Month: June 2018
Moldbug wrote, “White nationalism is the most marginalized and socially excluded belief system in the history of the world.”
And he was right. But, even so, in the decade since he wrote that, many fringe-right beliefs, including even white nationalism, have prospered beyond what I think he or many other people would have predicted.
We can point at a few causes — the overreach of liberalism is my first pick — but combining fringe-right comment with humour has been very effective. By 2007, every right view from prewar conservatism to nazism had been comprehensively demolished in popular culture for half a century, which has greatly contributed to excluding them all from social acceptability. But a fringe right that is willing to laugh at itself is a very long way from the generations of stereotypes that have been used to inoculate the populace, and causes chaos in its enemies. Pepe is a hate symbol! Nazi dogs in Scotland! Feminism is cancer! These jokes get around some of the defenses that have been set up.
They don’t do more than that.To win in the political sphere, at some point you have to be taken seriously. But winning in the political sphere isn’t my objective — just leaking a few ideas, a few facts, into the common consciousness is laying groundwork for serious responses to serious crises that haven’t happened yet.
Bronze Age Pervert fits perfectly into this strategy. Nude bodybuilders destroying the cities by fire cannot be painted by journalists as a clear and present danger without making themselves ridiculous. BAP can raise recognition of various concepts — that relations between the sexes have gone disastrously wrong, that rights for the many are suppressing the freedom of the exceptional — and he can do it without looking like a school shooting or a Nazi occupation.
If that was all he did, it would be worthwhile. But the mix of serious ideas sprinkled through his book are worth attention.
A repetition of the Late Bronze Age Collapse is not really the goal most of us are working towards. But for myself, I do see it as a realistic prospect within the next century, so it’s absolutely worthwhile to be raising it as a discussion. The Pervert projects it as a sequence of developments: megastates losing their global control as their competence and effectiveness decline, bandits establishing themselves in the abandoned edges, and later descending on the decadent cities for loot and glory. In the last part of the book he explores these possibilities in a bit more detail.
The projection seems more than plausible. It’s worth discussing how to take advantage of it as well as how to prevent it. It’s not a goal of what I think of (questionably) as “mainstream reaction”, but it obviously has overlaps with concepts of Patchwork or true sovereignty. Imagining possible futures is one of the most important and underexercised activities of our movement.
The sticking point of BAP’s future is the actual destruction of technological civilisation. Maybe we could sort of skip that bit? Maybe technological civilisation doesn’t actually require a world population of billions? From 20,000 Leagues to Aristillus, the union of piratical independence with high technology has been imaginable… could it be practical?
In a similar vein, my “mainstream reaction” seeks the return of monogamy on the pattern of Christendom, and the Pervert specifically rejects that, though admitting it superior to the present situation. It comes down to the same question: that civilised pattern is valuable ultimately a mechanism for mobilising a mass industrial population. Can a mass industrial population be preserved? Should it be? Or is it a 20th-century phenomenon that has run its course?
It’s a bit callous to be debating the pros and cons of billions of deaths, but it’s not as if it’s going to be the reactionaries doing the killing. Those deaths are on the agenda already — how large a population can Europe support with African government? The question is what to do — if anything — to prevent that collapse.
Any modern reactionary must remain conscious of the fact that by existing within modernism he has some degree of complicity with it. The Bronze Age mindset is a reminder that that is not the only path; a yardstick against which to measure the compromises he is making.
In conclusion, I find Bronze Age Mindset worth reading, thinking about, and promoting. It is not my manifesto, but it contributes serious thinking and an attitude of seeking alternatives.
Where does economic growth come from?
I’m going to break it into four components
- Innovation. By “innovation”, I mean using more effective production techniques than before. The normal implication is using newly discovered techniques that are more effective than older ones, which is probably the most common, but I am going to stretch it, and, for instance, still count abandoning a newer technique for an older one as innovation too if it improves production.
- Capital accumulation. Making things to make things. It’s a bit unnatural, but for my purposes, this is a technique in itself, so really it’s just a variety of innovation. However, you still need to be able to afford to delay production, in order to produce more, so to that extent it is a separate element of growth.
- Scale. As a rule, you can produce more effectively at larger scale than at smaller scale. Further, scale can support innovation if there are different techniques that are more effective than old techniques at large scale but not at small scale.
- Mobilisation. You can produce more if you devote more of the available resources to production. This is a bit of a catch-all, it can include working more hours, eliminating unproductive activity, reducing unemployment.
Am I talking about economic growth for a company, for a society, for the world? At this point it doesn’t matter, you can always break it down into those four components.
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that economic growth is good. But growth by the three components is not the same. Innovation is the good stuff. Orders-of-magnitude increases in wellbeing haven’t been powered by improved mobilisation, and not by scale directly, except insofar as it has enabled innovation. They’ve been powered by innovations.
Mobilisation is a very mixed bag. Cutting out pure waste is good. But a lot of what appears as waste is actually production of something you’re not measuring: social capital, antifragility. On the other hand, relative to innovation, the goals of greater mobilisation are small. If you get waste down to 50% of effort, then a further doubling of output is the most you can achieve by reducing waste.
Scale is generally good up to a point, but again you reach a point the gains become small and the social effects can become large.
I’m not convinced that capital accumulation deserves as much attention. Even quite backward subjects of study usually have access to capital proportional to their production. The main point is that it causes growth to be exponential: your rate of growth is dependent on your level of growth. Innovation is also a cause of that phenomenon.
What drives growth is the market and competition. Where there is competition, competitors will seek additional growth in all its components. Where there isn’t, growth usually just doesn’t happen at all.
What I’m getting at is that there is a reasonable political case for restraining scale and mobilisation, but much less of one for restraining innovation. In practice, though, this is generally very hard to do. Once you take the authority to overrule the market and prevent competition, the incentives to interfere in innovation are every bit as strong as those to interfere with mobilisation and scale. This is the orthodox libertarian view that you will find throughout the early years of this blog.
There isn’t a conclusion. This is just a problem that hangs over every political view that isn’t pure market liberalism. It’s part of the context of everything I think about. For an example, see The Trichotomy Explained