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THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2008

67 co mm en t s

OL7: the ugly truth about government

Last week, dear open-minded progressive, we worked through a clean-room redesign
of government. The result had no resemblance to present institutions - and little
resemblance to past ones. Should this surprise you? Do you expect history's fruits to be
Today we'll look at what those fruits actually are. Perhaps you didn't spend your


Stubbornness and disrespect,

programming languages and
operating systems, obsessive
epistemology and formalist
propaganda, Austrian economics and
contemporary verse

eleventh-grade civics class hanging out behind the goalposts smoking cheeba. (If you
are still in eleventh-grade civics class, it's much more exciting if you're stoned.)
Perhaps you even read the Times on a regular basis. (The Times is even more awful


when you're stoned.) Perhaps you assume, by default, that the vast parade of facts

OL6: the lost theory of government

poured into your head by this and other such reliable sources must constitute at least a

OL5: the shortest way to world peace

basic understanding.

OL4: Dr. Johnson's hypothesis

You would be incorrect in this. And we have a Mr. Machiavelli, who is to government
as Isaac Newton is to physics, Barry Bonds is to baseball, and Albert Hofmann is to
LSD, to tell us why:

OL3: the Jacobite history of the world

Open letter pt. 2: more historical

He who desires or attempts to reform the government of a state, and wishes to

An open letter to open-minded

progressives (part 1...

have it accepted and capable of maintaining itself to the satisfaction of

UR returns

everybody, must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may

Sibyl Carlyle Moldbug, 3/18/08

seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even

UR will return on Thursday, April 17

though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones. For the great
majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were

Return to Castle Goldenstein: the gold

realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seem than by

market in a...

those that are.

So, for example, the Roman Principate, and even to some extent the Dominate,
preserved the forms of the old Republic. If Rome under Augustus had had a New York
Times, it would have been full of the doings of the Senate and the consuls. The
Senators said this. The consuls did that. When in reality, everything that mattered went
through Augustus. If the entire Senate had fallen through a manhole in the Forum,
nothing would have changed - except, of course, that the illusion of the Republic could
no longer be maintained.
(The Romans even had a word for a monarch - the good old Latin Rex. No Roman
emperor, however dissolute, autocratic or hubristic, ever adopted the title of king.
"Emperor" is simply an anglicization of Imperator, meaning "Commander" - ie, a
Often when the illusion ceases to delude anyone, it persists as a linguistic convention especially on the tongues of officials. So in British official language one still may speak
as if the Queen were the absolute personal ruler of the UK, when in fact she has no
power at all. No one is confused by this. It is just a quaint turn of speech. Still, it has its
Power is a shy beast. She flees the sound of her name. When we ask who rules the UK,
we are not looking for the answer, "the Queen." The Queen may rock, but everyone
knows she doesn't rule. Parting this thin outer peel, we come on the word
"Parliament," with which most of us are satisfied. This is your official answer. The
Queen holds nominal power. Parliament holds formal power. But does this tell us
where the actual power is? Why should we expect it to? Since when has it ever?
Power has all the usual reasons to hide. Power is delicious, and everyone wants it. To
bite into its crisp, sweet flesh, to lick its juices off your lips - this is more than pleasure.
It is satisfaction. It is fulfillment. It is meaning. The love of a bird for a caterpillar is a
tenuous and passing attachment next to the bond between man and power. Of course
power, like the caterpillar, may have other defenses - poison-filled spines, and the like but why not start with camouflage? Why look like anything more than a stick or a leaf?

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Of course, as a progressive, you have all sorts of ideas about where power is hiding. It is
in the hands of the corporations, the crooked politicians, the bankers, the military, the
television preachers, and so on. It would be unfair to denigrate all of these perspectives
as "conspiracy theories," and it is also unfair to denigrate all conspiracy theories as
false. Lenin, for instance, was a conspirator. So were Alger Hiss, Benedict Arnold, even
Machiavelli himself.
Nonetheless, the best place to hide is usually in plain sight. For example, Noam
Chomsky once wrote a book called Manufacturing Consent, which argues that
corporations exercise power by controlling the mass media. The phrase is borrowed
from Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion - a book which every progressive will do well
to read. La Wik has a fine summary:
When properly utilized, the manufacture of consent, Lippmann argues, is useful
and necessary for modern society because "the common interests"the general
concerns of all peopleare not obvious in many cases and only become clear
upon careful data collection and analysis, which most of the people are either
uninterested in or incapable of doing. Most people, therefore, must have the
world summarized for them by those who are well-informed.
Since Lippmann includes much of the political elite within the set of those
incapable of properly understanding by themselves the complex "unseen
environment" in which the affairs of the modern state take place, he proposes
having professionals (a "specialized class") collect and analyze data and present
the conclusions to the decision makers. The decision makers then take decisions
and use the "art of persuasion" to inform the public about the decisions and the
circumstances surrounding them.
Who is Lippmann's "specialized class?" Is it Chomsky's corporate CEOs? Rupert
Murdoch, perhaps? Au contraire. It is folks like Lippmann himself - journalists.
(Lippmann described his analysis and persuasion agency, somewhat infelicitously, as
an "Intelligence Bureau.")
Thus we have two candidates for who is "manufacturing consent." It could be the

corporate executives to whom the journalists report. Or it could be the journalists

themselves, in plain sight. Or, of course, both - in the true Agatha Christie style. As
political detectives, we may ask: which of these parties has the means, motive, and
But I am getting ahead of myself. Starting from the usual first principles, we are
attempting to understand our system of government. What one word, dear
progressives, best describes the modern Western system of government?
You probably said "democracy." If you got two words, you might say "representative
democracy." So our progressive scratch-monkey, Mr. Stross, explains the success of
democracy in terms of its supposed advantages, here. (He actually comes surprisingly
close to the truth - as we'll see in a little bit.)
Words mean whatever we want them to. But if we interpret the phrase representative
democracy to mean a political system in which power is held by the representatives of
the people as chosen in democratic elections, the United States is a representative
democracy in just the same sense that the Roman Empire was a republic, the United
Kingdom is a kingdom, and the Chinese Communist Party is communist.
In fact, dear progressive, you fear and loathe democracy. Moreover, you are right to do
so. Representative democracy is a thoroughly despicable system of government. It is
dangerous and impractical at best, criminal at worst. And you hate it like the poison it
But you don't hate it under this name. You hate it under the name of politics. Think of
the associations that the words political, partisan, politician, and so on, produce in
your mind. You say: George W. Bush politicized the Justice Department. And this is a
brutal indictment. If you hated black people the way you hate politics, you might say
George W. Bush negroized the Justice Department, and the phrase would carry the
same payload of contempt.
Similarly, when you hear antonyms such as apolitical, nonpartisan, bipartisan, or
even the new and truly ludicrous postpartisan, your heart thrills with warmth and

affection, just as it would if you were a racist and you heard the words Nordic, Anglo
Saxon, or amelanistic. And as it does when you hear the word democracy. You
certainly would never say that George W. Bush democratized the Justice Department.
And yet, when you hear the phrase "apolitical democracy," it sounds slightly off. Can
we have democracy without politics? Representative democracy without politics? What
would that even mean? That there are no parties, perhaps? So let me get this straight two parties is good, one party is bad (very bad), no parties at all is - even better? La
Wik has a curious page for nonpartisandemocracy, in which some of these issues are
explored, in the typical disjointed and unenlightening manner.
This is simply one of these contradictions that we find in the modern, progressive
mind. You have probably wondered, idly, about it yourself. Since, as we've seen,
progressivism is an essentially religious movement, the mystery of politics, that
necessary evil of democracy, slides neatly into the same lobe of your brain that was in
less enlightened days reserved for the great questions of theology. How can God be
three persons at once? A wondrous mystery indeed.
Two fresh yarns in the Pravda illustrate the irony beautifully. In the first (which we've
linked to before), our brave reporter is positively amused to find a native tribe so
benighted that they might imagine they'd be better off without democracy. In the
second, our fearless correspondent is shocked that, in darkest North America, the
savages are so backward and credulous as to entertain the preposterous belief that
counting heads amidst the mob is a sensible way to select responsible public officials.
Let's probe a little deeper into this mystery. If the actions of our democratic
governments are not to be ascribed to the venal machinations of politicians, who is
responsible for them? Who, in the ideal apolitical, nonpartisan, or post-partisan state,
calls the shots? We are back to the basic question of power, which Lenin once
summarized as "Who? Whom?" (This made more sense in English when we still used
the word "whom." What Lenin meant was: who rules whom?)
So if politicians should not rule, who - dear progressive - should? If we continue our
pattern of two-word answers, the answer is: publicpolicy.

To the progressive - rather ironically, considering the history - Lenin's question is

completely inappropriate. You reject the idea that government means that "who" must
"rule" "whom." Rather, you believe that government, when conducted properly in the
public interest, is an objective discipline - like physics, or geology, or mathematics.
It does not matter "who" the physicists, geologists, or mathematicians are. There is no
German physics, liberal geology, or Catholic mathematics. There is only correct
physics, correct geology, and correct mathematics. The process and criteria by which
physicists separate correct from incorrect physics is quite different from that for
geology or mathematics, and none of these processes is perfect or works
instantaneously. But all have an obvious tendency to progress from error and
ignorance to truth and knowledge.
Needless to say, if the United States were blessed with a Department of Mathematics honestly I'm not sure why it isn't, but we can rest assured that if this wrong is ever
righted, it will stay righted - it would be thoroughly inappropriate and irresponsible for
George W. Bush to "politicize" the Department's deliberations on topology,
computability, game theory, etc.
Public policy, of course, must not contradict physics, geology or mathematics. But
these are not its main linchpins. When we look inside the magic box of publicpolicy,
we see fields such as law and economics and ethics and sociology and psychology and
publichealth and foreignpolicy and journalism and education and...
And when we look at the history of these fields, we tend to see one of two things. Either
(a) the field was more or less invented in the 20th century (sociology, psychology), or
(b) its 20th-century principles bear very little relation to those of its 19th-century
predecessor (law, economics). We saw this two weeks ago, for example, with
international law. But again, I am getting ahead of myself.
As a progressive, you regard the fields of public policy as more or less scientific. The
20th century is the century of scientificpublicpolicy. And just as there is no German
physics or Catholic mathematics, there is no German public policy or Catholic public

policy. There is only public policy. There is no "who." There is no rule. There is no
world domination. There is only global governance.
So we see why it's inappropriate for George W. Bush to "politicize" the Justice
Department. It is because the Justice Department is staffed with legalscholars. Is
George W. Bush a legal scholar? Is a boar hog an F-16? When politics intrudes on the
realm of science, it's more than just a violation. It's a kind of rape. One is instantly
reminded of the Nazi stormtroopers, dancing around their flaming piles of books. One,
if one is an American, is also reminded of the mindless jockery that ruled one's highschool years. Do you, dear progressive, have any hesitation about picking a side in this
dispute? Of course not.
Thus we see the fate of representative, political democracy, which survives as a sort of
vestigial reptile brain or fetal gill-slit in the era of scientific government. In classic
Machiavellian style, the form democracy has been redefined. It no longer means that
the public's elected representatives control the government. It means that the
government implements scientific public policy in the public interest. (Public policy is
in the public interest by definition.)
We may summarize the whole in Lincoln's concise phrase: governmentofthepeople,
bythepeople,forthepeople. All governments are ofthepeople (they also provide
animal control). The people being what they are, bythepeople turns out to be a bad
idea. But we can still have government forthepeople, which gives us two out of three,
which ain't bad. Since it is both ofthepeople and forthepeople, and demos after all
just means people, we can keep the good old word for our modern, scientific
You may already know all this, but perhaps it's worth a brief tour of how this system
The basically criminal nature of the old, political form of democracy has been
discovered and rediscovered many times in American (and before that, of course,
British) history. In his American Creation, the popular historian Joseph Ellis
summarizes the Founders' judgment on democracy: "an alien, parasitic force." This of

course would be their judgment as of the 1790s, not the 1770s, at which point they had
had plenty of experience with said parasitic force. Any premodern history of the period
- I recommend Albert Beveridge's four-volume life of John Marshall (I, II, III, IV) - will
show you why. There is a reason you didn't learn much about the First Republic in that
eleventh-grade civics class.
The Second Republic, or Constitutional period, saw a return to government by
enlightened aristocrats, first under the Federalists and later under the Jeffersonians,
who rather cleverly rode a wave of mob agitation into office and then ruled in a
distinctily Federalist style (a trick that would later be repeated). This era of good
feelings lasted until the election of ur-politician Andrew Jackson, who among other
works of genius invented the spoils system - the unabashed selection of political
loyalists for government jobs.
The following period of political turmoil, while distinguished by occasional flashes of
sanity (such as the best system of government finance in history) and ameliorated by
gridlock between North and South, which preserved a remarkably small and simple
Washington, degenerated into the mass military insanity of the 1860s. Many Northern
intellectuals, such as Henry Adams, had assumed that the defeat of the Slave Power
would heal all the woes of the Federal City and transform it into the shining light it was
meant to be. Au contraire.
Instead, in the Union period or Third Republic, what was by 20th-century standards a
remarkably limited government, but by 18th-century standards an almost omnipotent
one, fell into the hands of ethnic machines, corrupt politicians, quasicriminal
financiers, sinister wire-pullers, unscrupulous journalists, vested interests, and the
like. History, which of course is always on the side of the winners, has written this
down as the Gilded Age.
For all its faults, the Gilded Age system created perhaps the most responsible and
effective government in US history. Architecture is always a good clue to the nature of
power, and Gilded Age buildings, where they still stand, are invariably decorative. The
country's prosperity and productivity was, of course, unmatched. Its laws were strict
and strictly enforced - nothing like today's festering ulcers of crime were imaginable.

An English journalist of Tory bent, G. W. Steevens, wrote an excellent travelogue of

Gilded Age America - Land of the Dollar. (It's very readable, especially if you don't
mind the N-word.) Steevens, in 1898, was unable to locate anything like a slum in New
York City, and his intentions were not complimentary. It's an interesting exercise to
compare the hyperventilations of a Gilded Age social reformer like Jacob Riis - the title
How The Other Half Lives may ring a bell - to the world of Sudhir Venkatesh. Riis's
tenement dwellers are sometimes less than well-scrubbed. They can be "slovenly."
They drink a lot of beer. Their apartments are small and have poor ventilation ventilation, for some reason, seems to be a major concern. All these horrors still afflict
the present-day residents of the Lower East Side, who are hardly in need of anyone's
But the Gilded Age political system was, again, criminal. In other words, it was
democratic. The old American system is probably best compared to the government of
China today. While they evolved from very different origins, they have converged in
that universal medium, corruption. Government serves as a profit center, but (unlike in
neocameralism) the distribution of profits is informal. The dividends are fought over
with a thousand nontransparent stratagems. Since China is not a democracy, votebuying is not practiced there. It was certainly practiced here.
And the bosses and plutocrats were not, by and large, cultured men. Sometimes I feel
this is the main objection of their enemies. The American intellectual aristocracy
simply could not tolerate a world in which their country was governed by these corrupt,
boorish thugs. So, as aristocrats will, they plotted their revenge.
I mentioned "reform" earlier. And Machiavelli, if you scroll back to the top, uses the
same word. Of course, he simply meant "change the form of." He implies no
connotations. But notice, dear progressive, your associations with the word "reform."
Like "nonpartisan" and all those other good words, it is connected with the happy part
of your brain. La Wik's reform page is not bad.
Politically, the deepest roots of the present regime are found in the Liberal Republicans
and the Mugwumps of the early Union period. The cause they are most associated with

is civil service reform, which removed the President's power to staff the civil service
and replaced it with competitive examinations - which tended to select, of course,
scions of said aristocracy.
La Wik has many other discussions of early progressivism: the settlement movement,
the Fabians, the muckrakers. You were probably exposed to large doses of this in your
11th-grade civics class. (If you are still in 11th-grade civics class, take an extra hit for
this material. You'll need it.)
It is interesting to go back and read, say, Lincoln Steffens, today. Unfortunately Google
Books has failed us on his Shame of the Cities, but here is a sample. And Steffens'
Autobiography (really a series of rants drawn loosely from his life) is easily obtainable.
What comes through is, most of all, a tremendous sense of smugness and arrogance.
Steffens, for example, will be talking to Teddy Roosevelt. A close personal friend. But
the Pres doesn't always take Steffens' advice. He compromises, sometimes. That's
because he's weak, or ignorant, or corrupt, or maybe all three.
Steffens' tone only works if you think of him as the underdog. But underdogs are
infrequently found in the Oval Office, and hindsight indeed shows us that this
underdog won. Which makes him the overdog. And while its long-departed ghost is
easily recognizable in the rhetoric of, say, a Michael Moore, a brief glance at Steffens'
work will show you that nothing like the political tradition he is attacking exists in the
world today. (To the extent that there are ethnic political machines, they are firmly in
the hands of Steffens' successors.)
Whereas Steffens' tradition has flourished. He was the mentor, for example, of Walter
Lippmann. If you traced the social network of modern journalism, all the lines would
go back to Steffens and his cronies. And the lines lead overseas, as well: Steffens went
to Russia in 1919, and he loved it. As he wrote in 1930:
Soviet Russia was a revolutionary government with an evolutionary plan. Their
plan was not by direct action to resist such evils as poverty and riches, graft,
privilege, tyranny and war, but to seek out and remove the causes of them. They
were at present only laying a basis for these good things. They had to set up a
dictatorship, supported by a small, trained minority, to make and maintain for a

few generations a scientific rearrangement of economic forces which would

result in economic democracy first and political democracy last.
"Economic democracy." Contemplate this concept, dear reader. Whatever "economic
democracy" may be, it certainly has nothing at all to do with the practice of entrusting
control of the state to elected representatives.
Steffens then allows Lenin, whom he is interviewing, to deliver a few paragraphs on the
necessity of murdering the bourgeoisie, and finally delivers his famous line:
"So you've been over into Russia?" asked Bernard Baruch, and I answered very
literally, "I have been over into the future, and it works." This was in Jo
Davidson's studio, where Mr. Baruch was sitting for a portrait bust. The sculptor
asked if I wasn't glad to get back. I was. It was a mental change we had
experienced, not physical. Bullitt asked in surprise why it was that, having been
so elated by the prospect of Russia, we were so glad to be back in Paris. I
thought it was because, though we had been in heaven, we were so accustomed
to our own civilization that we preferred hell. We were ruined; we could
recognize salvation, but could not be saved.
Indeed, what Steffens calls "applied Christianity," and UR readers will recognize as our
good old friend, creeping Quakerism, is seldom far beneath the surface in his work. I
think you get the drift, but let us summarize. (Note that "propaganda" is not yet a term
of abuse in 1930.)
In Russia the ultimate purpose of this conscious process of merging politics and
business is to abolish the political state as soon as its sole uses are served: to
make defensive war abroad and at home and to teach the people by propaganda
and by enforced conditions to substitute new for old ideas and habits. The
political establishment is a sort of protective scaffolding within which the
temporary dictatorship is building all agriculture, all industries, and all
businesses into one huge centralized organization. They will point out to you
from over there that our businesses, too, are and long have been coming
together, merging trusts into combines, which in turn unite into greater and
greater monopolies. They think that when we western reformers and liberals
resist this tendency we are standing in the way of a natural, inevitable economic

compulsion to form "one big union" of business. All that they have changed is
the ownership, which they (and Henry Ford) think is about all that's wrong.
Aren't they right to encourage the process? Aren't we wrong to oppose it?
Note this recycling of ideas through Russia. There is nothing Russian at all about the
dream Steffens is purveying. It is all in Edward Bellamy. From day one, a substantial
and influential section of the American intelligentsia were the patrons, intellectual and
political, of the Soviet Union, which spent all eighty years of its life manfully trying to
implement Bellamy's vision.
Imagine how, say, libertarians would react if Russia decided to turn itself into a
libertarian utopia. Imagine how easily they might come to overlook the matter if
achieving the libertarian utopia turned out to involve, oh, just a little bit of good old
Russian-style killing. In self-defense, of course. Libertarians believe in self-defense.
Don't they? And besides, we're just killing governmentofficials... and so on.
Your understanding of the bond between the American aristocracy and the Soviets has
been distorted by both right and left. The left has done everything possible to bury
their complicity in the monstrous crimes of their Slavic epigones. The right has assisted
them by misrepresenting the structure of this complicity, which was never - even in
such clear-cut cases as Alger Hiss - a simple matter of treason. The American side was
always the senior partner in the marriage. The prestige of their distinguished Western
patrons was a key ingredient in the Soviet formula for legitimacy and internal control,
and the growing staleness of the alliance contributed far more, I think, to the Soviet
collapse than most today admit.
Anyway, let's briefly finish up our origin myth, which ends, of course, in 1933. An
excellent history of the period is supplied by the historian (and Progressive) James
Truslow Adams, who followed his four-volume March of Democracy with two volumes
of yearbooks, written every year and not (so far as I can determine) edited afterward,
covering each year to 1948. This provides a pleasant hindsightless feel found in few
other treatments of the period. In his history of 1933, Adams reports:
Nothing much was known about Roosevelt, except his smile. As William Allen
White wrote at the time of his inauguration, "we are putting our hands in a

grab-bag. Heaven only knows what we shall pull out." With the
disingenuousness apparently required of a Presidential candidate, his campaign
speeches had not disclosed his real views...
Well, that's putting it mildly. In fact they had disclosed other views, which were not his
real views. (As Marriner Eccles put it, "given later developments, the campaign
speeches often read like a giant misprint, in which Roosevelt and Hoover speak each
other's lines.") Apparently White, for some reason, knew the story behind the script. Of
course, if you don't believe in democracy, there is no reason not to treat it with
Adams, with only a mild glaze of sycophancy, reports the results:
[FDR] was, in fact, with the help of what he considered the best expert advice,
although always making final decision himself, trying experiments, and
occasionally he frankly said so. In these experiments he has been motivated by
two objects - one the overcoming of the depression, and the other the making
over of the economic organization of the nation, the latter being what he called
in his campaign speeches "the New Deal." It is this which appears - it is too soon
to speak positively - his chief objective, and it is difficult as yet to judge what his
conception of the new society may be. In his first year he has shown enormous
courage but has, apparently, not seldom changed his point of view, as well as his
As the latter loomed large in the administration, to a considerable extent
displacing the regular Cabinet in public sight, the so-called "brain trust"
requires some comment. Of recent years college professors have been more and
more frequently called into consultation as "experts." Hoover made frequent
application to them when President; Roosevelt did the same as Governor of
New York; and foreign governments have done likewise. However, they have
never been so in the forefront of affairs as since Roosevelt entered the White
House, and this, together with the vagueness of what the "New Deal" might
signify, helped to hinder the restoration of confidence. The lack of ability to
foresee the future, to say nothing in too many cases of the absence of personal
integrity, had indeed thrown the "big business men," the bankers and captains

of industry, into the discard, but on the other hand the American has never had
much belief in the practical ability of a professor, and the "experts" have
disagreed among themselves as notably as doctors are said to do.
Moreover, Roosevelt chose many of his advisers from the distinct radical or leftwing group, the names of most of them being utterly new to the public. At first
among the chief of these appear to have been Professor Raymond Moley, Doctor
R. G. Tugwell, and A. A. Berle, Jr., all of Columbia University, New York. In the
summer of 1933 there were added to these and many others Professor G. F.
Warren of Cornell, a leading advocate of the "commodity dollar," and Professor
J. H. Rogers of Yale. At least twenty or thirty others could be mentioned. It is to
the "brain trust" that we owe the carrying out of the vague "New Deal," or as a
great admirer of the President prefers to call it, "the Roosevelt Revolution."
What the final result may be, no one can yet say, but as we shall see at the end of
the chapter, they have presented a staggering bill for the American citizen to
Indeed. I doubt there is a more succinct history of the birth of "public policy." I date
the Fourth Republic and the Progressive period to 1933.
We can read this story in two ways. We can read it as the coming of modern, scientific
government in the United States. Or we can read it as the transfer of power from
political democracy to the American university system - which, just for the sake of a
catchy catchword, I like to call the Cathedral.
Albert Jay Nock had no doubts on the matter. Allow me to reproduce a section of his
diary from 1933:
29October -- And so Brother Hitler decides he will no longer play with the
League of Nations. This leaves the League in "ruther a shattered state," as
Artemus Ward said of the Confederate army after Lee's surrender. "That army
now consists of Kirby Smith, four mules, and a Bass drum, and is movin rapidly
tords Texis."
30October -- Public doings in this country are beyond all comment. Roosevelt

has assembled in Washington the most extraordinary aggregation of quacks, I

imagine, that was ever seen herded together. His passage from the scene of
political action will remove the most lively showman that has been seen in
America since the death of P.T. Barnum. The absence of opposition is
remarkable; Republicans seem to have forgotten that the function of an
Opposition is to oppose. I say this in derision, of course, for our politics are
always bi-partisan. I have talked with many people; no one has any confidence
in Roosevelt's notions, but the "organs of public opinion" either praise him or
are silent; and no one expects that Congress will call him on the carpet. The only
certain things are that his fireworks will cost a lot of money, and that they will
enlarge our bureaucracy indefinitely. Most of the big Federal slush-fund that the
taxpayers will create next year will go to local politicians, nominally for
"improvements," unemployment or what not, but actually for an increase of jobs
and jobbery. This ought to build up a very strong machine for the next
campaign, as I am convinced it is meant to do - and all it is meant to do - and no
doubt it will. I notice that the new move of juggling with the price of gold has
been turned over to the R.F.C. instead of to the Treasury; thus making the
R.F.C. a personal agent of the President.
31October -- To my mind, there was never a better example of getting up a
scare in order, as Mr. Jefferson said, to "waste the labours of the people under
the pretence of taking care of them." Our improvement, such as it is, was under
way in June, and there is no evidence whatever that Mr. Roosevelt's meddling
has accelerated it. One is reminded of the headlong haste about framing the
Federal Constitution, on the pretext that the country was going to the dogs
under the Articles of Confederation; when in fact it was doing very well indeed,
as recent researches have shown. All this is a despicable trick. The papers say
that in this business of meddling with the gold market, Roosevelt is influenced
by the theories of Irving Fisher. It reminds me that when I was in Europe I
heard that one of Hitler's principal lieutenants is a chap that I used to know
pretty well; the only name I can think of is Helfschlager, and that is not right.
His family are the big art-dealers in Munich - Hanfstngl, that's it. I got well
acquainted with him in New York, and saw him afterward in Munich, and came
away with the considered belief that he is a fine fellow and uncommonly likable,

but just as crazy as a loon. I have long had precisely that opinion of Fisher.
Therefore if it is true that Irving Fisher is to the front in America and
Helfschlager in Germany, I think the future for both countries looks pretty dark.
Don't miss La Wik on Irving Fisher. The page demonstrates the dichotomy perfectly.
So, as so often here on UR, we have two ways to see reality. Either power has passed
into the hands of the Cathedral, or it has disappeared and been replaced by mere
science. "Public policy." Of course, you know what I think. But what do you think?
If we can conceive the Cathedral as an actual, non-divinely-inspired, political machine
for a moment, suspending any resentment or reverence we may feel toward it, not
assuming that the policies it produces are good or bad or true or false, we can just
admire it from an engineering perspective and see how well it works.
First: if there is one pattern we see in the public policies the Cathedral produces, it's
that they tend to be very good at creating dependency. We can observe the dependency
system by imagining what would happen if Washington, DC, out to the radius of the
Beltway, is suddenly teleported by aliens into a different dimension, where its residents
will live out their lives in unimaginable wealth, comfort and personal fulfillment. We
here on Earth, however, see the Federal City disappear in a flash of light. In its place is
a crater of radioactive glass.
What would happen? Many, many checks would no longer arrive. Children would go
hungry - not just in North America, but around the world. Old people would starve.
Babies would die of easily preventable diseases. Hurricane victims would squat in
squalor in the slums. Drug companies would sell poison, stockbrokers would sell
worthless paper, Toys-R-US would sell little plastic parts designed to stick in my
daughter's throat and choke her. Etc, etc, etc.
Washington has made itself necessary. Not just to Americans, but to the entire world.
Why does Washington want to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis? Because helping is
what it does. It dispenses love to all. Its mission is quite simply to do good, on a
planetary basis. And why does the government of Burma want to stop it? Why turn
down free help, including plenty of free stuff, and possibly even some free money?

Because dependency is another name for power. The relationship between dependent
and provider is the relationship between client and patron. Which is the relationship
between parent and child. Which also happens to be the relationship between master
and slave. There's a reason Aristotle devotes the first book of the Politics to this sort of
kitchen government.
Modern Americans have enormous difficulty in grasping hierarchical social structures.
We grew up steeped in "applied Christianity" pretty much the way the Hitler Youth
grew up steeped in Hitler. The suggesting that slavery could ever be or have been, as
Aristotle suggests, natural and healthy, is like suggesting to the Hitler Youth that it
might be cool to make some Jewish friends. Their idea of Jews is straight out of Jud
Sss. Our idea of slavery is straight out of UncleTom'sCabin. If you want an accurate
perspective of the past, a propaganda novel is probably not the best place to start. (If
you want an accurate perspective of American slavery, I recommend Eugene
Genovese's Roll, Jordan, Roll, which is a little Marxist but only superficially so. No
work like it could be written today.)
Legally and socially, a slave is an adult child. (There's a reason the word emancipation
is used for the dissolution of both bonds.) We think of the master-slave relationship as
usually sick and twisted, and invariably adversarial. Parent-child relationships can be
all three. But they are not normally so. If history (not to mention evolutionary biology)
proves anything, it proves that humans fit into dominance-submission structures
almost as easily as they fit into the nuclear family.
Slavery is an extreme, but the general pattern is that the patron owes the client
protection and subsistence, while the client owes the patron loyalty and service. The
patron is liable to the public for the actions of the client - if they offend, he must make
amends. In return, he has the right, indeed the obligation, to regulate and discipline his
clients. He is a private provider of government. Thus Aristotle: slavery is government
on the micro-scale. Heed the Greek dude.
So comparing the social paternalism of Washington to the classical relationship
between master and slave is not at all farfetched, or even particularly pejorative. And if

it is pejorative, it is because the 20th-century imitation often seems to resemble less a

functional paternal bond than a dysfunctional one: less parent-child than parentteenager. With many of Washington's clients, foreign and domestic, there is plenty of
subsistence and even protection, but precious little loyalty, service, discipline or
We are now in a position to understand the relationship between Washington and
Rangoon. Rangoon (I refuse to call it "Yangon" - the idea that a government can change
the name of a city or a country is a distinctly 20th-century one) refuses to accept the
assistance of the "international community" because it does not want to become a
You'll find that any sentence can be improved by replacing the phrase "international
community" with "State Department." State does not impose many obligations on its
clients, but one of them is that you can't be a military government - at least not unless
you're a left-wing military government with friends at Harvard. The roots of the
present Burmese regime are basically national-socialist: ie, no friends at Harvard.
Burma cannot go directly from being an enemy to being a rebellious teenager. It would
have to go through the helpless-child stage first. And that means the end of the
(One reason the Jonah Goldbergs of the world have such trouble telling their right
from their left is that they expect some morphological feature of the State to answer the
question for them. For anyone other than Goldberg, Stalin was on the left and Hitler
was on the right. The difference is not a function of discrepancies in administrative
procedure between the KZs and the Gulag. It's a function of social networks. Stalin was
a real socialist, Hitler was a fake one. Stalin was part of the international socialist
movement, and Hitler wasn't. But I digress.)
What, specifically, will happen if Burma admits an army of aid workers? What will
happen is that they'll make friends in Burma. Their friends will not be the people in
power - not quite. But they will probably be close to it. Thus the ties between the
"international community" and all kinds of alternatives to the generals will be
strengthened. Since the latter's position is already precarious at best, much better if a

few of the victims have to eat mud for a month or two. They will fend for themselves in
the end. People do.
And why is Washington playing this game? Just because it does. In that golden city are
armies of desks, each occupied by a dedicated public servant whom the Cathedral has
certified to practice public policy, whose job it is to care about Burma. And he or she
does. That's what Washington does. As George H. W. Bush put it, "Message: I care."
When our patron's suffering clients are actually American citizens, this pattern - as
Nock predicted, correctly - generates votes. Before the New Deal, vote-buying in
America was generally local and informal. Retail, you might say. After 1933, it was
But however much of a client it becomes (I really can't imagine the generals can hold
out that much longer), Burma will never export electoral votes. Statehood is
unimaginable. So why does Washington continue to molest the generals, in pursuit of
the love and fealty of the Burmese people? Just because it does. There is adaptive value
in "applied Christianity." That adaptive value derives from its domestic application.
There is little or no adaptive value in restricting the principle to domestic clients, and it
involves a level of conscious cynicism which is not compatible with the reality of
progressivism. So the restriction does not evolve.
Thus the neo-Quakerism which supplies the ethical core of progressivism, and is
evangelized with increasingly relentless zeal by the Cathedral's robeless monks, is
completely compatible with the acquisition and maintenance of political power. Not
only does the design work - I find it hard to imagine how it could work any better.
Which does not mean that "applied Christianity" is evil, that the Burmese generals are
good, or that their suffering subjects would not be better off under Washington's
friendly umbrella.
Second, let's observe the relationship between the Cathedral and our old friend,
"democracy." Since 1933, elected politicians have exercised minimal actual control over
government policy. Formally, however, they have absolute control. The Cathedral is
not mentioned in the Constitution. Power is a juicy caterpillar. Maybe it looks like a

twig to most of us birds, but Washington has no shortage of sharp eyes, sharp beaks,
and growling bellies.
We can see the answer when we look at the fate of politicians who have attacked the
Cathedral. Here are some names: Joseph McCarthy. Enoch Powell. George Wallace.
Spiro Agnew. Here are some others: Ronald Reagan. Richard Nixon. Margaret
The first set are politicians whose break with the Cathedral was complete and
unconditional. The second are politicians who attempted to compromise and coexist
with it, while pulling it in directions it didn't want to go. The first were destroyed. The
second appeared to succeed, for a while, but little trace of their efforts (at least in
domestic politics) is visible today. Their era ends in the 1980s, and it is impossible to
imagine similar figures today.
What we see, especially in the cases of McCarthy and Powell (the recent BBC
documentary on Powell is quite good) is a tremendous initial burst of popularity,
trailing off into obloquy and disrepute. At first, these politicians were able to capture
large bases of support. At least 70% of the British electorate was on Powell's side. This
figure may even be low.
But Powell - Radio Enoch aside - never had the tools to preserve these numbers and
convert them into power. Similar majorities of American voters today will tell pollsters
that they support Powellian policies: ending immigration, deporting illegals,
terminating the racial spoils system. These majorities are stable. No respectable
politician will touch them. Why? Because they cannot afford to antagonize the
Cathedral, whose policies are the opposite.
Recall La Wik's simple summary of the Lippmann system:
The decision makers then take decisions and use the "art of persuasion" to
inform the public about the decisions and the circumstances surrounding them.
Of course, all politicians in all Western countries depend on the official press to
promote and legitimize their campaigns. Powell and McCarthy had no direct channel of

communication with the Powellists and McCarthyists. They had to rely on the BBC and
on ABC, NBC and CBS respectively. It's rather as if the US attempted to invade the
Third Reich by booking passage for its soldiers on the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The OP (known to most bloggers as the "MSM") is part of the civil-service complex
around the Cathedral - call it the Polygon. An institution is in the Polygon if it defers to
the Cathedral on all disputable questions. Because to a devotee of the Cathedral, its
perspectives are beyond question, no two devotees can disagree on any serious matter unless, of course, both sides of the disagreement are represented in the Cathedral itself.
And the Cathedral is not exactly noted for disagreeing with itself. At least, not from an
external perspective.
You will not see the Times attacking Harvard, for example, or the State Department.
They all have the same ant smell, as it were. The Times is not formally a government
institution, as the BBC is, but it might as well be. If American journalism were
coordinated into a Department of Information - as it was in World War I and World
War II - and journalists were granted GS ranks, very little in their lives would change.
As civil servants, they would be exactly as immune to political pressure as they are at
present, and they would have exactly the same access to government secrets that they
have at present.
The Cathedral's response to these dissident politicians thus took two forms, one fast
and one slow. Both would have been effective; together, they were devastating. First,
the "art of persuasion" - more dramatically known as psychological warfare - convinced
their supporters that the politicians themselves were sick, awful, and weird, and so by
extension was anyone who followed them. Second, the Cathedral itself adapted to the
doctrines of Powell and McCarthy by making opposition to them an explicit tenet of the
Since the Cathedral educates the world's most fashionable people, and since it holds
power and power is always fashionable, Cathedrism is fashionable more or less by
definition. Of course, if you were fashionable, you knew instantly that Powell and
McCarthy were on the slow boat to nowhere. But the unfashionable are always the
majority, and they are not unfashionable because they choose to be. They are

unfashionable because they can't pull off fashionable.

As it became clear to all that Powell and McCarthy were "not done," their fans
disappeared. Their bases of support had been a mile wide and an inch deep. Their
attacks on the Cathedral were pathetic and doomed, like taking on the Death Star with
a laser pointer. Personally, both men were mercurial and unstable - Powell was a
genius, the last real statesman in British politics, while McCarthy was an old-school
hard-drinking politician with Roy Cohn on his team - and it is no surprise that none of
their colleagues emulated their suicidal bravado.
As for the second class, the Thatchers and Nixons and Reagans, in terms of their own
personal outcomes they were smarter. They attacked the Cathedral not across the
board, but on single issues on which their support was overwhelming. Sometimes they
actually prevailed, for a while, on these points - Reagan got his military buildup,
Thatcher got deregulation, Nixon defeated North Vietnam.
Of course, the Nixon administration also created EPA, initiated the racial spoils
system, and imposed wage and price controls. Thatcher got Britain inextricably into
the EU. And so on. These semi-outsider politicians provide a valuable service to the
Cathedral: while opposing a few of its policies, they validate all the others as a
bipartisan consensus, which everyone decent is obligated to support. They thus do the
heavy lifting of persuading their supporters, who probably wouldn't read the Times
even if they did trust it, to change with the changing times. And the times are always
changing. And we just can't not change with them, can we?
To the extent that democratic politics still exists in the Western world, it exists in the
form of the two-party system. The parties have various names, which they have
inherited from history. But there are only two parties: the Inner Party, and the Outer
Party. It is never hard to tell which is which.
The function of the Inner Party is to delegate all policies and decisions to the
Cathedral. The function of the Outer Party is to pretend to oppose the Inner Party,
while in fact posing no danger at all to it. Sometimes Outer Party functionaries are
even elected, and they may even succeed in pursuing a few of their deviant policies.

The entire Polygon will unite in ensuring that these policies either fail, or are perceived
by the public to fail. Since the official press is part of the Polygon and has a more or
less direct line into everyone's brain, this is not difficult.
The Outer Party has never even come close to damaging any part of the Polygon or
Cathedral. Even McCarthy was not a real threat. He got a few people fired, most
temporarily. Most of them were actually Soviet agents of one sort or another. They
became martyrs and have been celebrated ever since. His goal was a purge of the State
Department. He didn't even come close. If he had somehow managed to fire every
Soviet agent or sympathizer in the US government, he would not even have done any
damage. As Carroll Quigley pointed out, McCarthy (and his supporters) thought he was
attacking a nest of Communist spies, whereas in fact he was attacking the American
Establishment. Don't bring a toothpick to a gunfight.
McCarthy never even considered trying to abolish the State Department - let alone
State, Harvard, the CFR, the Rockefeller Foundation, and every other institution in the
same class. By my count, if you lump all his efforts together with the entire
phenomenon of McCarthyism, you get about 10 milli-Hitlers. (And not even Hitler, of
course, succeeded in the end.)
An essential element in the "art of persuasion" is the systematic propagation of the
exact opposite of this situation. Devotees of the Inner Party and the Cathedral are
deeply convinced that the Outer Party is about to fall on them and destroy them in a
new fascist upheaval. They often believe that the Outer Party itself is the party of
power. They can be easily terrified by poll results of the type that Powell, etc,
demonstrated. There are all kinds of scary polls that can be conducted which, if they
actually translated into actual election results in which the winners of the election held
actual power, would seriously suck. That's democracy for you.
But power in our society is not held by democratic politicians. Nor should it be. Indeed
the intelligentsia are in a minority, indeed they live in a country that is a democracy,
indeed in theory their entire way of life hangs by a thread. But if you step back and look
at history over any significant period, you only see them becoming stronger. It is their
beliefs that spread to the rest of the world, not the other direction. When Outer Party

supporters embrace stupid ideas, no one has any reason to worry, because the Outer
Party will never win. When the Inner Party goes mad, it is time to fear. Madness and
power are not a fresh cocktail.
And thus we see the role of "democracy" in the Progressive period. Stross says:
Democracy provides a pressure release valve for dissent. As long as the party in
power are up for re-election in a period of months to (single digit) years,
opponents can grit their teeth and remind themselves that this, too, shall pass ...
and wait for an opportunity to vote the bums out. Democracies don't usually
spawn violent opposition parties because opposition parties can hope to gain
power through non-violent means.
This is the theory. But since elected politicians in the Cathedral system have, as we've
seen, no real power, what we're looking at here is not a pressure release valve, but a
fake pressure release valve. The regular exchange of parties in "power" reassures you,
dear voter, that if the State starts to become seriously insane, the valve will trip, the
bums will be thrown out, and everything will return to normal.
In fact, we know exactly what Washington's policies twenty years from now will be.
They will certainly have nothing to do with "politics." They will be implementations of
the ideas now taught at Harvard, Yale and Berkeley. There is a little lag as the memes
work their way through the system, as older and wiser civil servants retire and
younger, more fanatical ones take their place. But this lag is getting shorter all the
time. And by the standards of the average voter forty years ago, let alone eighty,
Washington alreadyis seriously insane. What is the probability that by your standards
- as progressive as they may be - Washington forty years from now will not seem just as
crazed? Fairly low, I'm afraid.
And this brings us to the third point about the public policy apparatus: while appearing
unconscious of its audience, it adapts to it. This is the most incriminating point,
because there is no good explanation for it, and the trend is quite ominous if projected
Take the recent decision of the California Supreme Court, who have just discovered

that the state's Constitution allows people of the same sex to marry. As a matter of
policy, I have no objection at all to this. Quite the contrary. I think it's an excellent and
sensible policy. I do, however, have an interest in where this policy came from.
This is what, in the 20th-century progressive public-policy world, we call "law." The
craft of the lawyer used to be the craft of discovering how the words of a law were
intended, by the officials who ratified the law, to imply that one's client was in the
right. I think it's fairly safe to assume that the drafters and ratifiers of the California
Constitution and its various amendments had no such understanding of their work.
(Try reading the actual decision. It's a fascinating hunk of boilerplate.)
Nonetheless, the drafters wrought better than they knew. The practice of drafting laws
which are vague to the point of meaninglessness, then empowering "judges" to
"interpret" them, is simply another way of abolishing politics. Congress legislates this
way all the time. All they are doing is to transfer the power of legislation to a more
private body, which is not subject to public scrutiny and the other painful woes of
politics. The great thing about the gay marriage decision is that no one in California
has any idea who made it. I think there are nine people on the California Supreme
Court. Who are they? How did they get their jobs? Who the heck knows? No one seems
to care at all.
The US Constitution was the first and greatest offender in this department. Its drafters
did not even agree on such basic matters as whether a state could leave the Union. In
practice, it made the Supreme Court the supreme legislative assembly, which over the
last 200 years (mostly over the last 50) has created a body of decisions, perfectly
comparable to Britain's unwritten constitution, that we call constitutional law. The idea
that this legislative corpus can be derived in some mystical, yet automatic, way from
the text of the Constitution is preposterous, and no one holds it.
Instead we have the Living Constitution, which always seems to live to the left. I've
never heard anyone, not even the most deranged fundamentalist, propose
reinterpreting the Constitution to provide rights to fetuses, an obvious corollary of this
approach - if the Inner Party and the Outer Party were symmetric opposites, and the
"life" of the Constitution was powered by political democracy.

Of course it is not. It does not rest in formal interpretation of texts. It rests in ethical
judgments. It is the job of the legislator to make ethical judgments, and the California
Supreme Court is doing its job. It's a pity it has to carpool with such a large bodyguard
of lies, but that's the modern world for ya.
And we know where these ethical judgments come from. They are Inner Party
judgments, and the Inner Party's ethics are Christian, Protestant, and Quaker in their
origins. Fine. We all need ethics, and "applied Christianity" will do as well as anything
else. What interests me is when these ethical judgments come about.
Imagine, for instance, that the California Supreme Court had decided in, say, 1978, that
it was unethical - I mean, unconstitutional - for California to prohibit its male citizens
from marrying each other. Is this a thinkable event? I think not. And yet the court's
writ ran just as far and was just as powerful in 1978 as in 2008. And ethics, surely, have
not changed.
The Living Constitution does not adapt with changes in ethics. It adapts with changes
in public opinion - as long as that public opinion is shifting in the direction of "applied
Christianity." Public opinion was ready for abortion in 1973 - barely. It was ready for
gay marriage in 2008 - barely. It was not ready for gay marriage in 1973. What will it
be ready for in 2033? One can see this as a noble concession to the great principle of
democracy. One can also see it as the Cathedral getting away with whatever it can get
away with, and nothing else.
Larry Auster, probably the most imaginative and interesting right-wing writer on the
planet, who also happens to be a converted fundamentalist Christian with all the
theopolitical baggage that you, dear open-minded progressive, would expect from such
a person, has a good term for this: the unprincipledexception. Briefly, an unprincipled
exception is a policy that violates some absolute principle of ethics held by the
policymaker, but is not openly acknowledged as such a violation.
For example, dear progressive, why is racism wrong? Racism is wrong because all
humans are born simply as humans, having done nothing right or wrong, and it is

incompatible with our deeply-held ethical principles to mark these newborn babies
with indelible labels which assign them either privileges or penalties which they have
not earned. Such as the privilege of being able to drink at sparkling-clean water
fountains marked "Whites Only," or the penalty of having to go out back to the horse
We hit that one out of the park, didn't we? Okay. So why is it ethical to label newborn
babies as "American" or "Mexican," due to nothing but the descent and geographical
positionatbirth of their parents, and give the former a cornucopia of benefits from
which the latter is barred - such as the right to live, work, and drink from drinking
fountains in the continental United States? What makes Washington think it is
somehow ethical to establish two classes of human, "Americans" and "Mexicans,"
based only on coincidences of birth that are just as arbitrary as "black" versus "white,"
and treat the two completely differently? How does this differ from racism, Southern
You think this is ugly? Oh, we can get worse. Let's suppose the US, in its eagerness to
treat these second-class humans, if not quite as well as possible, at least better than we
treat them now, establishes a new guest-worker program which is open only to
Nigerians. Any number of Nigerians may come to the US and work.
There are certain restrictions, however. They have to live in special guest-worker
housing. They have to go to their workplace in the morning, and return before the sun
sets. They may not wander around the streets at night. They must carry special guestworker passes. Obviously, they can't vote. And they are strictly prohibited from using
all public amenities, including, of course, drinking fountains.
Is it a more ethical policy to have this program, or not to have it? If you think no
Nigerians could be found to take advantage of it, you're quite wrong. If you have the
program, should you cancel it, and send the Nigerians home, to a life of continued
poverty back in Nigeria? How is this helping them? On the other hand, our program
has all the major features of apartheid. And surely no-apartheid is better than

There is a very easy resolution to this problem: adopt the principle that nopersonis
illegal. This rule is perfectly consistent with "applied Christianity." It is taught at all
our great universities. It is implied every time a journalist deploys the euphemism
"undocumented." And I'm sure there are dozens of ways in which it could be
incorporated into our great Living Constitution. There is only one problem: the people
are not quite ready for it.
But perhaps in thirty years they will be. Perhaps? I would bet money on it. And I would
also bet that, by the time this principle is established, denying it will be the equivalent
of racism. Us old fogeys who were born in the 1970s will be convulsed with guilt and
shame at the thought that the US actually considered it ethically acceptable to turn
away, deport, and otherwise penalize our fellow human beings, on the ridiculous and
irrelevant grounds that they were bornsomewhereelse.
So the Cathedral wins coming and going. Today, it does not suffer the political backlash
that would be sure to ensue if the Inner Party endorsed opening the borders to...
everyone. Still less if it actually did so. (Unless it let the new Americans vote as soon as
they set foot on our sacred soil, which of course would be the most Christian
approach.) And in 2038, having increased North America's population to
approximately two billion persons, none of them illegal, and all living in the same
Third World conditions which it has already inflicted on most of the planet, our blessed
Cathedral will have the privilege of berating the past with its guilt for not having
recognized the obvious truth that nopersonisillegal. Ain't it beautiful?
It is. But I have been talking about this Cathedral thing for long enough that I'm not
sure you believe it really exists. Well. Do I have a treat for you.
It's not news that I believe the Cathedral is evil. And since it's 2008, you'd expect evil to
have not only a name, but a blog. And sure enough it does. Evil's name is Timothy
Burke, he is a professor of history (specializing in southern Africa) at Swarthmore, and
his blog is Easily Distracted.
The great thing about Professor Burke is that he appears to have a conscience. Almost
every post in his blog can be understood as a kind of rhetorical struggle to repress some

inner pang of doubt. He is the Good German par excellence. When people of this
mindset found themselves in the Third Reich, they were "moderate Nazis." In
Czechoslovakia or Poland they "worked within the system." Professor Burke is nowhere
near being a dissident, but there is a dissident inside him. He doesn't like it, not at all.
He stabs it with his steely knives. He can check out any time. But he can never leave.
His position is a high one, and not easy to get.
The entire blog is characterized - indeed it could serve as a type specimen for - the
quality that Nabokov called poshlost. Simply an embarrassment of riches. I am
saddened by the fact that, as a new parent, I cannot devour the whole thing. But as a
case study, I have selected this. The whole post is a treat, but I am especially tickled by
the line:
I am drawn to procedural liberalism because I live in worlds that are highly
procedural and my skills and training are adapted to manipulating procedural
"Manipulating procedural outcomes." My entire post - maybe even my entire blog reduced to three words. If you want to know how you are governed, this is it: you are
governed by manipulating procedural outcomes. It's perfect. It belongs on someone's
But don't even click on link if you are not prepared to work up a little steam. Barack
Obama's handling of his grandmother was brutal, perhaps, but it really has nothing on
the job Professor Burke does on his mother-in-law:
When I talk to my mother-in-law, I often get a clear view of its workings, and
the role that mass culture (including the mainstream media) play in providing
fresh narrative hooks and telling incidentals to its churnings. In the last two
years, for example, every time I talk to her, she wants to return to the story of
Ward Churchill. Or she wants to talk about how terrible crime is. Or about the
problem of illegal immigrants. And so on. These are immobile, self-reproducing,
stories. Their truth in her mind is guaranteed by something far outside the
actualities and realities that compose any given incident or issue.
"These are immobile, self-reproducing, stories." I desperately, desperately, want his

mother-in-law to find this post, read it, and slap Professor Burke very hard across his
overgrown thirteen-year-old face. But I doubt it'll happen.
"Their truth in her mind is guaranteed by something far outside the actualities and
realities that compose any given incident or issue." Can even this awful sentence do
justice to the twisted mind of Timothy Burke? To the Cathedral as a whole, on which he
is just one small gargoyle on a minor, far-flung flying buttress? Dear open-minded
progressive, I invite you to read this post - or anything else on Professor Burke's
remarkably revealing blog, if you remain undecided - and ask yourself again:
Do I trust the Cathedral? Do I consider it a source of responsible, effective public
policy? And, in the long term, is it secure?
Next, we try and figure out what to do if the answer turns out to be "no."


AMcGuinn said...
I'm afraid you're going to get hammered again by those pointing out that the powerless
"outer party" has managed to invade Iraq, legalize torture, etc. etc. etc.
To me, neoconservatism is a faction within the Cathedral, no less progressive than the
rest, and the past few years do not contradict your thesis. But I don't think you've ever
said so, and have implied the opposite, claiming the Cathedral's forces have merely
sabotaged GWB's foreign policy on the ground, which seems a rather weak rearguard
action for an all-powerful force.
Can you clarify?
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 3 :4 5 AM

Alrenous said...
Your first link, to 'last week' points to your blog instead of a specific post.

MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 4 :3 4 AM

Lawful Neutral said...

Is this a serious prediction or a joke? Does MM himself know which? I have trouble
telling what's satire here and what's not. Maybe I'm just dense, maybe that's the whole
idea, but there's a quote circulating in signatures on the D&D 4th edition gossip
message boards that I can't resist repeating:
"Irony is dangerous, both because it can be mistaken, and because it allows you to
disavow responsibility." -- Elliot Wilen, TheRPGSite
Please tell me we're not buying the Gambia.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 4 :3 4 AM

Lawful Neutral said...

The really big one here is the Iraq war, and that's easy enough to jimmy into the grand
theory if you want. There're probably plenty of ways to do it, but I'd say the Twin
Towers attack got the hoi polloi's blood up to the point where they wouldn't be satisfied
without a big war. The Cathedral rules by guiding and shaping the masses, in the long
run it's unassailable, but in the short run it can be beat - see McCarthy, Thatcher, and
all those other examples MM mentioned.
Bush went up against it on the issues you mention, and it's utterly obvious he'll be
remembered as fondly as Nixon, or even McCarthy, and his deviant policies will be

tidied up in a year or two. Meanwhile, we all get a nice lesson about futility of
(unrighteous) war and the danger of voting the wrong way. Did the Outer Party really
win here? Maybe they just provided the illusion of opposition. Maybe not, but it's easy
enough to see it that way if you want to.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 5 :0 0 AM

Mark said...
Another link issue: In your list
unscrupulousjournalists,vestedinterests,andthelike" the "vested interests" link
points toward "The Gilded Age", which is later repeated in the next sentence.
Perhaps you meant to point towards "Robber Barons" or "Railroads" or the like?
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 5 :0 0 AM

baduin said...
You don't understand Lenin's question. It is not: "who will rule whom?". It is "Who will
defeat or kill whom?".
As to Bush: He is a true believer of the Cathedral, although, of course, a bit oldfashioned. Read his many speaches about the flame of freedom! - Pure Whig.
"their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have
confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture
because liberty is not the invention of Western culture, liberty is the deepest need and
hope of all humanity. The vast majority of men and women in Muslim societies reject
the domination of extremists like Osama bin Laden. They're looking to the world's free
nations to support them in their struggle against the violent minority who want to
impose a future of darkness across the Middle East. We will not abandon them to the
designs of evil men. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their
future in freedom. (Applause.)"

He also supports immigration etc.

The only fraction more powerful than Cathedral are Goldman&Sachs, with friends and
relatives. Incidentally, money people support now Obama.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 5 :5 8 AM

G. M. Palmer said...
Baduin -The $$ folk have always supported Obama.
Lawful Neutral -4th Edition rules (it's amazing that combat runs so smoothly; in other 4e news -- Keep
of the Shadowfell is set in Winterhaven, which is a city in Polk County, Florida -- a
former stomping ground; tee hee). Other than that, we're buying Cuba, not Gambia. :)
MM -about "manipulating procedural outcomes" -- It's a great description of what
governments do -- especially with regards to the Cathedral / public policy driven
government (Habermas has a pretty extensive treatise on this found here (as must as I
hate quoting Marxists, he seems to get the structure of government pretty damn down
But how would a neocameralist state manage it (as it would probably need managed)?
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 8 :4 0 AM

Leonard said...
lawful neutral, that is not a joke, if you take MM at his word: weknowexactlywhat
oftheideasnowtaughtatHarvard,YaleandBerkeley. Open immigration is exactly

what the left now believe in. And this includes most libertarians, who are the only real
intellectual counterweight the right has against progressivism. So the right does not
even have its normal intellectual allies in this fight, and enters the Thunderdome of
consent manufacture with one hand tied, as it were. All it has is voters who like
America as it is, and don't want to mess with it -- but they can be educated.
Look how close they got last year to a second big amnesty for illegals, and that in spite
of the huge majorities against it. I mean, we call it a landslide when a presidential
candidate wins the popular vote by, say, 60%-38%, as in the case of Nixon beating
McGovern, Reagan vs Mondale, FDR vs Landon (who?). These events are said to
provide power and legitimacy to the winner. So how are we to understand 70%
majorities being (almost) overridden?
On the other hand, the existence of the Net changes the power dynamic in ways that
I'm not sure MM has really thought out enough. Clearly he grasps the potential, as in
his proposals for uberfact, revipedia, etc. But I'm not sure he completely grasps how
much even the current patterns of use are unhooking people from the MSM. Put
differently: intellectuals now have the option to take the red pill, and some of us are
biting down pretty hard already. This is a completely new thing in the world, at least
since the era of mass media started w/ radio. There's a reason for the rapid ascent of
the Cathedral into the center of power, and mass media is it. (Something I'd like to see
MM give more thought to: the connection between information distribution modes and
power.) IMO, the net on the whole is revipedia in everything except being one-stop,
and in being at a fairly early stage of development.
If there's anything that can stop the opening of America's borders to any and all, it is a
phase transition in politics brought about by the demotic masses unhooking
themselves from the blue pill (it's really more of a blue intravenous feed, constantly
dripping reality in whether you like it or not. If this doesn't happen, and pretty soon,
then I don't see why MM's prediction should not come true. 30 years is a long time.
Of course, the bit about "all" 2 billion Americans in 2038 living in poverty is wrong.
Those of us currently here will continue to do what we do, producing wealth and
building it for ourselves. We'll only be impoverished a bit by the additional demands

for police, schools, prisons etc. Immigrants largely pay for themselves; I expect high-IQ
East Asian immigrants (which we'd get many more of both absolutely and
proportionately with open borders) will easily pay for themselves. And the conditions
won't be completely third world; look at LA's Mexican slums now and that's pretty
much what it will be. Having rule of law in the overarching society makes a great deal
of difference, even in inner city zones without it.
The danger, of course, is that the progressives will destroy the rule of law, in part via
the unlimited immigration that they will bring in. But I think it will take a lot longer
than 30 years to destroy the law.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 8 :5 5 AM

G. M. Palmer said...
Leonard -- Mass media was in full swing with newspapers -- they've marched in lockstep since at least the Civil War.
Your point about distribution and power is an interesting one, though. I think it's a
mutual growth -- the politicians realize that media gives them power at the same time
that media recognizes that politicians will do what they want. Win-win.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 9 :2 7 AM

Anonymous said...
They'll just have their own version of this, but it will be directed against "racists" (i.e.
people who resist immigration), global warming deniers, etc.

Very droll. Hope it works out that way, but I am doubtful, not least because the
Cathedral intends to confiscate your wealth and redistribute it to the new citizens
(who, after all, will vote in favor of such "economic democracy").
Didn't you read today's post? They have already destroyed the "rule of law" for all
practical purposes. The law does not rule, unelected judges rule, i.e. all members in
good standing of the Cathedral. ("The practice of drafting laws which are vague to the
point of meaninglessness, then empowering "judges" to "interpret" them, is simply
another way of abolishing politics. Congress legislates this way all the time. All they are
doing is to transfer the power of legislation to a more private body, which is not subject
to public scrutiny and the other painful woes of politics.")
How do you think you're going to keep your wealth when it can be confiscated any time
that "public use" or "public necessity" or "economic democracy" or "environmental
security" requires it?
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 41 AM

Lawful Neutral said...

G.M. Palmer:
Glad to hear it. I haven't tried it out yet, but my group's planning to hit the Shadowfell
in a week or two.

I don't know; 2 BILLION people is ridiculously, insanely huge. The US population in
1978 was 222 M, today it's 300 M and change. Let's round in your favor and call that
50% growth. Now let's go big and say the country grows at double that rate, and it's still
only 600 M in 2038.
2 billion is a lot of people; barring a total-war-style national mobilization, I don't see
how the infrastructure to support them could possibly be set up in time. Roads,
schools, housing, policing... It'd be a disaster beyond belief.
Additionally, where are these 1.4 B coming from, anyway, and why? Sure, with totally
open borders many, many immigrants would want to come, but after the first few
hundred million, it starts to look less attractive. Wages would obviously be bid down
hard, generous government entitlements wouldn't be feasible anymore, and the
aforementioned infrastructure bottleneck would get pretty glaring. Long before 2 B, it's
no longer worth leaving the slums of Bombay.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 46 AM

Leonard said...
GMP -- mass media for proles is what I meant. I don't consider newspapers mass
media in several important respects, that are pertinent from the POV of MM's critique
of government, that is, from the POV of manufacturing consent.
For example, newspapers cannot reach the illiterate at all, nor do many people have
much interest in reading. Reading is harder work than many people want to do for
entertainment. But perhaps the most important way in which print fails as mass media
is that when you read a newspaper you decide what to read. You can just read the
comics, if none of the articles appear to be interesting. There's a little bit of "push"
power there, but not very much. Whereas, radio requires the listener to change the
channel to avoid hearing something, and there may well be nothing else better on
anyway. There's a lot of power there to push ideas on the listener.

That said, certainly print does count as mass media in other ways. I think what we're
talking about here is not a boolean yes/no, but rather a spectrum of mass medianess,
where at one end there is personal, one on one conversation, and at the other end a
fully immersive cinemascope 3D smellovision matrix holodeck broadcasting the exact
same dreck to everyone in the world, simultaneously, whether they like it or not.
Newspapers sit on the right hand side of this spectrum, radio much to their left, then
further left again a big step to movies and another smaller step to TV.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 1 1: 06 AM

G. M. Palmer said...
Leonard -What I meant was that mass media and their manipulation of public policy began with
the newspapers at least as early as the Civil War.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 1 1: 16 AM

George Weinberg said...

Not too much new this week, and still some of the same stuff missing. For example, the
idea that the Cathedral got first abortion and then gay marriage legalized is supported
by the fact that the Cathedral wished it and it was done. But that leaves unanswered
the questions of why and how.
U.S. Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate,
and retain office for life. At first glance, it seems the Cathedral should be unable to
control who gets appointed to the SC or what they do once they get there.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 1 2: 27 P M

foo said...
MM seems to do much better with description than prescription.
What I'd like to see is a short pause in the Open Letter to systematically address
substantial critical comments people have been making in the Open Letter posts(only
the descriptive ones not the ones about Formalism).

The overarching concept seems basically sound, but for rigor's sake I think there
should be some more touch ups, corrections, rejoinders and possibly retractions of
various subclaims.
I liked the part about State influence in the cyclone wrecked nation. When I saw that in
the Times I thought "the leader doesn't want them messing with his power base" so I
am rather pleased to see this idea confirmed and expounded upon.
Even if this whole blog had no other merit it serves as an excellent means of arousing a
passionate curiosity in History.
I hope the dire predictions don't come to pass. How could a white male who is not
interested in getting on the power train survive without emigrating? Even that would
seem to only postpone problems. Hopefully China and Russia will enjoy even greater
economic growth and the subjects there will receive more non-political liberty. This
would make moving there more palatable. I don't see the UAE being able to retain true
independence if Whiggery continues to gain power as MM thinks.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 2 :1 2 PM

Leonard said...
lawful: I agree that 2B is insanely huge, but so what? I think 2B may be on the high
end, but i can easily imagine 1B, and certainly even a mere 500M would drastically
change the electoral map of the US.
I disagree that we can't handle that -- we could. So long as there is money to be made,
Americans will find a way. The question, to my mind, is more about where the
breakeven point is, where the marginal immigrant is so impoverished by competition
that his lot here is the same as it was back home.
But we have two things here, that they don't have back there: a lot of capital, and even
more importantly, the rule of law. Contra anon up there, and maybe also MM, we've
only begun to brush the surface of the derangement that is possible. Kelo-style state
grabs aside, property titles are still secure. Outside of certain urban abandonments, the

state still does a decent job at crime prevention, detection, and punishment. Etc, etc.
Anyway, I think the article you need to read here is this one:
It's a discussion of a study from the World Bank, "Where is the Wealth of Nations?:
Measuring Capital for the 21st Century", which makes estimates of the contribution of
natural, produced, and "intangible" capital to the aggregate wealth of nations.
The findings are interesting: most of the value of living in the first world is not due to
natural resources (good farmland, timber, oil, metal ore, etc.), or even alreadyproduced capital (factories, etc). It's "intangible" capital, that is, living under the rule of
law in a stable economic system with freedom of contract.
Obviously, per-capita physical capital would decline precipitously with 2B new
immigrants. But the rule of law can be scaled.
Oh, and for anon, this quote: OntheWorldBank'sruleoflawindex,theUnitedStates
SaharanAfrica'sis28. The World Bank is part of MMs polygon, so take this
cautiously. But nonetheless, there's still a heck of a long way down for America.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 2 :5 8 PM

G. M. Palmer said...
George -One name: Robert Bork
Don't diddle the Cathedral.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 3 :1 6 PM

Anonymous said...

But nonetheless, there's still a heck of a long way down for America.
And we falling quickly. The rate accelerates with each 3rd worlder who arrives. The
usual suspects are overjoyed, of course.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 4 :2 7 PM

G. M. Palmer said...
How many "3rd worlders" are committing crime v residents since before 1810?
Stats or it didn't happen.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 5 :0 7 PM

Anonymous said...
Are you kidding? They usually can't even get to the nomination stage unless they are
members of the Cathedral themselves, and if they do they are laughed off the stage
(think Harriet Miers). The "serious" candidates for a SC slot all went to Ivy League or
equivalent madrassas and were seasoned in academia and government judicial
appointments. Such a person is most assuredly going to be a member of the Cathedral
and share its worldview. If perchance they are not, then members of the Cathedral in
the Senate will stop them!
Indeed, it is hard to think of a process more perfectly designed for Cathedral control
than appointment to the Supreme Court.

State power is not used arbitrarily because it does not have to be. There is no necessary
relation between the "rule of law" and effective crime prevention / detection /
punishment. They did a pretty good job of that in the old USSR, after all. The bottom
line remains, however, is that the "rule of law" is not particularly meaningful if it
means the rule of unelected judges not subject to public scrutiny and the other painful
woes of politics. And it does!
Heh. The Cathedral grades itself on its conformity with its own rules, and you're
surprised it gets an A? If "rule of law" meant "the extent to which our legal system
discovered and applied the intent of the law, especially as embodied in the
Constitution", then I don't think 92 out of 100 would be the grade.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 7 :2 2 PM

John S. Bolton said...

One answer to the question of why and how, would be much as may be implied in the
post: the gifted and power-greedy go for always as much power as can be got away with
in a given time and place. On this assumption, one would predict a quite frantic
preoccupation among the mighty, with quality of population; how to degrade it. Hitler
wasn't on the right, except relative to the commies Int'l Soc'm, unless the essence of
political differences is hereditarian vs. anti-hereditarian. If America is Whigsrael, a
fallback for such and such gentry, what was Britain doing in Florida and West Florida
and other surrounding territories, protecting their fallback lands? How embarassing it
would be if documentation surfaced to that effect.
MAY 29 , 2 00 8 AT 8 :1 4 PM

Michael S. said...
A few minor points:

"...the idea that a government can change the name of a city or a country is a distinctly
20th-century one."
Not really. Have you ever heard of Aelia Capitolina? (It's what the emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem after razing what was left of it by the clemency of Titus.)
"The roots of the present Burmese regime are basically national-socialist."
Burmese politics since World War II seem to me to be largely a series of conflicts
between left-wing factions. The granddaddy of them all was the "Anti-Fascist
Organization," later re-named the "Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League." Such
stereotypical pieces of Bolshie cant as those names ought to suggest a great deal. Aung
San's Burma Independence Army descended originally from efforts by the Japanese to
recruit an anti-British force with promises of delivering Burma from the Raj, but by
1944 had made common cause with the "Anti-Fascist" groups and switched sides. The
BIA/BNA is probably best seen as making alliances of expediency, but, again, it is
telling that its core members dubbed themselves the "Thirty Comrades."
U Nu, Burma's first prime minister, according to his Wikipedia entry, "co-founded with
Thakin Than Tun the Nagani (Red Dragon) Book Club which for the first time widely
circulated Burmese-language translations of the Marxist classics. He also became a
leader and co-founder of the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), which later became
the Socialist Party, and the umbrella organisation the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom
League (AFPFL)..."
The supposedly democratic rule of these persons and parties ended in 1962 with Ne
Win's coup-d'tat which "pursued policies under the rubric of the Burmese Way to
Socialism." This "embodied both Marxist and Buddhist influences" and "rejected the
'bourgeois' belief and practices of 'social democrat parties' that 'socialism' could be
reached through 'Parliamentary methods;." It further held that "though there was
much to be learnt from the doctrines of Marx, Engels, and Lenin it did not regard them
as 'gospel' unlike Communists..." (phrases in double inverted commas quoted from La

Th Burmese Socialist Programme Party established itself as the one legal party in 1964
and ruled as such until 1988, when a crisis overtook it and the brief promise of multiparty elections was momentarily brought forward. This was put paid by another
military coup by the so-called State Law and Order Restoration Council. That body,
with its rather stern-sounding name, was later re-branded the State Peace and
Develoipment Council. "Law and Order," one supposes, sounded too 'fascist' - "Peace
and Development" much more fashionably left-wing.
It is no doubt true that the present regime in Burma has no friends at Harvard. That
does not make it "national-socialist." Its pedigree is much closer to Stalinism than it is
to Nazism or Fascism properly so called. Industry is still nationalized, and the military
gets most of its weapons from Russia, the Ukraine, China, and India - all but the last
formerly or currently Communist countries, the last a country with a strong tradition of
socialist politics.
"Andrew Jackson, who among other works of genius invented the spoils system, the
spoils system - the unabashed selection of political loyalists for government jobs."
Actually, the credit for invention of the spoils system should probably go to Sir Robert
Walpole, who filled his government with "placemen," loyalists given patronage - offices
and emoluments - in return for their loyalty. Eric Towers writes:
"During the long years when Walpole was in office, the cascade of golden guineas was
directed towards the Whigs who supported him, as was proper and practical. Yet even
with the vast bounty of government at his disposal, he could never quite stop the
elbowing and shin-kicking. However large the patronage, it was never enough to satisfy
all who expected a share. The Whigs whom he could not oblige with salaried posts,
minor jobs for their friends, or parsonages for their poor relations, regarded his neglect
of their interests as adequate reason for trying to supplant him so that the spoils could
be redistributed in a way they thought more equitable."
Here is a perfect picture of the spoils system in operation, and all its attendant political
problems, a century before it was introduced by Jackson in the United States.

Jackson's success in manipulating it was not as great as Walpole's, probably mostly

because he did not have the same temperament or skill, but also because he had less to
offer - no parsonages for poor relations, nor knighthoods, baronetcies, and peerages for
superannuated legislators. I have often wondered to what extent the U.S.
Constitution's prohibition of grants of noble titles, and the First Amendment's nonestablishment clause, reflected a distaste amongst the Framers for the use to which
peerages and prelacies had habitually been put by Walpole and his successors as
instruments of political patronage.
MAY 30 , 2 00 8 AT 3 :0 7 PM

George Weinberg said...

I'm not disputing that "the Cathedral" had some role in, for example, the torpedoing of
Bork's nomination, but it's not clear to me how much power it really has or how it
effectively weilds that power. No doubt most senators and federal judges are graduates
of elite schools, but it's quite possible to graduate from a school without adopting the
political philosophy of its professors. Also, it's fairly common to hear attitudes
expressed like "the school was great when I went there, but since then the crazies have
taken over". Given that federal judges are elected for life and senators are nearly always
reelected, how can anyone compel them to do anything?
MAY 30 , 2 00 8 AT 3 :0 7 PM

Leonard said...
George, there's a very interesting interview w/ Harry Blackmun that rewards close
reading, I found linked off his wiki page. (You can read it here.) It's not a complete
answer to your question, but it does help reveal a lot about the man's mindset. Here's a
guy that got appointed to the Federal bench by Eisenhower, then raise to the Supremes
by Nixon. So, you'd think conservative, and intellectual, right? But no, not either,
really. The guy is surprisingly unintellectual, particularly for a man who had spent so
much time at Harvard. And not conservative either.
Here's an intriguing quote, from page 15:

Emphasis is mine. You can see a glimpse here into the man: willing to set aside the
plain meaning of the Constitution because men more socially certain than he were
joking about how they flout it. And he thinks such behavior excellent!
Pathetic, really. This is caliber of man we're talking about -- surely a man to be swayed
by the society he keeps as he seems to have nothing but the deepest respect for
authority and no ideas of his own.
MAY 30 , 2 00 8 AT 7 :0 6 PM

TGGP said...
In his Discourses he promotes a republic over a principality, with checks and balances
and a tripartite structure (or separation of powers). All that seems to contradict your
previous post about good governance. I guess he was no Newton then!
Inventor? What a poor analogy.
I'm quite surprised you didn't link to GNXP on that.

You should provide some evidence for that. Why should we simply accept such a
hypothetical on your say-so?
Though some were declared gods.
Which is?
Define those three concepts so that we may better distinguish them.
A caterpillar is a living being with reasons to evolve defenses. Power is an abstract
concept possessed by people.
But not non-crooked politicians? I don't know of any "progressive" that would believe
such a thing.
I think Austrian economists and anti-semites are more likely to latch onto that.
He entered government the years the Medicis were overthrown, so he acted openly
rather than conspiring. He was tortured for conspiracy but did not confess and was
ultimately released. So apparently you are more skeptical of his claims than his

According to its Wikipedia page it claims there is no conscious design on the part of the
corporations but as a result of market selection those that prioritize profit over
accuracy will thrive (on that point I agree with Megan McArdle against Glenn
Greenwald). It also claims that news organizations fear getting "shut out" by the
government in favor of other outlets. That is the same argument you use about
"protected sources". His big case study is the NYT's coverage of East Timor (just as
Lippman's was the NYT's coverage of Russia), so at least both of you agree that
newspaper is full of it!
Lippman fairly explicitly rejects that idea. He says journalists are not capable of
understanding everything they report on. The expert technocrats are supposed to
analyze information that they can in turn pass on to journalists, Congressmen and
heads of various departments.
I don't recall them being dedicated to persuasion, it was just assumed that because of
their authority people would accept whatever they said. They also seemed to play a
more passive kind of role with people asking them for their judgment.
The elected officials in the U.S can do damn near whatever they want to. Can the
British monarchy say the same? It is hard to take your hyperbole seriously.
The self-described "progressives" I come across hate David Broder and Brooks for their
odes to non-partisanship and centrism. They think the Republicans in office now are
simply scum and it is right to hate them and stymie them wherever possible because
they are on the other side. The reason Paul Krugman gave for supporting Hillary
Clinton was because she was best for dirty partisan fighting. Obama's "progressive"

supporters claim he's basically bullshitting. Their views of him are thus like Steve
Sailer, except that for some reason they believe he'll change race-based affirmative
action to class-based.
The officials aren't directly elected, so it wouldn't make much sense to say that. The
reason he is said to have politicized it is that he has encouraged it to prosecute
Couldn't resist linking to Alex Tabarrok there. His book on courts even refutes the
ideas of Alex Tabarrok.
That sounds odd since many progressives of the past thought quite highly of Lenin.
Steve Sailer frequently uses that quote as an example of what politics will be like after
massive immigration changes the electorate to consist of people outside the political
traditions of England. The diversicrats fully embrace that paradigm.
I think all the po-mo folks would reject that. For example, that Dartmouth teacher
shocked that her students disagreed with her was pushing just that form of "science
studies" that rejects everything you just said.
Is there a department of economics, ethics, sociology, psychology, public health or
journalism? What determines whether or not something is in the magic box?

The term "sociologie" was first used in 1780. It was re-introduced in 1838 by Auguste
Comte. Max Weber, Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner were sociologists of
the 19th century. Karl Marx as well.
Given the active nature of legislatures, law has surely changed quite a bit, though law
professors are still quoting Blackstone. Economics still holds the principles of the past
though. See Paul Krugman on Ricardo. They use more mathematical models now
(though that is declining in favor of Freakonomics type stuff), but they are basically
formalized version of what in the 19th century was expressed in natural language.
Stephan Kinsella claims international law has hardly changed at all here.
What? I thought it was staffed with practicing lawyers. Because of how many
politicians have law degrees, it's not actually that far-fetched to expect them to have
some understanding of what the the DoJ does.
What reason is that?
In what sense was it superior to the First or Second Republic? And why isn't the
Second Republic split into different periods for the Federalists and Jackson? And why
isn't the Third split to reflect the presence and absence of the spoils system?
That's funny, because the Chinese system of mandarin examinations is usually used as

an example of meritocracy squelching aristocracy. The American mandarin system did

so well from scions of East European shtetls that Harvard resorted to quotas to keep
them out.
The classic examination of course is Gabriel Kolko's Triumph of Conservatism. I got a
little bit of that perspective in my high school history class through After the Fact.
The Daley machine still runs Chicago. I don't think Kwame Kilpatrick (who will likely
be out of office soon) can compare. I am reminded though of Mao's hatred of
bureaucracy, which he didn't realize was the inevitable result of communism. Speaking
of bureaucracy, as a heads-up to readers of my blog I've started James Q. Wilson's
"Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do And Why They Do It" and it seems
pretty interesting and explicitly contrasts itself with the Public Choice approach of
economists that I'm more used to. I hope to have a more substantive review of Wilson
than I did for Lippman.
Don't forget the Jews!
How was Alger Hiss not committing treason?
What does that actually MEAN?
The absolute power of the Soviet government and their control over information

sounds similar to your neo-cameralist ideal, so why would that matter?

I don't think I'll ever get sick of linking to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on just that.
Or because he was a Republican he expected no honesty from a Democrat.
That's rather unfair to Teddy and Wilson, who were more closely associated with the
Progressive Era.
Or the enlistment of academics by politicians, which would seem to be the most
straightforward interpretation. Did FDR actually lose any power?
What does your example of gay marriage have to do with that? Or the sabotage of wars
that you accused them of two posts ago?
I can't believe you actually believe in the rest of the paragraph.
I think most libertarians would disagree. It is Unnecessary But Inevitable. And you are
even limiting the subject to Washington. State and local governments can and do
handle basic stuff like policing and trash disposal.
That means you must accept the progressive indictment of corporations as powerhungry entities that make consumers dependent on them by providing lots of neat

Throughout most of history resources flow from parent to child throughout their whole
lifetime, even in the case of grandparents unable to produce nearly as much as they
could when they were younger. In contrast, resources flow from the slave to the master.
That's why masters are willing to fork over a lot of money to purchase the slave.
That statement seems completely at odds with the history of U.S foreign aid. Mubarak
is still the second biggest recipient after Israel. Musharraf never got cut off. The Cold
War was full of anti-communist military governments receiving aid from the U.S.
Burma doesn't sound any different from the other Third World Liberationist
governments (it is even explicitly Marxist and has roots in a group called the AntiFascist People's Freedom League formed in part by the Communist Party) that you
claim owe their independence to friendship witht the Polygon/Cathedral. The only
communist government that even seemed to make a pretense of rejecting nationalism
was Russia. The rest are all nationalist as fuck. A good example against your theory is
Slobodan Milosevic. During the Cold War he was a communist in good standing with
the Kremlin. Afterwards he was an awful nationalist the international community had
to get rid of. What changed? Nothing about Milosevic. It was just that he no longer had
a superpower that could prevent Uncle Sam from bombing him.
What about Mussolini?
Foreign aid is extremely unpopular with voters, but they are also extremely deluded
about how much foreign aid there is (they think we can increase social spending and

reduce taxes by reducing foreign aid to 5 percent of the budget, when it is about 1
percent currently).
Comparing all the money the government doles out internally to externally, I'd say the
restriction has evolved and is in vigorous health.
Who was it that McCarthy was investigating when he crashed and burned? Oh, yes, it
was the Army! The stronghold of Red Government, locked in a Civil War with the Blue
Government and its allied Cathedral!
The guy who looked to the Soviet Union for salvation and thought his country's
greatest enemy was America (which of course in your view makes him an ultraAmerican progressive). He also became an anti-imperialist and sided with Eisenhower
in opposing any response to Nasser's seizure of the Suez canal and denounced MPs
that demanded inhumane methods to suppress the Mau-Mau rebellion (his speech on
that lines up quite well with your ultra-American rebel sympathizer archetype). Real
righties of the non-libertarian sort can't forgive him for his assault on psychiatric
institutions. He also disdained Western military commmitments East of the Suez as
delaying freedom for the indigenous peoples from Russian and Chinese power (which
of course to you indicates that he is actually on the side of the Russians and Chinese).
He thought that the greatest service he performed for his country was preventing it
from sending troops to Vietnam. How was he not a tool of the Cathedral? He doesn't
seem any better than the Lew Rockwell paleolibertarians you denounce as having sold
out to the left. (for those interested in that topic see this).
I fail to see how he was much different from Nixon. As governor he campaigned in
favor of racial integration (foreshadowing Nixon's own involvement in affirmative
action). He was considered a moderate Rockefeller Republican (he was actually put on
the ticket in exchange for Rockefeller dropping out of the primary race), not a fullthroated right-wing opponent of the Cathedral.

All of them won re-election. Reagan and Thatcher were both succeeded by members of
their party. Nixon seems the odd man out, since there liberals who consider him to be
more left-wing than Carter or Clinton.
Nixon introduced affirmative action and the EPA. His domestic efforts survived, they
just don't make any sense if you consider him an arch-righty opponent of the Polygon.
He almost seems like the opposite of Enoch Powell! I don't think the U.K nationalized
many entities that were privatized by Thatcher (though according to the Great Global
Warming Swindle she is responsible for that meme as an effort to promote nuclear
power). Tax rates in the U.S didn't rise back to pre-Reagan heights (though after
cutting taxes he also raised them later). Industries deregulated stayed deregulated,
though arguable Carter deserves more credit for that. There was lots of stuff his
supporters expected from him that he didn't accomplish, but there it's questionable
whether he had much interest.
You underestimate the imaginations of the irrational. Lots of people seemed to think
that Sarkozy would be the second coming of Thatcher but for France.
What I watched seemed rather sympathetic. Logically, the BBC must be an enemy of
the Cathedral.
As much as I wish that were so and acknowledge that on no issue are the elites more
divided from the general public than on immigration, The People are still stupid
fuckers who should not be exalted, even on that issue. They'll agree to vague stuff about
illegals, but if you don't mention the word "amnestry" and ask if they want illegals who
are already here to perhaps pay a fine in order to stay or gain citizenship, in many polls
they say yes. To that I say fuck the people, DEPORT DEPORT DEPORT.

Way to ignore the cheap labor lobby, which is quite distinct from the Cathedral.
Didn't they have outlets like National Review (or if that's too late Reader's Digest, the
Chicago Tribune, Human Events and The Freeman)? Political parties had media
organs at least since the previous century.
Were the "liberal hawks" that supported the invasion of Iraq then outside the Polygon?
Or do you think the Cathedral took both sides on Iraq? Is Hillary Clinton outside of it
for dismissing economists that criticize her gas-holiday plan as elitists?
How much would you be willing to bet that someone cannot find them doing just that?
Now you're starting to sound like paranoid conspiracy theorists, though of course
Burkeman1 is taking the opposite view on the issue than you.
So are Eric Alterman and Matthew Yglesias out for wanting to get rid of race-based
affirmative action? The real beneficiaries would of course be Asians, which is fine by
Define fashionable.

If you mean to imply that the majority are reliably right-wing in any sense, that's
simply laughable.
Putting him on the opposite side of Enoch Powell on that issue.
Which is why I think of him as a leftist and in no sense an opponent of the Polygon.
What about Regan? You forgot to mention his amnesty.
You really need to sum up the policies that fall on one side or the other of the ledger to
see which one is greater. That's what causes me to consider Nixon to be wholly on the
other side (even on Vietnam, a war establishment liberals got us into, he was just
angling to withdraw under the best circumstances).
Once again I'd like to see that quantified before you bandy about this talk of "few".
How was that the case for Reagan or Thatcher?
I don't recall any of them being celebrated. The folks that happened to were the ones in
front of HUAC (McCarthy was a senator, not a house member) which was founded in
the Roosevelt administration.

Attacking the Army was a pretty dumb way of going about that.
You repeated State, and the rest aren't government organizations so he would have no
authority to abolish them.
I guess I just imagined that Iraq war they carried out.
I don't think there are many polls that support a sort of Maoist purge of the
No, as you've asserted.
Then you should be making a killing at InTrade or
Were those universities preaching Charles Murray's ideas on welfare reform (which in
fact formed the basis for what occurred under Clinton)? Were they saying that bussing
was a stupid idea that would ultimately fail in the face of popular resistance? Really,
the failure of old liberalism and the rise of neoliberalism that causes "progressives" to
pine for the 50s (though as Brink Lindsey points out conservatives do the same thing).
What does that have to do with increasing the power of the Cathedral? I do oppose
same-sex marriage, but it's mostly a non-issue to me.

Even originalists don't believe that. It's original meaning, not original intent. Lysander
Spooner was pushing just that distinction in the ante-bellum era. If you'd like to make
an actual legal argument based on the text of the California Constitution, you're
welcome to do so. I haven't read it so I can't really say.
I think the real problem is that they're too long to read. Then of course there are
Executive Orders and signing statements that we aren't even allowed to read for
national security reasons.
According to Wikipedia the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court along with
two Associate Justices were removed by the electorate in 1986 for opposing capital
punishment. (speaking of which, when it was banned as unconstitutional, were the Ivy
League colleges preaching that it be brought back? possibly Cass Sunstein who thinks
liberals should consider it obligatory)
The creation of substantive due process in Dred Scott might be considered an
exception, as with the extension of the concept to economics rights with Lochner.
Then you haven't been reading perhaps the person most opposed to living
constitutionalism I've come across.
I don't think Oliver Cromwell favored abortion, gay marriage or the separation of
Church and State.
So I just imagined that they reinstated the death penalty after four years?

What the Cathedral can and cannot get away with seems quite pertinent to the
question of whether democratically elected officials hold power.
If that were true, it would be quite sad indeed. I tried talking with him for a while, but
he flat out told me that his way of thinking would not permit any fruitful
communication. He reminds me of the most po-mo of leftists, which is not surprising
given the intermingling between post-modernist science critics and anti-Darwinists
like himself.
The Catholics at WWWTW seem much more interested in the text of the Bible than
him, and Catholics don't even read the thing in preference for the teachings of the
Then do so. Since I take into account the cheap labor lobby and you don't, I believe
instead that authorities will simply look the other way and permit illegals to work "off
the books". People to the south of the U.S will have a much easier time immigrating
than people far away who have to cross an ocean and don't have a large network of
You're an atheist, why do you even believe in the concept of "evil"?
To play Devil's Advocate for Burke, Churchill was actually fired for plagiarism.
Continuing to do so, crime plummeted in the 90s. The main reason for the crime that
currently exists is the criminalization of activities that were previously legal (I refer of
course to the Drug War). Why is it that you never touch on that particular subject? And

were those all powerful universities responsible for it?

MAY 30 , 2 00 8 AT 9 :4 6 PM

Anonymous said...
George, the Cathedral doesn't have to win every battle, because it is confident that over
the long term it will win the war. It dominates the means by which belief systems are
generated and propagated; the institutions that could generate and propagate a
competing belief system to the Cathedral are weak if they exist at all.
How can the Cathedral can "compel" Senators and judges to do anything? For one
thing, a great many Senators and judges are members of the Cathedral - they fully
share its belief system and its goals! No doubt there are some who don't fully share the
Cathedral's ideology, but go along with it from social pressure or from desire for future
patronage. As an aspiring judge, do you want to get nominated and confirmed to a
higher post, or do you want to be branded an "ultra-conservative extremist" and have
your nomination blocked?
A ruling ideology does not usually "compel" people to do things in the crude sense you
perhaps mean here. Didn't even work that way in dictatorships. Most people are happy
to go along to get along, and smart people who see where the power is and want
personal advancement will behave accordingly.
Incidentally, whenever you see the Post or NYT talking approvingly about a Senator or
judge (even a SC Justice) having "grown in office", it means that person is adjusting his
views in a Cathedral-approved manner. Good Senator, have a biscuit!
It is fascinating to see how much TGGP can read and not understand...
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 8 :4 0 AM

Patrick said...

Wait a second. I thought you said that democracy was the very worst government, and
that the civil service state was an improvement (though still bad)?
I can see the Gilded Age government as being better simply because it was limited.
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 9 :2 9 AM

Patrick said...
The Crown still has the formal power to make treaties and dissolve Parliament. They
never actually use it.
I've worked in DC and I agree with Mencius. The Iron Polygon rules, and elected
officials are only a small component of this.
A great book is "The Power Broker" by Robert Caro. He shows just how much more
powerful the civil service and NY Times is than the elected officials. It also shows how
they came to have so much power.
Also, even though he passed a few tax cuts, Reagan was completely ineffectual at
actually reducing the size of government. Instead, it continued to grow during his term.
Today, Reagan and Bush are viewed as discredited right-wingers. But if you compare
his actions, both are to the left of Woodrow Wilson. The goal posts continue to be
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 9 :5 0 AM

loki on the run said...

You have written a lot of words. I am reminded of Pascal.


It is not clear to me that this last is anyone's actual requirement, certainly not a
requirement of those who would capture government.
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 27 AM

loki on the run said...


Muslim women have won the right at Harvard, I believe, to exclude males from the
gym during certain hours.
The ancestors of the current citizens of the US (for the most part, ignoring illegals who
got in under amnesty) paid for the benefits their offspring currently enjoy. If people
from other countries want to enjoy the same benefits, perhaps they should pay as well.
Perhaps the asking price should be USD500,000.
You're not that smart, are you?
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 39 AM

Anonymous said...
"U.S. Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President, confirmed by the

Senate, and retain office for life. At first glance, it seems the Cathedral should be
unable to control who gets appointed to the SC or what they do once they get there."
The Justices go to dinner parties, socialize, have daughters that they want to marry off
well. They do not want to be thought of as knuckle dragging troglidites, hence,
abortion, gay marriage, open borders.
MAY 31 , 2 00 8 AT 1 :3 2 PM

Daniel A. Nagy said...

I am, unfortunately, not as confident as MM about the abolishment of this most hateful
of institutions (citizenship), which, both historically and functionally is the dual, the
twin sister of slavery.
Yet, I am already betting money on it, because I do think that the world will be a much
better place without it.
MM's predictions about 2B people and third-world conditions are obviously wrong. Is
Toronto with it's over 50% first-generation immigrant population a bad place? Is it a
crime-infested third-world slum? Or is it a prosperous, tolerant city and a great place
to live?
Currently, Canada has about 33M residents. It could easily sustain a few hundred
millions more. Actually, I think it would be a better place, if the population density got
a bit higher and you wouldn't need to travel hundreds of kilometers to get someplace
else from where you are living.
The free movement of goods, people and capital is the only good thing about the EU.
Actually, it is so good that it outweighs all the horrible things like CAP, industrial
subsidies, import duties, corrupt bureaucracy, etc.
All economic theory is telling us that the benefits from free migration far outweigh the
problems caused by it. It frees up (or more precisely: creates) more than enough
resources to deal with the latter.
The concept of citizenship based on birthplace, ancestry and ethnicity is not only
morally abhorrent (and yes, those who support it are racist nationalist fascists -there's no excuse for it), but also economically unjustified. And it is because of the
latter that there will always be sufficient resources to finance the fight against it (since
the returns are immense). Heck, even MM is willing to bet money on it (or so he says).
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 4 :5 0 AM

PA said...
Daniel's view that citizenship and national identity are "abhorrent" strikes me as being
at odds with universal human norms throughout history.
Also, it's not too surprising that a non-native Torontonian -- just someone who lived
there for some time and enjoyed it -- isn't too respectful of Toronto's historic identity.
What I find "abhorrent" -- or maybe this is too strong a word; let's try "funny" -- is a
position that historic nations should be dissolved due to the fact that their structures
inconvenience someone's peddling of wares.
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 7 :0 4 AM

m said...
Mencius, when are you going to compile your ideas into a book? (hopefully one without
all the meandering and tangents though =) ) I'd buy it...
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 8 :3 8 AM

picklefactory said...
>> It's not news that I believe the Cathedral is evil
> You're an atheist, why do you even believe in the concept of "evil"?
This is precisely what I thought after finishing this.
What exactly about the Cathedral/Polygon is evil?
The fact that it isn't 'Type 3'?
MM, maybe you should replace evil with 'inefficient' or 'suboptimal' or 'error-prone' or
something that can be evaluated in a quantitative way.
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 1 :4 3 P M

Lawful Neutral said...

Our nuturant parent in Washington Of course, they'll filter out any "obscene" content;
we can't make the taxpayers fund that kind of trash, can we?
Do you suppose hate speech will count as "obscene"? How long before we count
extremist politics, sedition, and inaccurate and dangerous rumors? Nobody's censoring
anything; you're perfectly free to spend $80/mo. to access whatever content you want.
Why would you want to do that, friend citizen? Are you a terrorist, or just some kind of
I'd say that's an awfully good move for the Cathedral to make. Was it here that I read
the prediction that the internet would be tamed by giving it away free? Of course, it's
just a proposal, and putting the porn genie back in the bottle is an extremely tall order.
I don't really see this happening, but it's a scary thought, eh?
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 3 :4 6 P M

P.M.Lawrence said...
"No Roman emperor, however dissolute, autocratic or hubristic, ever adopted the title
of king" - well, there was always Hannibalianus, nephew of Constantine the Great, but
he didn't make it to emperor. And don't forget, some emperors might also have been
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 7 :0 5 P M

John S. Bolton said...

Free movement of people capital and goods across national boundaries didn't turn out
so well for France in 1940. If one just wants to strike pseudo-moral poses though, the
capital that turned out to be tanks, the people who turned out to be enemies, and the
goods that turned out to be stolen, can all be ignored. Unless that is, the free movement
of ideas turns out to be intolerable for such as would applaud the criminal penalties for
expression of patriotic ideas in the internationalistic EU.
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 7 :1 1 P M

G. M. Palmer said...

re: Rex v Imperator

The whole point is the "idea" of freedom/self-determination is so powerful that even
the most Imperial Emperors (say Eglabalus) didn't dare refer to themselves as "Rex."
I.e. people will let you do anything to them if'n you use the right words.
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 7 :5 9 P M

Anonymous said...
Nothing wrong with atheists believing in evil.
What about the Cathedral is evil? Its goals and its methods. They're not just inefficient
and suboptimal, they are also evil.
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 9 :1 6 P M

Lawful Neutral said...

Darn it! Why do I keep screwing up the tags? I previewed it and it looked fine, but
when I posted it, disaster!
JU N E 1, 2 00 8 AT 9 :2 2 P M

picklefactory said...
Sure -- but why is it ALSO evil?
Let me try another question: is a society that is not a type-3 society by definition
governed by something evil?
Is anything less than a type-3 (scare quotes) "utopia" evil?
JU N E 2, 2 00 8 AT 3 :5 0 AM

Anonymous said...
If you have to ask that, you must be one of the "progressives" that MM hopes to
deprogram. =)
In my view, it is self-evident that much of what the Cathedral has done, and much of
what it wants to do is evil. The "progressive" position on almost any issue is the
embodiment of what the Cathedral wants to achieve. You pick the issue, and I'll tell you
why the goals and methods of the Cathedral are evil. At minimum, one should note
that literally no "progressive" goal can be achieved without increased government
control over the individual, increased government intrusion into individual life, and
increased government theft of the individual's resources. If you don't see that as evil,
then we'll have to agree to disagree.
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 7 :2 5 AM

G. M. Palmer said...
The Cathedral is evil (as opposed to neutral or good) because it is concerned with itself
and harms those that are not itself.
D&D terms are fun for explaining good v evil because they're one of the few sets that
discusses things in non-religious terms :D
(Come on, Lawful neutral, help a D-brother out).
Good -- concerned with "the other," often before (or at least in conjunction with) "the
Neutral -- not concerned with "the other" over "the self" but not actively engaged in
harming "the other"

Evil -- concerned with "the self" over "the other" and actively engaged in harming "the
The Cathedral is utterly against the well-being of "the other" (so not good) and seeks
only to continue its own existence and (could be neutral) but actively engages in the
destruction of the other (ergo, evil).
A neocameralist institution would be inherently good because (in MM's ideal world) it
would have to count not the best interests of profit but the best interests of profit that
will encourage the greatest productive amount of residency -- i.e. they can't engage in
harming "the other" because at any time "the other" could become "the self."
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 8 :4 1 AM

Aaron Davies said...

I concluded a couple weeks ago that TGGP is wrong on everything in detail, while
mtraven is wrong on everything in general.
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 3 :0 1 P M

picklefactory said...
anonymous: TheCathedralisevilbecauseit'sselfevidentthatitsgoalsareevil!
Uh huh. And I'm supposed to be the pseudo-Christian, woo-woo progressive around
here. Okay.
Hey, do progressives want to remain in Iraq or not remain in Iraq? I'd prefer we left
Iraq or that we weren't there in the first place. And no, I don't Love Teh Troops
(borrowing an IOZ-ism here) -- it just seems pointless to save a country by blowing it

If it's a progressive goal, does me wanting that we not kill Iraqis make me evil? Or
maybe it's not a progressive goal at all, despite some progressives out there calling for
it loudly for a while. Maybe not spending all that money on wars would somehow
increase governmental control over our lives.
Help me out here, I'm new to this stuff. Certainly reading this blog has gotten me
thinking in new and interesting directions, even if I haven't yet achieved the awesome
mental powers of a sooper genius. :)
Removing tongue from cheek, GM Palmer/Michael, your explanation is much more
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 5 :2 6 P M

Brian H said...
There's a morals-prediliction approach I find revealing;
Take 5 and do the survey. Then I'll give my take ...
The priorities of progressive/liberal persons and conservatives are different in a
number of ways. The lib has one standard that rules all others: hurt no-one's body or
feelings. The con values stability, authority, and group tradition equally.
The lib refuses to accept any action or position or statement which involves hurting
others, and refuses to participate. The underdog is assumed to be in the right, and the
state system and any large profit-motivated organization in the wrong, and worthy of
un-person labelling and treatment. Any who do not agree must be ipso facto evil,
because they countenance hurting people. Self-defense is no excuse.
The con, in the extreme, values the system beyond any particular individuals in it, and
can readily apply force in its defense.
Libs are in fact lousy administrators when they gain control of systems, because of
their assumption that they victimize their publics. Their (personal) truly enlightened

stewardship is necessary to prevent this.

And so on.
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 6 :0 7 P M

Lawful Neutral said...

G.M. Palmer:
OK, from the D&D 3.5 SRD, on good and evil, we have:
It seems clear enough to me; especially compared to the law-chaos thing, which made
sense in Moorcock's stuff and Warhammer, but is usually pretty goofy in D&D (see MM
on 'chaotic good'). It's also pretty obvious that the overwhelming majority of humans
and human institutions (including the Cathedral) would be neutral by these
The whole "is the Cathedral 'evil'" discussion is awfully Talmudic, though. It's a tiny
detail, and I guarantee MM was being either imprecise or figurative. If an atheist
materialist said, "Bismarck has sold his soul," we would understand it was just a

metaphor. If a paladin in full plate were to wander the halls of the State Dept.
spamming detectevil, even MM would have to admit he wouldn't get many hits.
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 9 :4 4 P M

Anonymous said...
In fact, the progressive goal in Iraq - defeat for the United States and victory for the
insurgents - is most definitely evil, just as it was evil when the progressives actively
sought US defeat in Vietnam. Leaving Iraq will result in mass slaughter, just like it did
in Indochina after we left there, but hey that evil can be glossed over because it will all
be blamed on Bush and Cheney.
JU N E 3, 2 00 8 AT 9 :4 5 P M

Patrick said...
Since someone brought up Iraq Mencius has used anti-colonialism as an example of progressives advocating a policy
that made life worse for a lot of people. I was tending to agree until I came across a
recent article which talked about the role of the British Raj in India in creating policies
that lead to massive famines:

If true that puts the British Raj in the same category as Mao, Stalin and Hitler. The
democratic Indian government - warts and all - looks a lot better than the colonialist
government that caused such massive famine.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 1 2: 53 AM

picklefactory said...
A very thoughtful and interesting site -- I enjoyed taking those very much. Thank you
for pointing it out.
I believe this is just as extreme a position as your extreme con, who values the system
above any person.
Now that I think about it, my experience is that valuing a system above individuals is a
Cathedral-esque trait whether you identify "lack of harm" or "system/authority" as
more important. I can think of whole squads of libs/progs that do a lot of systemvaluing, even if they would never say so out loud.
I believe this is known as the "Pottery Barn Theory of Imperialism", as one of our
valued legislators once put it.
Invading in the first place involved the mass slaughter of innocents and it doesn't seem
that anything significant has been accomplished as a result of that -- but as you seem to
be saying, two wrongs don't make a right, huh?

Well, I don't know, he seemed pretty definite about pointing out some banal
Swarthmore professor's blog as the very face of evil. Maybe he was being tongue-incheek, but it's obvious that some of you out there don't think so.
Anyway, I find nothing in this discussion so far to convince me that the good/evil
discussion is any less silly and inapplicable to the actual world and its shades of grey
that it has always been.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 5 :2 1 AM

Anonymous said...
Late Victorian Holocausts is tendentious Marxist drivel. Davis is a socialist who hates
capitalism, America, cities, and all the things that go with them. He uses
environmentalism as a vehicle to advance his socialist agenda, and LVH is a perfect
example of this technique. His data and methodology are profoundly suspect.
Except for the minor issue of intentionality. Mao, Stalin, and Hitler actively
intended to kill millions of people, the British Raj did not. Calling famines in India a
"Holocaust" a la Hitler is simply preposterous.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 04 AM

Patrick said...
AnonymousWikipedia puts the famine deaths at 7-8 million. Not as high Davis's numbers, but stil
high. Another famine in 1943 killed 3 million. Since independence, they have had no
I take Moldbuggian view that you can only judge a government by what it does, not its
intentions. Many people who do evil deeds believe they are doing good. The Cathedral

believes it is doing good.

When the government 1) sets taxes so high they cannot build up a store for food for
hard times 2) when the hard times come fail to provide aid and 3) then blame the
deaths on an unavoidable Malthusian crisis, its actions are blamable and a black mark
against imperial rule.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 1 0: 51 AM

G. M. Palmer said...
The disconnect here is the idea that one should judge governments and people by the
same standard. This is, of course, impossible.
Intentionality has to be taken into consideration when judging the actions of people. If
I were to give an M&M to a kid because I figured the kid liked candy and he died from
PeanutDeath(tm), I wouldn't be guilty of murder -- just being nice and unfortunate.
The government, however, has a lot more questions to answer -- why were you giving
out M&Ms in the first place? Did you know they weren't safe? Didn't you already do
DNA testing on the child? Shouldn't you have known? Which is why governments
should be in the business of doing as little as possible -- non-intervention is the way to
The even greater reason you can't judge a government on intentionality is because a
government isn't one person -- sure, Hitler said "let's kill us some Jews!" but other folk
had to carry out the orders -- intention didn't matter. What did matter (and the only
thing that can matter when judging a government) is the end result.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 1 1: 45 AM

George Weinberg said...


This indicates to me that, however inefficient it may be in other ways, India's

government has made avoiding famine a major priority. I think this is a general
characteristic of functioning democracies: flawed as they are in many ways, that they
won't allow massive starvation to happen, somehow they will get people food. A
government solely concerned with profit, or even one that insists on uniform
enforcement of laws no matter what, will quite possibly allow large numbers of people
to starve.
I've said before and I'll say again, if a neocameralist regime were instituted in a modern
third world country, most likely it would conclude that in order to maximize profits
large portions of the population should leave or die, the sooner the better. There is just
no way that that would be acceptable in today's world.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 1 :2 1 P M

G. M. Palmer said...
George -If it wouldn't be acceptable in today's world, the NC government wouldn't do it -- as its
primary concern is profit and its continued existence.
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Patrick said...
g.m. palmer If neocamelism requires a majority of countries to be Universalist in order to keep the
neocamelist government from engaging in morrally repulsive actions, that's a major
strike against neocamelism. What if MM's dream came true and every country turned
neocamelist? Might we see a massive genocide or expulsion of the low IQ populations?
I think neocamelism could work well where there is 1) low exist costs and 2) a
population with high human capital potential. In that case, profit maxmization would
require making the country a desirable place to live, thus perfectly aligning the interest
of the government with the people.

In a monopoly, or semi-monopoly situation, or if there is a population with low human

capital potential, I think the government incentives would be very different.
JU N E 4, 2 00 8 AT 7 :5 8 P M

Anonymous said...
Wiki also says there were famines before the Brits took over, so famines weren't
something peculiar to British rule. 1943 was during wartime when normal
transportation was disrupted. In fact, there have been famines in the area formerly
controlled as British India, which includes more than just modern-day India. In effect,
much of the reason India does not have a famine problem is because it does not include
Then, writ large, you should prefer the Third World to be under colonial rule rather
than "independent".
It is preposterous to judge colonial regimes by 2008 standards. The British
government did not give a sh!t aboutitsownpeopleinthecapitalcityofits
Empire - it let them die in the street like dogs! - there is no reason to expect that they
would have exerted themselves elsewhere to do things they would not do for the people
of London.

If you look at the overall record, from (say) 1800 to 1945, there really isn't any doubt
that the peoples of Africa and Asia were better off under European colonial rule than
they were as "independent" countries. That's even including those Indian famines.
Um, but governments consist of people.
Are you serious? The intentions of Hitler (and Stalin and Mao etc etc) absolutely
mattered! Do you actually claim that the Holocaust would have happened anyway if
Hitler didn't actively intend that it should happen? Or that the Holocaust wouldn't
have happened if Hitler had intended it but "other folk" in the regime had defied him?
Either claim is absurd.
There is a fundamental moral difference between (a) I hate you so I shoot you, and (b)
you die from natural causes and I don't take any action to help you. The law recognizes
such distinctions. Such distinctions are valid when applied to governments as well as
individuals. Intentions matter, not just outcomes.
"Neocamelist" - Is that a camel that wears a stylish leather jacket as it fights its
computerized overlords?
JU N E 5, 2 00 8 AT 1 2: 10 PM

American Monarchist said...

Your blog is fascinating and enlightening. And here I thought I was the only Jewish
reactionary Jacobite out there.
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Anonymous said...
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