A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 9b)
Okay. So where were we? Oh, right, trying to take over the world.
At last count: we have started by cleansing our heads of trying to take over anything. We have adopted the ideology of passivism—the antithesis of progressive “activism.”
Passivism follows directly from the reactionary revocation of the Lockean right of rebellion. The passivist replaces Locke’s chestnut with an older, truer formula: might makes right. USG has the might, so it has the right. The passivist does not rebel against USG, because he has not the right to do so; he has not the right to do so, because he has not the power to do so.
(Can a person believe that might makes right, and still call himself a libertarian? Easily. The converse of the principle is that where USG has not the might to act, it has not the right. Thus the reactionary libertarian, believing that might makes right, believes it is wrong of USG to ineffectively outlaw a little plant that anyone can grow in his closet. Sovereignty, being absolute, must therefore be boolean.)
Notice how backward and reactionary passivism is. We have popped ourselves right out of the 20th-century Anglophone tradition, and turned the clock back to the 17th—on the royalist side. The conventional intellectual history of the 17th century in England has Locke on the left and Hobbes on the right. Here at UR, we have Filmer on the right and Hobbes on the left. Locke? Dig him up and hang him, like Cromwell.
Royalists must acknowledge the need for an occasional change of dynasty. But they see nothing romantic in the matter. Regime change can only be a question of necessity, never one of “right.” Might makes right. No one has the right to rebel, unless of course he also has the might.
Observe the self-stabilizing effect of this political design. When might and right become misaligned, they quickly realign themselves. Contrary to your good socialist education, stability is generally a desirable feature in a political system.
So we are not really trying to take over the world. All we are doing here is studying the lifecycle of the present owner. Said owner believes itself immortal. Some of us disagree. In that case, it seems prudent to have a plan. All we are doing here is writing one.
The Modern Structure—democracy on the American design—is quite stable in one sense of the word. To date, its effective performance in commanding the political loyalty of most of its subjects, and the acquiescence of all, is unmarred. It is very unlikely to suddenly collapse. However, the Structure is unstable in the sense that its quality of government deteriorates progressively over time. No pun intended. Many people realize this; not all have worked through the implications.
(Apparent increases in quality of government across American history tend to follow informal regime changes, as in 1861 and 1933. It is not that the class of people in government improves, but that a new class of people comes into government, where power at once begins to corrupt them. The simple monotonic pattern, as described above, is seen more often in democracy’s foreign colonies. In any case, with government in the hands of a clerical elite, there is no prospect of any further nondestructive update. Even if Pat Buchanan’s peasants do drop by with their pitchforks, which they won’t, they will not leave without setting some papers on fire.)
Therefore, “sclerotic” is probably a better word for the “stability” of the Structure. Sclerotic systems follow the pattern of life: they work until they fail completely, constantly experiencing unidirectional changes. Such is the lifecycle of cars, cats, stars, and Soviet Socialist Republics. There appears to be some principle of institutional entropy at work, common to large, complex, long-lived systems.
If you try to infer the future of any such system—a cat, a star, etc.—by looking at the history of that one system alone—you will immediately assume that since this system has never died, it will live forever. Of course this is a completely unwarranted assumption. But it follows logically from the procedures by which even most educated people intuitively predict future from past.
As it ages, the Modern Structure accumulates stable disequilibria: things that make no sense, but that nonetheless are not about to go away. (Like Obama’s Stalin Prize.) When it collapses, these regions of local insanity merge in the mind of all into one general pattern of insanity. It is generally seen that the Structure itself makes no sense. Rather, it is generally realized that the entire American system of government is best understood as an enormous practical joke, which is not at all funny.
This perception is permanent and fatal. And just like that, the entire edifice recomposes itself as a heap of masonry. M. Valdemar recapitulates his deliquescence. Within months the fact that this rubble was once a great building, with spires on top, seems no less dreamlike and fantastic than any other part of the story. All this was seen in the East. Either it will be seen in the West, or the Structure will stand forever. Your choice, glasshoppa!
The first big secret of the Procedure: it is not a way to destroy the Modern Structure. Oh, no! It is quite the opposite. It is a way to recover from the spontaneous failure of the Modern Structure. Airbags do not cause car crashes. The Reaction can simply be considered as a safety measure for a potentially spurious failure mode that will probably never happen.
Should the Americans remain forever content under their good and ancient Constitution, including of course the innovations and institutions now conventionally ascribed to it, they will remain forever in the grips of the Structure. For better or for worse. The Structure is not some nefarious organ within Washington. It is Washington itself. It must be taken or left.
This choice, though few realize it, is boolean. When the Americans repudiate Washington, they are just taking the piss and playing games until they repudiate Washington as a whole. It makes no sense to keep the Constitution but move the capital to Kansas City, ditch the Constitution but keep the Supreme Court, liquidate the Department of Education but not the Department of Energy, etc., etc., etc.
(Generally, it is a mistake to keep operating with any of the same staff in any of the same agencies in any of the same buildings. If any box on the org chart survives, it should be only as some ironic bureaucratic exception—which demonstrates, by sheer pathetic scale, the weight of the wave that has scraped and filled the lower Potomac back to good Chesapeake clay. Imagine if some obscure Unterunteramt of the SS had survived, intact, into the European Union. Would this surprise me? Yes. Would it cause me to totally reevaluate my perception of reality? No. If the Procedure is properly executed, surviving bureaucratic tissues of USG (security forces excluded) should be in the same probability ballpark. USG is not by any means the SS, but sterile is sterile—regardless of bacterium.)
Until you recognize that the whole system has to go, you are a supporter of that system. Period. The choice being so drastic, so outside every man’s ken, it is possible that the Americans will remain forever content. In which case: the Procedure is a fun hobby and absolutely harmless. It is also possible that they will not remain so content, and Washington will so abuse them that they declare a case of government failure.
Clearly, there exists some withdrawal of consent after which Washington can no longer continue to govern. No government, as a whole, is incapable of losing the consent of its subjects as a whole. If this is the fate of a democratic government, that government will cease to exist. Indeed, it will cease to exist more certainly than its autocratic competitors, because they are to some extent designed to resist this attack. A democracy is quite intentionally not so designed.
In which case: what comes next? The purpose of the Procedure is to answer this question. If keeping Washington is Plan A, what is Plan B? Obviously, in the case that the Americans do not remain forever content with their noble overlords, something must be done. Clearly, this plan has been entirely neglected and is of considerable importance. Devising it can only be construed as a public service.
If this Plan B is never used, it should at least be entertaining to construct, and at best have some other social utility in the world of Plan A. If it is used, on the other hand, it should work as well as is possibly foreseeable.
The second big secret of the Procedure is that airbags, um, do cause car crashes. (Or, at least, anti-lock brakes cause car crashes.)
How? Because drivers modify their behavior when in a vehicle without these safety features. Although any Plan B is no more than a safety feature, its may also have some indirect effect on political behavior.
Basically, a viable Plan B is like a red “Eject” button in a plane which appears to be going down. The game-theoretic situation of democratic voters becomes very different if this button exists. Persuading a pilot to push the button, and eject from his plane, is normally quite difficult. It obviously involves pointing out a serious and irreparable mechanical emergency. If there is no eject button, however, it is even more difficult to persuade your pilot to open the window, crawl out on the wing, and try to use his pants as a parachute. He would almost always rather stick with the plane—which generally has some chance of landing in one piece.
The task of the First Step is to build this red button. Which is not, of course, a political weapon. Especially since it must be constructed without any advantage of sovereignty whatsoever, and indeed every disadvantage of it. When the question is evaluated rationally, however, we guess that if the button existed, some force with the power to do so might appear and push it. The exact nature of that force is of an entirely speculative nature, and there is now no reason to speculate on it.
In the ’70s, the notorious Edward Luttwak wrote a very entertaining book, Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook. Since the task of the First Step is to figure out what happens after the coup, the product of this work exercise could be called Coup d’État: The Sequel. Actual coup planners are notoriously negligent in neglecting this crucial phase.
Let us explore this duality between airbag and coup d’état a little more closely. Is it quantum? It is definitely quantum. The First Step has this total wave–particle Tao nature:
Since it is only the First Step of a complete Procedure, its ultimate goal is presumably some sort of actual action.
Yet, since the ideology of the Procedure is fundamentally and unchangeably passivist, this Step must also be complete in itself. The State is no green apple to yank from the branch. No! It can only melt into the hand, like a ripe peach.
In case anyone, perhaps not having watched enough Kung Fu episodes, remains morally confused about how sincere passivists can assemble a political weapon, passivism turns out to be just one special case of a more general principle: do not act until it is proper to act. Since it is nowhere near proper to act, the difference is irrelevant—now, and for the foreseeable future.
So the First Step is (a) a fun hobby which enhances, invigorates, relaxes and entertains the soul of man under socialism;1 and (b) an information weapon to be used offensively in the Second Step, and defensively in the Third. It is not a compromise between these two objectives. It is both, at once, completely. But how can anyone succeed in such a daring enterprise?
Glasshoppa! Step outside your linear, Western way of thinking. If we raise a spirit to contend against democracy, it cannot be some half-assed imp cooked up in a bathtub from a dead rabbit, a quart of bleach and 27 boxes of Sudafed. It must be some great ghost from the glorious past—older by millennia than the fad it returns to dispel.
One country holds such ghosts: China.
The spiritual core of the First Step is the famous and ancient Chinese principle of the Mandate of Heaven, or Tianming. This can be condensed as the principle that power flows toward the worthy. To attain power: become worthy to rule. Since becoming worthy is a worthy exercise by definition, it satisfies our need for quantum Buddha duality. It is simultaneously harmless and deadly—both, at once, completely. Moreover, no one can laugh at it, because I did not make it up myself. Tianming is quite literally ten times as old as American democracy, and far better proven by experience.
To defeat the Modern Structure, create a New Structure which is more worthy to rule. Much more worthy to rule. Once this (perfectly passive) task is complete, the New Structure has only to wait. The law of Tianming tells us that power will flow to it—as the rains return to the ocean.
Now, if you are still stuck in your linear, Western way of thinking, you might ask: how exactly does this law of Tianming operate? Is it anything like global warming? Is it based on the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, or black Tibetan opium? When USG’s time is up, will there be a comet in Sagittarius, an earthquake in Rosslyn, and a great flood in Rock Creek Park? Your question, glasshoppa—my answer.
Remember the analogy of the eject button. The reason USG is so stable is not that it is (a) structured militarily to retain power without the broad consent of its subjects. Nor is the regime (b) especially loved by said subjects. Rather, USG is permanent because there (c) exists no credible alternative to its services.
No one can press the red button, because there is no red button. This precludes all forms of effective collective resistance—political or military—to the continued rule of USG. If your goal is to abolish USG and then figure out what to do next, you are crazy and no one will support you. If your goal is to reform USG, you are ignorant, dense or deluded, and you will fail—not personally, of course, but just in achieving your goal.
Whereas for a story with the right ending, consider the fate of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, whose fate some of us would like to see USG share, collapsed because it was a structural disaster. (USG, for its threat to call in war loans to the British and French if they continued assisting in the attempted restoration of Russia, and for its general permanent affection for Robespierres, Lenins, Castros and Mugabes around the globe and across the centuries, bears significant institutional responsibility for this disaster.) Bolshevism provided government of a truly spectacular awfulness.
Nonetheless, it is not (as most conservatives believe) true that the Soviet Union collapsed solely because it provided such awful government to its subjects. No. It wasn’t just that the Russians were governed incompetently and reprehensibly. It was also that they had a clear alternative which was readily available and apparently superior. I.e.: American democracy.
The movement that ended the Soviet Union was not, as it still superficially appears, one of pure rejection and nihilism. It had a positive and constructive plan around which everyone who cared to be a dissident could agree. It had a red button, and under that red button was a little heat-printed plastic strip that said, in Cyrillic: SURRENDER TO AMERICA. Or more precisely, as it turned out, to George Soros.
Which turned out to have its disadvantages. (Frankly, I think the jury is still out on the transition from Brezhnev to Putin; a case can be made for either, but the nadir surely lies between.) But the Soviet Union could fall because this single clear option, quite unsusceptible to any decoration or amendment—surrender to the West—formed a Schelling point around which large numbers of its subjects could trivially coordinate. (Note also the original Bolshevik slogan.)
Since there is no credible alternative to USG, its opponents have no Schelling point. Moscow could surrender to Washington. Washington has no one to surrender to. The East had a West; the West has no West. Thus, its only option is to live forever. And thus, the Tianming strategy for bringing it down: create a credible alternative. Ergo: become worthy, glasshoppa.
The USSR, for pretty much its entire lifetime, had also been indoctrinating its subjects to hate the West like the Devil hates garlic. The Schelling point was extant; the target was well-adapted and resistant. Nonetheless, the Soviet youth, educated for three generations to resist Western bourgeois decadence, succumbed instantly and with hardly a whimper.
USG has no possible resistance to a new Schelling point. Therefore, according to some optimists, constructing one should make it at once turn black and drip into the bedsprings, like the corpse of M. Valdemar. Everyone will be amazed in retrospect that this 18th-century relic survived into the early 21st. Even if this rosy scenario does not occur, the device once assembled creates many practical options.
Consider the difference between the Procedure and the democratic strategy of conservatism. Conservatism seeks to either halt the decay of USG where it is, or return USG to some ideal state of the past—restoring, for instance, the Constitution of 1789. Or at least the Constitution of 1932. Or maybe just the Reagan Administration.
But these misty ideals are mummies that disintegrate on contact. They are not true things, but false things—not alive, but dead. You cannot wake them up with a sip of Red Bull. What, exactly, would it even mean to roll back the New Deal in 2009? Answer: no one has any frickin’ idea. Not a single flack at a single right-wing think-tank has any real plan for any such thing. Conservatism can never be a coherent alliance, because it is not a single strategy but a blur of good feelings. Thus, irrespective of its many other faults, it cannot form a Schelling point and cannot win.
I.e.: it may be obvious to anyone who takes a clear look at the matter that America was better governed in 1909 than 2009. But this study produces neither any consensus on what year is preferred, for what issue, or how to translate that year’s form of government into 2009. There is no little blue manual for going back to governing America like it was really America. This would be your conservative Schelling point, if it existed, which it does not and never will.
Again, this is only one of the reasons that the apparent, but false, alternative of conservatism is not a Schelling point. But since it is not, it functions on behalf of the Structure itself, acting as a sort of democratic speed-limiter and political crab-trap. Any opposition that can be redirected into conservatism is not only harmless to the system, but often indeed salubrious. Without conservatives, for instance, Washington could fly much farther into the domain of the preposterous—thus further attenuating the loyalty of its already bored and weary audience.
Conservatives, whose political motive is generally mere human altruism, and whose tightest point of natural agreement is an abstract, ill-defined ideal which has no clear recipe for implementation, is generally stated as vaguely as possible so as to attract the largest possible headcount, and exhibits patterns of error perfectly adapted to deflect the respect of the intelligent, cannot conceivably compete on any level playing field with the self-coordinating progressive movement, which has no ideals at all—being defined only by the willingness to swallow some drop, teaspoon, quart or vat of epistemic ordure, as a ticket to hop on the big bandwagon, inhale the party line and join the winning team. Conservatism cannot focus; progressivism is focus alone. Whatever the party line is today, your progressive will always support it. And thus in the longue durée conservatism loses and progressivism wins, and thus the former is best seen as a sort of decoy, lure, bait or shill for the latter—not a true competitor. The entire democratic complex is defined by its secular drift to the left; those who ask its future must look in that direction; those who could reform it, could educate a snake; those who would beat it must beat it as a whole.
Since anyone with a good intuitive sense of history, which lots of people have, can sense the irresistible nature of the giant, grinding bulldozer that is the democratic movement, they respond intuitively with the natural human response corresponding to passivism: apathy. This behavior is also known as learned helplessness. Contrary to democratic dogma, learned helplessness is the normal human response to tyranny. It is almost always far more rational than resistance.
Any of the democratic political theorists of the 18th century, or any practitioner of the 19th or early 20th, would be simply stunned at the official abuses which the Americans (especially, but by no means entirely, the suburban white Americans), not only accept but certify with their votes. The Founders in particular would be amazed at such learned helplessness, which they would find much more reminiscent of the subjects of the Hapsburg or Bourbon monarchies.
Yet this response is perfectly rational. We learn to feel ourselves helpless, because we are helpless. No rational person can avoid perceiving this fact. Therefore, the inference is correct and your mental organs are functioning correctly, at least in a Darwinian sense.
Conservative parties perform a valuable service in slowing the decay of the Structure, moderating the acute, fulminating sepsis of revolutionary democracy, a real danger for any state at any time, into a mere chronic degenerative disease. They can resist, they do resist, and they should resist. No one living today can even imagine the horrors that would have seen America and the world had the US been captured by revolutionary Bolshevism in the 1920s, an event not at all outside the realm of counterfactual possibility. Question: why did this not happen? Answer: conservatives. However, once the ultimate futility of the movement is understood, its attraction becomes quite limited. At the very least, it needs an offense to go with its defense.
The fact that it has no real chance of success, and thus stimulates the innate tribal response of learned helplessness, causes an observer to greatly understate the political force that is latent in the conservative movement. If conservatism—or any other movement designed to defeat the Modern Structure—stood any real chance of success, it would become far more powerful than you can possibly imagine. It could seize the state with ease. It would.
If you identify this as a case of circular reasoning, you are right. More precisely, it is a case of game theory—even more precisely, a coordination problem. The only way to break this cycle is to create a Schelling point: a credible and precise alternative. A red button.
So this is the strategy. What, exactly, is this mysterious device?
In the First Step, we do not replace all of USG. We just replace its brain—the University. With a new device we call the Antiversity, which is pretty much what it sounds like it is. Here is a summary:
The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity—a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and never be wrong. Where multiple coherent perspectives of an issue exist, the Antiversity must provide all—each composed with the highest quality available.
(If the point must be belabored, compare this to Wikipedia’s policy on sourcing, forking, etc. With the exception of the remote loading prohibition, a blatant anticompetitive measure which reflects poorly on the project, Wikipedia’s policies are perfectly appropriate for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not designed to be an independent provider of veracity. It is not producing truth at all—just repackaging it.)
The power of a truth service is its reliability. It may remain prudently silent on any point; it must err on none. The thesis of the Procedure is that if we can construct a truth service much more powerful than USG’s noble and revered ministry of information, we will be able to use it to safely and effectively defeat USG. Indeed, I can imagine no other way to solve the problem.
Once this device of great veracity, the Antiversity—expressing not only razor-sharp analytical intelligence, not just exhaustive learning, but also great prudence and judgment—is fully armed and operational, it is straightforward to ask it the question: chto dyelat? What is to be done? What is the sequel to the coup d’état? What is Plan B?
The Antiversity will promptly deliberate, in its accustomed fashion, and churn out a hundred-page report. Probably with a DVD-sized appendix. And this will be Plan B, which describes how the institutions of NUSG are created outside power and installed in it. Plan B, in short, is the constitution of the Second Step.
Once this Plan B is complete, the Americans are finally ready to face the question. Are they happy with their present government? Or would they rather replace it? Once they decide that the answer is the latter and act collectively to make their will known, actual work can begin.
In the Third Step, the Antiversity continues to guide the New Structure toward stability—acting as the brain of NUSG, just as the University acted as the brain of OUSG. However, where the University pretends to advise the Modern Structure but in reality directs it, the Antiversity pretends to advise the New Structure and in reality advises it.
Sovereignty is irrevocable. Power is not being transferred to the Antiversity, but through the Antiversity. However, it must bear the Ring for a time, and even use it. Its hive mind must be built like a fortress; that fortress had better be fully armed and operational. Few institutions indeed are fit for the task of holding power permanently. The Antiversity must design and install an institution which meets this specification—a tremendous task. It itself need not meet it; but even for temporary sovereignty, brick-shithouse engineering is essential.
The problem thus narrows to the essentials of the coup. The coup is a boolean choice: do you support NUSG, or OUSG? Which of these organizations should the police and the military follow orders from? A wide variety of individuals can influence this choice, in a variety of ways. Numbers, of course, are always helpful.
But since those orders filter down from the collective minds of the University or the Antiversity respectively, any reasonable, well-meaning person’s answer to this question will depend on the relative credibilities of University and Antiversity. If you find the Antiversity more credible—much more credible—than the University, you are probably ready to at least contemplate a surgical transition of sovereignty. You believe that the police and the military should follow orders that are more sane, rather than orders that are less sane. Otherwise, you can hardly describe yourself as a reasonable and well-meaning person!
Becoming more credible—much more credible—than the University is a difficult task. But it is a task at which the Antiversity starts with considerable advantages, because the University has sacrificed its own credibility in so many ways, which it has absolutely no mechanisms to repair. (For instance, the statistical engineers who derived a global apocalypse from a single tree remain and will remain honored scholars. “Stay thirsty, my friends.” McIntyre, like Clapton, is God.)
Nonetheless, it is an eminently solvable problem. At least, it would occur to no one to describe it as an inherently unsolvable problem. Would it? Why should it be?
(We have to start by asking the obvious skeptical question about any strategy for taking over the world: why has it not been used in the past? Quite simply, the past did not have an Internet. Since it’s almost impossible to build the Antiversity even with an Internet, we can see how impossible it used to be.)
The Antiversity’s task of becoming worthy can be divided into two parts: becoming more right (much more right), and becoming more popular (slightly more popular), than the University. To be credible, one must be (a) right and (b) believed. Esse quam videri—though if you have to ditch one, definitely ditch the videri.
Both of these, of course, are extraordinarily difficult problems. For the sake of argument, let us assume we have built this Antiversity, and it is much more right. How do we make it slightly more popular? Or at least, popular with whatever set of people is needed to collectively decommission the Structure and initiate Plan B? This, of course, is a large set. But there is certainly no law of politics that tells us who it must contain, or even that it must constitute a majority.
To win, all the Antiversity must do is obtain the personal conversion of this set. It must wrest their souls from the University, and claim them for its own. There is no secret here. There is nothing subtle about the scale or the methods of this operation. It is politics, which is far older than democracy. The Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Inca would understand it perfectly.
Let us begin with the enemy—the Goliath in the sights of this odd little sling. The University.
The basic problem with the University is that it has become part of USG, and has been corrupted by power—thus impairing the high level of veracity it purports to provide. Since any scheme for either reversing this corruption in situ, or excising the University from the Structure, is prima facie impractical, the University is ‘totaled’ and must be replaced.
Another way to say this is to say that if you want to build a reliable truth service, it is much cheaper and easier to not start with Harvard. If you have Harvard, your best first step is to discard it. Harvard is valuable and wonderful in a thousand different ways, perhaps. It is just not valuable as an initial ingredient in a reliable truth service. You cannot purge it, nor can you assimilate it intact.
That said, it’s important to remember that the University remains quite alive and has many points of genuine vitality. It is very difficult to corrupt, say, chemistry. The University survives and rules because it is by far the most reliable, responsible and veracious institution in the modern world. As so often in European history, its clerics are the most intelligent and knowledgeable people of their era. Just guillotining them would be a terrible mistake.
(Potentially, the institutions themselves could be salvaged by rebuilding from the true science and engineering departments. But even the substantive disciplines can only benefit from a savage, existential reorganization. Chemistry is real, biology is real, etc., etc. But the institutional woodwork of the whole edifice is all dry rot and white ants. Burn it! Burn it all! Let it burn! Science, like God before Béziers, will know its own.)
There is no alternative to the fire. Defeating the University means ending its political dominance, which cannot be accomplished without ending its political role, which cannot be done without demolishing the institution in its present form, which cannot be done without either liquidating it or subjecting it to political domination—the former being highly preferable. Someone must rule; no empire is forever. Thus, the cause of the Antiversity is in a sense capital. To conceal this would be to err from day one; and yet, the matter may and must be disregarded on a day-to-day basis.
As is fit, the crime of the University is also capital. Assuming the robe of Pio Nono, it asserted its own infallibility. Unlike Pio Nono, it joined that infallibility to the sovereign power. It held the powers of the Grail. It misused them, and served the Serpent of Lies.
Those who lied, served the Dark One directly. Those who did not lie misled by omission, for they did not refuse to associate with the others. Those who honestly believed were negligent, for they chose not to inquire more deeply into the matter. One fate is mete to all.
If you taught chemistry at a university, you taught chemistry at a university which had a chief diversity officer, a department of African-American Studies, etc., etc. You knew what these people were. You knew what these people did. At least, you knew that whatever it was, it was not scholarship. You said nothing. What kind of servant of truth are you, sir? You served not truth, but the Party. Sign the form, sir.
So the Antiversity is not without some initial advantages. It could not possibly prevail, were it not competing against a deeply power-corrupted and morally compromised institution. Obviously, the University through its great temporal inertia is quite capable of carrying these liabilities, but they are liabilities, which are vulnerabilities, and not about to go away.
We then turn to the playing field: the minds which the Antiversity must infect with its benign countervirus. This need not be everyone. It need only be enough of everyone to initiate the unconditional transfer of sovereignty. Again, this is obviously quite a difficult task, but again when we look at it we find it in the solvable category.
First, consider the existing state of these minds. They believe that when they engage in democratic discussion about what programs and policies the Structure should pursue, they are engaging in meaningful political activity. Therefore, any attempt to engage an unsurprising supporter of the University will make first contact with this module. If the conversion is to continue and succeed, the democratic module must be decommissioned, so that the mind can think about who is sovereign, rather than what they should or should not do. However, it cannot be decommissioned until it is engaged and defeated.
Therefore, the first question our Johnny Appleseed of the good news, our carrier of the countervirus, our Typhoid Mary of truth, will face: okay, so if we have a regime change and replace our old government with your new government, what will your new government do?
The answer, which must of course be given honestly, will include steps like cancelling the Constitution, withdrawing from the United Nations, and imposing martial law. Or other stuff like that. It will not be difficult to portray any such step as taking up where Hitler left off, and we all know how hard it is to go around the office taking contributions for Hitler.
I mention these difficulties because the easiest and most obvious sales strategy for any ordinary right-wing activist is to get as far away from Hitler as possible. In general, on the right it pays to approach the center and maximize the accessibility of the message. I.e., to play the Hotelling–Downs game. This again results in standard conservatism, which may put a flack or two in a nice corner office, but can never actually succeed in its mission.
The Antiversity is especially precluded from winning power through a Hotelling–Downs strategy of gradual moderation. If it starts mincing, sidestepping and kissing up to the left, in the usual fashion, something has gone really terribly wrong and the experiment needs to be terminated.
First, the program of the Antiversity will (unless I am completely out to lunch) be simply too far to the right to derive any benefit from any incremental shift to the left. It cannot sell in the same market as conservatism; it must create its own market. And there will always be a categorical barrier between the two.
Second, moderating its program means diluting its truth service with tactical fiction, a compromise of which it is constitutionally incapable. Unless, of course, it has been corrupted.
Third, and perhaps most important, choosing the Antiversity over the University is a boolean choice—there is no way to split the difference. For this choice to remain clear, of course, the Antiversity has to be right every time it disagrees with the University.
On all three counts, we see a clear separation. Basically, I believe that the Procedure can succeed because I believe there is an isolated political maximum, or island of stability, several orders of magnitude to the right of the present-day political spectrum. If you stay on the island—the Right Pole, as it were—you have a chance of actual victory. If not, you might as well go work for David Frum.
This might be called a Martin Luther strategy. Luther had many predecessors, often quite talented and vigorous, who worked to reform the Church. The result: barbecue. But Luther, who worked to abolish the Church, died in his bed. Not that he abolished the Church, but not that it abolished him either. Why? Because the island of stability is a perfect Schelling point.
The set of all people who want to reform the Church is not a trivial coalition. How do they want to reform the Church? What, precisely, is their agenda? Anyone can say he wants to reform the Church, and mean anything by it. The bishops can be for it. The cardinals can be for it. The Pope can be for it. Reform! Yes, by all means, we shall have reform.
The set of all people who want to abolish the Church is a trivial coalition. Either you are a Protestant or a Catholic. It is not possible to be a Protestant on some issues and a Catholic on others. Neither side will accept those who are lukewarm. The result: cohesion and commitment.
The set of all Catholic reformers is a natural mob. It is fuzzy around the edges. It has all sorts of aims. It can never be defined or precisely constrained. It may be organizable, but it certainly does not lend itself to organization. The set of all Catholic apostates, on the other hand, has exactly the opposite quality. It is a natural army. It wants to organize itself. It contains no inherent internal conflicts, besides the inevitable personal frictions of any organization.
Let’s look at this Right Pole, this island of stability, a little more closely. What are its attractions? The island cannot be a Schelling point unless people actually want to move there. Besides the innate excitement of extremism—which you can get any day at Kos or Stormfront (have Kos and Stormfront ever thought of cooperating on some kind of anti-Jew initiative?)—what are the mental attractions of the Reaction?
I see two: one obvious and one not. The obvious one is that, since the Reaction is the Antiversity and the Antiversity is always right, the attraction of truth is always present, and never dispelled by even the smallest injection of fiction. Not everyone has a nose for pure truth, but many do. Moreover, the pattern in which those who have a nose for pure truth come to it and feast en masse, like tadpoles on a dead fox, is recognizable to many of the rest.
The less obvious attraction—though perhaps even more important—is that, unlike conservatism, the Reaction actually has a credible strategy for achieving power. If sufficiently large numbers of people abandon the University and shift their trust to the Antiversity, the Modern Structure will fall, the New Structure will be born, and those who overthrow it will receive power. The details of this transition are completely unimportant, at least for this discussion.
In other words, it is quite straightforward to picture a future in which reactionaries recapture USG. It may not be likely, and in fact it is not; but the picture can be constructed. It is not straightforward to picture a future in which conservatives recapture USG, because conservatives are nowhere near having a plan to attack the University, the Civil Service, the Press, or the structure surrounding them. (What conservatives mean by victory: more jobs for conservatives.) Since no actual attack is contemplated, no victory can be imagined. And since the Structure is not about to go away on its own, no realistic world without it can be portrayed.
Whereas the reactionary narrative is easy: everyone becomes a reactionary. More or less. When there are enough of us, we seize the State—“by any means necessary,” as Malcolm put it, although as reactionaries we must at once add and proper—and complete the Procedure.
You start to see why building the Antiversity is such a tremendous task. The Antiversity has to become so credible that it can serve as the definitional backbone of a political movement which could not otherwise exist: the movement to replace the Constitution with the Antiversity. (More precisely, with a transition plan of the Antiversity’s design.)
Even once the First Step, which is a tremendous and impossible task, is done, the Second Step, which is a tremendous and impossible task, remains. You cannot change this! Glasshoppa, you cannot change this. Nor can you change the order of the two, nor run them in parallel. The sentences run consecutively—and the Third, too, is tremendous and impossible. Only now see you the true height of these fierce and snowy mountains. Tremble, glasshoppa.
The mountains exist. But there is a path—I believe. And if I am right, if there is a path, this path is the basis for exactly the same type of feedback power generator that was born as the Progressive movement, and grew up to be the Modern Structure. I note, however, that the National Socialist German Workers’ Party was plugged into just the same feedback reaction. So the effect is both powerful and dangerous—as we should expect, in any recipe for sovereignty.
Basically, if you see a plausible strategy for domination whose only missing ingredient is the number of supporters, it is rational to join this strategy, especially if it costs you nothing to join. Thus progressives crowd around the supple progressive line, constantly twisting to support whatever policy gives progressives the most victory and power. Watch them twist now, on Afghanistan! It is always sad to see others in mental pain. But they adjust.
Most progressives are socially normal human beings, who in any political environment would just be choosing the largest, best-appointed bandwagon for their personal conveyance. In Nazi Germany they would be Nazis, in Russia they would be Bolsheviks, in the kingdom of Louis XIV they would be all for Louis XIV. This is one of the many reasons there is no need to guillotine them. Au contraire: one way to know you’ve actually seized actual power is that these remoras latch on to you. The effect is unmistakable and quite pleasant. It is also useful.
At the beginning of the Second Step, the Antiversity is already a well-established institution which has consumed hundreds of man-years of individual effort. It is, in a word, a success. It cannot be laughed at or ignored. It may still appear improbable that it will defeat the University in the struggle for control over USG, but it can no longer appear impossible. Therefore, some probability factor can be applied to its success.
It is the product of this probability with the magnitude of the success—the expected value—that matters. The feedback takeoff effect should occur when this product, which should be nonzero, exceeds the equivalent product for progressivism, the University and the Modern Structure.
Young supporters continue to be attracted to progressivism, because progressivism offers them impact, i.e., power. Very small slices of impact. Very, very small. I.e.: bogus internships at second-tier polar-bear foundations. But—still. The magnitude is very small, but the probability is 1 by definition. The Structure rules, and apparently will always continue to rule.
Obviously, after becoming the Establishment itself, our old revolutionaries have very little free power to offer. Everything they could get their fangs on, they have sucked and discarded. The remaining prey is very small, very elusive, and very indigestible. The progressive movement is rapidly experiencing a crisis of power starvation—its supporters, who feed on victory, demand action. But there are precious few victories left to win.
A reboot strategy, such as the Reaction, offers a slice of impact in a more probabilistic way. Although it has a low probability of victory, the magnitude of victory—a whole new regime to construct—is so large that their perceived product is not insignificant. At least, it should be comparable to the starvation rations of the progressive. Let alone to those of conservatism, in which the probability of victory is significant but the magnitude of the victory is negligible.
Thus the Reaction has the ability to become fashionable with amoral elites, which was clearly a prerequisite for any kind of political success in the 19th and 20th centuries. Instead of a tiny slice of power in the existing regime, which is real, it offers supporters a large slice of power in the new regime, which is hypothetical—but which will become real, as soon as enough people support it. This is sufficient to stimulate the chimpanzee power instinct, which is if anything more developed in the most cultured and educated of minds.
If we consider the set of Reaction supporters as a social network, we will see that the core of this social network is the set of extremely intelligent, learned and prudent scholars who have created the Antiversity. Since its strategy for success involves expanding that social network, it must do what all successful social networks do: start with the elites, and work downward.
So, again, the Reaction has two engines: truth and victory. By producing truth and only truth, it attracts those strange geeks who are attracted to pure truth. Because it has a strategy for actual, complete victory, it attracts those normal remoras who are attracted by victory. With the combination, it is built to win—like Kimbo Slice.
In the American context, victory can only be produced by a coalition of civilized unity, i.e., a party containing both Amerikaners and dissident Brahmins. Once a sufficient quantity of the latter can be recruited, the former will recognize their natural leaders and fall into line. However, organizing any number of Amerikaners by any method which precludes the recruitment of Brahmins is a waste of time. Even in a democracy, the great contest is for minds, not heads. Once the minds are won, the heads will follow.
Tactically, conservatism concentrates on exactly the wrong side of this problem. It concentrates on recruiting the largest number of Amerikaners, by any means necessary. It goes straight for the democratic bait. The bait is indeed tasty and can generate a very realistic impression of power, but it is a mob rather than an army and cannot organize itself for any real political capture. I would trade the entire red-state population for a quarter of the Burning Man attendees—because, if I had the latter, I could easily get the former back. Again, political actors naturally recognize their natural leaders. Forge the spearhead, and the spear will show up on its own.
If this coalition of the middle and upper classes—the civilized classes—can be formed, victory is certain regardless of the numbers of the underclass. When the civilized classes are united, an underclass population of any size is not a political problem, but a security problem. And not a difficult one in this day and age. If the civilized coalition is outvoted, it can simply bid directly for the loyalty of the security forces, a contest it will always win.
The civilized coalition is politically conceivable. Hints of it, for instance, were seen in the Giuliani era in New York. Of course “Giuliani time” in New York developed orders of magnitude less power than would be required for actual regime change. Nonetheless, it was found possible to appeal politically to the upper crust to perform the normal or healthy role of aristocrats, i.e., cooperating to preserve civilized society. Which was admittedly in a somewhat dire condition.
One of the chief features that makes the Modern Structure pathological, in the present era, is the inescapable alliance of the upper class and the underclass against the middle. Rather than a Brahmin–Amerikaner alliance, we have a Brahmin–Dalit alliance.2 As political structures go, this one is quite sordid and inefficient, but also quite stable.
However, observed in retrospect from a future in which the civilized coalition has reasserted itself, the Brahmin–Dalit alliance makes a distinctly negative impression on the student of history. This impression is easily conveyed to impressionable high-school students—sealing, in a generation or two, the historical fate of democracy. NUSG will certainly have no difficulty in making its predecessor look bad.
In short: all the Reaction must do is convince reasonable, educated men and women of good will to support stable, effective and reliable government. If this cannot be done, we are most certainly all doomed.
So there are no real Jedi mind tricks in the Procedure. There is no magic jujitsu that will make Washington go away instantly. There is just a very large amount of extremely hard work. Given the number of people currently devoting their efforts to strategies of resistance that have no chance of success under any circumstances, however, this one strikes me as relatively promising. I hope you agree.
1. [Moldbug’s note in original]
The name of this pamphlet (1891) is so catchy that most everyone has heard of it. But few have read it—until now, including me. Who would have thought the author of:
Slavery was put down in America, not in consequence of any action on the part of the slaves, or even any express desire on their part that they should be free. It was put down entirely through the grossly illegal conduct of certain agitators in Boston and elsewhere, who were not slaves themselves, nor owners of slaves, nor had anything to do with the question really. It was, undoubtedly, the Abolitionists who set the torch alight, who began the whole thing. And it is curious to note that from the slaves themselves they received, not merely very little assistance, but hardly any sympathy even; and when at the close of the war the slaves found themselves free, found themselves indeed so absolutely free that they were free to starve, many of them bitterly regretted the new state of things.
would be… Oscar Wilde? I mean, what a crisp reduction of Mr. Aubrey Herbert’s book, The Abolition Crusade and Its Consequences. A queer man, our Mr. Wilde.