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The Economics of Democracy have Stopped Working

Everybody reading this blog may have noticed that I was ecstatic about Trump’s election. I was really happy. I went out that night and spent days giggling with a MAGA hat on watching the progressives melt down.

That was of course a tribal feeling. I used to look down on people who behaved like that when their soccer team won. “It’s not your team, dumbass, it’s just a bunch of overpaid foreigner jocks”. But the same way that most middle class men in the West put their identity in sports, I’ve always put mine in politics, and having Trump, the closest thing in decades to be close to my thinking, win the election to the highest office in the world, was a huge, huge piece of validation. Progressives say that all politics are identity politics. And it’s true. Human is a social animal, said Aristotle. And the core of human social behavior is forming identity groups (i.e. tribes) and fight each other. And a guy who appeared to be of my own tribe had won. So of course I was happy.

I was also kinda confused. The core part of neoreaction’s theory is that the contemporary political game is rigged so that our tribe just can’t win. The game is set up so that the “Cathedral”, the power base centered on the US bureaucracy and satellites and it’s PR apparatus in the media and universities just control everything. And yet Trump won, with a platform set up by Steve Bannon who is by any account a true and faithful member of our tribe. How could this happen? I wrote shortly after the election that we needed to explain this. We needed a Theory of Trump. And yet for some reason I couldn’t get myself to write one. The whole thing just felt odd. So I waited, to see if I found any clues to explain’s Trump’s ascent to power. To explain the Cathedral’s weakness.

Well it seems I did well in waiting, as the Cathedral isn’t weak at all. The news from the last few weeks is that the whole Trump platform is collapsing. The federal bureaucrat hiring freeze isn’t happening. The wall isn’t being built. The judiciary appropriation of legislative power in the US is untouched. Steve Bannon was publicly demoted. Goldman Sachs and assorted globalist bankstas run the show. And Trump just bombed Syria on the flimsiest of pretexts. Now, I don’t want to commit myself too much on this. The bombing of Syria wasn’t that big, and Trump isn’t sending troops. The wall may get built after all. The immigration ban may happen after all. But the signs don’t look good.

So it looks like Moldbug wasn’t wrong after all. There is a Cathedral deep-state running things completely impervious to the power of the presidency. It seems I wasn’t wrong after all either. Leftism is a memeplex evolved precisely in order to achieve and hold power, its content contingent to whatever works to achieve power. As such, we are not supposed to win. Not that easily, at any rate. Being right, having a correct understanding about how the world works is emphatically not the way to achieve power. There is a collection of games that must be played in order to win. Trump was very good at playign the electoral game; but that’s is just the outmost layer of the power onion. The inner parts are what actually gets you power, and nationalism, let alone HBD, patriarchy and neoreaction is just not very good at that game.

So all that said, I say it’s time we stop caring about Trump and we keep on developing theory.

At its core, the Game of Power is about this:

You might remember I wrote about this. It’s a very good video, based on a very good book. I also like the jargon. The ruler and the keys. Brief and clear. It has some problems, of course. The focus on “treasure”, while quite accurate in practice and a good metaphor, is of course incomplete. A ruler doesn’t necessarily have to grant cash. What humans seek is not money per-se, it’s status. Again, money is more often than not a good enough proxy; but in civilized societies a ruler can sustain its power by granting status, not necessarily money, as Robert Locke so eloquently argued in his apology of the Japanese economy.

But the biggest problem of this video and Bueno de Mesquita’s analysis is how it analyses democracy. Like it’s some end-of-history endgame where everybody is happy because the government gives away public good in order to buy votes from the people. Oh man, that’s just so fucking wrong it’s not even funny.

So the basic argument there is that dictatorships are run on the tight loyalty of a few important supporters (keys). Those keys come from a pool of potential keys, the “selectorate”. They keys will cost more or less money to keep loyal depending on the ratio of keys to potential keys. If the potential keys are few, the keys are scarce, hence expensive. If the potential keys are many, the keys are expendable, and so they will cost less. So what a Ruler wants is to have few keys, but many potential keys. That’s basic economics. A key works better when he has few ministers, but drawn from a vast aristocracy, instead of just a few nobles. Or better even, draw your ministers from the civil bureaucracy, who are dime a dozen. This is why historically aristocratic systems just don’t last very long. The king doesn’t like them. Their loyalty is too expensive.

That’s easy so far: so what about a democracy? How does that work? Who are the keys, and who are the potential keys? The video starts talking democracy at 6:00. And the beginning is pretty good. In an electoral system, the keys are the people who get you elected; i.e. who give you power. In practical terms the keys are interest group leaders, the people who mobilize vote blocks on your way. In order to please these blocks, a ruler gives them treasure.

Well, not quite treasure. We’re not talking kings anymore. The rulers for rulers aren’t just for sovereigns; they apply to any power dynamics, no matter at any level. Politicians in a democracy aren’t at the pyramid of the power hierarchy as a king or dictator would be. They’re at a lower level; so the treasure isn’t quite for them to take. Politicians in a democracy are quite easily replaceable themselves, so they gotta play by the rules, if only up to a plausibly deniable point. There’s a Schelling point, slightly different in different countries, where a politician can deliver treasure to his keys without getting themselves replaced. We generally call that “corruption”, and involves pork, tax loopholes, and that kind of stuff.

The video gets that alright, then notes that democracies tend to have lower tax rates. Which sounds counterintuitive if you’re some form of libertarian obsessed with Scandinavia and public expenditure to GDP rates: but it is true. Tax rates in China are quite outrageous. Tax collection efficiency in dictatorships may be quite bad; but the size and autonomy of the private sector is generally very small. The state really dominates the economy more than in a democracy. Not overwhelmingly so, but it really does. So the point is correct. Politicians want to get elected and lower taxes are always a good incentive, even if interest group dynamics make it easier said than done.

Then at 12:00 the video talks about how democracies compensate for lower tax rates by investing more in public infrastructure to make people more productive! You gotta be kidding me. We’ve talked about how power works. We’ve talked about how democracies nurture interest groups because they are easier to manage and buy off. We’ve talked about tax loopholes and pork. All absolutely correct. And now you’re telling me that democracies want people to be more productive so that they produce more wealth? What the hell? You think dictatorships don’t? Ever been to China? Know of Tsarist Russia? Everybody wants more wealth.

Sure, higher productivity often entails giving people access to stuff that may make it easier to revolt, and to some extent some countries do not encourage productivity that much, especially if they can afford to, having natural resources or something. Stability is a very good thing if you happen to be at the top. You don’t wanna change stuff. You wanna stay on top. But if you can be sure that revolt is not an issue, even the nastiest dictatorship tries to get his subjects to be more productive.

The reason that modern democracies invest a lot in public infrastructure, in hospitals and universities, is not because they want their people to be more productive. It’s because the power dynamics of politician make outright spending of treasure to be forbidden, and thus ever more complicated forms of pork must be found. And the Schelling point for spending public money without being accused of corruption in the USG dominated world order is healthcare, education and public infrastructure. More or less in that order. Those are not about productivity. Spending in public goods in the West hasn’t increased productivity since at least 1970. There’s a good argument to suspect that investment in education has decreased productivity to a catastrophic degree. But the money keeps being spent because it is a good way to pay treasure to key supporters.

There was a pretty obvious example of this last year in Japan. Now I’d like to come up with some example closer to my reader’s concern, say something in America, but East Asian political culture is so honest and straightforward that it’s much easier to come up with corruption cases which map well with this kind of straightforward theory.

So, the Ministry of Education in Japan in 2013 came up with this initiative called “Super Global Universities”. Yes, Super. Not kidding. The idea was to have universities across the country come up with a plan to make them Super Global, say by promising to give more classes in English or getting to invite foreign students from India or whatever, and in exchange the Ministry would give them extra cash. And so they did, some were selected, some weren’t.

Fast forward to 2016, and the Ministry of Finance is desperate to make spending cuts. There’s just no fucking money. They ask around and nobody wants to make cuts. Then they figure out that they hate the most the Ministry of Education. Perhaps some personal vendetta of high-fly bureaucrats there. Whatever the reason, the next day the press is all talking about how the Ministry of Education sent retired bureaucrats to some universities to work as administrators or professors on high salaries. And who would’ve thought, the universities who accepted those retired bureaucrats were selected as Super Global, and got a shitload of extra taxpayer cash thanks to it. I’ll put the guy’s face because he looks so much like a corrupt asshole bureaucrat I think it’s funny.

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That is the most classical form of corruption in Japan, the ama-kudari, the sending of retired bureaucrats to cozy sinecures paid on the public purse. That’s just the Schelling point that Japan has come up in order to keep the bureaucrats from being at each other’s throats. You promote one guy, the loser gets a cozy sinecure on double salary, everybody is happy. Except the public purse. But nobody cares about the public purse. It’s public.

The Rules for Rulers guy would want you believe that Japan is investing in Super Global Universities because it wants the Japanese to be more productive. Give me a fucking break. You could’ve said that in the 1950s, when highways and railways and airports were getting built all across the world. But still, it wasn’t even true that the point was higher productivity. Higher productivity was just a convenient Schelling point to get the bureaucrats to not fight each other and get behind the project, and conveniently skim some money for themselves and their cronies (keys). But note that once the higher productivity excuse ceased being true, once all modern countries were bursting full of highways and bridges to nowhere and marginal universities and useless hospitals full of 90 year old vegetables; they didn’t stop building. They kept going. Building more and more without thinking much about it. They just had to pay some more to get the media and academia to justify the more and more obviously useless expense. No Child Left Behind! Like there was anyone being left behind to begin with.

Now a disingenuous liberal, say Scott Alexander, may argue that even if the causal arrow is confused, the fact is that the scattered power system of a democracy still results in more investing in public goods, even if they do it for spurious reasons. And they’d have a point. China started investing in getting their country more wealthy once Mao died and the power of individual Chinese bureaucrats become more unstable, so they had to spend their pork on ostensibly public minded projects. But that’s not a point about democracy per se, it’s a point about unstable bureaucratic systems. And the industrialised nations as a whole are way, way beyond the point of diminishing returns of public good spending. I’d really rather have politicians outright buy votes rather than send more money to universities to poison the minds of the young.

The cycle of politics may turn out to be just as the Greeks saw it: a cycle of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, underpinned by the economics of the different systems, spending too little, then too much. Now we are spending way, way too much. Which means that we need a change. A change to less democracy. Whose turn is it now?

Not Trump’s at any rate. Sigh.

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51 responses to “The Economics of Democracy have Stopped Working

  1. Pingback: The Economics of Democracy have Stopped Working | @the_arv

  2. Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur April 17, 2017 at 17:21

    > And yet Trump won, with a platform set up by Steve Bannon who is by any account a true and faithful member of our tribe.

    Politico’s account is “any account” now? Actually, I suppose it is the one with any practical relevance. Either way, Bannon did self-identify as a Leninist. In a rare event indeed, you ended up getting what was advertised.

    (Unless “your tribe” refers to Sam Francis’ Middle American Radicals, in which case such people will clearly not make substantial changes.)

    To anyone reading this comment, I recommend Thomas R. Dye’s The Irony of Democracy. It’s a civics textbook explaining how USG works, with a twist: it’s written from a perspective that openly acknowledges its debt to Mosca, Michels and Pareto. Formally describes what’s now popularly called the “deep state” pretty well.

    • spandrell April 17, 2017 at 18:08

      Thanks for the recommendation.
      What’s your point on Bannon? That wanting power and admiring Lenin’s organizational skills make Bannon a communist?

      • Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur April 17, 2017 at 18:58

        No, I didn’t intend to say that Bannon is pink down to his underwear or anything like that. Perhaps down to his waist, but as children of the 20th century, so are all of us.

        Rather, Bannon’s brand of American nationalism never seemed to amount to more than Henry Clay’s Whig developmental policies combined with some sentimentalism on national sovereignty straight out of Wilson’s Fourteen Points. Sure, these days that’s about the best you’ll get out of an American conservative anywhere close to centers of power. But it should have been clear to keep one’s expectations low. Calling himself a “Leninist” was weirdly prophetic, in that he got outcompeted by ideological descendants of actual Leninists.

        Besides, in our time the distinction between an isolationist-economic nationalist and a progressive internationalist is to a large extent determined by whim and feeling. I’m sure if you ask a dear progressive if he wants strategic investment projects to build infrastructure, policies that benefit working class citizens against global finance capital, a foreign policy where other nations are not bossed around, and an international community of “free and independent nations” (Hugo Grotius’ phrase, not mine), he’ll say yes. But somehow he becomes a man of Realpolitik once in authority. Keep in mind that when the League of Nations was in vogue, the party line was that Czechoslovak nationalism (engineered mostly by Benes and Masaryk) was a necessary pallative for the evils of Austro-Hungarian Habsburg reaction that ravaged Europe into war. The line between nationalism and internationalism is not that thick, after all. Self-determination of peoples means staffing your best public policy experts to “help” the liberated.

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  4. rcglinski April 17, 2017 at 20:38

    Trump is still extremely useful as a way for members of the tribe to signal loyalty. It’s hard to unite people around common hatred of a very ill-defined social force. Make America great again is one hell of a better rallying cry than down with the Cathedral. The energy at a Trump rally was a lot more persuasive than A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations.

    Look at what happened at Berkeley yesterday. Lauren Southern organized a free speech rally (what the fuck ever a free speech rally is). The cops went around and confiscated all the make shift weapons the protesters had brought along, then got out of the way to let Antifa black shirts attack them. The protesters fought back and kicked the shit out of the communists, and seemed to have one hell of a good time doing it.

    I’m not going to get too worked up about Trump failing. Of course he was always going to fail, one guy and a speech writer vs. Leviathan is not even a fight. The key is that he has to not surrender and be eaten by them. If he really turns coat then our mobs will lose their inspiration and never win a fight with communists again.

    Things aren’t going great, but I’m still in the camp of “this is fighting and losing, not surrender.” The attack on Syria has led to basically nothing except getting China to badmouth North Korea. Sessions seems to be going ape shit on illegal immigrants. All in all at least in the exercise of executive Power Trump still seems like a nationalist. And legislatively I imagine everyone must have expected him to fail (though I guess maybe not so hard so quickly).

  5. Lit Hit April 17, 2017 at 21:35

    “Who’s turn is it now?”

    come on man you are better than this

    (whose)

  6. Leonard April 17, 2017 at 22:07

    I had the same reaction when I read Bueno de Mesquita. He’s cruising along cynical and realistic as can be, then wham, we hit democracy like a wall. Suddenly rainbows.

    The reason that modern democracies invest a lot in public infrastructure, in hospitals and universities, is not because they want their people to be more productive. It’s because the power dynamics of politician make outright spending of treasure to be forbidden, and thus ever more complicated forms of pork must be found.

    Creating dependency is what democracy does. A dependent is a client is a vote. And a dependent class is a votebank.

    “Human rights” is a tell. It’s intellectuals justifying dependence. Basically, if you can imagine someone saying “X is a human right” unironically, you can be pretty sure that whatever else X’s virtues may be, the state provision of X creates a dependent class who’ll vote left.

  7. Will April 17, 2017 at 22:17

    I’ve asked Alt Right folks versions of this: what parts of Trump’s platform seemed like anything from your platform? Aside from being simply to the right of secular progressivism, I couldn’t find anything specific.
    My theory on why people are becoming “disillusioned” with Trump is less about him betraying any Alt Right, NRx or traditionalist principles he had and more with our own biases making it seem to us that he shared those principles in the first place. I think the closest people to Trump’s position are the so-called Alt Lite,like Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannapolis. Sort of cleaned-up party boys that found patriotism one hungover morning.

    • spandrell April 17, 2017 at 22:40

      The wall, DACA, not bombing Syria, all that was stuff that we shared and he promised to do. And now look.

      • Will April 17, 2017 at 23:05

        Sure, but none of those things are really exclusive to NRx in that isolationism is associated with Jacksonian populism in this country. I guess what I’m getting at is the dissident right (however you want to categorize it) is still in it’s infancy, so the cries of betrayal to “our side” just don’t seem meaningful. Trump never really mentioned white people as a demographic, it was the MSM that mentioned the two together. As far as the Cathedral, is it possible for any candidate for any office within that system to change it?

  8. Alfred Woenselaer April 17, 2017 at 23:06

    Yeah with you on Trump, my Trumpenfaith is dwindling. I blame Jim for giving me too much hope with his coup talk.

  9. vxxc2014 April 18, 2017 at 11:09

    We’re going to have to fight.

    In fact we’re not only going to have to fight to win we’re going to have to fight for our Tribe/Civilization/Lands/Kin to even survive.

    This is normal and natural, frankly probably healthy.

    As for Trump it’s not quite 100 days yet. He’s already done more than the last 4 POTUS combined by enforcing border laws and dumping TPP.
    That he must engage overseas and yes with violence is inherent to the American Presidency and indeed inherited.
    The key to Trump is we have a Commander in Chief on our side-for we are going to have to fight.

    As for developing theory….uh…sure.
    As for stop caring about Trump – OK.
    But Progress still cares about you – very much so – so you’d better have something ready besides theory. Or not.

    My theory is nothing is handed to anyone certainly not survival, nor does merely agitating and voting justify survival. Survival justified by successful fighting that is called “winning”.

    At the moment the walls were besieged in 1453 Constantinople’s intellectuals were debating the gender of Angels.

    • spandrell April 18, 2017 at 11:17

      Constantinople was dead way before 1453.

      • vxxc2014 April 18, 2017 at 12:36

        One must fight to live.
        One must fight to protect.
        One must fight for any rights.
        One must fight for any property.
        One must fight for their blood kin to go on.
        This is basic to human fate and nature and eternal.

        This is not only the best opportunity and odds of my lifetime, it’s the best odds since 1789. When the French Aristocrats who were trained to defend themselves and their King faltered because they were too refined.

        Trump is merely elected Commander of the Americans.
        What does he command?
        A Commander’s followers must fight.
        Or he command’s nothing and there is no Army.

        Nor can the soldiers or police do all of everyone else’s heavy lifting and if they do win the day they’d be mad to share power.

    • Wency April 18, 2017 at 19:24

      Along what Spandrell is said, I’ve heard this anecdote before, but I’ve never seen it substantiated. It rings false, a fable to accentuate the idea of a city of effete intellectuals being overrun by semi-nomadic barbarians. My understanding is that the Constantinople the Ottomans captured was closer to a fortified ruin than a center of intellectual activity. Everyone knew the hammer stroke was coming, and the smart ones had left.

      If there’s any truth to it, perhaps there was a brief debate in Constantinople some decades or centuries prior, but I’m inclined to suspect there’s never been a theological community where the question of angel sex kept everyone up at night.

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  11. Alrenous April 18, 2017 at 16:21

    The best part is all the roads, built of nonsense and trash, subsequently fall apart and everyone agrees the infrastructure budget is far too stretched to repair them.

  12. Karl April 18, 2017 at 19:29

    Hi Spandrell,
    I see you are enjoying your favorite pastime again – that is being pessimistic. Really, it’s too early to tell – give Trump another few months. If by then the wall isn’t under construction, you’ll have a point.

  13. Trimegistus April 18, 2017 at 20:16

    This sounds a lot like you’re counseling despair. That’s the Devil’s trick.

  14. snorlax April 18, 2017 at 21:50

    And today the old Trump reemerges, with Bannon, no Kushner, by his side. Complete with reverse flip-flop on NATO, H1Bs and NAFTA.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/04/18/donald-trump-celebrates-america-first-executive-order-wisconsin/

    I usually try not to play armchair psychiatrist, but I think it’s pretty clear that Trump is bipolar.

    • spandrell April 18, 2017 at 22:39

      He’s certainly not a normal guy. But hey, whatever works. As long as it does work.

      • iFruit April 19, 2017 at 00:54

        Maybe (we should define “normal”, and see if anybody matching the definition could reach the top echelon of any human society, first. MacLeod’s Company Hierarchy would be a good starting point).

        But there is nothing as normal as doing about-faces for an elected official; keeping in with all sides. Or, as some may prefer to phrase it: to be good actors.

  15. idarthor April 18, 2017 at 22:05

    >We needed a Theory of Trump. And yet for some reason I couldn’t get myself to write one. The whole thing just felt odd. So I waited, to see if I found any clues to explain’s Trump’s ascent to power. To explain the Cathedral’s weakness.

    >Well it seems I did well in waiting, as the Cathedral isn’t weak at all.

    That’s one way of looking at it, and I can certainly understand your disappointment. But look at it this way: The entire Western political establishment treated Trump like a bad joke, and the consensus was that he had no chance of winning. He had no real political backing, no real power base, all he had was inchoate anger among parts of the public. Against any remotely competent opposition he would have been dead in the water.

    With that in mind, watching Trump run roughshod over first the Republicans, then the Democrats was pretty amazing; it was probably the biggest political upset of the 21st century. Now, I’m further to the left than most here, so I was neither surprised nor disappointed (well, a bit disappointed) when his whole agenda started falling apart. But still, Trump’s victory tells me that the current establishment is not doing too well. And they’re doing badly not just in the US; see for instance Brexit/Corbyn in the UK and the weakness of the big party candidates in the French presidential election.

    So I think the establishment (what you’d call the Cathedral) is pretty weak and being weakened further by these still rather symbolic defeats. The issue is that there are no political alternatives out there that are strong and organized enough to break through the inertia and actually get something done once they seize political power.

    • spandrell April 18, 2017 at 22:42

      Well in purity Moldbug’s point was that electoral politics were a facade. The fact that established parties are collapsing does not disprove the argument that they don’t really matter. As long as the permanent bureaucracy is able to run circles around Trump, it shows they’re who’re calling the shots.

      • idarthor April 19, 2017 at 16:16

        Even so the established parties matter as part of the facade. An important part of democratic legitimacy is the idea that the citizenry can, if needed, vote to implement radical changes. If they vote for non-establishment politics and nothing changes, that will weaken the facade and erode legitimacy.

        In Trump’s case, I don’t think it’s the bureaucracy that’s the main opposition but the political establishment, elected and non-elected. A US presidential administration is a really big operation, requiring thousands of appointments. For Trump there’s simply no source of trained and connected political operatives sharing the views he ran on, since he has no real organized power base and his views have until now largely been excluded from organized politics. That also means there’s no party that will counteract the pull of the existing forces.

        Compare this with Brexit, which is pretty unpopular within the British establishment. It’s still going to happen, because there’s a reasonably organized minority within the Conservatives who are for it and who can leverage any backsliding among the remainer majority into more political power for themselves, meaning people have to go along with it or risk their positions.

  16. iFruit April 19, 2017 at 00:44

    “I was ecstatic about Trump’s election. I was really happy. I went out that night and spent days giggling with a MAGA hat on watching the progressives melt down.”

    “So I waited, to see if I found any clues to explain’s Trump’s ascent to power. To explain the Cathedral’s weakness.

    Well it seems I did well in waiting, as the Cathedral isn’t weak at all.”

    I can’t believe you were that dreamful for real.
    It’s really good to pay a lot of attention to Mencius’ work and have it as one’s custom to quote him. Just, quotations and references should be closer to the reality of its work and farther from your wishful interpretation.

    I shall confide in your remembering how Mencius laid out a 3-step Cathedral demotion strategy, underscoring how the first step was “impossible”, so was the second, and the third was harder than the first two :)

    and nationalism, let alone HBD, patriarchy and neoreaction is just not very good at that game.

    Mencius, by the way, never wrote about nationalism, let alone “patriarchy”.
    But you added this nice pair.
    Which means you are in love with losing and the past way more than you are open to winning and the future.

    “There’s a good argument to suspect that investment in education has decreased productivity to a catastrophic degree. But the money keeps being spent because it is a good way to pay treasure to key supporters.”

    Don’t know if and how much that does tie up with my observation that in the entire West (and not only) entering university and graduating has been steadily simplified, with open pressures coming from the managerial governments in the direction of making more people graduate.
    The results?
    Much more people go to university, and more people graduate!
    Armed with endurance, great text-memorization skills, and their 100-110 IQs (with the willingness to repeat memorized material by heart at great speed that comes with it. Women excel at such a sport), they graduate.

    I see commenters lament your “pessimism”. What a difference. While reading, I all the time thought you were still unwisely wishful.
    But then, I gravitate towards discomfort (and truth) the same way all normal humans the opposite pole.

    • danielchieh April 19, 2017 at 02:44

      Much more people go to university, and more people graduate!

      But it doesn’t seem like its actually useful; I work with some of those university students, actually. It doesn’t actually seem to arm them with any skills for productivity, it literally seems to exist to provide jobs for academia, impress the Cathedral viewpoint, and regurgitate them now with degrees.

      Its hard to see how this is doing anything except wasting funds.

    • spandrell April 19, 2017 at 10:44

      I guess you’re in love with the global feminist future that awaits us.

    • idarthor April 19, 2017 at 15:55

      >Mencius, by the way, never wrote about nationalism, let alone “patriarchy”.
      >But you added this nice pair.
      >Which means you are in love with losing and the past way more than you are open to winning and the future.

      I can’t claim the familiarity with neoreactionary writings some others here have, but a coherent political program for gaining power has been hard to find. Plain old nationalism is doing pretty good compared to where it was even ten years ago, and is clearly going to be an important political force at least the next decade, so it seems a better bet if you want to win.

  17. Peter A. Taylor April 19, 2017 at 07:36

    That video about Bueno de Mesquita leaves me wondering, “Where is Gaetano Mosca’s ‘political formula’? Where is Bryan Caplan’s voter irrationality?”

    As for Trump, the most I can hope for from him is that he will act as a sort of seed crystal for a preference cascade. If he can break the Cathedral’s ability to control the “status assignment engine”, then I’m willing to forgive a lot. But this is probably a generational project.

    • spandrell April 19, 2017 at 10:36

      The political formula is in the formation of interest blocks in order to make elections easier to buy. And Caplan’s “voter irrationality” is just an argument about how people don’t follow economic interest. They seek status, and that in democracies leads to identity blocks. Nothing irrational about that.

  18. Inquiring Mind April 19, 2017 at 17:41

    OK, Mr. Trump isn’t quite living up to expectations, ones which anyone who knows the dude could have told you are unrealistic. Ms. Clinton, however, could have been, would have been a point of no return. My realism is to hope we muddle through the next four, possibly eight years. I really think the economy will perk up given the efforts of the prior Administration to drive it into the ground.

    But the Cathedral isn’t winning. At least for public universities, the longer this goes on, the slimmer the public support for their funding streams. Not only are the major public universities not winning, they are not even in the least bit aware that they are no longer winning. They view all of this as a temporary setback to which they are furiously virtue signaling.

    Even if Mr. Trump is neutered, there are too many people involved, and the Cathedral hasn’t even caught on. The thinking is that it is Selma in the 1960s and that they can shame enough white male Southerners. I don’t think it is anything like that.

    • chedolf April 21, 2017 at 02:32

      Their thinking is that they don’t need to win today, they just need to wait for demographics to drown us. If Trump and the GOP congress permit mass legal immigration to continue, the changing composition of the electorate guarantees that we lose in the long term.

      If Clinton had won, many people would have grasped that you can’t vote the Cathedral out of power. “Muddling through for 4-8 years” would be worse than a Clinton presidency that catastrophically erodes faith in the system while demographics still favor us.

      I hope Trump turns out to be a radical who won’t settle for muddling through.

      • Cavalier April 23, 2017 at 01:18

        Once you stop caring about electoral politics, you stop caring about appealing to the lowest common denominator, and once you stop caring about appealing to the lowest common denominator, you stop caring about racial demographics.

        There’s also the other big point, which is that it isn’t Moslems and blacks and Asians and whatever that are responsible for somehow conquering the West, or your country, or your neighborhood block, or whatever, which spaces they somehow hostilely inhabit whilst on welfare. These people have been and continue to be deliberately imported, and their leisure funded. They are clients of the state. This power dynamic is super important to comprehend.

        • snorlax April 23, 2017 at 04:03

          You might recall, from your days as a little rosy-cheeked babe, a song about an old lady who swallowed a fly; who swallowed a spider to catch the fly; who swallowed a bird to catch the spider; who swallowed the Goths to catch the Huns, and so forth. She died, of course.

          You may not be interested in demographics but they are interested in you. Things get a lot bleaker when you realize our betters aren’t so much malicious as they are dangerously incompetent, deluded and naive. Malicious would be a major improvement. China traded in incompetent and deluded for malicious in the 80’s — and it was.

          I say this as someone who thinks NRx died in part because it got too HBD-centric and lost sight of its fundamental and unique basis.

    • iObservant April 22, 2017 at 16:21

      “But the Cathedral isn’t winning. At least for public universities, the longer this goes on, the slimmer the public support for their funding streams. Not only are the major public universities not winning, they are not even in the least bit aware that they are no longer winning.”

      It’s not that simple in the slightest.
      And the proner to engage in self-reassuring wishful thinking are those without power, not those with(in!) it.

      Technologic advance has been driving out in-place polities replacing them with broader ones, consistently (actually, and I don’t think any of the readers here has failed to notice it, “social group size” is a function of group members, group leaders especially, intelligence).

      Nations replaced smaller entities. Nations are being replaced.
      ******************************************************************
      (Connected with the above)

      I recently wrote an anti-anti-Semites tirade in a comment here., and find these people and intelligentsia who endorse the game of humans and power entirely except for when somebody else wins at it irksome to say the best.
      (It’s the people who love to muse over why the US is involved in the Middle East now, but turn deaf if the topic shifts to, example, the “Civil” War. The people who post articles saying that “the SPLC and ADL are big liars” and fool the poor candid white-hearted heavenly Whites who never say a lie. I could never take these people seriously.)

      And still, today on a dating site I checked out 4 profiles of Israeli women (they looked fetching/very smart), and saw all 4 of them wrote it all in Hebrew (while their profile says they know English very well, and we know how true this is).
      It felt sad..
      I mean, why enclose yourself away from thousands and thousands of potential other intelligent people of other races and places?
      Why?

      Future communities are going to be “sorted by intelligence”, not by genetic inheritance (this is why thoughtful whites should do passive eugenics; the importance of intelligence grows by the day).

      It was 4 out of 4 profiles, so I guess one can say that’s the customary attitude.
      It’s also a very direct way of shedding light on the downsides of nationalism, or so I see it. I wouldn’t be against nationalism, but if nationalism has to mean closure, I prefer openness.

      • Cavalier April 23, 2017 at 01:20

        “I mean, why enclose yourself away from thousands and thousands of potential other intelligent people of other races and places?”

        Are you sure you’re in the right place?

  19. Pingback: Croakers. | "The Horror! The Horror!"

  20. Jefferson April 23, 2017 at 15:52

    The economics of agriculture are dead. Civilization, as we think of it, has always been tied to grain and the lifestyle, social structures, and signaling requirements that spring up around it. Early industrialization preserved some of this, partly by inertia, partly by conscious effort, but it’s been dying by parts. What percentage of westerners lives with an agricultural style work-year (50+ hour work weeks with something resembling an off season).

    We’re essentially eating our seed corn now; the question is whether it matters. Land’s point (that all this stuff is meaningless post-Singularity) is looking stronger by the day. Restorations seem pretty rare in human history, but what does a dark age look like with robots keeping the peasants fed? The Idaho project’s failure is a matter of timing; I dialect that they were 10-20 years early.

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