the struggle for power usually produces two big competing factions. The reason is that power is occupied by one faction, and contesters of that power naturally tend to group together to have a better shot of grabbing power for themselves.

And that is exactly what the Left and Right sides of the French Assemblée were, those in power, or at least supportive of the status quo, and those who were out of power and wanted power for themselves. It follows that the Right is for keeping things stable, and the Left is for stirring things up. That’s why the actual contents of the policies advocated by self styled leftists and rightists change in different times and places, Left and Right isn’t about what you stand for, they are merely references of position in the political spectrum.

But of course, as all things language, meanings are never that clear cut. While the common Left and Right today can be identified as those supporting the status quo vs those wanting to change things, the Far Right and Far Left aren’t those who really want to keep the status quo and those who really want to change things. Arguably the Far Right wants more change than the Far Left does. Far Left and Far Right aren’t positional labels, they stand for real political positions, i.e. the are the accelerationist version of their moderate namesakes. The Far Left wants more of whatever the contemporary Left wants, and the Far Right is the logical conclusion of whatever the Right stands for at the moment. It doesn’t really work like that today, what we call the Far Left and Far Right are fossilized labels of the actual extreme rightists and extreme leftists of the 1930s. In the 1930s the status quo was that of a strongly nationalist nation-states, and the left wanted more socialism and less nationalism. Back then the Far Right was just an extreme Right, they wanted to go all the way towards nationalism, i.e. fascism, and the Far Left were just extreme leftist, i.e. internationalist communists. Today the Right isn’t nationalist any more, but today fascists are still called Far Right. That’s the way propaganda and journalism mess with language.

This idea that the Right is for the status quo, and the Left is for change, has very important ramifications, one of which was Jim Donald’s theory of the Leftist singularity. If the Left is for change, and you have a political system in which change is not only not fought against, but actively facilitated, then people looking to grab power will always try to subvert the existing society with whatever positions they can think of, begetting an accelerating mess of chaos and insanity that can only end in a bloodbath and societal collapse. As Jim puts it:

The French Red Terror, the Soviet Great Terror, the Cambodian autogenocide, and many others were all examples of what I call left political singularities.

Left wing repression tends to make things lefter, which tends to worsen left wing repression, which makes things even lefter, which …   The process only stops when the latest despot starts to realize he is not left enough, he is being outflanked on the left, is going to be overthrown by those even lefter than himself, and promptly executes everyone important who is even lefter than he is.

As it turns out, the optimal engine for leftism is egalitarianism. The physical properties of DNA itself mean that individuals from the same species can never be equal, so egalitarianism is necessarily unattainable. But millions of years of hunting in small bands mean half of the human brain is optimized for envy and hating those who attempt to be better than you. Actually is even worse than that, envy is hard wired deep in the brain since we were monkeys.

So egalitarianism is both appealing and impossible. There is always space further on the left. The perfect match for a subversive ideology.

As such, over time leftism came to be associated with egalitarianism, and rightly so. But that doesn’t mean that egalitarianism is the only way to subvert a political system. The leftist singularity is based on claiming higher status by being more egalitarian than anyone else. So you get a status arms race in which everyone tries to be more egalitarian than the others. That works because people (and monkeys) take equality to be a good thing. But it’s not the only good thing, and the singularity mechanism also works with other methods of assigning status.

Jim recently wrote that in an ideal reactionary polity, the official religion would make envy a capital sin. Ironically, this is how things work presently in China. The recent economic boom under the crony capitalist system has made China an outrageously unequal society, in which Ferrari’s sharing roads with rusted bicycles is a daily occurrence. Obviously the common people are extremely envious, green with envy, or maybe red, their social networks are full on all kind of hate of those rich, which are universally regarded as the root of all evil. If you go to China and want to make friends with the common folk, just complain about nouveau riche and corrupt officials. It’s easily 80% of all people talk about.

But of course the Chinese government, as the target of all this resentment, tries to deflect it with all their (quite substantial) means, so officially it is taught that envy is not a good thing. People are exhorted not to fall into 仇富 (hostility to wealth), and have a positive attitude towards money and entrepreneurship, that with effort and conscientiousness anyone can become gloriously rich. Of course the people aren’t stupid, so the government does pay lip service to their concerns, and occasionally crack down on the most egregious examples of cronyism, but going the way to show your commitment to human equality in China is not a good way to gain power and status. You might get followers on Weibo, but go too far and you’ll get sent to reeducation camp, and have your dang’an soiled for life.

So how do you get status in China then? Well the idea of course is that you should join the Communist Party, but there’s 80 million people there already, and once there it’s just a bureaucratic mess of clans and factions, where success depends in decades of very fine politicking. The Party is effectively isolated from society, and the internal status system has no effect on the wider society. So what are the masses to do? People crave status the same way the crave food and sex, it is a basic human need. A human right if there was ever one. If people don’t have access to the political system, and they can’t really make much money, how are they to cope with their need for status? The Chinese government, in their heavenly wisdom, knows that the people need a release mechanism, some means of attaining status so they can impress their neighbors and feel good with themselves. As I said above, most of the world uses egalitarianism. Actually China used to play that game too, but it produced the Cultural Revolution. Something else will have to do.

The Chinese not being known for their innovativeness, have settled for a European import. Nationalism. Ever since the Leftist Singularity showed it’s fangs yet again in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Communist Party leadership decided that enough was enough, and cracked down on envy-based religion. Communist ideology was de-emphasized, and the (very substantial) propaganda apparatus was redesigned to focus on making the people proud of the glorious Chinese nation. Chinese nation which had been bullied since 1840 by evil foreigners, and especially by Japan. Yes, Evil Japan. Half the history curriculum in schools was made on the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945), the “8-year resistance” against the evil neighbor. For 20 years the people have been instructed to work hard to attain the glorious Renaissance of the Chinese Nation (there’s a government department in charge of calculating how far China is from achieving the objective, currently at 62%), and 60% of soap operas on TV (which make 70% of all TV shows on air) are about brave Chinese soldiers fighting evil Japan during WW2. Of course after 20 years, the poor show producers have run out of plausible stories to write, and have increasingly being making hilariously over the top anti-Japanese shows. Here’s a clip on a show where a hot female Chinese Communist beats the evil Japanese with her mad archery skillz:

The official backing of nationalism and anti-Japanese-ism gives ambitious people a good way to earn status. Just hate Japan! Or the Philippines, or Vietnam, or India, or whatever country ever that has any conflict with China. But hating Japan gives you extra points, as seen in the periodical anti-Japanese riots that happen in Chinese cities whenever China runs out of diplomatic cards. Not that the people really give a shit about Japan, but they have sensed that being anti-Japanese gives you status points, so status-conscious people smell the cues and act accordingly. That’s why you have people going ballistic over the Senkaku islets dispute. See this illuminating exchange at a Chinese forum:

网易福建省福州市手机网友:

A bunch of stupid pigs, what do the Diaoyu Islands have to do with you? Aren’t Hong Kong and Macau China’s now? But what does it have to do with you? Every year Macau gives money, and you? If the Diaoyu Islands were to return, would you and your entire family move there? Keep dreaming! Why not go curse the Russians? The Kuril Islands are so large, Taiwan is just 1/3 of their size, were they not China’s before? A bunch of fools. What more, Japan may even be the descendents of Chinese people, the language is almost the same. Whoever it is given to is the same. Of course, if everyone can split it, then go ahead. Stupid cunts, going crazy over what politicians do.

aptx2161608 [网易中国手机网友]: (responding to above)

If you don’t know history, then don’t talk, you garbage. You’re just begging people to laugh at you.

网易山西省手机网友: (responding to above)

Fuck you Fuzhou City netizen [网易福建省福州市手机网友]. I’ll keep it short, you’re just fucking human scum. Your family’s women better be careful of being raped, and the men better be careful of being run over, motherfucker.

ig0226 [网易广东省深圳市网友]: (responding to above)

Although I hate the current government, and hate it to my bones, but for the territorial integrity of a nation, I must say that the Diaoyu Islands belong to us.

All the media in China are controlled by the Communist Party Propaganda Department, which gives and takes licenses for newspapers and website operators. And while every week they send top-down cues to all media companies in the country about what news are to be talked about and what to avoid, their leash is not as tight as it once was. For one, it’s not like they’re sovereign, the Propaganda Department also has to report to the Politburo and other higher committees. And once Pandora’s box has been opened, it’s hard to close it again. After all there are 80 million party members with an official right to seek power, and a huge, oversized academic establishment that also seeks upward mobility by seeking fame and status points.

So how do you get status points today in China? Easiest way is to screw with Japan. And soon enough, people are coming up with ways to screw with Japan. Since last month, China is buzzing with talk about how Okinawa doesn’t really belong to Japan. We’re not talking about some rocks in the middle of the sea, we’re talking about a whole province of millions which has been controlled by Japan for 400 years. Okinawa was a small island in the middle of nowhere, which emerged out of barbarism around the 14th century, and started trading with China and Japan. China wouldn’t let you trade if you didn’t kowtow in front of the emperor and send him tokens of your infinite inferiority (“tribute”), and so they did. Japan back then was in the heyday of Samurai culture, and once they found there was some small island in the south seas that was making good money trading with China, they sent an expedition, invaded and took over the place. Of course they didn’t want to disturb the lucrative Chinese trade, but as Japan and China didn’t have the best of relationships (has to do with centuries of piracy and a full scale invasion that kinda helped kill the Ming dynasty), the Samurai overlords kept a low profile and went on sending tribute and kowtowing messengers.

It doesn’t make any sense to argue that Okinawa isn’t Japanese territory because they used to send shipments of Bananas once a decade into Beijing, and any sane person in China is more than aware of it. But it’s not about sanity or historical truth, this is about politics, and as long as Japan is a convenient enemy to rally the populace with, anti-Japanese rhetoric will be profitable in China. And of course like all profitable things, everyone wants to get into it and get a part of the pie. 20 years ago people started talking about the Nanjing massacre in 1937. At first it was 30,000 dead, then it was 50k, then 100k, then some academic said he had proof for 200k, and recently the number has been hiked to 300k. One wonders if any of the city inhabitants was able to escape. Not that it really matters, the evil of killing 100,000 civilians and killing 200,000 civilians doesn’t register as different in most people’s brains. But of course the more dead you can make up, the worse Japan looks, and as making Japan look bad is a good thing, the incentive is to come up with ever more outlandish claims about Chinese victimization.  Ditto of the surprisingly round numbers for Korean comfort women.

Jim wrote that the essential difference between the Left and the Right meant that while the Left was prone to always spiral out of control into a murderous leftist singularity, the Right only cares about order and stability, so a Right singularity is impossible. That makes some sense, but it is simplistic, because it doesn’t take into account that the mechanism of the leftist singularity is by no means exclusive to the Left. Egalitarianism, being based in the universal envy instinct, can easily spiral out of control into a murderous Reign of Terror, but nationalism, which is based in the also universal human trait of tribalism, can also easily spiral out of control into irredentist warmongering. What was Nazism if not a Right Singularity, where? Saner voices were shut down and ignored, while supporting ever insaner schemes for the eternal glory of the Aryan Nation, no matter how stupid, would always get you higher status. That was Hitler’s genius, he unleashed the Right singularity in his own persona.

Right now China has a strong enough government to control the nationalism singularity from spiraling out of control, and even if some random academic or army general comes out every month saying that China should just go to war and teach those barbaric neighbors a lesson (or just pushing for nuclear war against the US), the government is usually able to have sanity prevail and control the limits of public discourse. Of course the same could be said of USG, that as much as leftism is the supreme religious principle of the country, and ever more outlandish leftist schemes are the easiest way of upward status mobility for most people, USG has been able to stop leftism from spiraling out of control, leading to outright communism and other steps of the leftist singularity. But that doesn’t mean that slowly, step by step, leftism aka envy keeps pushing the West leftward, and perhaps in some point in the future, the powers that be lose control of the situation and the singularity unleashes its destructive force. In the same way, rightistm aka tribalism, even if contained by China as of now, may in some point in the future overwhelm the government’s control, and unleash an irredentist total war, aka the rightist singularity.

I do think that the leftist singularity today is more powerful, because at the end of the day, envy is stronger than tribalism, for obvious evolutionary reasons. But not by much.

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60 responses to “The rightist singularity

  1. Candide III May 25, 2013 at 08:14

    Call it the status singularity.

  2. Simon May 25, 2013 at 15:35

    Jesus commands me to troll your blogs.

    Simon.

  3. Greying Wanderer May 25, 2013 at 15:56

    “This idea that the Right is for the status quo, and the Left is for change, has very important ramifications, one of which was Jim Donald’s theory of the Leftist singularity.”

    I don’t think that’s correct any more. When capitalism was restricted to the nation-state conservatives and capitalists were on the same side but with globalism they’ve started to split apart as globalist capitalism wants to destroy the status quo – especially nation-states – also. So imo now there are three underlying camps that haven’t fully shaken out yet:
    – globalist left
    – conservative left & right
    – globalist right

    In this model fascists would be far-conservative and libertarians the far-right.

    You see this explicitly taking shape in the UK at the moment with UKIP breaking away from the globalist right Conservative Party but at the same time gaining support from lots of conservative left voters.

    .
    “As it turns out, the optimal engine for leftism is egalitarianism. The physical properties of DNA itself mean that individuals from the same species can never be equal, so egalitarianism is necessarily unattainable.”

    I think this is only really true of blank-slate egalitarianism. Earlier forms of socialism explicitly stated “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    There is a general truth in the idea of a Leftist Singularity. In a power struggle based purely on idealogy there will be an obvious tendency for the competitors to gradually drift leftwards as they try and trump each other but most of the insanity of the modern west is not based solely on egalitarianism. It’s based on hitching egalitarianism to the fundamental wrongness of the blank slate.

    There may be things wrongs with egalitarianism in itself but the blank slate magnifies it a hundred fold.

  4. Baduin May 25, 2013 at 16:13

    Your post is clearly connected with Jim’s post about the Next Official Belief System:
    http://blog.jim.com/culture/the-next-official-belief-system.html

    I will comment on both post here.

    His ideas are useful as far as they go, but they are insufficient.

    (I do not speak about their rightness,only about their usefulness, since it is useless to speak about what is right on Internet – readers mostly have different assumptions and for that reason will not even understand what I mean, far less be persuaded. Anyway, I consider him to be partially right, but to ignore many important factors).

    As to the usefulness of his ideas for ensuring the obedience and loyalty of the subjects in the state, they have one glaring lack.

    As you correctly remarked, the natural tendency of men is to envy all those who are better off than them, unless those better off help them in some way. In addition, people can only trust people whom they know. Both those factors limit the size of society to the (actual, not metaphorical) tribe, ie about 200-300 men.

    Of course, in history we met with many societies which are much larger than that. This is impossible from the materialistic point of view, and therefore must have been, and was, caused by the supernatural causes.

    The above mentioned theory was developed by Voegelin. HIs writings tend to be esoteric and abstruse. Fortunately, there is a very accessible introduction to his theory, as applied to the history of China, in lectures by Edward Kaplan.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080424100215/http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~kaplan/
    Start with History 370: Chinese Political History, chapter 2.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20081204102343/http://www.wwu.edu/~kaplan/H370/ap02.pdf

    To condense his lecture: The paradox of Sovereignty is: Why the many ruled (who are poor, low, status, and unhappy) obey the few rulers (who are rich, high status, and happy), instead of killing and eating them. The answer is: because the Heaven has given the rulers the power to rule.

    The State worked this way throughout history, until the year 1000 AD, when the Western revolution began – the Secularization of the State. It finally matured in 1789. In the Western secular system, the State is no longer the representative of Heaven on Earth. The Paradox of Sovereignty was solved in a different way: the State promised to build Heaven on Earth, called Utopia. Voegelin named this system the Immanentization of Eschaton. The system is also called Progress, because Utopia is always in the Future. If the Future becomes to near to the Present, the Singularity appears.

    The Left appeals to envy – of course, but only to defeat it. The promises to gratify envy would be fulfilled only if the State was destroyed, and all lived in the tribal system. This is promised – for the Future. For now, everyone has to obey the Elite, and those who do not obey the Elite, are the enemy of the People, because they want to take away the Future Equality from the People.

    Now, the belief system proposed by Jim contains neither Heaven, nor Future. It will not work, because there is not reason for anybody to believe it. The promised utopian Future does not have to be Equality, it can be Freedom, or Riches. Of course, promising all good things together works best.

    It is strictly inferior eg to Libertarianism, which does promise the Future Freedom and Equality (of opportunities), in fact nearly indistinguishable from the socialist vision of Communism.

    On the other hand, China likes to use systems which have been tested in practice. They replaced the Communist Future by the Nazi Future. That system worked in the past, and will work now.

    Current elites have no intention of causing revolution. The Left rules, and for that reason it cannot be revolutionary and cannot desire change. They know very well that Singularity would be disastrous – for them.

    At the same time, their rule is based on the promised Future Change. They must, therefore, attempt to attain the Future Happiness, but fail to do so. However, if they fail, it would appear that they are weak and must be replaced. Therefore, they must fail because of the machinations of the Enemy. The Enemy is strong, and restrains them from attaining Utopia. Moreover, it must grow stronger, since the forces of progress also grow stronger as they near the utopia.

    “The class combat grows more fierce with the progress of Socialism” said Joseph Stalin. This explains why the Utopia has not yet arrived, and at the same time allows to increase the discipline both amongst the people and the elites – so that no-one will be able to prove more Utopian and take over the Mandate of Future (cf. Mandate of Heaven in China). Gradually, the belief in the Future (or this particular Future) decreases and the system deflates into corruption.

    • Baduin May 25, 2013 at 18:18

      This system has been used by previous Lefts. “The class combat grows more fierce with the progress of Socialism” said Joseph Stalin. This explains why the Utopia has not yet arrived, and at the same time allows to increase the discipline both amongst the people and the elites – so that no-one will be able to prove more Utopian and take over the Mandate of Future (cf. Mandate of Heaven in China).

      This system, however, historically didn’t stop the Singularity. In fact, the increase of persecution was simply the continuation of earlier increase in radicalism, and a second phase of failed Singularity.

      At last, the persecution is universal – As Stalin’s subordinates explaines, to persecutes only guilty allows the innocent to be unafraid, and therefore not fully obedient. However, the maximum of tension and oppression cannot last. The functionaries who are responsible for persecuting others conspire together to avoid persecution themselves. (Cf. the fall of Qin and Robespierre). Gradually, the belief in the Future (or this particular Future) decreases and the system deflates into corruption. Previously, the new elite often restored the monarchy, in order to provide themselves the Mandate of Heaven.

      The National Socialist system of Roosevelt or Hitler is much more stable than the classical Left system, because the official and inofficial versions of reality (NB Both are part of the State propaganda) are much nearer. The state demanded national solidarity, and promised national dominance: Master Race, Manifest Destiny. The Fear was directed outside, towards an Enemy who was quite real and quite active. For that reason, the necessary persecution was much lesser. Similarly, propaganda was much simpler: the Enemy was actually out there, and actually fighting against National Dominance.

      For that reason, China will use the Nazi system, although very cautiously. For example, notice that the conflicts which they have started are with safe enemies, about meaningless isles, or mountains in Himalayas. The conflict is not dangerous for either side: in fact, it helps both governments. The true enemy of China is of course USA. If Japan is pushed far enough, it will go nuclear: it will be beneficial for China, since China has no intention of invading Japan, and nuclear Japan will help push USA out of West Pacific. Abe in Japan is clearly thinking the same way.

      http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-tiger-and-fox.html
      http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2013/05/chinas-border-rows-mirror-grim-history.html

      However, the situation in USA is different. At present, it cannot use the Nationalist system, and the Classical Left Singularity is impossible.

      USA is different from all other countries in which revolutions happened. In England, in France and in Russia the Left was in opposition to government which was more or less traditional. USA from the beginning was governed by a Progressive coalition of businessmen and priests/ideologues. (Darren Staloff-The Making of an American Thinking Class : Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts). This coalition was able to defuse any attempt at revolution by getting in front of it and leading it in a direction complementary with its interests.

      After the National-Socialist phase of Roosevelt, about 1968 there appeared a new idea: a liberation not of the workers, but of women, sexual minorities, racial minorities etc. It entailed some costs: the Jews were a necessary partner and had to get their pound of flesh, both in banking and in universities and mass-media. This idea proved to be immensely useful to the leading intellectual/business coalition, however, and is promoted nearly unanimously. It allows to increase inequality while fighting inequality, and moreover fragment and demoralize lower classes while attempting to reach the “Egalitarian Future”. The imagined end state of that system is something like Chicago: the society is divided into conflicted racial groups. Members of each group must support the leadership of their group which defends them from other groups. The leaderships of all groups conspire together in order to gain and retain wealth and power – more or less of them according to the power of each group.

      Promoting such groups as women, blacks etc is especially useful, since those groups are unable to function in society without help, and therefore can be relied on to support their helpers, while being unable to revolt against them. This is the traditional “Alliance of High and Low against the Middle”. This system represses the actual revolutionary class: the white lower class men – under the guise of promoting revolution. For that reason, any classical revolution is impossible.

      The construction of the system is ingenious. However, it does exactly what much more primitive system of persecution did: it supplements Hope with Fear. In the persecution system, the Fear was of the hidden Enemy, and also of the organs which were hunting that enemy. This worked similarly to the psychology of Witch Hunts:
      https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/witch-hunts-east-and-west/

      In the diversity system, the Fear is officially of the anti-diversity Nazis, and unofficially of being thought a Nazi and persecuted accordingly.The system works as long as Fear supports Hope. But what happens when the Hope disappears? And finally, it must disappear. The coming of Future cannot to delayed indefinitely, if the Hope for that Future is to survive.

      The best way to solve this problem is to provide a New Hope. Libertarianism offers such a hope, and is in all ways in agreement with the interests of the ruling class. It has two problems:

      Firstly, the dismantling of the State entails some limitation in the handouts for the Lower Classes (racial enemies). They can be provided by Free Enterprise, but undoubtly in much lesser amount. For that reason, the libertarian system can be introduced only in deep economic crisis, when the current system fails disastrously. Fortunately, we are clearly nearing that moment. According to the doctrine of Beneficial Crisis, explained by Soros and others (Do not let a crisis go to waste!) this is the moment to introduce far-reaching reforms, combining growing Fear with shining Hope for the success of the new initiative.

      Secondly, in my opinion libertarianism will be an economic disaster. But this is also not a problem, since it will be necessarily introduced by the Right. However, there will be necessary a next system, after the libertarianism fails.

      One possibility is Fear without Hope. This is the classical system, in which the ruler is the Katechon, restrainer of the Apocalypse, and the hope is transcendent, for the Heaven. However, I do not think that this can function in a secular system, even with the modern development of technology of oppression.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katechon

      The second is some variant of the Nazi system. When the situation grows bad enough, even a return to normality can be hoped for. One can sell Jim’s system, in other words Dark Enlightement, as a Hope to white men, and some white women. The Fear and the Enemy are self-evident. The problem, of course, that the target population by that time will be only a part of society. The second problem is that it is in diametrical opposition to the previous propaganda. Accordingly, it could be introduced only after a long period of preparation and in a desperate situation. After achieving internal control of the State, this can be widened as a Manifest Destiny for National Greatness: bringing the Darkness to the world oppressed by the Light.

  5. Baker May 25, 2013 at 17:29

    Try to see left vs right as envy vs greed.

    Envy is to improve relative goodness of the weak vs strong. Greed has two meanings: to improve the relative goodness of the strong vs weak, and to improve goodness relative to oneself. Both envy and greed are manifestation of trying to increase one’s evolutionary fitness.

    The human brain primarily measures goodness in relative terms. Generally speaking, below a survival threshold, the desire of improving goodness relative to oneself dominates; above the survival threshold, the desire of improving relative to others dominates; once one is above most people, the desire of improving relative to oneself once again dominates, since marginal profit of getting better than others diminishes.

    A society struggling for survival must go somewhat rightist to avoid dying. When above survival threshold, to maximize oneself’s goodness, people below average naturally lean to the left/envy, people above average naturally lean to the right/greed. To mitigate the conflict and maintain the functioning of the society, and to fight for dominance, mind programmings are used. Program 1: one group’s value is mind-projected onto the opposing group. Leftism programs people to feel for the misery of the weak, hence slave morality and egalitarianism. Rightism programs people to feel for the achievement of the strong, hence master morality and nationalism. Religions can help by projecting compensatory other-worldly goodness onto both groups; the compensatory goodness are usually a reflection of some ideological good (eg. a blissful afterlife == a good future society). Program 2: one group’s value to diverted to an external target to reduce its internal contention. eg. Rightists in a weak country divert people’s envy / sense of inferiority towards other strong countries. Leftists in a strong country divert people’s greed / sense of superiority towards other weak countries. Program 3: use the opposing group’s value to advance one’s own value. eg. The communists used people’s desire for egalitarianism to build the most unequal societies. The leftists used crony capitalism to bait rightists into building ever more leftist societies.

    • spandrell May 25, 2013 at 17:50

      That would be an elegant classification if there had ever been a Right which was for greed. But there hasn’t. What historically has been called Right was about law and order, i.e. leaving things as they are.
      Tribalism qua nationalism isn’t inherently “Rightist”, in fact originally it was a Leftist subversive meme against the Ancient Regime, but when mass media was invented nationalism was the status quo, i.e. the Right, and political labels have become fossilized since.

      Greed is never part of the program because people just aren’t that greedy. If you have envy vs greed there’s no contest really.
      http://falkenblog.blogspot.jp/2010/03/why-envy-dominates-greed.html

      Envy is to want more, or at least no less than your peers. Greed is rare, and most of the time just a way to keep up with your peers, i.e. a form of envy. Improvement relative to oneself is very, very, very small.

      • Baker May 25, 2013 at 18:07

        You just have a different definition than me. Please re-read my 2nd paragraph for my definition. For me, envy is not to want more, but the resentful feeling when having less than other (and therefore, both having more or making others having less are fine to quench envy). Greed is to want more, and since Right is to ultimately build a society of more, both in relative and absolute terms, it is greed.

        • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 02:29

          The Right is to ultimately build a society of more? Where do you get that from?
          It only seems that way in comparison with the Left, which is about having a society of Less, so whatever the Right does, it would some More in comparison. But I know of no Rightist movement anywhere which is focused on building more, the kind of greed you refer to.

          • Baker May 26, 2013 at 06:08

            If you don’t have the utility argument for the Right, then you have no argument for the Right. What are the Rightists/anti-Left arguments? Economic growth, technological progress, eugenics, prosperous society, the upper-half refusing to share/average with the lower-half, etc. It is all about being more (or refusing to be less, which is the same motive).

            > Left, which is about having a society of Less,

            No people want to have less. The Left is about having no-less than other, and so is envy-driven. Becoming absolutely less is the side effect of pursuing their goal of relatively no-less.

            • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 07:27

              I can link you to dozens of self-styled ‘Rightists’ who are against economic growth, technological progress, eugenics and prosperity, and only want ‘Resilient communities’ where people lead god-fearing lives and eschew consumerism.

              Of course you’ll say they aren’t real rightists, but you there is no definition out there which reduces Rightism to techno-commercialists such as you. No true Scotsman and all that.

              • Baker May 26, 2013 at 08:13

                > only want ‘Resilient communities’ where people lead god-fearing lives and eschew consumerism.

                Those are called traditionalists, a part of the Right. But firstly, those are not the major reasoning in the public political debate of Right vs Left nowadays. Secondly, “resilient” can be understood as sustainability and richness of social relations, and traditional values and religions are usually something that can maintain sustainability or prosperity in the traditional environment (otherwise they won’t be well established in the first place). So I’d say that it is still about being more, even if the traditionalists are not conscious of it or their values no longer work in the modern environment.

                “Spiritual richness / anti-consumerism” are not the exclusive claim of the right traditionalists though, the Left can equally call their notion as spiritually superior.

                > As it happens in most places, the Right just happens to stand for the status quo, which is what the Left stood for 10 years earlier.

                Or you can say that because the Left was consistently winning the battle, the Right would always be publicly arguing for reverting the course in incremental measures, hence be some years earlier. That doesn’t mean that when the Right manage to revert the course, it would be satisfied with just being the 10 years earlier version of the Left.

                The way I see it is that Left and Right as they are used in labeling ideologies today, do represent some fundamental directions in human desires. Namely, Left: to be no-less than others when one is currently being less than others, Right: to be more in cases other than the Left.

              • Baker May 26, 2013 at 08:28

                And I do agree that the power of envy > greed. That’s partly why the Left keep winning. After the Left takes the momentum, this may continue until the society decay to such as extent that comfortable survivability (the survival threshold I mentioned) become a real problem, which forces a reverse of course.

          • Baker May 26, 2013 at 06:26

            It seems you try to define Left vs Right as change (to grab power) vs status quo (to retain power). But it makes no sense in the modern spectrum. Otherwise, the chinese who flavor free-market reform and smaller government should be called the Leftist, since it is them want the change and the transfer of power.

            • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 07:25

              I’m not trying to define anything, I am stating what the etymology of the words are. Language is messy like this.

              As it happens in most places, the Right just happens to stand for the status quo, which is what the Left stood for 10 years earlier. That is accurate because the Left is more vocal in their beliefs, so they tend to decide the terms of discourse, and the Right is defined only in contrast to the left.

              In China the Left is defined as Maoism, which is the leftist singularity itself, and the Right is defined as whoever pisses the Maoists more. Western style liberals are called ‘Right’, as well as fascist 愤青, which have little in common besides both being opposed to Maoists.

              Why do you think we have been months discussing what to call ourselves? Neoreaction, Dark Enlightement and all that. We don’t call ourselves Rightists because the word has little meaning, besides opposition to leftism. And that’s a crowded and heterogeneous space.

      • Baker May 25, 2013 at 18:49

        > What historically has been called Right was about law and order, i.e. leaving things as they are.

        Law and order and leaving things as they are are different things. The later is called [ultra] conservative or traditionalists. I am not talking about the historical Left and Right of French Assemblée, but the generalized properties of Left and Right spectrums as they refer to today. As you said, the Left and Right of French Assemblée happened to respectively flavor the underdog (hence for social “progress”) and those in power (hence for status quo), so they also fit in the modern spectrum of Left and Right.

  6. Handle May 25, 2013 at 18:33

    This is well done Spandrell, and it expertly illustrates the confusion of contemporary left-right terminology. Any social movements that runs on (as opposed to domesticating) the high-octane fuel of hate-based motivation, with its dehumanization of the other, is bound to have its catastrophic failure modes. It’s not surprising that China has diverted hate for the evil rich into hate for the evil foreigner, hoping they can always keep the wild beast just tame enough. Hate for “them” is a great way to create the feeling of “us”. In a stretched way, this is yet another species of egalitarianism – emphasizing the preference for commonality over difference – and seeking to erase the distinction, one way or another.

    But when folks like Jim talk about “Right” in the sense of “stability and order”, my impression is that what they are really getting at is a contentedly insular focus.

    That is “Know your place, be happy in it, mind your own business, keep your hands to yourself, and stop worrying about everybody else, except to ensure to keep them out of your business too.” Idolization of Victorianism or certain North American contexts is, I guess, a kind of rose-colored view that these came close to meeting this ideal.

    It seems like what people want in a “Healthy Right Society”. It’s also the vision “Healthy Left Society” – except there a key difference.

    The Left wants to accomplish this materially through leveling, redistribution, racial and gender quotas, and the entire evolving suite of weapons deployed by the Arsenal of Equality. That is, they want people to stop caring about these things because they don’t have to – there’s nothing to care about – because the bureaucracy is taking care to get rid of the “provocations” by establishing their utopia.

    The right wants to accomplish this psychologically – through use of various social institutions that help to shape the moral minds of the population. “Love, don’t hate.”, “Be happy with your lot in life.”

    Again, early Christianity incorporated elements of both strategies.

    We think the left is the psychological, brainwashing, propagandizing and Orwellian party – but perhaps they just think it’s an interim requirement, only necessary to fend off the barbarians until the walls to the New Jerusalem are finished. It takes such a long time to get the permits and the environmental impact studies complete though. Is that hut a historical building? Oh bother …

    We think the Right is the “dark truth” – “noir realism” party – but it definitely wants people to think, believe, and act in a way which is both highly unnatural and opposed to rational self-interest. Which I think can only be accomplished through something like religion.

    And so, if it is an opposite, mybe that’s what “Darkest Enlightenment” is really about. Ugly-truth hard-rationalism is also a kind of interim solution – on the way to the benevolent mind-control noble-lies that lie at the heart of the objective.

    James Goulding! From hell’s heart I stab at thee! Do I win this round of “Darker than thou?!”

    • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 02:43

      I refuse to accept that political labels refer to honest “visions” of how society should be. Leftist are status seekers who notice societal cues and say whatever they have to gain status, 99% of leftists have no vision of how society will turn out if they do what they say.

      Ditto for rightists too. People are just not good at long term thinking.

      • Handle May 26, 2013 at 14:51

        We’ll have to agree to disagree I suppose.

        You really don’t think progressive types don’t have visions of “utopia” (crude, undeveloped, and unrealistic as they may be)? Or, at the very least, that people think they have something like such a vision? My experience is almost the opposite of this.

        Certainly, the subset of intelligent leftists who write about their leftism (and certainly the anecdotal set I talk to about it) are not “representative”, but they are influential. What’s Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” if not such a “vision”?

        And they all have versions that revolve around Disney-childish kumbaya globalized Scientific-Bureaucratic Social Democracy. After all hate and greed and inequality is eradicated … paradise … New Jerusalem … yadda yadda.

        Do people have to be “good at long term thinking” to be convinced they are participating and going along with a great long-term project? Soldiers don’t even have to be told what the project is to still feel that way. It’s just as built-in as status seeking.

        • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 15:50

          Yeah sure there are visionaries, and sure that a certain amount of people when high do tell you about a kumbaya utopia, but how many people are really conscious of being part of a project? Press people to think of the logical conclusion of their beliefs (assuming they really lead to kumbaya one world government), and how many will really agree with it?

          The idea that both Left and Right in the bottom of their hearts wish for the same kind of brotherly society is right of course. In fact it’s obvious. All people yearn for their hunter-gatherer past. Unconsciously we all want to go back to that equal, brotherly bands where everybody cooperated and loved each other. You coat that with whatever parts of modernity your conscious brain has grown to value, and there you go.

          • Handle May 27, 2013 at 16:24

            I like this observation a lot, and you should explore it in more depth with another post. There are some differences that don’t go away, but maybe those just imply some of Hanson’s Forager-vs-Farmer construct. Everybody wants a social set with primitive and modern elements, but we prefer different mixes? Hmm…

            • spandrell May 27, 2013 at 17:08

              Hanson’s framework is interesting, but I don’t see why farmers should exist and how might they be distributed. If anything Iraqis and Egyptians should be uber-farmers, but I don’t see them less being leftist than anyone else.

          • Scharlach May 31, 2013 at 23:22

            All people yearn for their hunter-gatherer past. Unconsciously we all want to go back to that equal, brotherly bands where everybody cooperated and loved each other.

            . . . and lived in holes in the earth, skirmished with neighboring groups as often they traded with them, and died young and painfully . . . The idea that mankind lived in a state of brotherly utopia in the ancient past is pure fantasy. And it’s a fantasy, as you imply, that both the Left and the Right believe in.

  7. Vladimir May 25, 2013 at 22:10

    Well, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn would have a ready answer for you: nationalism is leftism. It is basically another name for Jacobinism. These paradoxes of right-wing nationalism are just another manifestation of the fundamental problem of modern rightism — namely, that a large part of its content is just yesterday’s leftism that the left has in the meantime abandoned for a more extreme left position.

    So, I’d say this is nothing but just another mode of leftist singularity. Rabble-rousing by mass tribalist propaganda (as well as manufactured tribal identities based on cartoonish bogus history) are often attractive ideological weapons for those fighting the pure leftist politics of envy and holier-than-thou egalitarianism. But ultimately, this just means adopting one part of the leftist platform of lies, status-whoring, and rabble-rousing to fight the other, so it’s unsurprising that it may lead to a positive-feedback singularity failure mode, where the system provides incentives for ever greater insanity.

    Patriotism, of course, is another matter. However, patriotism presupposes a genuine civilized historical community and social order, as well as a class of people with genuine political liberties and a stake in their stability and perpetuation, so that overall it provides sane and sensible incentives. Authentic clan tribalism is also a different matter: it may be very ugly, but it also presupposes a stable historical social order in which the incentives are aligned towards stability, not positive feedback loops.

    • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 02:32

      That presumes there is an alternative to rabble-rousing as the basis for any modern polity.

      • Vladimir May 26, 2013 at 05:33

        Well, yes, that is the problem. As I often say, mass media are a hideous thing. Their amplifying effect on public status-whoring and rabble-rousing is by itself enough to turn the whole society into a powder keg, constantly threatening to explode into a political singularity of one kind or the other. Which of course did happen throughout the world in the past century, with cataclysmic results, the Anglosphere being the only significant part that was spared.

        Ironically, this is where we get to the depressing possibility that Brezhnevism may be our only realistic salvation. Modernity really doesn’t seem to offer any more effective barriers against runaway political singularities than an entrenched bureaucratic class whose incentives and Machiavellian skills will quickly destroy any upstart rabble-rouser (along with anyone else who challenges the system, of course). Maybe the resulting stagnation, dysfunction, and mendacity is in fact the best possible deal, considering that it buys safety against otherwise unavoidable total cataclysm. (And as I think Moldbug once remarked, the Anglos are lucky that they got their Brezhnevism quickly and easily, without an intervening disastrous and bloody lurch towards a political singularity.)

        Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Cathedral Brezhnevism is in fact resilient enough to avoid a plunge towards a left singularity. My money is still on Sir Humphrey, though.

        • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 07:31

          That’s a sadly plausible scenario.
          I guess all we can do is hope that Brezhnev grows slowly incompetent enough to ignore the genomics revolution.

        • Dan May 28, 2013 at 03:51

          I think one reason that a singularity is unlikely at present in the West is that no part of society is hungry. It seems that in every instance of a singularity that has actually occurred, some people really didn’t have enough to eat. Whether the French Revolution, or the revolution in China or in the Soviet Union, or Nazism after hyperinflation, you had some part of society that really had an empty belly.

          The poor aren’t rioting in America and they aren’t about to riot in America (murder rate is apparently down to 100 year lows), because they are busy gobbling one everloving mouthful after another. If blessed Doritos flow unceasingly toward your lips are you really poor in the most essential sense? How can you possibly get mad when all of your pleasure centers are simultaneously lit up by salty, crunchy goodness?

    • Contemplationist May 30, 2013 at 20:43

      +1
      I was going to mention Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Its undoubtedly true that ‘nationalism’ is a left phenomenon, and is now considered idiotically rightist.

  8. thrasymachus33308 May 26, 2013 at 01:45

    Whether nationalism is left or right is a good question. For this sometimes nationalists are described as “third position” although I think right-wing is more appropriate. Stalinism had a certain nationalist component, which is why they like it at Counter-Currents. Nazism was a singularity, but I think it was different from left singularity in that it started out as one, and cooler heads didn’t realize this until too late, while left singularities tend to become that way down the road.

  9. spandrell May 26, 2013 at 08:28

    Secondly, “resilient” can be understood as sustainability and richness of social relations, and traditional values and religions are usually something that can maintain sustainability or prosperity in the traditional environment (otherwise they won’t be well established in the first place). So I’d say that it is still about being more, even if the traditionalists are not conscious of it or their values no longer work in the modern environment.

    Right. I hope the AI you are designing doesn’t play with words as much as you do, else it will find it hard to understand the meaning of anything.
    Resilient communities are building ersatz kibbutz in rural areas, doing permaculture and all that bucolic utopian shit. Sure that might evolve into complex commercial civilization, but that’s not what these people are after. Some might be, but most just want peace of mind and community.

    “Spiritual richness / anti-consumerism” are not the exclusive claim of the right traditionalists though, the Left can equally call their notion as spiritually superior.

    Precisely. But they are considered rightists. And why is that? Because they are opposed to the left. And that’s the working definition of ‘right’.

    Or you can say that because the Left was consistently winning the battle, the Right would always be publicly arguing for reverting the course in incremental measures, hence be some years earlier.

    That’s exactly right.

    That doesn’t mean that when the Right manage to revert the course, it would be satisfied with just being the 10 years earlier version of the Left.

    And that’s exactly wrong. Show me some place where the Right has managed to reverse course.

    The way I see it is that Left and Right as they are used in labeling ideologies today, do represent some fundamental directions in human desires. Namely, Left: to be no-less than others when one is currently being less than others, Right: to be more in cases other than the Left.

    I understand you want to identify yourself with a fundamental, postiive human desire, but that’s not how it works.

    Both the Western Right and the Chinese Right are a loose combination of traditionalists, nationalists and capitalists. Which mostly hate each other and never get along when they get any amount of power. How do they share a fundamental desire for ‘more’? Neither traditionalists nor nationalists, which are the bulk of the rightist populace, have positive feelings about ‘greed’, and capitalists are mostly just people who are more skilled in making money than in sanctimony, and so find capitalism agreeable. Most aren’t that greedy in their personal lives.

    • Baker May 26, 2013 at 08:45

      Rightists don’t feel themselves being greed as much as Leftists don’t feel themselves being envy. Doesn’t stop them being the fundamental and usually unconscious mental drive though.

      Anyway I am not really trying to convince you, more for jotting down my own notes in a provocative conversation.

      > And that’s exactly wrong. Show me some place where the Right has managed to reverse course.

      Firstly, I didn’t claim actually reversion, it said it need not just be 10 years earlier if it does reverse. Secondly, if you want an example: China. It abandoned communism and is now a substantial mix of left and right.

      • spandrell May 26, 2013 at 08:50

        Anyway I am not really trying to convince you, more for jotting down my own notes in a provocative conversation.

        I see you aren’t trying to be convinced either! Hard to agree when you say that fascists or religious fundamentalists are secretly greedy.

        China. It abandoned communism and is now a substantial mix of left and right.

        At the end of the biggest leftist singularity of human history. Singularities always end with a substantial reaction to the Right, see Stalin or Napoleon. Or Hun Sen. But that’s the only real mechanism for rightwards movement. I hope we don’t have to get that far next time.

        In my opinion Deng’s great contribution wasn’t moving China away from the Left after 1976, but doing it again in 1989 after noticing how Tiananman was another incipient leftist singularity. That took some foresight. Then again Deng had some experience on the topic.

        • Baker May 26, 2013 at 09:20

          I am using the words greed/envy as in their psychologically and historical origin. If you object to the usage, then just think in terms of relatively/absolutely more/less instead, as I explained several times.

          >I see you aren’t trying to be convinced either

          I didn’t see any convincing argument on your part. You may object to my usage of the words greed and envy, but at the same time I also defined my argument in terms of more and no-less. You didn’t show that why this is not the case.

          > At the end of the biggest leftist singularity of human history. Singularities always end with a substantial reaction to the Right, see Stalin or Napoleon. Or Hun Sen. But that’s the only real mechanism for rightwards movement. I hope we don’t have to get that far next time.

          I didn’t say otherwise. Re-posting my comment:

          And I do agree that the power of envy > greed. That’s partly why the Left keep winning. After the Left takes the momentum, this may continue until the society decay to such as extent that comfortable survivability (the survival threshold I mentioned) become a real problem, which forces a reverse of course.

        • Baker May 26, 2013 at 10:11

          > Both the Western Right and the Chinese Right are a loose combination of traditionalists, nationalists and capitalists. Which mostly hate each other and never get along when they get any amount of power. How do they share a fundamental desire for ‘more’?

          Ok let me summarize my argument here. I am running out of time so I probably won’t be able respond later, but free feel to provide counter evidences.

          As I proposed:

          Left: to be no-less than others when one is currently being less than others, Right: to be more in cases other than the Left. I am arguing as in their psychological and/or historical origin, the participants need not be consciously thinking in the ways.

          Capitalists, techno-/intellectual/eugenics movements, etc: Obviously they want more.

          Traditionalists: Some are utilitarians, some just blindly following tradition, some want “spiritual experience”. The utilitarian traditionalists are the same as the capitalists group. For the “blindly following” group, as said:

          > Traditional values and religions are usually something that can maintain sustainability or prosperity in the traditional environment (otherwise they won’t be well established in the first place). So I’d say that it is still about being more, even if the traditionalists are not conscious of it or their values no longer work in the modern environment.

          For the “spiritual” group, they are not really defined as Right. There are may leftists who are as spiritually concerned as the right spiritualists, just in different values. The spiritualists will go with whichever group which is conducive to their spiritual needs:

          > “Spiritual richness / anti-consumerism” are not the exclusive claim of the right traditionalists though, the Left can equally call their notions as spiritually superior.

          Nationalists, fascists: They argue for some social order/cohesion in order seek national prosperity, superiority, glory, achievements. Mind programming is wildly used:

          > Program 1: one group’s value is mind-projected onto the opposing group. Rightism programs people to feel for the achievement of the strong or the group, hence master morality and nationalism. Program 2: one group’s value to diverted to an external target to reduce its internal contention. Rightists in a weak country divert people’s envy / sense of inferiority towards other strong countries.

  10. Peter A. Taylor May 27, 2013 at 17:47

    I highly recommend Steven Den Beste’s essay, “Left and Right”.

    “The real problem here is that it’s actually multidimensional. There’s an axis which has “conservative” on it; there’s an axis which has “liberal” on it. But they’re orthogonal to one another.”

    http://denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2003/05/LeftandRight.shtml

    Spandrell: “This idea that the Right is for the status quo, and the Left is for change, has very important ramifications, one of which was Jim Donald’s theory of the Leftist singularity.”

    Suppose we tried to explain to an anthropologist from Mars what the difference was between the Americans and Germans in Western Europe in 1944-1945 by saying that the Americans were the ones advancing and the Germans were the ones retreating. What, then, would this Martian anthropologist write in his report about The Battle of the Bulge? “The former Germans suddenly became the Americans for a few weeks and the former Americans became the Germans. Then the weather changed, and the new Americans went back to being Germans, while the new Germans went back to being Americans.”

    This makes absolutely no sense. The socio-political coordinate system rotates 180 degrees every time the weather changes.

    • spandrell May 28, 2013 at 03:52

      Except it does. The ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ have been moving leftwards since 1789, their positions change every couple of weeks, yet we still use the same labels. There’s a reason for that.

      • Peter A. Taylor May 28, 2013 at 06:10

        I suggest that the reasons we use these labels is because (1) the people who buy ink in barrels find the French Revolutionary Left mythology to be to their advantage (not ours), and (2) the logic of coalition-forming tends to limit the number of important coalitions to two, which creates an illusion of continuity, like the axe that has had both the head and the handle replaced several times. Is it still the same axe? The closest thing I see to a defining characteristic of “the left” is hostility to property rights. Maybe envy-as-sacrament is a better way of looking at it. But mostly I see fashion sheep stampeding in random directions. I don’t see any philosophical coherence to it.

        • spandrell May 28, 2013 at 06:17

          (2) Linguistically speaking it is the same axe. And language is human cognition. The owner of the axe which has had the head and the handle replaced (at different times) thinks of the axe as the same axe. Unless you were to build a new axe using an old blade and handle from that same axe, and give it to the guy. Then he would be confused.

          The contemporary left was for enclosures and secure property rights when that was useful to screw with the aristocracy.
          Envy is not a sacrament, it’s a feature of mammal brains. It doesn’t get any more coherent than that. Envy-based politics will always be popular.

          • Peter A. Taylor May 29, 2013 at 01:19

            @Spandrell:
            “The contemporary left was for enclosures and secure property rights when that was useful to screw with the aristocracy.”
            Examples?

            • spandrell May 29, 2013 at 03:41

              The Whigs don’t count?

              • Peter A. Taylor May 29, 2013 at 06:15

                I don’t know if the Whigs count or not. I’m an aerospace engineer. If it happened before people started making airplanes out of aluminum, I probably don’t know much about it. What I think I know just looks like chaos. The left-right spectrum, in so far as it is an honest attempt to make sense of the world rather than mere propaganda, looks to me like an attempt to fit chaos into Procrustes’ bed. I also think I’m in good company in saying that, with Jerry Pournelle and John McCarthy.

                Moldbug loves Carlyle. Carlyle admired Cromwell. Moldbug hates Cromwell. Chaos.

                I’m a libertarian atheist who supports education vouchers. I went to a Unitarian Universalist church retreat where the camp director’s husband, leading one of the workshops, declaimed that everyone who supports education vouchers is a fundamentalist Christian authoritarian. Chaos and Procrustes.

                The Jacobins were leftists. The French clergy and aristocracy were rightists. Everything else is subject to interpretation. What was Burke? What were the Whigs?

                What did the Whigs do? I don’t know much of the history. My impression is that they were heterogeneous, and it isn’t at all obvious if or how they might be classified on a left-right spectrum. The American “Whig” party were the antecedents of the Republicans. Does that make them right-wing?

  11. Greying Wanderer May 27, 2013 at 18:44

    I think the right should take the idea of Fitness from the genetics of the individual and apply it to the politics of the group.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_(biology)

    “Fitness (often denoted in population genetics models) is a central idea in evolutionary theory…In either case, it describes the ability to both survive and reproduce”

    How well does any policy promote the survival and reproduction of the group.

    • spandrell May 28, 2013 at 03:54

      What makes you think that’s remotely possible?

      • Greying Wanderer May 28, 2013 at 19:43

        Evolution.

        It’s what genuine conservatism already is but unconsciously and it being unconscious is why they are simply fixed on preserving the status quo, the status quo having proved itself empirically to be “fit” at any one point through the simple fact of existing.

        Fitness conservatism would be mostly the same for the same empirical reasons but change in any detail would be a considered option but judged purely on fitness terms. Does the change enhance the fitness – abiltity to survive and reproduce – of the group or not?. Fitness conservatives would have done a much better job of defending their culture and civilization then tradition-conservatives as their defence would have been overtly rational. (The traditional conservative position was rational also but they didn’t know why so they couldn’t argue on any basis other than inertia.)

        Fitness-conservatism also has the internal logic to counter-act whereas all tradition-conservatism can do is defend, retreat, defend.

        Fitness-conservatism is simply conservatism + HBD.

        I think it’s probably too late for the West but maybe not the East (Euro or Asia).

        • Greying Wanderer May 28, 2013 at 19:44

          “the internal logic to counter-act” should have been counter attack.

        • spandrell May 29, 2013 at 08:53

          You’re simply arguing for tribalism. Why would elites go with that? Chinese, Korean, and increasingly Japanese elites don’t give a shit about their people anymore, I don’t see how to change that. You talk about conservatism as if electoral politics mattered at all.

  12. spandrell May 29, 2013 at 09:34

    >>Peter,

    The Jacobins were leftists. The French clergy and aristocracy were rightists. Everything else is subject to interpretation. What was Burke? What were the Whigs?

    That’s the wrong way of looking at things. People have been calling themselves Leftist for 200+ years, so there must be a pattern to it. It doesn’t matter if its propaganda, as a linguist I take words at face value.

    The pattern I see is that Leftists are people who seek status by claiming moral superiority to the people on power, thus forcing the government to move towards their positions. The Right is whoever finds himself in the wrong side of the Leftwards movement.

    • Peter A. Taylor May 30, 2013 at 01:53

      @Spandrell:
      > The Right is whoever finds himself in the wrong side of the Leftwards movement.

      Agreed.

      > People have been calling themselves Leftist for 200+ years, so there must be a pattern to it. It doesn’t matter if its propaganda, as a linguist I take words at face value.

      I interpret “face value” here as meaning that the word “Leftist” means *something*, even if the people using it are being totally dishonest. Fair enough.

      > The pattern I see is that Leftists are people who seek status by claiming moral superiority to the people on power, thus forcing the government to move towards their positions.

      But what happens when leftists *are* the people in power? Are you saying that part of being a leftist is that, once in power, you can never tell the truth about being in power, and have to invent fantastic supervillains that you can pretend are interfering with your every move? Otherwise, I would want to drop “the people in power” in favor of “the majority of the population” so that the definitions don’t flip every time power changes hands.

      Also, I think this definition is too broad. There is sanctimony on the right, too. Shouldn’t it specifically say something about the role of envy?

      For a formal definition, I would also strike out the clause about the government’s response. It may be part of the pattern, but I would still call someone a leftist even if the government responded adversely.

      So maybe a three-part definition: sanctimony, promotion of envy, and an underdog myth?

      • spandrell May 30, 2013 at 04:52

        Are you saying that part of being a leftist is that, once in power, you can never tell the truth about being in power, and have to invent fantastic supervillains that you can pretend are interfering with your every move?

        You’re kidding, right? Because that’s exactly what the Left has been doing for a century now. Cf. The woman of the dragon tattoo.
        It doesn’t matter that the Left gets power if they use that power to move things leftwards. If they do, they are the Left. If they don’t, or do it so slowly that the further-Left out of power is going in paroxysms of rage in public, they are regarded as the Right.

        The definitions are quite stable because the Left and Right, even if their policies are the same, are usually the same people . Say Obama legalizes gay marriage, which the Right today opposes. In 10 years, if say, Romney gets to power, do you think he would repel that? Of course no.t He’ll let things stay where they are. Won’t touch a iota. Then some Democrat comes in again, and pushes for free sex change surgery for primary school children. Romney opposes it. 10 years pass. Romney gets to power. He doesn’t repel anything. That’s what has been happening since Rousseau.

        I don’t think the difference is one of sanctimony, it just happens that the Left uses envy as their guiding principle, and that’s more productive to come up with outlandish moral principles you can get sanctimonious about. Then again the sanctimony of the fascist Chinese kids who compete with each other to see who is more irredentist and passionate in defending the country’s military isn’t that different.

        • Peter A. Taylor May 30, 2013 at 13:52

          >> Are you saying that part of being a leftist is that, once in power, you can never tell the truth about being in power, and have to invent fantastic supervillains that you can pretend are interfering with your every move?

          > You’re kidding, right? Because that’s exactly what the Left has been doing for a century now. Cf. The woman of the dragon tattoo.

          It’s certainly true that they behave this way, but it never occurred to me that it was part of the definition. In retrospect, it is implied by the Tooby and Cosmedes view of leftism (e.g. S. J. Gould) as a fantasy role-playing game.

          http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Debate/CEP_Gould.html

  13. rxpo May 29, 2013 at 21:13

    The idea that nationalism can that easily subdue envy of material economic status is kind of simplistic especially given the level of inequality and how poor most people already are. People still remain chiefly concerned about providing a good life for their family, the whole issue of Okinawa/Diaoyu/Senkaku is superfluous. Perhaps only when the average standard of living has substantially raised would that idea apply.

  14. Baker May 31, 2013 at 03:42

    Left and Right are directions of power shift, not static positions. A position can be Left or Right depending on its relative direction to current zeitgeist. Nationalism was Left in the age of monarchy and aristocracy, is Right in the age of populace politics and diversity/tolerance.

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