- Author: Nick Land
- Source: http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/
- Read in: 2021
- Nick Land’s take on neoreaction, he cites Mencius Moldbug and other NRx thinkers
- NRx is pretty controversial, see Scott Alexander’s critique.
Various notes on Libertarianism
It is a structural inevitability that the libertarian voice is drowned out in democracy, and according to Lind it should be. Ever more libertarians are likely to agree. ‘Voice’ is democracy itself, in its historically dominant, Rousseauistic strain. It models the state as a representation of popular will, and making oneself heard means more politics. If voting as the mass self-expression of politically empowered peoples is a nightmare engulfing the world, adding to the hubbub doesn’t help. Even more than Equality-vs-Liberty, Voice-vs-Exit is the rising alternative, and libertarians are opting for voiceless flight.
As the democratic virus burns through society, painstakingly accumulated habits and attitudes of forward-thinking, prudential, human and industrial investment, are replaced by a sterile, orgiastic consumerism, financial incontinence, and a ‘reality television’ political circus. Tomorrow might belong to the other team, so it’s best to eat it all now.
Moldbug’s formative influences are Austro-libertarian, but that’s all over. As he explains: … libertarians) cannot present a realistic picture of a world in which their battle gets won and stays won. They wind up looking for ways to push a world in which the State’s natural downhill path is to grow, back up the hill. This prospect is Sisyphean, and it’s understandable why it attracts so few supporters.
Various notes on neo-cameralism
If the state cannot be eliminated, Moldbug argues, at least it can be cured of democracy (or systematic and degenerative bad government), and the way to do that is to formalize it. This is an approach he calls ‘neo-cameralism’.
To a neocameralist, a state is a business which owns a country. A state should be managed, like any other large business, by dividing logical ownership into negotiable shares, each of which yields a precise fraction of the state’s profit. (A well-run state is very profitable.) Each share has one vote, and the shareholders elect a board, which hires and fires managers. This business’s customers are its residents. A profitably-managed neocameralist state will, like any business, serve its customers efficiently and effectively. Misgovernment equals mismanagement.
Firstly, it is essential to squash the democratic myth that a state ‘belongs’ to the citizenry. The point of neo-cameralism is to buy out the real stakeholders in sovereign power, not to perpetuate sentimental lies about mass enfranchisement. Unless ownership of the state is formally transferred into the hands of its actual rulers, the neo-cameral transition will simply not take place, power will remain in the shadows, and the democratic farce will continue.
- So, secondly, the ruling class must be plausibly identified.
It should be noted immediately, in contradistinction to Marxist principles of social analysis, that this is not the ‘capitalist bourgeoisie’. Logically, it cannot be. The power of the business class is already clearly formalized, in monetary terms, so the identification of capital with political power is perfectly redundant. It is necessary to ask, rather, who do capitalists pay for political favors, how much these favors are potentially worth, and how the authority to grant them is distributed. This requires, with a minimum of moral irritation, that the entire social landscape of political bribery (‘lobbying’) is exactly mapped, and the administrative, legislative, judicial, media, and academic privileges accessed by such bribes are converted into fungible shares.
The formalization of political powers, thirdly, allows for the possibility of effective government.
Gov-corp would concentrate upon running an efficient, attractive, vital, clean, and secure country, of a kind that is able to draw customers. No voice, free exit.
Various notes on the Cathedral
The conclusion of this exercise is the mapping of a ruling entity that is the truly dominant instance of the democratic polity. Moldbug calls it the Cathedral.
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.” — Thomas Jefferson
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote! — Benjamin Franklin
“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” — John Adams
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.” — James Madison
“We are a Republican Government, Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy…it has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny…” — Alexander Hamilton
U.S. Constitution and Democracy
Steve H. Hanke lays out the case authoritatively in his short essay On Democracy Versus Liberty, focused upon the American experience: Most people, including most Americans, would be surprised to learn that the word “democracy” does not appear in the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the Constitution of the United States of America (1789). They would also be shocked to learn the reason for the absence of the word democracy in the founding documents of the United States. Contrary to what propaganda has led the public to believe, Founding Fathers of the United States were skeptical and anxious about democracy. They were aware of the evils that accompany a tyranny of the majority. The Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that the federal government was not based on the will of the majority and was not, therefore, democratic. If the Framers of the Constitution did not embrace democracy, what did they adhere to? To a man, the Framers agreed that the purpose of government was to secure citizens in John Locke’s trilogy of the rights to life, liberty and property.
He elaborates: The Constitution of the United States is primarily a structural and procedural document that itemizes who is to exercise power and how they are to exercise it. A great deal of stress is placed on the separation of powers and the checks and balances in the system. These were not a Cartesian construct or formula aimed at social engineering, but a shield to protect the people from the government. In short, the Constitution was designed to govern the government, not the people. The Bill of Rights establishes the rights of the people against infringements by the State. The only thing that the citizens can demand from the State, under the Bill of Rights, is for a trial by a jury. The rest of the citizens’ rights are protections from the State. For roughly a century after the Constitution was ratified, private property, contracts and free internal trade within the United States were sacred. The scope and scale of the government remained very constrained. All this was very consistent with what was understood to be liberty.
The strict logical correlate of such ideas, that democracy is fundamentally non-productive in relation to material progress, is typically under-emphasized. Democracy consumes progress. When perceived from the perspective of the dark enlightenment, the appropriate mode of analysis for studying the democratic phenomenon is general parasitology.
Its pre-eminent virtue is that it perfectly illustrates the democratic mechanism in extremis, separating individuals and local populations from the consequences of their decisions by scrambling their behavior through large-scale, centralized re-distribution systems.
Puritans and the Cathedral
However, you can’t keep a good parasite down. A community of Puritans fled to America and founded the theocratic colonies of New England. After its military victories in the American Rebellion and the War of Secession, American Puritanism was well on the way to world domination. Its victories in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War confirmed its global hegemony. All legitimate mainstream thought on Earth today is descended from the American Puritans, and through them the English Dissenters.
Whatever one’s opinion on the respective scientific merits of human biological diversity or uniformity, it is surely beyond contention that the latter assumption, alone, is tolerated. Even if progressive-universalistic beliefs about human nature are true, they are not held because they are true, or arrived at through any process that passes the laugh test for critical scientific rationality. They are received as religious tenets, with all of the passionate intensity that characterizes essential items of faith, and to question them is not a matter of scientific inaccuracy, but of what we now call political incorrectness, and once knew as heresy.
“If the facts do not agree with the theory, so much worse for the facts” Hegel asserted. It is the Zeitgeist that is God, historically incarnated in the state, trampling mere data back into the dirt. By now, everybody knows where this ends. An egalitarian moral ideal, hardened into a universal axiom or increasingly incontestable dogma, completes modernity’s supreme historical irony by making ‘tolerance’ the iron criterion for the limits of (cultural) toleration. Once it is accepted universally, or, speaking more practically, by all social forces wielding significant cultural power, that intolerance is intolerable, political authority has legitimated anything and everything convenient to itself, without restraint.
Tolerance has progressed to such a degree that it has become a social police function, providing the existential pretext for new inquisitional institutions. (“We must remember that those who tolerate intolerance abuse tolerance itself, and an enemy of tolerance is an enemy of democracy,” Moldbug ironizes.)
- Most of part 4 is an analysis of american race relations
- As most of this I found obvious or not so important, I did not take many notes
Antifragility of liberal opinions
As liberal decency has severed itself from intellectual integrity, and exiled harsh truths, these truths have found new allies, and become considerably harsher. The outcome is mechanically, and monotonously, predictable. Every liberal democratic ‘cause war’ strengthens and feralizes what it fights. The war on poverty creates a chronically dysfunctional underclass. The war on drugs creates crystallized super-drugs and mega-mafias. Guess what? The war on political incorrectness creates data-empowered, web-coordinated, paranoid and poly-conspiratorial werewolves, superbly positioned to take advantage of liberal democracy’s impending rendezvous with ruinous reality, and to then play their part in the unleashing of unpleasantnesses that are scarcely imaginable (except by disturbing historical analogy).
Leftist dialectics and liberty
More dialectics is more politics, and more politics means ‘progress’ – or social migration to the left. The production of public agreement only leads in one direction, and within public disagreement, such impetus already exists in embryo. It is only in the absence of agreement and of publicly articulated disagreement, which is to say, in non-dialectics, non-argument, sub-political diversity, or politically uncoordinated initiative, that the ‘right-wing’ refuge of ‘the economy’ (and civil society more widely) is to be found.
Integrative public debate always moves things to the left — that might not seem an especially difficult point to grasp, but to understand it is to expose the fundamental futility of mainstream conservatism, and that is in almost nobody’s interest, so it will not be understood.
When no agreement is necessary, or coercively demanded, negative (or ‘libertarian’) liberty is still possible, and this non-argumentative ‘other’ of dialectics is easily formulated (even if, in a free society, it doesn’t need to be): Do your own thing. Quite clearly, this irresponsible and negligent imperative is politically intolerable. It coincides exactly with leftist depression, retrogression, or depoliticization. Nothing cries out more urgently to be argued against.
Conceived generically, modernity is a social condition defined by an integral trend, summarized as sustained economic growth rates that exceed population increases, and thus mark an escape from normal history, caged within the Malthusian trap.
Three ways out of modernity 1.0
Given modernity’s inherent trend to degeneration or self-cancellation, three broad prospects open. These are not strictly exclusive, and are therefore not true alternatives, but for schematic purposes it is helpful to present them as such:
- Modernity 2.0
Global modernization is re-invigorated from a new ethno-geographical core, liberated from the degenerate structures of its Eurocentric predecessor, but no doubt confronting long range trends of an equally mortuary character. This is by far the most encouraging and plausible scenario (from a pro-modernist perspective), and if China remains even approximately on its current track it will be assuredly realized. (India, sadly, seems to be too far gone in its native version of demosclerosis to seriously compete.)
Amounting essentially to a new dark age, in which Malthusian limits brutally re-impose themselves, this scenario assumes that Modernity 1.0 has so radically globalized its own morbidity that the entire future of the world collapses around it. If the Cathedral ‘wins’ this is what we have coming.
- 3. Western Renaissance
To be reborn it is first necessary to die, so the harder the ‘hard reboot’ the better. Comprehensive crisis and disintegration offers the best odds (most realistically as a sub-theme of option 1).
It is advisable to maintain rhetorical discipline within a strictly hypothetical mode, because the possibility of any of these things is deeply colored by incredibility:
- Replacement of representational democracy by constitutional republicanism (or still more extreme anti-political governmental mechanisms).
- Massive downsizing of government and its rigorous confinement to core functions (at most)
- Restoration of hard money(precious metal coins and bullion deposit notes) and abolition of central banking.
- Dismantling of state monetary and fiscal discretion, thus abolishing practical macroeconomics and liberating the autonomous (or ‘catallactic’) economy. (This point is redundant, since it follows rigorously from 2 & 3 above, but it’s the real prize, so worth emphasizing.)
This democracy thing is easy – you just vote for the guy who promises you the most stuff. An idiot could do it. Actually, it likes idiots, treats them with apparent kindness, and does everything it can to manufacture more of them.
The alternative to more government, doing ever more, was to stand there, negligently, whilst they lynched another Negro. This proposition contains the entire essential content of American progressive education.
Humanity and technosphere
Science develops in loops, through experimental technique and the production of ever more sophisticated instrumentation, whilst embedded within a broader industrial process. Its advance is the improvement of a machine. This intrinsically technological character of (modern) science demonstrates the efficiency of culture as a complex natural force. It neither expresses a pre-existing natural circumstance, nor does it merely construct social representations. Instead, nature and culture compose a dynamic circuit, at the edge of nature, where fate is decided. According to the self-reinforcing presupposition of modernization, to be understood is to be modifiable. It is to be expected, therefore, that biology and medicine co-evolve.
‘Humanity’ becomes intelligible as it is subsumed into the technosphere, where information processing of the genome – for instance — brings reading and editing into perfect coincidence.
Because they make themselves, their nature is their culture and (of course) reciprocally. What they are is exactly what they do.
Evolution is more complex
- Three implications are important:
- Most evolutionary change is associated with the origin of new species.
- Several modes of evolution may operate simultaneously. In this case the most effective dominates the process.
- Tiny minorities of individuals do most of the evolving instead of the species as a whole.
Thus, there are two distinct, but interwoven, evolutionary processes. I call them “adaptive evolution” and “generative evolution.” The former is familiar Darwinian modification of organisms to enhance their survival and reproductive success. Generative evolution is entirely different. It is the change in a process instead of structure. Moreover, that process is ontological. Evolution literally means “to unfold” and what is unfolding is the capacity to evolve.
Future of humanity
Every species today has had exactly the same track record of survival; on average, every higher organism alive today still will leave only two offspring, as was the case a hundred million years ago, and modern species are as likely to go extinct as were those in the past. Species cannot become fitter and fitter because reproductive success is not a cumulative parameter.
Campbell points out that any attempt to raise the IQ of the whole human race would be tediously slow. He further points out that the general thrust of early eugenics was not so much species improvement as the prevention of decline. Campbell’s eugenics, therefore, advocates the abandonment of Homo sapiens as a ‘relic’ or ‘living fossil’ and the application of genetic technologies to intrude upon the genome, probably writing novel genes from scratch using a DNA synthesizer. Such eugenics would be practiced by elite groups, whose achievements would so quickly and radically outdistance the usual tempo of evolution that within ten generation the new groups will have advanced beyond our current form to the same degree that we transcend apes.