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A biological case against democracy

This one’s not about IQ. Listen up.

All human traits are normally distributed, with few people on each extreme. I don’t know to what degree character is inherited, but it sure as hell is innate.

A human trait, like any other, is the thirst for power. Call it sociopathy to get a better image. It’s probably not the same thing, but think of the evil striver who lies, fools, scams and does any manner of evil in order to climb the ladder of power and get to lord over others and enjoy riches gained through the exploitation of the people.

Think of Clinton, say. Any of them will do. These guys have an edge. They’re driven. They really really want power. And money. Lots of money. Apparently the Clinton’s are worth $100 million. Why do they want so much money? Isn’t $10 million enough? 20? No, they want more. That’s what they do, they seek power, money, and everything that is nice, they seek it in infinite amounts. Why does Hillary want to be president? What for? The satisfaction of power. That’s who she is.

But she isn’t the only one. There’s lots of people like her, in any country, in any institution. Jerry Pournelle had the Iron Law of Bureaucracy: every organization will always end up being led by people devoted to the benefit of the organization, not to doing whatever purpose the organization originally had. Which is another way of saying that any organization will eventually be led by people who only think of benefitting the people who lead the organization, i.e. themselves. The greedy power-hungry. Let’s call them Clintons, for lack of a better word. Every organization will eventually always end up being led by Clinton’s. Simply because they take care that they end up ruling. They seek power will all their heart, and they get it. That’s how you get Conquest’s Law too. All organizations not explicitly rightist will always end up turning leftist. Why? Because the left is simply what the Clinton’s do. The Left is whatever works at achieving power and keeping it.

In any Open Society™, well all positions are open. There is no privilege of birth, no traditional standards. There is to be open competition. Even the upper reaches of power are to be open to everyone, by free elections. Democracy. Who wins in a democracy? The Clintons. Why? Because they seek power, and have no qualms at doing whatever is necessary. Fraud, lies, treason. Murder. Whatever it takes, they will have power. That is what they do. Remember the Selfish Gene? The Hawks and the Doves? Hawks are evil, they hurt everyone. But you can’t get rid of them. They’re never too many, else they start killing each other. But at small numbers they always win. Michel Houellebecq first became famous with his novel, The Extension of the Realm of Struggle (Whatever). He points out how opening the sexual marketplace to competition advantages the ruthless and evil, to the detriment of everyone else. That works in politics too. The right edge of the Bell Curve always wins.

In a traditional aristocratic system, positions of power are given by family prestige. There is some level of striving and merit involved, but mostly it’s old families sharing positions of power according to traditional standards, which nobody really understands why are there. Mostly reflecting old Schelling points left by ancient conflicts. But they are there, and they are never touched. You don’t get to a position of power if you aren’t of the right blood. A Clinton can’t get to president. He can join the staff of some aristocrat, and schmoozing him to achieve influence by proxy. But you can only get so far that way; and positions in the staff are also subject to traditional limitations. There’s a firewall there.

Traditional power arrangements can be stupid and ineffective. They are by definition nepotistic, and often nothing gets done. But they have the important function of impeding the access of evil sociopaths to the highest reaches of power. You really don’t want those people up there; all they do is suck the coffers dry, and hurt everyone they fancy in order to satisfy their greed. Democracy, by opening the levers of power to free competition, all but guarantees that evil sociopaths will end up ruling everything. People who have no issue with giving sick men access to girl’s toilets, or bringing hostile barbarians to rape the women of their country. Monarchies can have a bad king. But Democracies always have a bad king.

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40 responses to “A biological case against democracy

  1. grey elightenment February 17, 2016 at 17:31

    Seems like both aristocracies and democracies have a lot of dysfunction and corruption. More money in politics make it more elite and monarchy-like, and less democratic . An NRx monarchy should be meritocratic , with the most competent ruling.

    • spandrell February 17, 2016 at 17:34

      It should also produce flying pigs.

      Competent at what? The ruling class wants a convenient king. If you let them choose that’s what they’ll do, obviously.

    • grey elightenment February 17, 2016 at 18:48

      Europe has a consanguineous monarchy, not a meritocratic one. Silicon Valley is an example of a region where competency and merit is valued, and the same system there could applied to the country as a whole, with better results than the inefficiency, corruption and waste we have now.

      • August February 17, 2016 at 19:16

        I’d like to have the family able to vote, especially if it appears the crown is about to pass to someone obviously unfit. Meritocratic methods of picking a monarch may be contraindicated- good governance is a relatively simple affair. In other words, too mundane for these ‘meritocratic’ superstars, many of whom have yet to prove their creations will exist outside of a central bank supported hothouse.

        • spandrell February 17, 2016 at 19:22

          In real monarchies, like China or the Ottomans, the family did get a voice, and inconvenient (sick or just annoying) kings were killed or exiled.

          Good governance is not at all a simple affair. Good governance implies dislodging the Clintons from their rent-seeking positions, and as time passes, the Clinton infections only grows worse. Removing rent-seekers requires reform, and often triggers coups or revolutions.

          • August February 17, 2016 at 20:54

            The republic is dead and things feed upon it. Removing the rent-seekers would be heroic, but such acts do not resemble administration in a healthy realm. I tend to think a consanguineous monarchy in a small realm helps because the royal family becomes a biological target. People try to marry into it. Harness hypergamous tendencies to a course that improves the genetic stock. Additionally harness some of the plays for power- if people are spending their time and money positioning their children as good potential mates, then they cannot spend those same resources on trying to dethrone anyone.

            Like a good immune system, good governance is mostly noticeable in it’s absence. We see the infection, and then ask ourselves “how did that get here?” We don’t really question our good health when we have it.

    • Just some slave February 17, 2016 at 22:25

      The idiocy of America’s stab at meritocracy was elevating those with high aptitude into power without careful scrutiny over whether they valued the interests of those they rule over. If I have to be ruled by strangers who hate me down to my DNA, I’d prefer that they be maximally incompetent.

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  3. Leonard February 17, 2016 at 17:47

    I have noted before the sad absence in English of a word that means an insatiable desire for power, parallel to “greed” or “lust”.

    Huh, I just looked up “greed” and at least at La Wik, they think it includes power and status. Well, they also say that it’s basically just money. And that’s how I understand it. I think this shows the word has evolved; presumably up until modernity it was not easy to be rich but weak/low status. But now thanks to the strange ideology of Europeans, we’ve managed to have power without wealth, and wealth without power. Of course the two still go together like ham and eggs.

    I appreciate the clarity of the example that the Clintons provide, especially Hillary’s use of the Clinton Foundation to sell favors as the Secretary of State. I approve of the idea of calling people with an insatiable desire for power “Clintons”.

    As for the actual Clintons… well, the thing about greedy climbers is that ideology is not what is driving them. They use it to climb, but they don’t really buy it. So, if they do manage to get to the very top, you can expect them to put on the brakes if it serves their interest. Think Fnargl. (Or think Bill Clinton signing onto welfare reform.) So maybe we have that to look forward to. Of course, maybe we’ll get Veep Sanders who takes over when Hillary gets impeached.

    • spandrell February 17, 2016 at 18:08

      Personally I get more of the sociopathic greed vibe from a guy like Alinsky, or Rahm Emanuel. Those give me the creeps. Clinton probably isn’t that evil personally. But still, look at what they do, there’s no big difference.

      • Toddy Cat February 17, 2016 at 22:25

        Yes, Alinsky was (admittedly) Satanic, and Emanuel is about as bad. Bill Clinton wasn’t really evil, he just wanted the goodies that come with power, the pomp and salutes and sweet young thangs. Hillary, on the other hand…

      • Steve Johnson February 18, 2016 at 00:47

        I get “evil sociopath” vibes from the Alinsky types and “just want money” from the Clinton types.

        The left, of course, can’t make any principled distinction between “loot the economy and give the money to queer transgendered communities” and “loot the economy and give the money to Hillary Clinton personally” because there is no principled distinction to be made there. It’s why leftists Clinton critics seem so confused.

        The Alinsky types just want to see everything burn so they get the joy of murdering those who make them feel inferior (everyone).

    • Alrenous February 23, 2016 at 02:33

      A modal kind of addiction where the drug happens to be power.

  4. strangew00l February 17, 2016 at 21:28

    I don’t think hereditary aristocracy or monarchy is adaptive to our current level of technology. The transition to industrialism and modernism was complemented by a transition to a more bureaucratic, meritocratic and quasi-representative system in almost every instance. I’m of the viewpoint that stable structures adaptive to a given set of circumstances tend to propagate themselves, and ill-adaptive structures tend to either vanish or adopt a merely symbolic role. This is why I have a hard time taking NRx completely seriously. Regardless of the merits of their arguments as to why aristocracy might be “better”, evidence indicates that this system is a mismatch for current circumstances. Aristocracy is an agrarian thang.

    • spandrell February 18, 2016 at 03:56

      Huh? China is bureaucratic since the 900s. No industry. Industrialization didn’t entail liberal government. Liberal governments were set up either by conspiracy or by military force. Without USA there would be at most 3 democracies in the whole world.

      • Frank February 22, 2016 at 03:12

        >Without USA there would be at most 3 democracies in the whole world.

        I think you’re underestimating the importance of cargo-cult governance. Many countries really believed that transitioning to a parliamentary system would magically bring western living standards.

  5. B February 17, 2016 at 21:52

    This was a really long-winded way of saying “with social mobility, shit floats to the top.”

    Okay, how is this different from a Mandarin system? Bill Clinton would have done great there, having what it takes to become a Rhodes Scholar.

    And what about all those golden eras of Western Civ? Guys like Sir Francis Drake, Andrew Carnegie etc. were prominent exactly due to social mobility. People who were willing to do anything to gain more. Different from Clinton?

    You can say that Clinton didn’t have Drake’s physical courage, but I can tell you that I’ve seen Clintons with physical courage, or the dedication to fake it, and they’re worse than the ones without.

    • B February 17, 2016 at 21:54

      Look: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/failure-as-a-way-of-life/

      Note his point of comparison for a decayed and failing system with no potential for rehabilitation is not a democracy, but 17th century Spain. Which got its ass kicked by democratic (sort of) Holland, and then everybody else with a (more) popular government.

    • spandrell February 18, 2016 at 03:54

      No lack of evil mandarins in history, but the process was arduous enough that most sociopaths chose the highway bandit route.

      I got the impression that the Clintons of old got themselves killed sooner rather than later.

      • parisian February 18, 2016 at 06:57

        Bill Clinton is total Snopes. That’s why ‘Clintons’ is very good, but even though marrying Hillary was (for him) ‘marrying up’, she is not Eula Varner. But just that much marrying up covers up the Snopes that you can smell. I’m from the South and was brought up to see Snopeses from a mile away. Even moderate Snopeses. Something about their success was truly hideous, and you had to be told of the Rhodes Scholar to even imagine it. He became a scholar to become a White Trash Elitist, and make that acceptable. When they left the WH and came to NYC, they were said by some of the East Side Auchincloss types to be ‘extremely inferior people’. It goes on and on and on: She’s expected to benefit from black voters, and few of these will remember when she pandered to ‘white people’ in one of the primaries in 2008, it was either Va. or W. Va., I don’t remember whether she won it.

        The lust for power is precisely what you are almost getting to here: They want to somehow get past the fact that HE, at least, is trailer trash. She’s the beard there, although hardly alluring with her hard, unforgiving Midwestern tits. “A Clinton can’t get to president.” That was in the superb paragraph about blood royalty, so you must have meant ‘king?’ because, as we’ve observed, one ‘Clinton’ did get to be…and blah and blah and blah…But that’s exactly right about that firewall, and how the monarchs can be idiots but cannot be touched.

        OF COURSE they cannot stop at $143 million! They can’t launder away their low-class genes until they get into the billionaire’s club, and they know this and pray to God about it every single fucking night, the slut freaks.

        The weird fact is that billions really will do the job. Then are even the cosmetic versions of billions–look how interesting it is that Trump’s hair is no longer tacky. Had to have been an artistic ‘work in progress’, so that his super-alpha being is the only one that can wear Jean Harlow platinum. It looks fucking great by now. And he was good about Clinton’s trailer trash tastes: He told Maureen Dowd that “He was in no way like JFK and Marilyn Monroe. I wanted to see him with a beautiful woman of sophistication”. Well, we know that Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky are such ‘beautiful women of sophistication.’ At the impeachment trial somebody compared Lewinsky to Marlene Dietrich and that little bow-tied Boston diva-queen journalist couldn’t keep from falling for it.

        Okay, CHOOSE SIDES, say it all you want, but this was very good, and so was the extra info on SA. The tale at Jim’s Blog was startling, never heard of anything like it–shamed into having double mastectomy and then parading as male homo. It seemed to be implied that he could have stopped her, and that he didn’t the fuck care. Being a slut isn’t THAT bad.

        First-rate, keep it up.

      • B February 18, 2016 at 09:22

        >the process was arduous enough that most sociopaths chose the highway bandit route

        So you were left with the really smart, dedicated sociopaths in charge. Hmmm…

        >I got the impression that the Clintons of old got themselves killed sooner rather than later.

        The ones that did were not the good ones. It’s like what happens after 10 years of targeted killings of jihadis-you’re left with either young, uncontrollable jihadis, or old jihadis who are really good at surviving.

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  8. Jefferson February 22, 2016 at 21:55

    You’re limiting yourself with governance here. The old rules restricted all paths for status. Innovate some new technology? Good luck monetizing it! You’re really pious? Enjoy the extra work you get on the chapel beautification committee!

    The crazy barriers to entry meant that the threshold for upward mobility was higher (less cream), but also that innovation was (potentially) stifled, or at least that its fruits weren’t widely distributed. The ultimate perk, though, was that the stakes were way lower for everyone else. Your average guy might distinguish himself by being able to hold his liquor, and that’d be enough. Nowadays the exposure to extremely high status sociopaths all over the tv encourages everyone to aim more destructively.

    • Jefferson February 22, 2016 at 21:57

      By everyone, I mean secular folks. In conservative religious communities the vectors for status tend to still be restrained.

      • Jefferson February 22, 2016 at 23:32

        If I have any insights lately, it’s because of what you’ve written about status in conjuction with my family becoming religious. I find that applying the concept of status competition to any area in which humans participate explains reality to a much greater degree than any other framework. A good religion restricts the arenas for status competitions to non destructive ones (and the really good ones do this in concert with hereditary power structures for maximum effect).

        • spandrell February 23, 2016 at 01:41

          Glad to be of help!

          How did your family “become” religious? How’s that working out, any tips?

          • Jefferson February 29, 2016 at 17:28

            Sorry for the delay on this. We got religious because of an argument between B and Jim on Jim’s blog a while back, combined with our desire to have a big family and raise them with other big families.

            We decided to check out an orthodox Jewish service (since conservative and reformed are basically just unitarian), and found substantially less enlightenment corruption, so stuck with it. I’m increasingly convinced that the Torah (written, and most of oral that I’ve come in contact with) covers the basic requirements for civilization (its restrictions limit its adherents to agricultural societies as opposed to pastoral/migratory). In general, orthodox Judaism is pretty NRx, even if the people in charge don’t see it that way. A perfect example is how the laws for keeping the Sabbath inadvertently create healthy localized communities (the Rabbis determined that using transportation other than your feet is a no go, the result of which is everyone living within walking distance of the synagogue). My guess as to why some of my cousins have been not great guests Christian nations is that Jewish laws are so effective that genes that would be marginal and bred out of other populations have stayed in the pool to do damage when the hosts let them use their status arenas.

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  12. Sam April 4, 2016 at 20:54

    Monarchy? Why don’t we try the government we had first? Voting limited by poll taxes, land ownership or literacy. The idea that we get a bunch of guys with fuzzy hats to stand guard, a King and some Knights and all will be ok strikes me as wishful thinking. We know the many, many , many failures of Kings. We also know of many long lived prosperous Republics. That Republics fall at some point is no rebuke towards their utility.

    • spandrell April 5, 2016 at 02:46

      I don’t know what fuzzy hats have to do with any of it, but I don’t know of that many long lived prosperous Republics. Certainly not since Napoleon.

      • Sam October 2, 2016 at 00:35

        Fuzzy hats…Queen’s guards. I reread this and admit I missed the best part of it.

        “…Traditional power arrangements can be stupid and ineffective. They are by definition nepotistic, and often nothing gets done. But they have the important function of impeding the access of evil sociopaths to the highest reaches of power…”

        Yes, yes, yes. I probably missed it as I have an aversion to the argument that having Kings will save us. I don’t believe it will and there’s long history of Kings doing stupid things.

        We had a perfectly good system of letting people vote who had a stake in the country. Property requirements, literacy requirements and not letting most Women vote. I would be in favor of letting married Women with children vote.

        We don’t need Kings for stability.

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  14. abd August 28, 2016 at 18:17

    A human trait, like any other, is the thirst for power.

    No man. that is the trait, not a trait. That is the kernel of the core, and the core of the kernel.
    “Power” is the capability to have modifications on the real world ensue the subject’s act of volition.
    The ability to survive… all it needs is power.

    Power is the root of the human psyche every bit as much as the instinct to survive is, and it developed from the latter.

    All of human behaviour, with few exceptions, can be broken into chunks of will to power.
    The idiotical coquettish vallidation-beseeching or self-celebrative showers of selfies on social media?
    Will to power.
    Send any one of these geese or snakes to the Moon, cut any communication, and see if they stare at the mirror, wear high heels, and shake their long hair in that way any longer.

    Beauty, social recognition (“respect”, admiration, fear), money… all is worth to humans as long as, and to the degree, it translates into power.

    Grass-eating animals? Well, they don’t need to kill their prey to survive. But they still select, and select by the criterion of more power, for mating.
    Power is what is required by reproduction, too, the second purpose of living organism.

    Ideologies? “Politics”?
    Power. Tools in the quest after it, and tools to preserve it once it is taken.

    In our age, power goes to who pries words and speech best; no longer to the stronger in physical battle.
    And we can see an ever-growing obsession over intelligence. Everybody lusts for it, like they would lust after land in the Middle Ages. For the same reason: that it is the pass to there where power is.

    Think of it. When ancient cultures idolized animals, which did they pick? Giraffes and horses?
    Nah. They chose the most powerful. That was the only criterion they followed. Power.

    And what about certain Abrahamic religions? What animal did they pick to have their Gods ask as sacrifice? The lamb!
    As much as they worshipped power, they hated innocence. What was the lamb’s sin? Innocence.
    The most unforgivable of all sins, to humankind.
    ——————-
    If while reading you bet I am not a passionate admirer of humankind, you guessed it right.

  15. Dan September 28, 2016 at 05:38

    The first prerequisite for power should be the reluctance to have it. Plato argued in the Republic that the ‘Philosopher Kings’ would have to be bribed to take up the position. The type of people with the tempermant, character and wisdom to rule – don’t want it. The Bible has numerous examples, starting with Moses himself. Think of all the people in your life you would ‘put in charge’; how many of them were agressively seeking power? What I see today are political groups throwing literal ‘parties’ when they win an election, and no one even questions the mentality behind it. What on earth are they celebrating? Should we not be offended? Does this not give lie to theory of ‘representative government’?

    As for the inevitability of spiralling toward evil: the best defence (as you allude to) is of course the traditional Judicial model of government seen in all religious/traditional civilisations, as against the modern Legislative models subject to insane whims of relativism and special interests. The iron Law of Tradition in the former societies allow far less flexibility for any sociopath who might make it to the top, to disturb the system as a whole. Can you imagine an issue like same sex marriage doing a complete 180 from ‘abhorrent/absurd/illegal/unnatural’ to ‘beautiful/logical/legal/natural’ in the space of two generations in a traditional society? A leader had no authority to make such a change, and his desire to do so would be evidence of his very illegitimacy. Whether it was the law of Revelation (Abrahamic traditions) or the Australian aboriginal ‘Dreaming’ – no individual could make much disturbance, and the rulers were subject to the same Law as everybody else. They merely acted as Judges of sorts.

    Having said all that, these traditions are also unanimous that the devolution of humanity you describe is also inevitable.

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