Carlyle on government reform

I’m working on joining the Froude Society, starting with Thomas Carlyle’s Latter Day Pamphlets. Carlyle’s style is inscrutable, but his ideas are often powerful and penetrating (it’s easy to see the influence on Moldbug). Here’s a quote I enjoyed on government “reform”

Indisputably enough the meaning of all reform-movement, electing and electioneering, of popular agitation, parliamentary eloquence, and all political effort whatsoever, is that you may get the ten Ablest Men in England put to preside over your ten principal departments of affairs.


The True Knowledge

Ken Macleod writes the best political sci fi.

I first encountered his work through a libertarian friend’s recommendation of The Stone Canal, a homage to anarcho-capitalism set on a Mars-like colony planet. This lead me to the sequel, The Cassini Division, which depicts the anarcho-socialist society left behind on Earth.

Apparently there are two other books in the series, but I started reading one of them and it was terrible.

Macleod’s books explore the farthest reaches of right and left libertarianism. One of the distinguishing characteristics of both far right and far left ideologies is that they embrace materialism over idealism. They have a delightful hard-headed way of analyzing the mechanisms of power as it actually exists. Who holds the guns? Who makes the call on how they are used? If there is democracy, who controls the education system and the media that determines public opinion? It is no accident that neoreactionaries look to far leftist figures like Alinsky, Chomsky, Lippman, and Lenin for advice on the mechanisms of political change.

On the other hand, the discourse of the intellectual mainstream is idealistic. The power to make their fictions a reality is a given, so they spend their time weaving ever more complicated ideals. It is practically a theological enterprise, scholastic even. Their thoughts are far removed from the mechanism of power – violence is as alien to them as inalienable rights are real. To the extremist, mainstream discourse reads like the Summa Theologica to a non-Catholic.

Lenin’s concise formulation of political logic – “Who? Whom?” is a favorite on the reactionary right. It loses some meaning in translation – the basic idea is that fights over ideology are really fights over people – who wins and who loses, or who is doing and to whom it is being done. The socialist society in The Cassini Division, is based on a similar philosophy called “The True Knowledge”, a shockingly realistic creed:

Life is a process of breaking down and using other matter, and if need be, other life. Therefore, life is aggression, and successful life is successful aggression. Life is the scum of matter, and people are the scum of life. There is nothing but matter, forces, space and time, which together make power. Nothing matters, except what matters to you. Might makes right, and power makes freedom. You are free to do whatever is in your power, and if you want to survive and thrive you had better do whatever is in your interests. If your interests conflict with those of others, let the others pit their power against yours, everyone for theirselves. If your interests coincide with those of others, let them work together with you, and against the rest. We are what we eat, and we eat everything.

All that you really value, and the goodness and truth and beauty of life, have their roots in this apparently barren soil.

This is the true knowledge.

We had founded our idealism on the most nihilistic implications of science, our socialism on crass self-interest, our peace on our capacity for mutual destruction, and our liberty on determinism. We had replaced morality with convention, bravery with safety, frugality with plenty, philosophy with science, stoicism with anaesthetics and piety with immortality. The universal acid of the true knowledge had burned away a world of words, and exposed a universe of things.

Things we could use.

Among untrustworthy people, the True Knowledge is a necessity. Naive idealism always loses against “Who? Whom?”. It is only after sovereignty is secure that the more idealistic side of human nature may be indulged.

Jim’s Blog imagines the End of Catholicism

On the last Pope:

At first it will not be that people realize that the papacy ended with Pope Benedict, but rather that they will forget that it supposedly continues, just as the Roman Empire in the west supposedly continued, until people forgot that it was supposedly continuing.  Later, historians will wonder when it ended, and will set a date, and will set a last Pope, and that last Pope will have been Benedict.

Nietzsche contra The Cathedral

Nietzsche’s “The Anti-Christ” is, of course, an anti-Christian diatribe. But it also functions ably as a reactionary tome. Simply replace “Christianity” with “Progressivism” and its spiritual doctrines with “human rights” and the book still reads surprisingly well. Nietzsche rejects the egalitarian impulse of Christianity as it strangles what is best in man. Egalitarianism means that a duplicitous priestly class (today, Moldbug’s Cathedral) leads the lowly classes against the best specimens and most healthy instincts of humanity. It worships the weak and pulls down the strong through brute strength of numbers.

The near-perfect substitute of the (atheist progressive) Cathedral for Germanic Christianity should come as no surprise to a reader of Moldbug. He traces the roots of progressivism to American protestantism on numerous occasions. Despite its militant atheism, the Cathedral smells Christian – it’s nosiness, it’s dogmatic faith, it’s egalitarianism, it’s structure (the priests and the lowly against the natural nobility), it’s moral code and treatment of heretics. As much as it would tear up the Marxists to know it, there could be no Marx without Christ.

“The Anti-Christ” is one of Nietzsche’s attempts to call people away from a sickening faith to come back to their healthy instincts. It’s available free online, and as a kindle book, so what are you waiting for? My translation is by H.L. Mencken, who also contributes a nice forward. Yes, that’s the same H.L. Mencken that is revered as a founding father of the modern libertarian movement. Back then libertarianism offered a more bracing tonic, next to which the missives of the Cato Institute rate as a mere O’Doul’s. Nietzsche, of course, is pure wood alcohol.

So let’s examine some of Nietzsche’s criticisms of Christianity and wield them against the Cathedral. My comments will be in bold and elisions in [square brackets].

It elevates the weak over the strong

We know that in progressivism, a claim of oppression is needed to elevate a class to privileged status. This is backed up with statistics showing that the class contributes little to society or suffers much. Weakness, in progressivism, is virtue.

it has waged a war to the death against this higher type of man, it has put all the deepest instincts of this type under its ban, it has developed its concept of evil, of the Evil One himself, out of these instincts—the strong man as the typical reprobate, the “outcast among men.” Christianity (progressivism) has taken the part of all the weak, the low, the botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism to all the self-preservative instincts of sound life

Pity (the bleeding-heart instinct) stands in opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the feeling of aliveness […] Suffering is made contagious by pity; under certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and living energy […] Pity thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining life in so many of the botched of all kinds

The rabble of Socialists […] who undermine the workingman’s instincts, his pleasure, his feeling of contentment with his petty existence—who make him envious and teach him revenge…. Wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in the assertion of “equal” rights…. What is bad? But I have  already answered: all that proceeds from weakness, from envy, from revenge.—The anarchist and the Christian (progressive) have the same ancestry….

It is a suicidal doctrine, leading towards the annihilation of nations that adopt it

I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its instincts, when it chooses, when it prefers, what is injurious to it. A history of the “higher feelings,” the “ideals of humanity” […] would almost explain why man is so degenerate. Life itself appears to me as an instinct for growth, for survival, for the accumulation of forces, for power: whenever the will to power fails there is disaster. My contention is that all the highest values of humanity have been emptied of this will whatever is most damaging to life is there called “true,” and whatever exalts it, intensifies it, approves it, justifies it and makes it triumphant is there called “false.”

It elevates universal ideals of “good” and “evil” over what is healthy for a particular individual or state

A nation goes to pieces when it confounds its duty with the general concept of duty.

It abandons reality and science in favor of ideology/faith

The progressive terror of the mind, it’s witch hunt and cultural revolution, is known as “political correctness”. Although it claims to be pro-science, it values the scientific method only insofar as it supports progressive ideals. Furthermore, progressives have corrupted much of the scientific process. Global Warming is a fraudulent multi-billion dollar sacrifice to progress dogma. So is the denial of human biological diversity, see progressive reactions to “The Bell Curve”.

I repeat that sin […] was invented in order to make science, culture, and every elevation and ennobling of man impossible; the priest rules through the invention of sin.

Do not let yourself be deceived: great intellects are sceptical. Zarathustra is a sceptic. The strength, the freedom which proceed from intellectual power, from a superabundance of intellectual power, manifest themselves as scepticism. […] Men of convictions are prisoners.

 A mind that aspires to great things, and that wills the means thereto, is necessarily sceptical. Freedom from any sort of conviction belongs to strength, and to an independent point of view. […] On the contrary, the need of faith, of something unconditioned by yea or nay, of Carlylism,  if I may be allowed the word, is a need of weakness. […] The “believer” does not belong to himself; he can only be a means to an end; he must be used up; he needs some one to use him up. […] To avoid seeing many things, to be impartial about nothing, to be a party man through and through, to estimate all values strictly and infallibly—these are conditions necessary to the existence of such a man.  But by the same token they are antagonists of the truthful man—of the truth…. The believer is not free to answer the question, “true” or “not true,” according to the dictates of his own conscience: integrity on this point would work his instant downfall. The pathological limitations of his vision turn the man of convictions into a fanatic—Savonarola, Luther, Rousseau, Robespierre, Saint-Simon—these types stand in opposition to the strong, emancipated spirit. But the grandiose attitudes of these sick intellects, these intellectual epileptics, are of influence upon the great masses—fanatics are picturesque, and mankind prefers observing poses to listening to reasons….

This time I desire to put the question definitely: is there  any actual difference between a lie and a conviction? […] I call it lying to refuse to see what one sees, or to refuse to see it as it is […]. The most common sort of lie is that by which a man deceives himself: the deception of others is a relatively rare offence.

It denies the natural inequality of man by asserting equal rights for all

And let us not underestimate the fatal influence that Christianity has had, even upon politics! Nowadays no one has courage any more for special rights, for the right of dominion, for feelings of honourable pride in himself and his equals—for the pathos of distance…. Our politics is sick with this lack of courage!—The aristocratic attitude of mind has been undermined by the lie of the equality of souls; and if belief in the “privileges of the majority” makes and will continue to make revolutions—it is Christianity, let us not doubt, and Christian valuations, which convert every revolution into a carnival of blood and crime! Christianity is a revolt of all creatures that creep on the ground against everything that is lofty

In conclusion

Nietzsche deserves to be a central philosopher of the reaction. He is against the idea of progress, of universalism, and the priestly class. Though he is often cast as a misanthrope, it is only because he is so out of step with the society of his day, and even more out of step with ours. He has a love for mankind as it naturally exists, with national differences, inequality, curiosity, and noble instincts. For Nietzsche, the highest good is increasing power, overcoming nature and proclaiming the ascendance of man. This is the will to power, the feeling of resistance being overcome.

good sentences

Bruce Charlton on mormons:

what originally got me interested in Mormonism six years ago (when I was not a Christian of any kind, and pretty much a Red Pill-ite myself) was the realization that you were the only economically successful/ educated/ above average intelligence group in the modern West with above replacement fertility.

Angel Moroni