Month: May 2012
Bloody Shovel writes some complementary things about my Employment Policy post.
The comments run off into the direction of the pathologies of organisations, Nydwracu citing Robert Anton Wilson.
The SNAFU principle is real enough, but the central issue Shovel is emphasizing is not that; organisations like the education system fail at their nominal purpose not primarily because they are uninformed or incompetent (though they generally are), but because their real purpose is not their nominal purpose. Their real purpose is to survive and grow. C. Northcote Parkinson is more to the point than RAW.
(That’s not a complete opposition; the reason that RAW says that communication is only possible between equals is because otherwise the interests of the subordinate are not the interests of the superior. Whichever way you put it, the root problem is the agency problem.)
In the modern world, we have two treatments for Parkinson’s Law: one which sometimes works and one which never does.
The one that sometimes works is market competition. An organisation which has to fund itself in the market must succeed in satisfying its market or go out of business and be replaced. Big, powerful organisations have crumbled in the face of competition, and many others have reformed themselves effectively to avoid that fate.
But not every organisation has to compete. Government power exists and will always exist, and is a far more reliable nourishment. Not only do the inevitable organisations of power —- the parties, the security forces, the tax-collectors —- feed on it, but organisations which would otherwise have to compete in a market seek to secure government lifelines. Bankruptcy, Carlyle wrote, will bring down all falsehoods, but in the case of governments, rather too late for most of us.
To restrict government-fed organisations to their proper purpose, therefore, another treatment must be used. The one we rely on is to create a second organisation to regulate the first. This never works, for reasons too obvious to labour. First you create (or take over) a school. Then you create a board to control the school. Then an education authority to control the board. Then an inspectorate to control the education authority. The end result is you have four organisations pursuing their own agendas instead of one.
I can suggest possible better solutions to the problem, but not without a context. The normal context of any policy suggestion is the framework of organisations that make up modern government. The policy suggestion is then aimed at some organisation in that framework to carry out. In this case, that is obviously nonsensical. Appointing a single absolute ruler is not in itself a solution to the problem of organisations, but it is at least a context in which solutions can be meaningfully suggested. That, then, is the context I assume in making suggestions. As far as what “we” do now, in the current context, my answer is passivism: we merely remark that the problems are not treatable in this context.
The alternative I suggest, in the context of absolute rule, is to do, as far as possible, without organisations.
Tim Worstall made a revealing little post about the GSM cellular communications standard. An Observer article remarked that the group of European telecommunication companies which established the standard was “the kind of intergovernmental initiative that drives Ukip nuts”. Worstall, a (former, I think) UKIP press officer, is baffled by the suggestion that opponents of the EU, a permanent transnational government, would be opposed to an ad-hoc agreement (including non-EU members such as Norway and 1993 Finland) to carry out a single task. It should not be baffling; the institution-centric worldview of the political mainstream simply does not allow it to see the vital difference. That is a sufficient explanation for the state we are now in.
A wise ruler would not delegate permanent power or independence to any organisation. The principle should be that any organisation can be abolished by one person, and most should have a defined life. Obviously, an organisation can be abolished in theory and in reality just reconstituted under another name: the important principle is not to be dependent on an organisation so that it is able to do that. It is not likely that a ruler can avoid depending on anything, but it is better to depend on a person than on an organisation. Let the depended-on person build and destroy ad-hoc organisations the way the ruler does; the responsibility stays with him. It is better to depend on a lieutenant you know (and ideally have chosen) rather than on bureaucrats you cannot even name.
That sounds almost impossible, but we are conditioned by a world of large organisations dedicated to surviving and growing. It obviously entails a sacrifice to not have large permanent organisations, but the benefits could be still larger. After all, in commerce, there is an enormous sacrifice of efficiency involved in the duplication of functions by competing firms, and more sacrifice of efficiency in the destruction caused by bankruptcy of failed competitors. But in commercial fields the benefits of limiting the growth of cancerous dysfunctional organisations seem to consistently outweigh the very significant costs. The same may be true of government by temporary ad-hoc organisation.
Have I written about Breivik at all? I don’t think so. Whenever I try I end up with something so wide-ranging and rambling that I can’t finish or satisfactorily edit it. His story touches on my themes in so many different ways.
He’s also something of an embarrassment. In claiming the “neoreactionary” label, I am in a sense grouping myself with whoever else puts a return to traditional forms of government on a modern theoretical basis. I would argue that fascism doesn’t count as a neoreactionary theory, but it’s not easy to exclude Breivik.
I’ve read his “compendium”; well, read quite a lot of it and skimmed all the rest. There’s some sense there, along with the major error I originally started this blog to oppose: a huge overestimate of the actual and potential power of Islam in the West. (And along with an inordinate fascination with medals.) I answered the question Is Europe Becoming Islamicised with a “no” in 2004 and I stand by that.
The reason I haven’t posted before to make this point is that, after all, I know very little about Norway. Maybe it really is as bad there as Breivik claims: what standing do I have to claim otherwise?
However, my self-restraint from describing conditions in Oslo has not been reciprocated by Breivik, who in his defence speech described my home town of Luton as a “war zone” containing “no go areas”.
Now I am not here to sing the praises of Luton in all its glorious multicultural harmony. It’s a rough old place, not without conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. I have reported on the Begum case, the violent demonstrations, the odd leaflets, and the (thin) connections with islamist terrorism. But there are not no-go areas. I walk through the back streets of Bury Park after dark with less trepidation than past the nightclubs of the town centre. It was a rough town long before the Muslims got here, and the police constable who was murdered a few years ago was knifed by a schizophrenic Nigerian, not by some jihadist.
As I said all those years ago, Islam is used as a proxy by the universalist ruling elite with which to attack those aspects of traditional culture which native Europeans cannot be simply persuaded to abandon. Breivik obviously understands this to some extent: it is the reason he directed his attacks at white politicians rather than Muslims.
(Incidentally, the same immigration strategy can, and on occasion has, been used by conservatives to manipulate the culture: immigrants could be used to encourage patriarchy and disciplined child-rearing. But we are ordered to accommodate some aspects of immigrant culture, while others are hidden or treated as a problem, and it is clear who is giving the orders).
Indeed, Brevik’s own operational competence is an indication of where the balance of power between Westerners and Islam lies: by himself, with no funding, he did more damage than the eight Al-Quaeda trained and funded operatives who attacked London in July 2005. If we ever really have to fight Islam on our own ground, it will be easy. But I don’t think we will.
Rather, I suspect that at some point when the elite have no more use for the Muslims they will turn on them as they habitually do to their allies. At that point the immigrants will be driven out or forced to conform to the new culture, their free pass to to retain outmoded privileges like freedom of religion and independent exclusive institutions withdrawn.
So while Breivik is right about the existence of a universalist attack on European culture, he is mistaken in making Islam such a central aspect of it.
Since I am in part defending Breivik’s position, I must address the violence question —- could action such as his ever be justifiable?
All serious politicans are willing to kill people in a good cause: that is why all governments have armies and armed police. Most are willing to kill innocent people in a good cause: that is how we get policies like the bombing of Libya.
Of course, Breivik was not acting on behalf of a state —- does that make his violence automatically wrong? The mainstream of thought idolises the armed rebels whose causes it agrees with. So it can’t oppose Breivik on that basis. Rather, it probably relies on the fact that the state Breivik opposes is democratic as a reason why his violence cannot be acceptable.
However, as he himself pointed out during his trial testimony, the democratic states will always take steps to ensure that views like his will not be able to advance through democracy.
So, working on widely-accepted principles, it all comes down to his views — violence against the innocent in order to overcome a state which does not allow a legitimate method to remedy its failings is, apparently, justifiable, but is Breivik actually on the path to remedy the Norwegian state’s failings?
Er, no. I don’t think he has any realistic idea of what would be a better state, and I’m sure his one-man war is not going to help create it even if he has.
But that is my judgement of his political position — one based, unlike those of most journalists who have written on the matter, on actually reading what he wrote. And, for that matter, since this shit is difficult™, a judgement that might still be wrong.
In any case, while fighting an unjust state is right according to modern mainstream principles, it is not right according to reactionary principles. Reactionaries do not believe in a right to choose one’s government, by vote or by terrorism.
As to Breivik’s vision, while he said that he “gave up on democracy”, he has not given up on democracy in the way I have given up on democracy. He meant that he had given up on being able to solve what he sees as the immediate problems through Norway’s existing democratic processes. He doesn’t, as I do, see democracy as the problem in itself, the thing that must be got rid of. Like so many others, he has fallen into the trap of believing that democracy can be “fixed”.
But my real problem with him goes further than that. He wants to build an organisation —- the PCCTS —- to fight for power on behalf of European culture. I think that cannot work. It is the fight for power itself that is the root of the problem, and by joining it you are chasing the enemy into the abyss. That is as true of fighting with carbombs and shooting sprees as it is of fighting with demonstrations and election campaigns. By being an organisation that fights for power, you become a certain kind of organisation —- you succumb to the vicious logic of propaganda and coalition-building. You also, if you succeed, come to compromise with the system and in return become implicated in its inevitable failure. No good can come of it.
What on earth can we do, if we cannot fight for power? I do like to be original, but all of this is pure Moldbug. It is the Steel Rule. We become worthy of power, and wait for it to be given to us. Or we raise children and grandchildren who will be worthy of power, and wait for it to be given to them. This is not a short-term project, but neither is Anders “2083” Breivik’s. It’s a long shot, but so is his and as Moldbug wrote, if we fail, we have done no harm, which cannot be said of a terrorist campaign.
When a system collapses, power is given away. Everyone who is fighting for power with any success is already part of the current system. When the system fails, power will be given to someone else.
Looking at it another way, there are two narratives describing what has happened to European civilisation. One is that there is a somewhat conscious movement, which Moldbug first dubbed “Crypto-Calvinism”, then “Ultra-Calvinism”, and finally “Universalism”, which has continuously dominated English-speaking society for centuries, and utterly conquered Europe in 1945, and which has some ideological principles that have been consistent throughout (such as that humans are all fundamentally the same), and others that have become ever more extreme (such as Limited Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy to Republic to Democracy to Universal Suffrage). The elite holding these beliefs have steadily pulled the resisting masses behind them.
The other narrative, also due to Moldbug, is the cold mechanical one. Since the end of divine-right Monarchy, the logic of the struggle for power pushes an ever-wider splintering of power, as people and groups seize what fragments of influence they can, and hold on to them. Responsible decision-makers are replaced by committees, working groups become institutions and own little bits of power, and all this fragmented power is directed by factions in the unending struggle, not for any external public or even private benefit.
Breivik describes the first narrative, though he doesn’t recognise how far back the universalists go. And the narrative is real: the infamous former Labour speechwriter who said that the British government of which he was a part deliberately and surreptitiously multiplied immigration “to rub the Right’s nose in diversity” was making as blatant a declaration of culture war as it is possible to imagine.
But the second narrative is real too, and that is what Breivik does not understand. That is why he thinks that universalism can be defeated by shooting a sufficient number of universalists in the head. But universalism hasn’t won for all these years because of divine providence, or by Dawkins’ “mysterious movement of the zeitgeist”, but because the logic of competing for power favours it over reactionaries.
Breivik is obviously sane*, and obviously right that a Norwegian state that was sane and honest would execute him without blinking. The Norwegian state is not sane or honest. It is incapable of sustaining or defending itself in the very long term. That is a fact to be deplored, not, as Breivik sees it, one to be taken advantage of. When the collapse comes, the duty of replacing the old order will fall not to those who accelerated its demise, but to those who expected and explained it without accepting any responsibility for it.
* What about the probably-fictional organisation of which he claims to be a member? I am not sure whether it exists, but I am sure Breivik knows. If it doesn’t, then it is not a delusion, rather it is a deliberate lie for the sake of propaganda: it is easier to recruit followers to an already-established organisation than to one which is yet to practically exist.