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"NRx" vs. "Prog" Assumptions: Locating the Sources of Disagreement Between Neoreactionaries and Progressives (Part 1)

5 Post author: Matthew_Opitz 04 September 2014 04:58PM

I know that many people on LessWrong want nothing to do with "neoreaction."  It does seem strange that a website commonly associated with techno-futurism, such as LessWrong, would end up with even the most tangential networked association with an intellectual current, such as neoreaction, that commonly includes nostalgia for absolute monarchies and other avatistic obessions.

 

Perhaps blame it on Yvain, AKA Scott Alexander of slatestarcodex.com for attaching this strange intellectual node to LessWrong. ; ) That's at least how I found out about neoreaction, and I doubt that I am alone in this.

 

Certainly many on LessWrong would view any association with "neoreaction" as a Greek gift to be avoided. I understand the concept of keeping "well-kept gardens" and of politics being the "mind-killer," although some at LessWrong have argued that some of the most important questions humanity will face in the next decades will be questions that are unavoidably "political" in nature. Yes, "politics is hard mode," but so is life itself, and you don't get better at hard mode without practicing in hard mode.

 

LessWrong proclaims itself as a community devoted to refining the art of rationality. One aspect of the art of rationality is locating the true sources of disagreement between two parties who want to communicate with each other, but who can't help but talk past each other in different languages due to having radically different pre-existing assumptions.

 

I believe that this is the problem that any discourse between neoreaction and progressivism currently faces.

 

Even if you have no interest at all in neoreaction or progressivism as ideologies, I invite you to read this analysis as a case study in locating sources of disagreement between ideologies that have different unspoken assumptions. I will try to steelman neoreaction as much as I can, despite the fact that I am more sympathetic to the progressivist point of view.

 

In particular, I am interested in the following question:  to what extent do neoreactionary and progressive disagreements stem from judgments that merely differ in degree?  (For example, being slightly more or less pessimistic about X, Y, and Z propositions).  Or to what extent do neoreactionary and progressive disagreements stem from assumptions that are qualitatively different?

 

Normative vs. descriptive assumptions


"Normative" statements are "ought" statements, or judgments of value. "Descriptive" statements are "is" statements, or depictions of reality. While neoreaction and progressivism have a lot of differing descriptive assumptions, there is really only one fundamental normative disagreement, which I will address first.

 

Normative disagreement #1: Progressivism's subjective values vs. Neoreaction's objective[?] values


As I see it, Progressivism says, "Our subjective values are worth pursuing in and of themselves just because it makes us feel good. It does not particularly matter where our values come from. Perhaps we are Cartesian dualists—unmoved movers with free will—who invent our values in an act of existential creation. Or perhaps our values are biological programming—spandrels manufactured by Nature, or as the neoreactionaries personify it, "Gnon." It doesn't matter. In principle, if we could rewire our reward circuits to give us pleasure/fun/novelty/happiness/sadness/tragedy/suffering/whatever we desire* in response to whatever Nature had the automatic (or modified) disposition to offer us, then those good feelings would be just as worthwhile as anything else. (This is why neoreactionaries perceive progressive values as "nihilistic.")

 

According to this formulation, most LessWrongers, being averse to wireheading in principle, are not full-fledged progressives at this most fundamental level.  (Perhaps this explains some of the counter-intuitive overlap between the LessWrong and neoreactionary thoughtsphere....) 

 

[Editorial:  In my view, coming to terms with the obvious benefit of wireheading is the ultimate "red pill" to swallow. I am a progressive who would happily wirehead as long as I had concluded beforehand that I had adequately secured its completely automatic perpetuation even in the absence of any further input from me...although an optional override to shut it down and return me to the non-wireheaded state would not be unwelcome, just in case I had miscalculated and found that the system did not attend to my every wish as anticipated.]

 

*Note that I am aware that our subjective values are complex and that we are "Godshatter." Nevertheless, this does not seem to me to be a fundamental impediment to wireheading. In principle, we should be able to dissect every last little bit of this "Godshatter" and figure out exactly what we want in all of its diversity...and then we can start designing a system of wireheading to give it to us. Is this not what Friendly AI is all about? Doesn't Friendly AI = Wireheading Done "Right"? Alternatively, we could re-wire ourselves to not be Godshatter, and to have a very simple list of things that would make us feel good. I am open to either one. LessWrongers, being neoreactionaries at heart (see below), would insist on maintaining our human complexity, our Godshatter values, and making our wireheading laboriously work around that. Okay, fine. I'll compromise...as long as I get my wireheading in some form. ; )

 

Neoreaction says, "There is objective value in the principle of "perpetuating biological and/or civilizational complexity" itself*; the best way to perpetuate biological and/or civilizational complexity is to "serve Gnon" (i.e. devote our efforts to fulfilling nature's pre-requisites for perpetuating our biologial and/or civilizational complexity); our subjective values are spandrels manufactured by natural selection/Gnon; insofar as our subjective values motivate us to serve Gnon and thereby ensure the perpetuation of biological and/or civilizational complexity, our subjective values are useful. (For example, natural selection makes sex a subjective value by making it pleasurable, which then motivates us to perpetuate our biological complexity). But, insofar as our subjective values mislead us from serving Gnon (such as by making non-procreative sex still feel good) and jeopardize our biological/civilizational perpetuation, we must sacrifice our subjective values for the objective good of perpetuating our biological/civilizational complexity" (such as by buckling down and having procreative sex even if one would personally rather not enjoy raising kids).

 

*Note that different NRx thinkers might have different definitions about what counts as biological or civilizational "complexity" worthy of perpetuating...it could be "Western Civilization," "the White Race," "Homo sapiens," "one's own genetic material," "intelligence, whether encoded in human brains or silicon AI," "human complexity/Godshatter," etc. This has led to the so-called "neoreactionary trichotomy"—3 wings of the neoreactionary movement: Christian traditionalists, ethno-nationalists, and techno-commercialists. 

 

Most LessWrongers probably agree with neoreactionaries on this fundamental normative assumption, with the typical objective good of LessWrongers being "human complexity/Godshatter," and thus the "techno-commercialist" wing of neoreaction being the one that typically finds the most interest among LessWrongers.

 

[Editorial:  pesumably, each neoreactionary is choosing his/her objective target of allegiance (such as "Western Civilization") because of the warm fuzzies that the idea elicits in him/herself. Has it ever occurred to neoreactionaries that humans' occasional predilection for being awed by a system bigger than themselves (such as "Western Civilization") and sacrificing for that system is itself a "mere" evolutionary spandrel?]

 

Now, in an attempt to steelman neoreaction's normative assumption, I would characterize it thus: "In the most ultimate sense, neoreactionaries find the pursuit of subjective values just as worthwhile as progressives do. However, neoreactionaries are aware that human beings are short-sighted creatures with finite discount windows. If we tell ourselves that we should pursue our subjective values, we won't end up pursuing those subjective values in a farsighted way that involves, for example, maintaining a functioning civilization so that people continue to follow laws and don't rob or stab each other. Instead, we will invariably party it up and pursue short-term subjective values to the detriment of our long-term subjective values. So instead of admitting to ourselves that we are really interested in subjective value in the long run, we have to tell ourselves a noble lie that we are actually serving some higher objective purpose in order to motivate our primate brains to stick to what will happen to be good for subjective values in the long run."

 

Indeed, I have found some neoreactionary writers muse on the problem of wanting to believe in God because it would serve as a unifying and motivating objective good, and lamenting the fact that they cannot bring themselves to do so.

 

Now, onto the descriptive disagreements....

 

Descriptive assumption #1: Humanity can master nature (progressivism) vs. Nature will always end up mastering humanity (neoreaction).


Whereas progressives tend to have optimism that humankind can incrementally master the laws of nature (not change them, but master them, as in intelligently work around them, much like how we have worked around but not changed gravitation by inventing airplanes), neoreactionaries have a dour pessimism that humankind under-estimates the extent to which the laws of nature constantly pull our puppet strings.  Far from being able to ever master nature, humankind will always be mastered by nature, by nature's command to "race to the bottom" in order to out-reproduce, out-compete one's rivals, even if that means having to sacrifice the nice things in life.

 

For specific ways in which nature threatens to master humanity unless humanity somehow finds a way to exert tremendous efforts at collective coordination against nature, see Scott Alexander's "Meditations on Moloch."

 

Most progressives presumably hold out hope that we can collectively coordinate to overcome Moloch.  If nature and its incentives threaten humanity with the strongest and most ruthless conquering the weak and charitable, perhaps we create a world government to prevent that.  If nature and its incentives drive down wages to subsistence level, perhaps we create a global minimum wage.  If humanity is threatened with dysgenic decline, perhaps a democratic world government organizes a eugenics program. 

 

Descriptive assumption #2:  On average, people have, or can be trained to have, far-sighted discount functions (progressivism), vs. people typically have short-sighted discount functions (neoreaction). 


Part of the progressive assumption about humanity being able to master nature is that ordinary people are rational enough to see the big picture and submit to such controls if they are needed to avoid the disasters of Moloch.  Part of the neoreactionary assumption about nature always mastering humanity is that, except for some bright outliers, most people are short-sighted primates who will insist on trading long-term well-being for short-term frills.

 

Descriptive assumption #3: Culture is a variable mostly dependent on material conditions (progressivism) vs. Culture is an independent variable with respect to material conditions (neoreaction).


Neoreactionaries often claim that life seems so much better in modern times in comparison to, say, 400 years ago, only because of our technological advancement since then has compensated for, and hidden, how our culture has rotted in the meantime. Neoreactionaries argue that, if one could combine our modern technology with, let's say, an absolute monarchy, then life would be so much better. This assumption of being able to mix & match material conditions and political systems, or material conditions and culture, depends on an assumption that culture and social institutions are essentially independent variables. Perhaps with enough will, we can try to make any set of technologies work well with any set of cultural and social institutions.

 

Progressives, whether they realize it or not, are probably subtly influenced, instead, by the "historical materialist" (AKA Marxist) view of society which argues that certain material conditions and material incentives tend to automatically generate certain cultural and social responses.

 

For example, to Marx, increased agricultural productivity in the late middle ages and Renaissance due to better agricultural technologies was a pre-requisite for the "Acts of Enclosure" in England, which booted the "surplus" farmers off of the farms and into the cities as propertyless proletarians who would be willing to work for a wage. Likewise, technologies like steam power were pre-requisites for providing an unprecedentedly profitable way of employing these proletarians to make a profit. (Otherwise, the proletarians might have just been left to rot on the street unemployed, with their numbers dwindling in Malthusian fashion). And because there were new avenues for making a profit, the people who stood to gain from chasing these new profit incentives produced new cultural habits and laws that would enable them to pursue these incentives more effectively. One of these new sets of laws was "laissez-faire" economics. Another was liberal democracy.

 

To a progressive, the proposition that we could, even theoretically, run our modern technological society through an absolute monarchy would probably seem preposterous. It is not even an option. Our modern society is too complex, with too many conflicting interests to reconcile through any system that prohibits the peaceful discovery and negotiation of these varied interests through a democratic process involving "voice." In reality, people are not content with being able only to exercise the "right of exit" from institutions or governments that they don't like. Perhaps the powerless have no choice but to immigrate. But elites have, historically, more often chosen to stand and fight rather than gracefully exit. Hence, feudalism, civil wars brought on by crises of royal succession, Masonic orders, factions, political parties, "special interest groups," and so on.

 

Progressives would say, "Do you honestly think that you can tame these beasts, when even a dictator like Hitler was just as much beholden to juggling interest groups and power blocs around him as he was the real dictator of events?" Ah, but the neoreactionaries will say, "Hitler's Nazism was still "demotist." It made the mistake of trying to justify itself to the public, if not through elections, then at least implicitly. We won't do that." To which progressives might say, "You might not want to justify yourself to the rabble and to elite power blocs, but they will demand it—and not because they are all infected by some mysterious mental virus called the "Cathedral," but because they see a way to gain an advantage through politics, and in the modern era they have the means and coordination to effectively fight for it."

 

These are just examples. The take-away point is that, for progressives, culture appears to be more of a dependent variable, not a variable that is independent of material conditions. So, according to progressives, you can't say, "Let's just combine today's technology with absolute monarchy, and voilà!"

 

Descriptive assumption #4: Western society is currently anabolic/ascendant (progressivism) vs. catabolic/decadent (neoreaction).


Neoreaction often gets caricatured as claiming that "things are getting worse" or "have been getting worse for the past x number of years." This paints a weak straw-man of neoreaction because, on the surface, things seem so much "obviously" better now than ever. However, this isn't quite what neoreactionaries claim.

 

Neoreactionaries actually claim that Western society is decaying (note the subtle difference). Western society is gradually weakening its ability to reproduce itself. It is, to use a farming metaphor, eating up its seed-corn on present consumption, on insant gratification, which causes things to seem really swell on the surface...for now. However, according to neoreactionaries, conditions might not yet be getting worse on average (although they will point to inner city violence and other signs that conditions already have started to get worse in some places), but Western society's "capital stock" is getting worse, is already dwindling.

 

Envisioned more broadly, a society's "capital" is not just its money. It is its entire basket of tangible and intangible assets that help it reproduce and expand itself. So a society's "capital" would also include things like its citizens, its birth rates, its habits of harmonious gender relations, its education, its habits of civil propriety, its sustaining myths (such as patriotism or religion), its infrastructure, its environmental health [although NRxers tend to not focus on this], etc.

 

Another term for "decadence" might be "catabolic collapse." A catabolic collapse is when an organism starts consuming its own muscles, its own seed-corn, if you will, in a last-ditch effort to stay alive. By contrast, an "anabolic" process is one that builds muscle—one that saves up capital, if you will. (Hence, "anabolic" steroids).

 

Neoreactionaries believe that Western society is currently headed for a "catabolic collapse."  (See John Michael Greer, author of "How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse."  Oddly enough, John Michael Greer started out 10 years ago as a trendy name in anarcho-primitivist intellectual circles.  Now his ideas have been embraced by some neoreactionaries such as Nick Land, which makes me ponder whether anarcho-primitivism is really of the "left" or "right" to begin with...)

 

When it comes to progressives, most, I think, would argue that Western society is not currently catabolic/decadent. Granted, they would point to some problems with "unsustainability," especially with regards to environmental pollution, resource depletion, and maybe public debt levels (especially worrisome to the libertarian-minded). But on the whole, progressives are still optimistic that these problems can be overcome without rolling back liberal democracy.

 

Now, let's look at some specific worries that neoreaction has about Western decadence....

 

Descriptive Assumption #5: Our biggest population threat is overshoot and the attendant resource depletion, environmental pollution, and immiseration of living standards (progressivism) vs. Our biggest population threat is a demographic death spiral (neoreaction).


One thing I have noticed when looking at neoreactionary websites is that they are really obsessed with birth rates! They argue that countries with fertility below replacement level are on the road to annihilation. I found this interesting because my first impulse is to feel like this globe is getting too damn crowded.

 

Perhaps neoreactionaries envision the birth rates to stay below replacement level from here on out—that this is a permanent change. Perhaps they foresee world population following a sort of bell-shaped curve. My naive progressive assumption is that our population is already in a slight overshoot beyond what can be sustained at our current level of technology, and that any present declines in birth rates are probably just enough to bring us into the oscillating plateau of a typical S-shaped popoulation curve, and that better economic prospects could easily reverse the trend. My naive progressive assumption is that raising kids will remain sufficiently fun and interesting to a large enough pool of adults that, given enough of a feeling of economic security, people will happily continue having kids in sufficient numbers to prevent a die-off of Homo sapiens. In other words, most progressives like myself would not see the need to roll back gender norms in Western society at the present time for the sake of popping out more babies.

 

Perhaps what worries neoreactionaries, though, is not so much the fear of a global planetary baby shortage, but rather a localized baby shortage among Westerners or Whites. Maybe they fear that all babies are not created equal....

 

Descriptive assumption #6: "Immigrants are OK" (progressivism) vs. "Immigrants will jeopardize Western Civilization/the White Race/intelligent human complexity/etc." (neoreaction)


Progressives say, "It is not a big deal if Western society has to import some immigrants to keep its population topped off. Immigrant cultures will eventually blend with the "nativist" culture. Historically, this has turned out OK, despite xenophobic fears every time that it will end in disaster. The immigrants will mostly assimilate into the nativist culture. The nativist culture will pick up a few new habits from the immigrants (some of them helpful, some of them harmful, but on the balance nothing disastrous). Nor will the immigrants dirty the nativist gene pool with bad genes. As far as we can tell so far, no significant genetic differences in intelligence and/or physical vigor exist between immigrants and non-immigrants."

 

Neoreactionaries say, "It is a very big deal if Western society has to import some immigrants to keep its population topped off. Immigrant cultures will not assimilate with the nativist culture. Immigrant cultures will end up imparting a net influene of bad habits on the native culture. Civil decency will be eroded. Crime and societal dysfunction will increase. The native gene pool will also be dirtied with lower-intelligence immigrant genes. (And the only reason we can't see this is because the progressive Establishment AKA the "Cathedral" has systematically distorted the research and discourse around IQ). At worst, Western cities will act as "IQ Shredders." Any intelligent immigrants who seize economic opportunities in wealthy Western cities will see their fertility rates plummet, and the idiots will inherit the Earth à la the movie "Idiocracy"."

 

More to come in subsequent parts....

Comments (331)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 04 September 2014 06:25:08PM *  18 points [-]

The history of LW and NR is older than Scott's posts on the subject.

The plausible connection between LW and NR is that both have an underlying premise that life can be improved by taking a fairly abstract approach.

There were several active NR posters. They decided LW wasn't where they wanted to hang out, and some of them can be found at More Right..

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 September 2014 01:44:49PM *  4 points [-]

More specifically, I thought the main connection was (a) Moldbug frequenting OB (b) Mike Anissimov as the transhumanist neoreactionary. Was there more I've missed? (I know lots more of such showed up later.)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 05 September 2014 04:22:56PM 5 points [-]

I didn't know or had forgotten about) the OB connection.

In any case, when I was talking about a connection, I meant to explain why there would be a enough similarity of ideas and temperament that NRx would be active members of LW rather than exploring the historical connection.

Comment author: nydwracu 06 September 2014 04:58:50PM 9 points [-]

It's certainly possible to come up with explanations -- Moldbug commented on OB; the DE seems fringe due to memetic immune disorders to statements generally accepted as true around LW; LW primes you to suspect social consensus; etc. -- but are explanations necessary?

Not many LWers identified as NRx on the survey, and not many NRx writers post on LW. I would not be surprised if the overlap between LW and, say, conlangers turned out to be about as large as the overlap between LW and NRx.

There is also a non-negligible overlap between NRx and conlangers, which is why I used that example, and also why I don't think there's anything more going on here than "there are only so many Americans who will join groups of people who do complicated things involving words on the internet".

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 05 September 2014 06:51:39PM *  12 points [-]

LessWrong primes you to suspect social consensus with people are crazy, the world is mad, teaches that you have to actually grapple with difficult stuff in detail instead of grabbing the closest cliche to end the discussion, and then introduces a Really Important Thing that relies on us being able to understand the mechanics of intelligence better than anyone has done before. It's not a long jump to go looking into human intelligence as the best existing model for intelligence we have, and then it turns out you don't need to dig very far into the research on human intelligence to hit stuff only the Dark Enlightenment folk seem to be openly talking about, while the rest of the world seems to be happy with S. J. Gould's final word.

Comment author: SilentCal 05 September 2014 12:11:04AM 16 points [-]

Here's a big one that's sort of up a meta-level from a lot of the descriptive beliefs:

Older societies/cultures are optimized (NR) vs. older societies/cultures are chaotic messes (prog)

NRs expect older structures to be very well adapted to their conditions close to ideal, or at least far better than anything progressives would invent from a blank slate. Progressives tend to see older structures as arising from a very complicated, often Moloch-driven set of interactions that optimizes only very weakly for things like social stability and doesn't optimize at all for, say, most members' happiness. There are separate but related questions about whether history optimized societies for the right things and how effectively it optimized them.

This is essentially summarizable as level of belief in Chesterton's Fence. A neoreactionary thinks the fence must be there for a damn good reason, whereas a progressive figures there are lots of stupid reasons the fence could end up there.

And when we start from the blank slate, NRs expect the right answer to look a lot like traditional societies, whereas progressives believe human cognition should be able to drastically outperform historical evolutionary forces.

Comment author: nydwracu 07 September 2014 01:03:08PM 10 points [-]

An argument I think I've heard from some of the smarter progressives (but I may have built it myself as a steelman) is that older societies/cultures may have been optimized for older conditions, but technological change has far-reaching social consequences that make those optimizations no longer viable.

The typical example seems to be birth control making sex outside marriage viable, but I must have heard it in a different context, since it clearly fails in that one. (STDs. Drug resistance is likely soon.)

Comment author: SilentCal 08 September 2014 03:45:36PM *  4 points [-]

You've probably both heard and invented it; it's one horn of what we might call the Progressive's Trilemma: "If traditional structures are not optimal, they must be either a) insufficiently optimized, b) optimized for the wrong values, or c) optimized for the wrong conditions". I doubt you'll find many progressives who don't believe some measure of each of these depending on the issue.

(EDIT: You could call it the Chesterton's Fence trilemma: If the fence shouldn't be there, then either it was put there by an idiot, it was put there by a bandit, or it was put there when the road ahead was flooded. Or something.)

a) is my point above and b) is related to OP's Normative Assumption #1. c) is a bit related to OP's Descriptive Assumption #3, but might warrant its own statement: There has been so much rapid change recently that something working in the premodern past is scant evidence that it will work today (prod) vs. the lessons of the past mostly hold true today (NR).

This one is fun because it lets you say "<Historical figure> was indeed wise to counsel thus, but <Neoreactionary> is a fool to apply that advice today". Perhaps ironically, this has a cultural-relativist-ish appeal to progressives.

(But having a motivation doesn't make it a bad argument)

Comment author: nydwracu 08 September 2014 04:30:16PM *  5 points [-]

cf. Han Feizi's attack on the Confucians

The sage does not [necessarily] seek to follow the ways of the ancients, nor does he establish any fixed standards for all times. He examines things in his age and prepares to deal with them.

A farmer from Sung was cultivating his field and came across a stump. One day, he noticed a rabbit running on the field that accidentally ran into the stump, causing it to break its neck and die. After seeing that, the farmer just put away his tools and observed the stump, expecting that he would get another rabbit through the same method. But he got no more rabbits that way, and was soon regarded with ridicule by the people of Sung.

People who expect to effectively govern people in modern times through the methods of ancient kings are acting like those people who are observing stumps.

Comment author: army1987 07 September 2014 08:42:45PM 2 points [-]

An argument I think I've heard from some of the smarter progressives (but I may have built it myself as a steelman) is that older societies/cultures may have been optimized for older conditions, but technological change has far-reaching social consequences that make those optimizations no longer viable.

IIRC that's more or less what Scott said near the end of his anti-reactionary FAQ. (That's also my position, except in most cases I'd weaken it to ‘probably no longer optimal’.)

The typical example seems to be birth control making sex outside marriage viable, but I must have heard it in a different context, since it clearly fails in that one.

Whut? Is northern sub-replacement fertility just because people aren't having sex?

STDs.

Condoms.

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 08:56:43PM 5 points [-]

Condoms.

Condoms have existed since ancient Egypt so they aren't new technology that the culture hasn't had a chance to adept to yet. In fact the way cultures tend to adept to condoms is by proscribing their use.

Comment author: nydwracu 08 September 2014 04:33:08PM 3 points [-]

How recent are STD-preventing condoms?

(Not that condoms can prevent all STDs, of course: "A greater level of protection is provided for the diseases transmitted by genital secretions. A lesser degree of protection is provided for genital ulcer diseases or HPV because these infections also may be transmitted by exposure to areas (e.g., infected skin or mucosal surfaces) that are not covered or protected by the condom." (source))

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:04:03AM 1 point [-]

How recent are STD-preventing condoms?

Don't know, although I don't see why cotton or sheepskin condoms would be significantly less effective than modern ones. If the condom can stop the sperm, it can stop whatever else is in the semen.

Comment author: kalium 09 September 2014 02:56:48AM 7 points [-]

No, a sperm cell is very substantially larger than a virus particle. Lambskin condoms have not been shown to be effective at blocking virus transmission.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 10 September 2014 08:57:21AM 5 points [-]

Not that I don't believe you, but would you happen to have a source I could use for further reference?

Comment author: kalium 12 September 2014 02:38:33AM 2 points [-]

Failing to find an actual paper that does more than mention in passing that they-re not shown effective - it just gets treated as common knowledge. Wikipedia's condom article references "Boston Women's Health Book Collective (2005). Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era. New York, NY: Touchstone. p. 333. ISBN 0-7432-5611-5."

Here's a nifty visualization of the scales involved: Cell Size and Scale

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 08 September 2014 05:30:17PM 0 points [-]

And not society has ever really practiced 100% for-life monogamy.

Everybody has abundant evidence that the world is an imperfect place, and everything in it, but we still keep coming up with these black-and-white theories.

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:01:37AM 5 points [-]

And not sic society has ever really practiced 100% for-life monogamy.

But many societies have held 100% for-life monogamy as something you should do.

To put it another way, no society has ever had a murder rate of 0%, but that doesn't mean we should declare murder acceptable.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 September 2014 10:20:58AM 1 point [-]

I was responding to a point about viability.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 07 September 2014 05:09:44PM *  2 points [-]

The typical example seems to be birth control making sex outside marriage viable, but I must have heard it in a different context, since it clearly fails in that one. (STDs. Drug resistance is likely soon.)

Having a non-zero downside is not the same thing as being nonviable.

There's a nonzero downside to everything .NRs like, since there is to everything.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 08 September 2014 05:51:23PM 2 points [-]

And when we start from the blank slate, NRs expect the right answer to look a lot like traditional societies,

There's no clear definition of "blank slate"...low technology ? Low population? Traditional societies might have been adapted for those conditions., but they are not our conditions.

Claiming that you could have designed ancient societies better is not exactly a core belief of prog.

Comment author: SilentCal 08 September 2014 06:10:24PM 1 point [-]

Sorry, I meant 'designing the ideal modern society from a blank slate', i.e. sitting down and thinking about what modern society should be like.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 08 September 2014 02:43:48PM 14 points [-]

One old commonality is LW's wariness of conventional democracy, emerging from its singularitarian background. The singularitarian worry is that a society of many wholly self-determining agents will end up in a destructive multipolar trap. Bostrom had already published an argument on these lines back in 2004. SIAI/MIRI has always been different from most of the techno-progressivism milieu it's in with by considering extreme technological autonomy as a very probable future existential risk instead of an important political value to fight for.

The neoreaction connection is pretty clear here. Neoreactionaries denounce democracy as a present-day massive coordination failure instead of a future enabler of existential risk, but they're biting the bullet and openly talking about abandoning democracy for a system that could do the sort of global coordination MIRI presents as its endgame.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 09 September 2014 11:22:10AM 5 points [-]

I always thought it was interesting that SIAI/MIRI seems to have a very libertarian bias in terms of present-day politics, but its endgame puts all power in a singleton, who divides resources according to CEV, weighting each person's preferences equally, i.e. totalitarian communism, which is the diametrical opposite of libertarianism. Not that I'm saying this is a contradiction or hypocrisy, as different situations do require different politics - if anything, it shows a great deal of cognitive flexibility.

Comment author: cousin_it 09 September 2014 01:36:58PM *  5 points [-]

I don't really see a contradiction here. The idea is that perfectly rational agents would choose to merge into a singleton that maximizes a combination of their utility functions, instead of wasting resources on competition. CEV is not the only mechanism that can achieve that, also see Carl's paper on superorganisms. Humans can't quite do that yet because we don't have good technologies for cooperation, precommitment or self-modification, and also because we don't have good enough math on bargaining which is necessary for merging.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 September 2014 05:43:18PM 14 points [-]

As I see it, Progressivism says, "Our subjective values are worth pursuing in and of themselves just because it makes us feel good.

Citation needed. I don't think that's what Progressivism is about (especially given how the context here is explicitly political). In particular, progressives are not libertarians.

From a normative point of view, there are a LOT of differences between the progressive value system and the neoreactionary value system.

In general, what you describe as progressivism (humanity can master nature, humans have far-sighted discount functions, etc.) is quite different from what I see progressives say and do on the US political arena.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 04 September 2014 06:43:39PM 4 points [-]

Agreed. The only way I can see that progressivism relates to pursuing subjective values is in sexual politics, supporting gay sex and birth control and thereby saying sex has value 'just because it feels good' rather than for the more objective purpose of reproduction. I suppose that pushing back against the objective values found in religion could be argued as well, except that many progressives are religious.

Comment author: scientism 04 September 2014 07:48:41PM 2 points [-]

It's an apt description of liberalism, of which progressivism is a species, which is defined by an open pluralism regarding what counts as the good. Progressives add a belief in systemic oppression - i.e., oppression by cultural norms and values, which they try to alleviate, but the goal is the same as classical liberalism: liberty from perceived oppression. Regardless, if you conceive of society as a power-structure, whether you take the classical liberal belief that we're oppressed by state and church, the socialist belief that we're oppressed by class structure or the modern progressive belief that we're oppressed by sexism, racism, etc, then you want to alleviate those harms and typically the only way to do so is to use existing power structures.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 September 2014 07:56:58PM *  6 points [-]

It's an apt description of liberalism, of which progressivism is a species, which is defined by an open pluralism regarding what counts as the good.

That's classical liberalism and I don't count contemporary progressives, at least in the US, as belonging to it. The contemporary progressives have very... fixed ideas about what counts as good and are quite intolerant of people who dare to think otherwise.

Not to mention that they have a love affair with state power.

Comment author: scientism 04 September 2014 08:49:28PM *  7 points [-]

All three projects - liberalism, socialism and progressivism - are related by common commitments that have their origins in Enlightenment political philosophy. Because progressives believe in systemic oppression, they have to alleviate systemic oppression in order to achieve liberty: we won't be truly free until we're free from racism, sexism, etc. They're still committed to value pluralism. All three projects faced the (paradoxical) issue of having to attain state power in order to enforce their vision. Liberal democracy was often created on the back of violent revolution, for example.

Libertarians typically identify with classical liberalism and decry progressivism as statist and oppressive, it's true, but that doesn't mean that progressives aren't committed to liberty and value pluralism on their own terms. They have a different notion of what those things mean, they don't reject them.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 September 2014 08:57:40PM -3 points [-]

...decry progressivism as statist and oppressive, it's true, but that doesn't mean that progressives aren't committed to liberty and value pluralism on their own terms. They have a different notion of what those things mean

Ah yes, we've been there. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 04 September 2014 11:02:55PM 3 points [-]

Is this post anything other than a slap in the face?

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 12:26:38AM -3 points [-]

Heh. It is interesting that you choose to interpret it solely in this way. Do you have a point, by any chance?

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 05 September 2014 12:40:06AM *  2 points [-]

Actually, I don't know what you mean, but that was all that occurred to me. IS it anything other than a slap in the face?

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 01:00:47AM *  -2 points [-]

Why, yes. To start with, it is not a slap in the face. To continue, it's a reminder that people who are "committed to liberty ... on their own terms" and "have a different notion of what those things mean" are usually committed to something other than what most people call liberty.

1984 is about Ingsoc, isn't it? English socialism.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 05 September 2014 01:43:09AM *  5 points [-]

I think the distinctions we're drawing here are a teensy weensy bit more subtle than the distinction between liberty and 'a boot stamping on a human face, forever'.

Like, if an employer wants to fire a transgender person on account of that fact, does it better preserve liberty to let them do that, or not let them do that?

Any debate on this issue will be about just what is meant by 'Liberty', and from there the answer will fall directly.

Plus, there is little doubt that among other things, it IS a slap in the face - you quote something about different definitions by progressives and then say we've been there and quote a fictional totalitarian regime whose most salient feature is manipulating language. The interpretation that progressives have their definitions that twisted is, well, pretty direct and if you were not trying to make that implication, you should have been much much clearer.

Comment author: jaime2000 04 September 2014 07:48:58PM *  27 points [-]

Perhaps blame it on Yvain, AKA Scott Alexander of slatestarcodex.com for attaching this strange intellectual node to LessWrong. ; )

This is just wrong. Neoreaction has had a presence on LessWrong since before it existed; back in the days of Overcoming Bias, Moldbug used to comment under the handle "Mencius." Vladimir_M, Aurini, and James A. "Jim" Donald were reactionary LW users who made their last comments in 2012; Dr. Alexander's "Nutshell" essay was posted in March of 2013. Hell, at one point, Multi got so annoyed that he wrote a post called "I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions."

Good times.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 04 September 2014 10:33:36PM 3 points [-]

Good to know! It would be interesting for someone to write an "Intellectual History of LessWrong." I know there was this: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/13/five-years-and-one-week-of-less-wrong/ But, as nice as this summary is, it focuses more on the questions that got solved and the culminating successes, and is less of a balance "history" that follows every trend, fad, and intellectual dead end (not to imply that neoreaction is necessarily a "dead end," but it doesn't make the list in this account).

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 September 2014 01:34:20PM *  2 points [-]

Good to know! It would be interesting for someone to write an "Intellectual History of LessWrong." I know there was this: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/13/five-years-and-one-week-of-less-wrong/ But, as nice as this summary is, it focuses more on the questions that got solved and the culminating successes, and is less of a balance "history" that follows every trend, fad, and intellectual dead end

I'll say. There is nothing about UFAI.

Comment author: army1987 06 September 2014 06:07:31PM *  4 points [-]

There was a moratorium on discussions about artificial intelligence the first couple months after LW was launched.

Comment author: army1987 04 September 2014 08:08:12PM 8 points [-]

First of all, I applaud your courage!

It does seem strange that a website commonly associated with techno-futurism, such as LessWrong, would end up with even the most tangential networked association with an intellectual current, such as neoreaction, that commonly includes nostalgia for absolute monarchies and other avatistic obessions.

Not so strange when you take into account they appeal to the same intellectual hipster personality.

Perhaps blame it on Yvain, AKA Scott Alexander of slatestarcodex.com for attaching this strange intellectual node to LessWrong.

There already were several regular LWers with reactionary ideas (e.g. Konkvistador and earlier Vladimir_M) before Yvain wrote his Nutshell.

Neoreaction says, "There is objective value in the principle of "perpetuating biological and/or civilizational complexity" itself*; the best way to perpetuate biological and/or civilizational complexity is to "serve Gnon" (i.e. devote our efforts to fulfilling nature's pre-requisites for perpetuating our biologial and/or civilizational complexity); our subjective values are spandrels manufactured by natural selection/Gnon; insofar as our subjective values motivate us to serve Gnon and thereby ensure the perpetuation of biological and/or civilizational complexity, our subjective values are useful. (For example, natural selection makes sex a subjective value by making it pleasurable, which then motivates us to perpetuate our biological complexity). But, insofar as our subjective values mislead us from serving Gnon (such as by making non-procreative sex still feel good) and jeopardize our biological/civilizational perpetuation, we must sacrifice our subjective values for the objective good of perpetuating our biological/civilizational complexity" (such as by buckling down and having procreative sex even if one would personally rather not enjoy raising kids).

I dunno, by this definition Tim Tyler would be neoreactionary but AFAICT he has very little else in common with Moldbug or Anissimov.

If humanity is threatened with dysgenic decline, perhaps a democratic world government organizes a eugenics program.

Few mainstream progressivists would be OK with that.

On average, people have, or can be trained to have, far-sighted discount functions (progressivism), vs. people typically have short-sighted discount functions (neoreaction).

Not quite. IIUC, neoreactionaries say that humans had better be trained (or selectively bred) to have far-sighted discount functions, whereas progressivists don't worry about that.

Perhaps what worries neoreactionaries, though, is not so much the fear of a global planetary baby shortage, but rather a localized baby shortage among Westerners or Whites. Maybe they fear that all babies are not created equal....

You can lose the “perhaps” and the “mabye”.

Comment author: Alejandro1 04 September 2014 05:25:42PM 5 points [-]

I am really torn between wanting to downvote this as having no place in LW and going against the politics-talk-taboo, and wanting to upvote it for being a clear, fair and to the point summary of ideological differences I find fascinating.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 04 September 2014 11:10:00PM 10 points [-]

This forum needs to find a way to talk about politics with a cool head. This post is a good example of how to do so.

Comment author: SilentCal 04 September 2014 11:45:14PM 12 points [-]

Fascinating project you've taken on!

Let me try to add one, though I'm no expert:

Domination is terrible (prog) vs. domination can be eudaimonic (NR) I often see neoreactionaries contend that dominated members of traditional societies were happy, even those progressives would identify as most oppressed. The argument goes roughly that peasants, slaves, battered wives, and so on who accepted their lot in life would mentally adapt and be able to be perfectly happy. Progressivism/liberalism/the Cthedral has either destroyed our capacity to thrive in these arrangements or caused us to dishonestly claim we would hate them.

The standard modern assumption, on the other hand, is that this kind of domination is a horrible thing to inflict on any human, that peasants, slaves and battered wives suffered immensely, and that it's essential to eradicate even the shade of this kind of treatment.

Comment author: cousin_it 04 September 2014 11:51:51PM 10 points [-]

Note that this particular NRx view comes directly from Aristotle, who wrote in "Politics" that some people are slaves by nature and it's better for them to be ruled.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 05 September 2014 12:22:57AM 5 points [-]

Interesting dichotomy. Yes, I think you may be on to something here.

The argument goes roughly that peasants, slaves, battered wives, and so on who accepted their lot in life would mentally adapt and be able to be perfectly happy. Progressivism/liberalism/the Cthedral has either destroyed our capacity to thrive in these arrangements or caused us to dishonestly claim we would hate them.

One way to test this hypothesis would be to locate a place in the world today, or a place and time in history, where the ideas of the "Cathedral" has not / had not penetrated, and give the "oppressed" a chance to state their true opinions in a way where they know that they don't need to censor themselves in front of the master.

For example, if we went back to 1650 in Virginia (surely before any abolitionist sentiment or Cathedralization of that society's discourse...) and found a secret diary of a slave that said, "Oh lawd, I sho' love slavin' fo' da massah evryday," then that would support the neoreactionary hypothesis. On the other hand, many discoveries of secret slave diaries in that context saying, "Bein' slaves is awful bad" would suggest the opposite.

Although I can't seem to find any citations for this at the moment, I do believe that I have run across at least one such example of a slave praising slavery in my time spent looking at primary sources from American antebellum slavery...but, if I recall, it might have been from a slave writing just after the Civil War, writing about "Dem was da good times befo' da war," and the statement might have been given for ulterior reasons with a mind to who the audience would be (possibly ex-slavemasters whom the ex-slave now served as a sharecropper...I can't remember the context).

To be sure, the vast, vast majority of slave sources that I have read all seem to indicate that slaves hated slavery and tried to escape at any opportunity...but maybe that was just the Cathedral fooling them...

Unfortunately, writing was an elite skill throughout much of history, and the honest opinions of the oppressed were not often recorded....

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 01:16:09AM 5 points [-]

I believe that Putin currently has something like 85% approval rating in Russia...

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 September 2014 06:16:16PM *  1 point [-]

Wars will do that. See eineteen eighty four.

Comment author: Larks 05 September 2014 01:13:30AM 3 points [-]

The opinions of ordinary North Koreans might be a good test.

Comment author: nydwracu 06 September 2014 05:05:42PM *  2 points [-]

Although I can't seem to find any citations for this at the moment, I do believe that I have run across at least one such example of a slave praising slavery...

Seventh quote here: http://radishmag.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/slavery-reconsidered/

Comment author: Azathoth123 05 September 2014 06:32:45AM -2 points [-]

Domination is terrible (prog) vs. domination can be eudaimonic (NR) I often see neoreactionaries contend that dominated members of traditional societies were happy, even those progressives would identify as most oppressed.

And yet it is the progressives who seem too believe that wireheading, the ultimate trade of freedom for pleasure, is a good thing.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 05 September 2014 11:38:52AM 1 point [-]

How is wireheading trading freedom away if you are quite sure that it will do exactly what you want, and if you have some "abort button"? That sounds like the ultimate power.

Perhaps we are confusing what something looks like from the outside (it looks like the person is obviously immobilized and helpless) vs. what it feels like on the inside (the person gets exactly what they want).

Note that I would be wary about ever wireheading if there were other humans still around whose actions were not sufficiently predictable or constrained. That is because they could potentially try to mess with me while I am in my wireheaded state. I would only go into the wireheaded state if either I was the only human left and I had perfectly automated everything to take care of me while I was being wireheaded, or if there were other humans, but they were all safely under the control of an AI singleton who would keep them from screwing with me while I was being wireheaded.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 September 2014 05:43:25PM *  0 points [-]

(Knowledge of) acceptance isn't much use without (knowledge of) alternatives.

Comment author: Azathoth123 05 September 2014 03:45:05AM 9 points [-]

Thinking about it, one way to describe the difference between Progressives and NRx is how much they trust human reason versus other optimization processes.

Progressives tend to elevate human reason above all else. Notice how Yvain's reaction to Moloch is to flinch in horror and attempt to defeat it by the power of human reason.

NRx (and reactionaries and conservatives) believe that Gnon is frequently better than human reason. Notice that Nyan's reaction is attempt to capture Gnon by analyzing it. Notice also that of the four components of Gnon, the one neoreactionaries most distrust, Cthulhu, is the one that relies on human reason alone for its ability to optimize for truth.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 05 September 2014 04:11:07PM 4 points [-]

A problem I'm seeing with that view (which may be a good summary of NRx, I'm not sure), is that modern societies have broken tradition. Trying to a modern society resemble a traditional society will be just another example of imposing top-down theory.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 September 2014 05:30:47PM 3 points [-]

Gnon, the forces of nature, can't be a substitute for reason. Gnon doesn't tell you what to do. Gnon just kills you if you get it wrong. NRxs can't use reason to infer gnons wishes, because that's what progs do. (Its the progs who want to placate Gnon for putting too much CO2 into His atmosphere). NRxs can't use Burkean wisdom-of-the-ages, because of rapid technological change. Perhaps you need a special priesthood to interpret Gnon wishes. That was popular in the past.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 06:00:08PM 6 points [-]

Gnon, the forces of nature, can't be a substitute for reason.

Hence why Nyan talks of capturing Gnon, not worshiping him.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 September 2014 09:34:36AM 1 point [-]

Progressives tend to elevate human reason above all else.

Yvain does believe in reason but if you look at contemporary left thought do you think it elevates human reason above all else?

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 05:58:06PM *  3 points [-]

I said human reason not human rationality. (And maybe even "reason" wasn't the right work.) A lot of contemporary progressivism is a theme park version of this position, namely the alief that one can change oneself and reality through sheer force of will.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 September 2014 06:10:55PM *  2 points [-]

A lot of contemporary progressivism is a theme park version of this position, namely the alief that one can change oneself and reality through sheer force of will.

Who do you mean with "contemporary progressivism"? Libertarians? A lot of people on the left don't think that the poor can change themselves through force of will and therefore need help from the government.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 06:32:25PM *  3 points [-]

No, but they believe that the poor can be changed through force of will, or by using the latest progressive educational theories or the latest anti-poverty initiative (never mind that the previous ~100 progressive education theories or anti-poverty initiatives didn't accomplish anything and arguably make things worse).

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 07 September 2014 05:30:28PM 3 points [-]

The poor have been changed. They have gone from 0% literacy to 90%+ literacy.

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 08:27:31PM 7 points [-]

Interestingly that happened before progressives started seriously meddling in education.

Comment author: Izeinwinter 06 September 2014 06:59:31PM 3 points [-]

Oh for fucks sake, The world can be, has been, and continuously is made better by political action and policy. This is obvious because the west exists. . There is many, many ways to govern badly, but that does not mean good governance does not exist.
Obvious current events example: Police brutality can be addressed by building life-logs into police uniforms. This has been established by pilot programs with results way, way past the .05 sigma treshhold, and this will become common policy very shortly because the arguments against are just bloody well embarrassing in a world where minimum wage cashiers have to put up with being recorded on the job.

Far to many people confuse cynicism and pessimism with understanding. Is there a name for that fallacy?

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 02:47:52AM 3 points [-]

Police brutality can be addressed by building life-logs into police uniforms.

Firstly, that's a technological solution not a political one. Also it's interesting that the example of "police brutality" currently in the headlines consists of a police officer shooting a black thug who had just robbed a convenience store and was charging the officer and grabbing for his pistol when he was shot.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 07 September 2014 04:17:59AM 9 points [-]

To put it mildly, what led up to the shooting is disputed. It would be good to have a visual record rather than deductions.

Comment author: nydwracu 07 September 2014 01:13:09PM 6 points [-]

That it would, but the distinction between political and technological solutions can't be ignored within the context of neoreaction, which says that technological advances have masked political decline.

Also, comparable past experiences have to be taken into account here. Benjamin Crump, the Brown family's lawyer, was also the lawyer for Trayvon Martin's family -- and he was involved with the media narrative around the Marco McMillian case. The McMillian case (gay black mayoral candidate got murdered) was a hilarious misfire since the real murderer (who was black and probably gay) had already been caught and had already confessed when media outlets started declaring it a probable hate crime, but the Martin case was a lot like the Brown case, and the entire narrative turned out to be false. That's not a promising record.

Comment author: Izeinwinter 07 September 2014 04:30:53AM *  9 points [-]

Which is the point - The pilot programs are recording rather mind-boggling decreases in the number of complaints against the police. It's of course unknowable which fraction of that is "bullshit complaints becoming impossible" and which "Police who are on camera behave better" but it doesn't matter. As a social and political problem, it goes away. That should have positive long term social impacts, especially in neighborhoods where the police are currently little trusted, but that is speculative. The direct effect is certain. And will spread. As other very-high efficiency social/political innovations have before.

Thats how it works - Most social reforms proposed don't do anything and never get off the ground or are repealed. The ones that do become a part of the background of existence. Like having a police force to begin with. Labor laws preventing employers from taking absurd risks with the health and lives of their employees, wages that do more than just barely keep body and soul together and so on and so forth.

Virtually all political solutions have an aspect of technology to them. The doctors in a single-payer health care system don't heal via the laying on of hands and prayer. It doesn't mean making use of that technology in a particular way is not a political decision.

Comment author: army1987 07 September 2014 08:40:02AM 1 point [-]

Firstly, that's a technological solution not a political one.

What do you mean? The technology to do that already exist and has existed for a while; the reasons why we aren't doing that yet are political AFAICT.

Also it's interesting that the example of "police brutality" currently in the headlines consists of a police officer shooting a black thug who had just robbed a convenience store and was charging the officer and grabbing for his pistol when he was shot.

That's in a first-world country; there presumably are places in the world where worse examples of police brutality are so common that they don't even make it into the headlines.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 September 2014 07:21:13PM *  1 point [-]

I think that's very far from removed from the current political discourse. When looking at an issue such as black people getting payed less, then the modern leftist doesn't think about how to change black people.

He thinks about how to change society in a way so that black people are payed more by passing anti-discrimination laws and instituting quotas.

The whole notion that the black person is to be changed just isn't there.

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 02:42:55AM 2 points [-]

When looking at an issue such as black people getting payed less, then the modern leftist doesn't think about how the change black people.

He thinks about how to change society in a way so that black people are payed more by passing anti-discrimination laws and instituting quotas.

In other words they want to fix things by a combination of force of will and legislative fiat. While pretending that the underlying cause, racial differences in ability, doesn't exist.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 05 September 2014 12:57:29PM 1 point [-]

Progressives tend to elevate human reason above all else.

Maybe LW progressives do. In general, isn't it libertarians who tend to be the coldly calculating ones?

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 12:52:42AM 4 points [-]

Libertarians trust the free market, what Nyan called Mammon, over the reasoning abilities of individual humans. At least that's the traditional libertarian position.

When libertarians started focusing on non-economic issues and de-emphasizing the importance of the free market, the group that would become neoreaction broke with them.

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 September 2014 01:51:50PM *  2 points [-]

Compared to neoreaction, libertarianism and liberalism are virtually twins, as children of the Enlightenment.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 05 September 2014 02:06:28PM 4 points [-]

I've heard it said that neoreaction is libertarianism meeting reality. This seems paradoxical, but under certain monarchys the state actually was smaller and interfered with people's lives less.

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 02:36:39PM 4 points [-]

I've heard it said that neoreaction is libertarianism meeting reality.

Well, that's the Moldbug's explanation for his evolution from libertarianism to neoreaction.

Comment author: advancedatheist 05 September 2014 04:09:25PM 3 points [-]

As I understand their position, Neoreactionaries view the classical liberalism which evolved into modern libertarianism as just an earlier stage of leftism. Advocates of classical liberalism made the case for breaking down traditional, hierarchical societies into collections of atomistic individuals who interact mainly through the market, and not through traditional social relationships like that between a serf and his feudal lord. Socialists came along later to push this idea to its reductio ad absurdum by promoting the idea of complete human fungibility.

Ironically, while the socialist view of "equality" treats humans like commodities, in their private lives I notice that progressives in the U.S. like eating differentiated foods produced locally and organically, and sold in farmers' markets. Apparently they feel that they have the right to Notice differences in the characteristics of the organisms which go into the foods they eat that they deny in their interactions with members of their own species.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 06 September 2014 03:07:19PM 2 points [-]

Advocates of classical liberalism made the case for breaking down traditional, hierarchical societies into collections of atomistic individuals who interact mainly through the market, and not through traditional social relationships like that between a serf and his feudal lord.

This fails to distinguish British from French liberalism, as usual. Burke and, later, Chesterton were able to make the distinction between the defense of individual rights and the notion that society could be rewritten into utopia through the application of the reason of clever statesmen and the obedience of the masses to their ideology.

For a current (and perhaps less bloody) analogy to the French Revolution, see Munroe.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 05:54:43PM 4 points [-]

Burke and, later, Chesterton were able to make the distinction between the defense of individual rights and the notion that society could be rewritten into utopia through the application of the reason of clever statesmen and the obedience of the masses to their ideology.

Burke and Chesterton also based their notion of liberty on British traditions. The problem is that modern liberalism is a lot closer to the utopian French than the traditionalist British approach.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 06 September 2014 09:23:39PM *  2 points [-]

Oddly enough, it proceeds more like the traditional British approach (polemic, lawsuits, and the occasional street protest) and less like the utopian French approach (mass beheadings of defeated leaders; storming of prisons; literal backstabbing of opposing faction members).

Comment author: nydwracu 06 September 2014 06:23:53PM 8 points [-]

This is a good start. I'd be interested to see what you (or commenters) think a neoreactionary (or progressive) narrative would look like.

The main flaw I see is that your account of progressivism is emic and you seem to be far outside the progressive norm. "If humanity is threatened with dysgenic decline, perhaps a democratic world government organizes a eugenics program." You're missing some very important disgust responses, comrade! And is wireheading really a core principle of progressivism?

That whole normative disagreement seems to be the wrong way around. Progressivism inherits from its ideological forebears in {Christianity|the British Empire} the belief that there are knowable societal-scale moral laws (see: gay rights in Russia) [and a necessarily concomitant, but usually implied, set of claims about humans (see: gays)] that hold true everywhere.

Neoreaction assumes a desire for civilizational complexity, but doesn't care how you get there. In this, they're opposed only by the primitivists -- so the real disagreement is a narrative one: what's the structure of history?

If history is linear, there's no reason to worry about civilization: it will just naturally get better all the time, and the only work that remains to be done is that of making the world more morally future-like and attacking people who are morally past-like. If history is cyclical, if civilizations rise and fall, then the assumption that civilization is preferable to savagery leads to the conclusion that the mechanisms underlying the rise and fall of civilizations ought to be studied in order to prolong the lifespan of the current civilization -- whether out of a desire to perpetuate it over all other civilizations or just a preference for civilization in the abstract.

(Oil depletion means that a collapse past a certain level may be non-recoverable. Are there any other energy sources that a pre-Industrial-Revolution civilization can boot itself up with?)

The narrative framing allows for the seamless combination of different types of assumption (prescriptive vs. descriptive, psychological vs. historical, etc.), which is why I suggested it, but more methods of framing would also be useful: more lines of attacking a complex question.

Comment author: SilentCal 09 September 2014 06:10:02PM 4 points [-]

Here's my idea of the core progressive narrative:

The history of human civilization has been one of domination and exploitation of the weak by the strong. Kings and nobles built power structures to enrich themselves with tribute from hardworking peasants; men's physical advantages ensured their dominance over women; powerful nations conquered weaker ones; and majorities oppressed any minority conspicuous enough to coordinate against. But, probably around the Enlightenment, something changed. Maybe it was the rise of abstract thought about right and wrong; maybe it was a change it what those thoughts were; or maybe it was something else entirely, but the result was that the powerful began to care about the suffering of the weak. Since this shift, intellectual and popular movements followed by government action have tried to ameliorate the oppression of subjugated races, of women, of the poor, of homosexuals, and any other group that suffers unjustly. This progress has been opposed both by inertia and status quo bias, and by the self-interest of the powerful (who are still usually members of the same groups that were powerful before the progress began).

What exactly changed and in the Enlightenment and how is a very good question, and I don't think there's anything like a consensus Progressive answer.

And I was going to write my vision of the NR narrative but I realized I'd mostly just be paraphrasing Scott Alexander's Nutshell.

Comment author: Azathoth123 10 September 2014 12:33:00AM *  1 point [-]

Something like that, except modern progressives are uncomfortable with it because the Enlightenment consisted mostly of dead white men.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 10 September 2014 09:05:01AM 1 point [-]

That's like saying that modern progressives are against airplanes because they were invented by dead white man. Progressives don't actually hold it against white men that they are white or men.

It's easier to think about stuff (such as: How should the world work?) if you are in a position of power. It's completely reasonable that the Enlightenment consisted mostly of white men, since those were the people with the access to education, the time to think and the ability to publish ideas. Progressives don't ignore past power-structures. They might not agree with them, but that's something else entirely.

(I don't think that single comment is a great example to generalize from.)

Comment author: Azathoth123 11 September 2014 02:54:59AM *  5 points [-]

That's like saying that modern progressives are against airplanes because they were invented by dead white man.

There's probably some progressive at some university (probably in some grievance studies department) writing about how we need a feminist and non-racist theory of aerodynamics.

It's easier to think about stuff (such as: How should the world work?) if you are in a position of power. It's completely reasonable that the Enlightenment consisted mostly of white men, since those were the people with the access to education, the time to think and the ability to publish ideas. Progressives don't ignore past power-structures. They might not agree with them, but that's something else entirely.

Yes, I agree that's a reasonable argument, although there's still the question of why nobody outside Europe developed it. It didn't stop progressives from removing the western canon from university education on the grounds that it was all "dead white men".

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 11 September 2014 05:40:56AM *  5 points [-]

There's probably some progressive at some university (probably in some grievance studies department) writing about how we need a feminist and non-racist theory of aerodynamics.

Well, aerodynamics is based on Newtonian mechanics, and Newton's principa mathematica is a rape manual, and aeroplanes are kinda phallic.

Comment author: ChristianKl 18 September 2014 10:38:22PM *  1 point [-]

It's interesting that in your idea of the core progressive narrative the word corporation and democracy doesn't appear.

Since this shift, intellectual and popular movements followed by government action have tried to ameliorate the oppression of subjugated races, of women, of the poor, of homosexuals, and any other group that suffers unjustly.

Homesexuality got outlawed after the enlightment in the 19th century by progressives who wanted to improve the morality of society.

Comment author: Azathoth123 19 September 2014 06:12:15AM *  1 point [-]

Homesexuality got outlawed after the enlightment in the 19th century by progressives who wanted to improve the morality of society.

Um, Justinian's legal code prescribed the death penalty for sodomy, and people were being tried and sometimes executed for it during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Comment author: JoshuaMyer 08 September 2014 09:40:53PM 3 points [-]

I think the central question here is, simply put, to what extent should we allow ourselves to participate in politics. Seeing as we are already participating in group discussion, let's assume a political dimension to our dialogue exists with or without our explicit agreement on the subject.

That having been said, I applaud the author for summarizing so many topics of political debate associated with the neoreactionary school. I feel like this conversation has been derailed to some extent by questions of whether the author has represented his sources accurately (it seems that it is very important to him that he does represent his sources accurately even though he includes the occasional generalization unsupported by analysis -- this doesn't interest me); by participating in these kind of debates we willfully cross into the gray area between science and politics.

I do not say this to discourage -- I'm just seeing a lot of opinions and very little analysis in the comments, and would prefer the opposite. I personally am not convinced that political theory yields anything other than more political theory ... I'd much rather read proposals for well controlled social experiments than any more history lectures.

Comment author: advancedatheist 04 September 2014 07:26:05PM *  11 points [-]

I find Neoreaction interesting for several reasons. One, it has roots in the beginnings of Western philosophy, which makes it hard to dismiss as a novelty and fad for geeks who live in their parents' basements and read too much fantasy growing up. Plato and Aristotle differed on the details, but they both agreed that human nature finds its fulfillment in extended families (a condition of undiversity, in other words) who live in small city-states where the population sorts itself into local organic hierarchies and the natural, patriarchal aristocracy that emerges gets to run things.

This puts the modern liberal-progressive intelligentsia in an awkward spot, because educated leftists have to admit that Plato and Aristotle founded Western philosophy. If Plato and Aristotle anticipated today's Neoreactionaries, well, you can't exactly call Neoreaction an unhistorical, ungrounded, fringe view, can you?

Two, I've read a few books lately about the Enlightenment (if you have the attention span, try Jonathan Israel's), which doesn't make me an expert by any means. But I get the impression that the so-called radical branch of the Enlightenment, which historians can trace to a specific social network in 18th Century France, and centered around the Baron d'Holbach and his friend Denis Diderot, acted really recklessly by confounding their critique of traditional religion with their critique of traditional society.

Specifically, we can't observe our tribe's supernaturals, as anthropologists call them, despite what those foolish "ghost hunting" shows on cable claim. So the Radical Enlighteners, whom the French called the philosophes, had a good empirical case to make against traditional christian beliefs.

But we can observe human behavior in the here and now, just like we can observe rocks, the weather, plants, celestial objects and other phenomena we can form sciences regarding. Apparently it never occurred to the philosophes that social beliefs about natural hierarchies, inequality, tribalism, the need to restrain women's sexual freedom and so forth might have arisen from good but nonobvious empiricism. Instead they thought they could throw everything out and start over based on the non sequitur that if they couldn't rationally justify an old practice, it must have arisen from superstition. After running this experiment for over 200 years and seeing the growing, deferred costs from all of this jettisoning of evolved social controls, I find it plausible that the philosophes made some major mistakes.

Unless I haven't found where to look yet, the literature on this period seems to lack good expositions which lay out the case in defense of the traditional social system that the philosophes mocked and rejected. Jonathan Israel references now obscure books written by the philosophes' contemporaries which respond to the Enlightenment's propaganda with anti-philosophie, but because these men, mostly Catholic clergymen and theologians, allegedly lost the historical argument to the philosophes, lots of luck finding accessible versions of that literature now, and in English translation.

And three, lately I've thought a lot about the implications of living much longer than current human norms. (Contra what some transhumanist apparently believe, "living forever" doesn't mean "living to 2045.") Three hundred years seems conceptually tractable, so when I read about life in the 18th Century, I try to get a sense of how that world led to ours. Most transhumanists I know assume that the social ideology of the Enlightenment has gotten locked in as a permanent feature of the human condition; but I wouldn't assume anything of the sort. It wouldn't surprise me to see the restoration of some aspects of premodern society in the coming centuries, combined with the science-fictiony stuff that many LessWrongers tend to like. And we find this idea well articulated in the last century's science fiction, especially in Frank Herbert's Dune. If you don't mind linking to an Alt-Right website, look up Richard Spencer's Radix Journal website and listen to his podcast on Herbert's novel and the film adaptations, titled "Archeo-Futurist Messiah."

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 04 September 2014 10:46:15PM 10 points [-]

Unless I haven't found where to look yet, the literature on this period seems to lack good expositions which lay out the case in defense of the traditional social system that the philosophes mocked and rejected. Jonathan Israel references now obscure books written by the philosophes' contemporaries which respond to the Enlightenment's propaganda with anti-philosophie, but because these men, mostly Catholic clergymen and theologians, allegedly lost the historical argument to the philosophes, lots of luck finding accessible versions of that literature now, and in English translation.

Your comment has brought up a possibility that had never occurred to me before: perhaps one of the weaknesses of the anti-philosophes is that they felt obliged to defend their particular brand of traditionalism (Christian traditionalism) and therefore didn't have the cognizance to give the best general defense for traditionalism as such. Basically, the Enlightenment thinkers got to strawman traditionalism as Christian traditionalism, whereas in the least convenient possible world they would have had to argue against the 18th century equivalents of our neoreactionaries—which, even if you don't totally buy into their arguments, you have to at least admit that they would have made for more formidable intellectual opponents than...a Church that was shot through with a recent history of internal divisions (Protestant Reformation, religious wars) and corruption (selling of indulgences, corrupt popes, etc.).

Comment author: VAuroch 04 September 2014 08:21:49PM 12 points [-]

If Plato and Aristotle anticipated today's Neoreactionaries, well, you can't exactly call Neoreaction an unhistorical, ungrounded, fringe view, can you?

I'm not sure what "unhistorical" is supposed to mean, here, but you can definitely call it ungrounded and fringe. Fringe is obvious; look around at political philosophers of all stripes, and find as many Neoreactionaries as you can; it will be at most a tiny fraction of the population. Which is exactly what is meant by 'fringe view'.

In terms of claiming ancient views as demonstrating solid grounding for a belief: people long ago believed many things which we know now to be wrong and baseless (given adequate data). Plato and Aristotle themselves inherited from predecessors like Zeno, Thales, and Anaximenes, who all believed things we now know are indisputably wrong. (The paradoxes of impossibility of motion, everything being composed of forms of water, and everything being composed of air, respectively.)

The grounds that Plato and Aristotle had to believe those positions were that their society looked approximately like that, and, to their (probably biased) eyes, looked like it was doing much better than anyone else around. If we look around now, we don't see any society that has that form, and those historical societies that did didn't do well in the long term. The grounding has been lost, and claiming 'this used to be well-grounded' as grounding now doesn't obtain.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 September 2014 05:52:23PM 3 points [-]

SF writers might perhaps just like feudalism because it's...yknow, colourful.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 06 September 2014 07:32:22PM 6 points [-]

Feudalism has a lot of advantages in sf. It's familiar, but it's not what we're doing at the moment. Because it's familiar, the titles and such have emotional resonance. Most of us feel superior to it, but many of us are still kind of fond of it. And it's simpler than democracy, or at least can be presented as simpler, and it has fewer boring details.

Logically, societies with larger populations will be more complex, especially if they're dependent on complex infrastructure, but that's a lot of weight for fiction to carry.

Comment author: Punoxysm 04 September 2014 08:29:11PM 2 points [-]

Well, you should be sure to look at the failure of the Greek City-States (even before being conquered, several of them essentially tried to form empires) and the failure of traditional monarchies throughout the 19th century as pretty strong empirical evidence against them.

I wouldn't say that the world we live in is the progressive vision; more of a neoliberal one (which is roughly classical liberal + large hegemonic institutions [note the contradictions]). However, it's certainly not like the 18th century.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 04 September 2014 09:02:39PM 4 points [-]

Republic of Venice is of interest.

Comment author: Punoxysm 04 September 2014 10:19:59PM 2 points [-]

Could you clarify what you mean?

Comment author: RomeoStevens 05 September 2014 03:25:56AM *  6 points [-]

We look to both negative and positive examples of what we want for information on how to obtain it. In this case we want positive examples of civilizations providing stability and meeting human needs well. Stability is a key parameter which is why we spend so much time looking at long lived civilizations. The Republic of Venice is notable for being extremely long lived, and relatively neglected by people studying history/using historical examples to support political theories. I agree that traditional monarchies don't have a very good base rate of success BTW.

Comment author: Azathoth123 05 September 2014 03:19:53AM *  3 points [-]

A different case could be made that Plato was the first progressive, i.e., in The Republic he attempted to design an ideal society from scratch based on the premise that the elites must continuously lie to the population.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 05 September 2014 12:53:41PM *  4 points [-]

Well written essay - I realise what I've written below seems a little critical, but that's because I'd rather discuss the bits I dont agree with.

It doesn't matter. In principle, if we could rewire our reward circuits to give us pleasure/fun/novelty/happiness/sadness/tragedy/suffering/whatever we desire* in response to whatever Nature had the automatic (or modified) disposition to offer us, then those good feelings would be just as worthwhile as anything else. (This is why neoreactionaries perceive progressive values as "nihilistic.") According to this formulation, most LessWrongers, being averse to wireheading in principle, are not full-fledged progressives at this most fundamental level. (Perhaps this explains some of the counter-intuitive overlap between the LessWrong and neoreactionary thoughtsphere....)

Most people in general are averse to wireheading! I can see how this corrlates with progressive thought wrt sex and drugs, although it doesn't explain issues of race for instance, and I think its at best a partial explaination of the disagreement.

Most progressives presumably hold out hope that we can collectively coordinate to overcome Moloch. ... If humanity is threatened with dysgenic decline, perhaps a democratic world government organizes a eugenics program.

Very few progressives would condone eugenics. But more to the point, very few people on either side of the debate have thought about the issues to this level, or are even aware of these issues. Most of the political debate in the wider world is "my opponents are fasists!" vs "my opponents are dirty hippies!".

Descriptive assumption #2: On average, people have, or can be trained to have, far-sighted discount functions (progressivism), vs. people typically have short-sighted discount functions (neoreaction).

This is a question with an objective answer, and the second option is probably correct. However, I'm not sure that progs believe people have far-sighted discount functions, in fact I would think the distinction is between what long-term effects people are complaining about (progs: burning fossil fuels will destroy the planet in the long term! vs NRx sexual freedom will destroy families in the long term!).

"historical materialist" (AKA Marxist) view of society which argues that certain material conditions and material incentives tend to automatically generate certain cultural and social responses.

I would say this is partially true, but OTOH feudal Japan, Europe, China etc were all quite different cultureally dispite allmost identical technology. The lines are more blurred now as we can communicate faster.

To a progressive, the proposition that we could, even theoretically, run our modern technological society through an absolute monarchy would probably seem preposterous. It is not even an option. Our modern society is too complex, with too many conflicting interests to reconcile through any system that prohibits the peaceful discovery and negotiation of these varied interests through a democratic process involving "voice." In reality, people are not content with being able only to exercise the "right of exit" from institutions or governments that they don't like.

To my understanding, modern technology makes monarchy more palitible in many respects. The ubiquity of international travel makes exit easy, and closing boarders would presumably make trade difficult. The very fact that modern society is complex is an arguemnent against democracy, as the average voter cannot understand the issues on which they vote. I presume that a hypothetical monarch would have a councel of advisors which most of the running of the country would be deligated to, meaning that its not just one person handeling all this complexity.

Descriptive assumption #4: Western society is currently anabolic/ascendant (progressivism) vs. catabolic/decadent (neoreaction).

Again, I don't think progressives believe this. Environmental catastrophes/government corruption/corporatism are said to be serious dangers. And many NRx people believe that the wheel will turn again and NRx values will return in time to stave off absolute disaster.

Perhaps what worries neoreactionaries, though, is not so much the fear of a global planetary baby shortage, but rather a localized baby shortage among Westerners or Whites. Maybe they fear that all babies are not created equal....

This is definately what worries them. To be frank, the fact that fertility is inversly corrlated with education and positivly corrlated with religiousity would worry me a lot if I did not beleive that the singularity is probably reasonably near. Michel Anazimov tweeted that (not verbatum, but as close I can remember) "By 2040, when..." which I pattern matched to some Kurtzweilian statement about uploading with unrealistically precice timeframes "... white people are a minority, there will be hell to pay". My reaction was less "that's not politically correct" and more "But, you beleive in an imminent singularity. What is going on in your brain?"

At worst, Western cities will act as "IQ Shredders."

Given that that link is talking about Singapour, I think this extends beyone the west.

I've been thinking about politics too much, and this is what I see as the underpinnings of NRx:

Cognitive bias explanation of NRx:

There seems to be an inbuilt tendency for people to romanticise the past. This happens in Christianity (the garden of eden) in Hinduism, in myths of noble savages and everytime anyone says "In my day...". I would imagine this is probably more the justification for the less intellectual reactionaries.

Steelmanned 'tried and tested' explanation:

I used to think that progressivism was almost right by definition, after all, everyone wants to make progress! But while all progress is change, not all change is progress. Society is a complex machine designed by a long period of social evolution, and if you make random changes to complex machines it might improve but it will probably stop working. Traditional society is tried and tested. Changes may seem appealing for various reasons, but then a few generations down the line society collapses for unforeseen reasons. Note this doesn't really hold if society is adapting to technology - even if patriarchy were best for a medieval society where the superior physical strength of men is important, it doesn't necessarily hold for the modern world with a knowledge and machine based economy. Furthermore, some aspects of traditional society are almost universal, such as patriarchy, while others are not, such as attitudes to homosexuality. We know of functional civilisations e.g. ancient Greece where homosexualtiy was tolerated and AFAIK this did not cause social collapse, rendering the NRx argument invalid in this case.

Anti-egalitarianism

A general attitude that not everyone is equal, and it is necessary for the state to remedy this, seems to simultaneously explain almost all of neoreactionary thought - the different schools of NRx dependant upon which criterion is used (race/culture/religion/monarchs/gender/sexuality).

I would agree with the first part, some people/ways of life are better than others. But this is partly according to my own terminal goals which differ from others people's. Attempting to enforce whatever you believe to be superior seems like defecting to my libertarian instincts, although I concede that my instincts may be wrong. Understanding about temporal discounting has shifted my views on this matter - self-reported discounting rates are far too high, and I can see that perhaps economic regulation is necessary to prevent, for example, people becoming massively in debt. However, social decisions can be looked at in economic terms too. One can discuss trading the short term value of, say, risky sex, against both the long term possibility of STDs and the tragedy of the commons where no-one bothers to raise the next generation. However, while I can understand the NRx viewpoint if the population is fallible while the government is perfect, in practice this seems far too open to corruption. The aforementioned cost-benefit analysis of sexual norms is ickly enough IMO if done by a dispassionate computer, but if done by humans it seems almost certain to simply enforce the prejudices of whoever is in charge.

A third option.

I think what seems to be missing from many of these debates is even if NRx identifies problems are valid, there are less authoritarian ways to deal with them. Suppose, for sake of argument, that gays are a big threat because of underpopulation (or is it underpopulation only of white people? Which rather begs the question, don't other races have gay people too?). Now, one could try to stamp out homosexuality, and in the process force people to live a lie, fill prisons with victimless criminals, drive Turing to suicide etc., or one could e.g. instigate a policy of financial incentives for childrearing. Now, I'm not saying that would be an option without its own downsides, but the fact that policies like it are not even considered shows that arguments such as "gays are a threat because of underpopulation" are just attempts to rationalise homophobia.

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 03:02:32AM 4 points [-]

Society is a complex machine designed by a long period of social evolution, and if you make random changes to complex machines it might improve but it will probably stop working. Traditional society is tried and tested. Changes may seem appealing for various reasons, but then a few generations down the line society collapses for unforeseen reasons. Note this doesn't really hold if society is adapting to technology - even if patriarchy were best for a medieval society where the superior physical strength of men is important, it doesn't necessarily hold for the modern world with a knowledge and machine based economy.

Yes, as Nick Szabo explains in his essay on objective versus intersubjective truth:

In some cases and for some aspects of tradition, a radical shift of technology, such as moving the institutions of law and governance from paper to computational/networked multimedia, or the medical technologies of life extension, demand radical (in other words, shallow) adaptation of interpersonal traditions. This despite our profound inability to predict consequences or find the long-term good solutions over the span of a mere few decades, within which technologies can so substantially change the nature of our relationships. Choose your poison.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 01:04:44AM 4 points [-]

one could e.g. instigate a policy of financial incentives for childrearing.

This has been tried in many places, the results are generally not encouraging.

Comment author: mayonesa 06 September 2014 05:11:22PM 4 points [-]

The best financial incentives for childrearing are ones that remove the financial deficits caused by having a stay at home mom.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 September 2014 01:23:24PM 4 points [-]

I can only think of two general ways of removing the financial difference between the mother not working and the mother working: a subsidy for the former or laws against the latter. Do you favour either of these, or some other incentive?

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 08:47:57PM 6 points [-]

And yet fertility is inversely correlated with income. So it appears that the "people are too poor to raise a family" theory doesn't hold up.

Comment author: army1987 08 September 2014 08:25:07AM 3 points [-]

I'd guess by “financial deficits” mayonesa meant opportunity costs, which are higher for a prospective mother in an upper-class career than for one in a welfare trap.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 07 September 2014 06:22:42PM 1 point [-]

By providing free childcare, or by paying people to be stay at home moms, or both or something else?

Comment author: mayonesa 08 September 2014 02:24:20PM 2 points [-]

By improving working conditions and monetary value so that a home needs only one working parent.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 08 September 2014 04:57:46PM 3 points [-]

Time was when a home did need only one working parent (that is, working to bring in money). If things are always getting better, and they seem to be (in the developed world, e.g. the Internet, etc.), what changed?

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 08 September 2014 05:15:05PM 6 points [-]

Recently answered in detail on State Star Codex. Basically, two-income families are competing against each other for housing in good areas, driving up prices, and seeing no benefit in disposable income.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 September 2014 06:42:52AM 2 points [-]

SSC is sceptical about whether the effect claimed in the book he's reviewing is big enough to account for the problem.

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:18:26AM 3 points [-]

Ok, now taboo "good area".

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 September 2014 10:18:55AM *  1 point [-]

Area with good school.

Comment author: jaime2000 09 September 2014 01:53:04PM *  4 points [-]

"Good schools" is a euphemism.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 09 September 2014 01:42:29PM 2 points [-]

And a good school is the sort of school that those families want to send their children to. I don't know anything about how high school education is organised in the US — why is the market not supplying this need?

Comment author: army1987 08 September 2014 07:32:21PM *  2 points [-]

Part is what TheAncientGeek says, part is that present-day children have higher living standards than children a while ago, and if they were OK with earlier children's living standard (and didn't care about status signalling) they could probably get it with one parent's income (see also).

(Both Mr. and Mrs. Money Moustache and Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman are raising children on a tight budget.)

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 08 September 2014 04:14:25PM 1 point [-]

Well, that's certainly ambitious...

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 03:57:04AM 1 point [-]

No, I didn't think it would work particularly well. What about propaganda campaigns?

I am just trying to say that I would be inclined to investigate every possible form of positive reinforcement before resorting to oppression.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 04:08:33AM 5 points [-]

What about propaganda campaigns?

Tried even more often, also ineffective.

I am just trying to say that I would be inclined to investigate every possible form of positive reinforcement before resorting to oppression.

Would you mind tabooing "oppression".

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 04:32:00AM 1 point [-]

Ok, maybe I should have avoided a word with strong emotional connotations such as "oppression". What I mean is physically forcing people to alter their behaviour when this behaviour does not directly impact others (although I fear I may now need to taboo 'directly'). 'Negative reinforcement' would probably be a better choice of phrase. To be clear, this covers the criminalisation of homosexuality, but I wouldn't necessarily count not recognising gay marriage as oppression.

Would criminalising homosexuality be effective at increasing birth rates, or would gays then just not marry anyone and still not have children?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 06 September 2014 11:17:05AM 3 points [-]

If the primary goal is to get people to have more children, perhaps the propaganda campaign should be to denormalize not having children. On the other hand, that one doesn't seem to work, either.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 12:16:33PM 2 points [-]

That was what I meant - did you think I meant a propaganda campaign against homosexuality?

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 04:48:21AM 3 points [-]

The more important thing is to stop teaching children that homosexuality is a "perfectly normal lifestyle" and that they should "find out if they're gay".

As for dealing with population decline here are Jim's views and suggestions on the subject.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 07 September 2014 03:48:52PM 4 points [-]

The statistics about fertility rates in Nepal corresponding closely to level of education are telling. Education past the age of 12 has to be having some effect. But what is the mechanism?

Jim hypothesizes that there is a subtle indoctrination that begins in school around that age that dissuades women from having children. Perhaps a little bit...but is that all there really is to it?

Let's think about this for a second: let's imagine that it were legal for girls in the U.S. to drop out of school at 13. (I think the current legal age is 16).

What does a 13 year old girl do in American society if she isn't going to school? What can she usefully do?

She could theoretically get a job. There are probably some jobs that a 13-year old could be reasonably good at...like coffee house barista. Or maybe just the coffee house barista's helper who buses the tables. How hard are those jobs, really?

But, how's a 13 year old going to get that sort of job when the job market is swarming with over-qualified college graduates who can't get work in their fields of study, will be at least marginally more effective at those jobs (perhaps in terms of social interactions with the patrons or ancillary skills they might have picked up in college), and who will also be willing to work for minimum wage?

So a 13-year old drop-out can't reasonably expect to get a job. So, what about marriage and kids? Can a 13-year old reasonably expect to find a man who is at least vaguely within her age range (<18 years old) who is willing and ABLE to support her and her kids?

I noticed that this Jim guy pins a lot of the blame on Western women not wanting to have kids. Now, do we actually have evidence for this? Do we in fact know that it is not the Western MEN who are hesitant about having to provide for kids?

I myself have a beautiful wife who would make for a great mother, both genetically and in terms of raising kids, but the thought of having kids seems just insane to me right now. Why? I make about $10,000 a year with a MASTER'S DEGREE as a part-time college adjunct instructor and as a K-12 substitute teacher. My wife makes about the same with a BACHELOR'S DEGREE as a part-time nurse's aid in a hospital. Together, we might scrape together $20,000. Our expenses are about $16,000 a year if we are frugal (we have a very small apartment and only one old car). Not much buffer room. Not much money to save up towards a house or a new car for when the old one breaks down. Don't even talk to me about children.

Now, our luck could change. One of us could land a full-time job with benefits. Realistically, a job where one of us made $25,000 a year would have us jumping for joy. But in the current economy, there are no guarantees. And even if I did get a nice full-time job, I would still not have the confidence in the economy to expect that I would keep it, or something like it, for the next 20 years while my wife and I raised our kids.

It seems to me that the problems are that: 1. There are way too few well-paying jobs in the economy for the number of over-qualified college graduates that there are to fill them. This is why I think that the politically-correct catchphrase, "Education is the KEY!" is way off track. Our problem is not lack of education. If everyone tomorrow suddenly starting doing better in school and went on to higher degrees, the only difference that would make is, we would suddenly have Ph.D.s working at McDonalds or Starbucks. More education does not magically create more jobs or better jobs.
2. There are also higher cultural expectations on how good of a parent you have to be (at least, if we are talking about the "nice middle-class white" demographic whose low fertility rates the neoreactionaries are so worried about). "Close-parenting" is now the expected norm among this demographic. I get the sense from the stories my parents and grandparents tell that people used to assume that kids kinda "raised themselves." You just told them to go out in the neighborhood and play with other kids, and be home for supper, and you put food on the table, and you occasionally reprimanded them when they misbehaved or did poorly in school. You didn't micromanage their extra-curricular activities, go to all of their extra-curricular activities, research college-preparatory programs, etc. You didn't "helicopter parent." Now, if you don't "helicopter parent," then A. other parents will look down on you, and B. your kid probably will go off track and end up as a street thug in some gang or as a couch potato because the surrounding culture is not as much of a supportive ally. (Now why is that?)

All of this adds up to the fact that it is probably not just women who are wary of having kids, but men too.

If a girl starts having kids at 14 like some neoreactionaries advise, it is NOT going to be in a stable marriage with a nice male provider. And that is not necessarily going to be solely due to any bad choices on the girl's part. Even if the girl only tried to woo nice, decent men, what nice, decent 18-year olds are going to be willing and ABLE to raise a family in our economy and culture?

A big problem I see is that, in traditional societies, children are a net economic assets, whereas in modern society, children seem like a net economic drain. That, combined with the inability for a person to get a single-breadwinner job at 18, pretty much makes Jim's neoreactionary strategy not viable, even if a young woman tried to take his advice and execute it conscientiously.

Comment author: army1987 08 September 2014 01:25:12PM 4 points [-]

I noticed that this Jim guy pins a lot of the blame on Western women not wanting to have kids. Now, do we actually have evidence for this? Do we in fact know that it is not the Western MEN who are hesitant about having to provide for kids?

FWIW, as of the last LW survey women and men were about equally likely to want (more) children (though they're not necessarily a representative sample of Western people).

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:15:40AM 4 points [-]

Also keep in mind something people quickly discovered when they first started doing market researcher. What people say they want can be very different from their actual revealed preferences.

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 08:45:30PM 8 points [-]

I myself have a beautiful wife who would make for a great mother, both genetically and in terms of raising kids, but the thought of having kids seems just insane to me right now. Why? I make about $10,000 a year with a MASTER'S DEGREE as a part-time college adjunct instructor and as a K-12 substitute teacher. My wife makes about the same with a BACHELOR'S DEGREE as a part-time nurse's aid in a hospital. Together, we might scrape together $20,000. Our expenses are about $16,000 a year if we are frugal (we have a very small apartment and only one old car). Not much buffer room. Not much money to save up towards a house or a new car for when the old one breaks down. Don't even talk to me about children.

And yet fertility is negatively correlated with income.

There are also higher cultural expectations on how good of a parent you have to be (at least, if we are talking about the "nice middle-class white" demographic whose low fertility rates the neoreactionaries are so worried about).

Bingo. Except its perfectly possible to raise "nice middle-class" kids without micromanagement, your parents' generation did just that.

"Close-parenting" is now the expected norm among this demographic. I get the sense from the stories my parents and grandparents tell that people used to assume that kids kinda "raised themselves." You just told them to go out in the neighborhood and play with other kids, and be home for supper, and you put food on the table, and you occasionally reprimanded them when they misbehaved or did poorly in school. You didn't micromanage their extra-curricular activities, go to all of their extra-curricular activities, research college-preparatory programs, etc. You didn't "helicopter parent." Now, if you don't "helicopter parent," then A. other parents will look down on you,

Really, I get the feeling that these days people don't pay much attention to their neighbors, also why do you care what they think?

Also in the "old days" the neighbors would look down on someone who divorces or has sex outside of marriage rather than someone who's a non-helicopter parent. Why did this change?

and B. your kid probably will go off track and end up as a street thug in some gang or as a couch potato because the surrounding culture is not as much of a supportive ally. (Now why is that?)

Probably not if you live in a neighborhood without thugs, granted this is becoming harder now that progressives are transporting thugs out of ghettos to other neighborhoods in the name of diversity.

Comment author: army1987 08 September 2014 08:16:32AM 3 points [-]

And yet fertility is negatively correlated with income.

Does that still hold when controlling for IQ, conscientiousness, age and religion?

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 08 September 2014 09:08:12PM *  2 points [-]

And yet fertility is negatively correlated with income.

I imagine that, if I were making more money, I would be working more hours, which would mean I would have less time for parenting, which would make parenting even more unattractive. (This is under the assumption, which might be mistaken as you point out, that good parenting requires lots of money and time).

So basically, Westerners have gotten more picky about having children to the point of insisting on having a lot of free time AND a high income, AND for child-rearing to be a more intrinsically interesting activity than other things they could be doing with that time and money (say, being an unemployed millionaire who trades stocks and plays poker for fun). Time, money, and interest have all become necessary, but not sufficient conditions.

I think this has to do with the vast increase in the number of fun distractions in modern society. As a farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa, what does one do with one's time? Herd cattle? Why not have kids? They are like little super-intelligent robots that you can help program and develop. How neat! That sort of technology pretty much blows every other entertainment they would have right out of the water. But Westerners? They think, "Oh, whoop-de-do, a super-intelligent robot that you can help program and develop...but which you will also be responsible for and which may occasionally be stressful...no thanks, I'm more interested in football/LessWrong/youtube/something that is equally interesting but not as stressful."

Bingo. Except its perfectly possible to raise "nice middle-class" kids without micromanagement, your parents' generation did just that.

Nah, my parents helicoptered and micromanaged. But if you want to talk about my parents' parents' generation, then yes. The thing is, they didn't really raise good middle-class kids, in that my father ended up being a roofer and my mother a housewife. Neither graduated college until my mother went back to school after my siblings had gotten out of high school. Not that it hurt them too much in their generation. My father made good money at roofing. Would the money still be as good? I don't know.

Really, I get the feeling that these days people don't pay much attention to their neighbors, also why do you care what they think?

By "neighbors," I mean social circle, whether or not they geographically border one's property.

Probably not if you live in a neighborhood without thugs, granted this is becoming harder now that progressives are transporting thugs out of ghettos to other neighborhoods in the name of diversity.

And living in a neighborhood with a good peer group requires money.

Also in the "old days" the neighbors would look down on someone who divorces or has sex outside of marriage rather than someone who's a non-helicopter parent. Why did this change?

My naive progressive feeling about this is because "ending an unhappy marriage through divorce" or "sex outside of marriage" produce net good things. Progressives have this idea that divorce is the psychologically "healthier" option in that it is more honest and builds less resentment. Likewise, progressives tend to have this idea that having sex outside of marriage is a good way to make sure that sexual chemistry is compatible before marrying, plus it is just fun, and if protection is used and people are careful with each other's feelings, then there are no downsides (and progressives do not see lack of babies as a downside).

On the other hand, progressives have this idea that being a non-helicopter parent produces net bad things, such as children getting stuck in dysfunctional life situations. Buuuut...I will admit that there are those intriguing studies that suggest that parenting style does not have much of an effect on child outcome, which would be a bombshell to the progressive mindset.

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:13:24AM 5 points [-]

The thing is, they didn't really raise good middle-class kids, in that my father ended up being a roofer and my mother a housewife.

You seem to have strange ideas about what constitutes "middle class".

Likewise, progressives tend to have this idea that having sex outside of marriage is a good way to make sure that sexual chemistry is compatible before marrying, plus it is just fun, and if protection is used and people are careful with each other's feelings, then there are no downsides

How about making it harder to bond with your spouse when you do settle down?

Comment author: Nornagest 07 September 2014 06:45:43PM *  5 points [-]

Now, if you don't "helicopter parent," then A. other parents will look down on you, and B. your kid probably will go off track and end up as a street thug in some gang or as a couch potato because the surrounding culture is not as much of a supportive ally. (Now why is that?)

B strikes me as unlikely, or at least not much more likely than it was twenty years ago when I was a largely unsupervised preteen. Everything I've read about childrearing suggests that parenting style (short of abuse or utter neglect) has very little effect, suggesting in turn that the contemporary norms of "good parenting" have much more to do with signaling than actual outcomes.

The popularity of a belief is, strictly speaking, evidence against its being a delusion, but it isn't necessarily very strong evidence. Especially in a field as rife with superstition and bullshit as parenting.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 08 September 2014 07:10:56AM 3 points [-]

I think there are plausible claims that helicopter parenting can be psychologically damaging. Maybe find some beneficial activities which require little oversight. Giving someone a book requires less work than driving them to Karate lessons.

Comment author: Lumifer 08 September 2014 01:59:45AM -2 points [-]

I make about $10,000 a year with a MASTER'S DEGREE as a part-time college adjunct instructor and as a K-12 substitute teacher.

So why don't you get a job?

Comment author: gjm 21 September 2014 09:31:55PM 2 points [-]

Given that he wrote

Now, our luck could change. One of us could land a full-time job with benefits. Realistically, a job where one of us made $25,000 a year would have us jumping for joy.

the answer would appear to be that he has tried to get a better job and so far been unsuccessful. Your question, on the other hand, seems to presume that he hasn't tried and isn't trying. Do you have some relevant knowledge that makes that an appropriate presumption?

Comment author: Lumifer 21 September 2014 10:39:55PM 3 points [-]

A full-time job is more or less 2,000 hours/year. The federal mininum wage is $7.25/hour and the state minimum wage is often a bit higher. 2000 * 7.25 = $14,500/year.

Someone who managed to get a master's degree can probably manage to get a job at higher that the federal minimum wage -- if only he'd be willing to ignore the status considerations and just get down into the blue-collar trenches.

At the time I was very poor I worked, basically, as a construction worker for cash. If you don't have any money, working as a "part-time adjunct" is silly.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 05:42:13AM *  4 points [-]

Well, as long as we don't teach children that homosexuals are evil, this seems acceptable to me. After all, we don't teach children about BDSM (do we?) even though BDSM relationships could lead to children.

As for Jim's views, well, blaming feminism does seem a lot more realistic than blaming gays, although his views are not without their own problems.

For the family unit to function, it has to have a single head, and that head has to be the man, because women will not endure sex if they are the head.

Women don't enjoy sex?

I had a conversation with an Indian friend of mine a while ago, who was telling me about a friend of hers who was in a forced marriage. At the wedding the bride was in tears (of sadness), hugging her friends and refusing to let go. While I can see that highly intelligent women not having children can be a source of concern for anyone who does not believe that the singularity will ride in and save the day, I'd like to think there is a better third option that does not cause emotional damage. Not that reality conforms to what I want to believe...

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 06:31:10AM *  4 points [-]

After all, we don't teach children about BDSM (do we?)

As far as I know not yet (outside of may be some of the most progressive schools). However, if progressivism continues on its current track within several decades sentiments like that will be considered "anti-BDSM hate speech".

For the family unit to function, it has to have a single head, and that head has to be the man, because women will not endure sex if they are the head.

Women don't enjoy sex?

Women don't enjoy sex with men whose status is equal to or lower than theirs.

I had a conversation with an Indian friend of mine a while ago, who was telling me about a friend of hers who was in a forced marriage. At the wedding the bride was in tears (of sadness), hugging her friends and refusing to let go.

Do you know what her life and happiness level are like now? Would you guess she's better or worse off than the women who freely chose to marry Henry?

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 08:51:16AM *  10 points [-]

A few ironically contradictory things just struck me about these topics:

1) If you want to be in a patriarchal relationship, then the most politically correct way to describe this is to say its a D/s kink thing. Helps if there's actual spanking involved. Actually, I think it is accurate to say that among my peer goup, traditional relationships would be regarded as a kink.

2) Being pro-arranged marriages isn't PC because feminism, but being anti-arranged marriages isn't PC because you are being intolerant of Indian culture.

Comment author: kalium 07 September 2014 07:42:02PM 6 points [-]

1) Agree. I find that even monogamy gives me the creeps unless I think of it as kink.

2) Nitpick: unforced arranged marriages happen too. I would say that being anti those might be un-PC, but being anti-forced marriages is entirely PC. Admittedly the boundary between encouragement to marry the selected partner and being forced is not too sharp.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 06 September 2014 02:31:52PM *  6 points [-]

1) If you want to be in a patriarchal relationship, then the most politically correct way to describe this is to say its a D/s kink thing. Helps if there's actual spanking involved.

There is in fact a significant overlap between "game" and BDSM, the latter not merely in the "kinky bedroom games" sense, but as an ideology about what constitutes natural and proper relations between men and women. For example, the well-known Roissy blogger takes his pseudonym from "The Story of O", whose action (ho ho) largely takes place at a chateau near the French town of Roissy. Back when his blog was called "Roissy in D.C" (paralleling the full name of the real town, Roissy-en-France) the masthead picture was a still from the film of the book. And surely the least important aspect of John Norman's notorious Gor novels is the overt BDSM activities.

Comment author: V_V 06 September 2014 08:48:00AM 4 points [-]

Do you know what her life and happiness level are like now? Would you guess she's better or worse off than the women who freely chose to marry Henry?

The fact that there are people who make stupid (grossly sub-optimal w.r.t. their own preferences) life decisions is a cost for a society which in general gives people substantial freedom to make their own decisions.
The classical liberal position is that this kind of freedom benefits most people. It might harm a few of them, but this is considered an acceptable trade-off.

In a traditional, arranged marriage system, where marriage is negotiated between the parents of the prospective spouses, you have that in general the parents' interests don't perfectly track the interests of their children. Moreover, while stupid children might be protected from their stupidity by smarter parents, smart children might be harmed by stupid parents that pick bad matches for them.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 08 September 2014 07:16:14AM 4 points [-]

Moreover, while stupid children might be protected from their stupidity by smarter parents, smart children might be harmed by stupid parents that pick bad matches for them.

Children's intelligence correlates with their parents, while their parents have more life experience, so on average parental advice ought to be fairly good.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 06 September 2014 09:17:02AM 6 points [-]

Women don't enjoy sex with men whose status is equal to or lower than theirs.

Citation needed?

While I can't speak from personal experience (I'm neither a woman, nor did I have plenty of sexual partners to compare with) this doesn't strike me as true based on conversations I had about the subject.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 08:37:35AM 1 point [-]

However, if progressivism continues on its current track within several decades sentiments like that will be considered "anti-BDSM hate speech".

I can imagine this future. I certainly wouldn't say that there's anything wrong with BDSM, but probably best to leave it to adults to discover of their own accord.

Women don't enjoy sex with men whose status is equal to or lower than theirs.

Oh, ok now I understand. Reminds me of a woman I once knew who decided she couldn't associate (romantically or platonically) with any of her colleagues who were younger and lower-status than her, whether male or female. Its interesting, because she describes herself as a communist.

Do you know what her life and happiness level are like now? Would you guess she's better or worse off than the women who freely chose to marry Henry?

No, but I'd guess she's probably better off than that woman. I've already read that SSC article, and I understand your point, but I would hope that there is some way of avoiding the Henrys of the world without anyone ever having to say "If I try to run away from home my family will break my legs". Of course, there is a difference between forced marriages and arranged marriages.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 06:07:45PM 4 points [-]

I've already read that SSC article, and I understand your point, but I would hope that there is some way of avoiding the Henrys of the world without anyone ever having to say "If I try to run away from home my family will break my legs".

I don't thing even Jim advocates going that far. His position is more, "if I run away from home no one will financially support me and my status will go through the floor".

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 07 September 2014 04:55:32PM *  2 points [-]

The more important thing is to stop teaching children that homosexuality is a "perfectly normal lifestyle" and that they should "find out if they're gay".

Why? Will that make it vanish?

Comment author: Azathoth123 07 September 2014 08:28:31PM 4 points [-]

It will certainly decrease it.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 08 September 2014 07:07:11AM 3 points [-]

AFAIK there is no scientific consensus on the cause of homosexuality, so we can't really know whether de-normalising homosexuality will have any affect on its prevalence. The fact that there are gays in cultures that do not accept homosexuality shows that it cannot be all choice/normaliseation, so the question is whether normaliseation is a factor at all.

Comment author: Azathoth123 09 September 2014 12:17:05AM 2 points [-]

So your argument amounts to since there is no scientific consensus we should assume its 100% genetic.

The fact that there are gays in cultures that do not accept homosexuality shows that it cannot be all choice/normaliseation

But the number of gays is significantly smaller.

Comment author: CronoDAS 06 September 2014 10:38:34PM 4 points [-]

I think technology and better framing might be more helpful here. People already screen embryos for known genetic diseases. "Eugenics" has become a scare word, but "help you have healthier (better) children" is something people can applaud...

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 07 September 2014 06:26:50PM 1 point [-]

Perhaps. Interestingly you can raise public approval of reproductive cloning from 10% to 32% by using the technical term 'somatic cell nuclease transfer'.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 01:00:50AM 5 points [-]

We know of functional civilisations e.g. ancient Greece where homosexualtiy was tolerated

Even the Greeks would regard gay marriage as highly perverse.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 06 September 2014 04:01:18AM *  1 point [-]

This is an interesting point - I remember reading that heterosexual marriage with bisexual affairs was the norm in Sparta, but what was the Greek attitude towards homosexual love (as opposed to bisexuals?).

Of course, I suspect they would have regarded childless hetro marriage (due to contraception) as perverse too.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 04:14:33AM 5 points [-]

I remember reading that heterosexual marriage with bisexual affairs was the norm in Sparta, but what was the Greek attitude towards homosexual love (as opposed to bisesexuals?).

They didn't categorize themselves in those terms.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 06 September 2014 02:58:52PM *  2 points [-]

I'd suggest consulting a source that's actually researched, e.g., Wikipedia on the subject. Ancient Greek pederasty doesn't seem to have been a form of domination sex — arguably unlike a great deal of premodern heterosexual conduct.

Comment author: Azathoth123 06 September 2014 06:03:10PM 5 points [-]

Your link goes to an article on pederasty, i.e., sexual relations between an adult and a child. This is one of the categories Eric discusses and is not the same as what he calls "romantic homosexuality" between partners of comparable age and status.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 06 September 2014 09:31:14PM 0 points [-]

... and your response makes it clear you didn't read it. Sigh.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 05 September 2014 03:53:39PM 0 points [-]

Traditional society is tried and tested.

And failed.

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 04:21:39PM 4 points [-]

And failed.

Humans are around and doing fine. Are you sure you don't mean "evolved"?

Comment author: polymathwannabe 05 September 2014 04:34:24PM *  1 point [-]

The transition from traditional to progressive societies has been painful most of the times (mainly in the form of revolutions). It is possible to say that Ivan's Russia evolved into Nicolas's Russia, but claiming that Nicolas's Russia evolved into Stalin's Russia is stretching the meaning of "evolve" too much. Rather, "went extinct and had its niche occupied by a fitter competitor" is an apter description. (Remember I'm talking about social systems here; the fact that the old regime's grandchildren are alive today does not mean the social system didn't go extinct.)

Edited to add: I'm in no way claiming that Stalin's Russia was a progressive society. I'm noticing that debating with neoreactionaries tends to blur categories that shouldn't be confused.

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 05:04:51PM 2 points [-]

Rather, "went extinct and had its niche occupied by a fitter competitor" is an apter description.

For Imperial Russia (and China), maybe. For the US or the United Kingdom, not at all. For much of Western Europe or, say, Japan, not really.

In fact, Soviet Russia and Mao's China are also good examples of societies which "went extinct and had its niche occupied by a fitter competitor" :-)

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 05 September 2014 04:02:34PM 4 points [-]

Failed in what way? In that it has given way to modern society? It has still survived a lot longer.

Comment author: army1987 05 September 2014 04:34:55PM 1 point [-]

(progs: burning fossil fuels will destroy the planet in the long term! vs NRx sexual freedom will destroy families in the long term!)

See also Haidt's TED talk.

all progress is change

everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same

Comment author: ChristianKl 04 September 2014 11:00:42PM 4 points [-]

One aspect of the art of rationality is locating the true sources of disagreement between two parties who want to communicate with each other, but who can't help but talk past each other in different languages due to having radically different pre-existing assumptions.

I believe that this is the problem that any discourse between neoreaction and progressivism currently faces

Actually no. The organised political left is not wanting to communicate with neoreactionists. Neoreactionists are not even on the radar of most left wing political thinkers.

The whole idea that there something called progressivism comes from neoreacons. If you want to locate sources of disagreement you might start with arguing why you find the term "progressivism" a useful notion.

"Our subjective values are worth pursuing in and of themselves just because it makes us feel good" really, how many of the people on the left do you think would agree with that sentence? It seems to me like a strawman.

In reality, people are not content with being able only to exercise the "right of exit" from institutions or governments that they don't like.

I think the idea that dictatorships generally give their citizens the right to exists is without basis. North Koreans don't have a right to exit.

Comment author: blacktrance 04 September 2014 11:51:19PM *  5 points [-]

Progressivism is a well-established concept - it's the umbrella category that includes the Social Justice movement, European social democracy, members of the Democratic Party in the US, statist environmentalists, etc. In terms of the flawed left-right spectrum, progressivism is the ideology of those between the socialists and the center. More broadly, "progressivism" is sometimes used to refer to left-wing thought in general.

However, "progressivism" as the term is used by reactionaries is even broader - it means "not a conservative or a reactionary". I've come across reactionaries labeling the libertarian Cato Institute as progressive, though neither libertarians nor self-identified progressives would agree with that terminology. Sometimes reactionaries ascribe views to progressives that self-identified progressives would find abhorrent. IMO, the ideological distance between actual progressivism and reaction is smaller than the distance between actual progressivism and "progressivism" as reactionaries imagine it.

Comment author: Matthew_Opitz 05 September 2014 12:29:15AM *  3 points [-]

Yes, I've realized that neoreactionaries use the term "progressive" to basically mean "post-Enlightenment thought" in general. And that is the way I am using the term in this thread.

Edit: Except there is that tricky problem that neoreactionaries trace the origins of "progressivism" and "the Cathedral" back even farther to "ultra-Calvinism" and the Protestant Reformation. So I guess "progressivism" is post-Reformation thought, which would include Enlightenment thought and New Deal liberalism as further signposts along that road?

Comment author: blacktrance 05 September 2014 11:13:49AM 5 points [-]

I suspect that the neo-reactionary conception of "progressivism" is outgroup homogeneity bias at work.

Comment author: SilentCal 05 September 2014 09:50:08PM 6 points [-]

Dunno, I'm very firmly not neoreactionary, and reading about neoreaction makes me feel like there really is a meaningful category that, at the very least, libertarians and US mainstream liberals both belong to, since I've largely transitioned between aforesaid two groups and it felt like a much smaller jump than from either to neoreaction.

Comment author: blacktrance 05 September 2014 11:46:07PM *  3 points [-]

It's a spectrum, I think. There is a meaningful category (something like "consequentalist pro-market individualists") that includes some libertarians and some American liberals, but this category wouldn't include all libertarians or all progressives, e.g. Hans-Herman Hoppe and most SJWs would be outside this category. In fact, once you get to Hoppe, you're basically next door to neo-reaction, and the more tribalist post-modernist anti-cultural-mixing SJWs seem close to reaction as well.

Comment author: nydwracu 07 September 2014 01:31:29PM 4 points [-]

the more tribalist post-modernist anti-cultural-mixing SJWs seem close to reaction as well.

How so? I would disagree with that: there's nothing in reaction against cultural mixing (for that matter, nationalism / ethnic self-determination is a minority position -- remember Moldbug's position on the British Empire), and the ethical intuitions are completely different.

I'm not sure what the closest area to neoreaction outside the right is. I've met some very interesting Communists, but I'm not sure that particular type exists outside that corner of the internet.

Comment author: V_V 07 September 2014 02:41:47PM *  7 points [-]

Horseshoe theory: as you go towards the extreme ends of the political spectrum, positions become more similar to each other rather than to mainstream positions. It may not be literaly true in all cases, but it does seem to be a valuable heuristic, North Korea is the most obvious example.

As for SJWs vs NRs, SJWs are often accused of being misandrists and anti-white racists, while NRs are, more or less overtly, male supremacists and white supremacists.
It could be argued that these are both instances of tribalism, although in the SJWs case there is usually also some degree of counter-signalling, since most of them are white and perhaps half of them are male.
Futhermore, both movements are essentially totalitarian, as they seek to police aspects of people's lives which are considered to be outside government jurisdiction under classical liberalism (e.g., public expression, sexual and romantic life, and, to some extent, private contracts and hiring practices).

EDIT:

Oh, almost forgot: "Patriarchy/Rape culture" vs. "the Cathedral", or, how to explain away the fact that the world hasn't already adopted our obviously saner and morally superior ideology by assuming that they must all be infected by some sort of vague, unfalsifiable, memetic virus we just made up.

Comment author: ErikM 08 September 2014 10:03:41AM *  10 points [-]

"The Cathedral", according to Moldbug, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press (i.e. not the National Enquirer), Hollywood, the Ivy League, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc. It's not a way of explaining away anything; it's an attribution of blame for how present public opinion has turned out, combined with an assertion that these information organs form a natural group (left). Somewhere between Moldbug's rants about how the big universities should be torn down and their grounds sown with salt and their professors forbidden to teach ever again, there are some statements with a bit more gravitas.

Falsifiable assertion: The New York Times and publications like it will report on (for example) the SPLC's assertions with a tone of "and we should do as the SPLC says", but will report on (for example) the Pope's assertions and the Vatican with a tone of "and isn't it strange how Catholics believe such funny things?" (Unstated premise creating relevancy: The NYT has higher status than Fox News. General form: Left-wing media outlets have higher status, and closer ties to high-status institutions, than right-wing media outlets.)

Particular example: Consider the effect noted at The Federalist where the violent treatment of one side's holy victim/martyr figure is called disgusting pointless brutality, but the violent treatment of the other side's holy victim/martyr figure is called an important moral message.

As LW has discussed, nonsense can serve as a rallying point and a signal for demonstrating group loyalty. Anyone willing to buy into a group's insane nonsense is probably going to be a devoted member of the group. NR learned and copied quite a lot from LW (in particular, More Right was spawned from Less Wrong) including this, so there's no need to explain it away. But even before LW was created, Moldbug wrote:

from the perspective of the security forces, it may be quite useful to have one or two questions for which the bad answer is true, and the good one is nonsense. Some people are just natural-born troublemakers. Others are naturally loyal. Separating the sheep from the goats gives the authorities a great way to focus on the latter.

Nonsense also gives a basis for arbitrary acts of power. Following the Principle of Explosion, once you've incorporated something nonsensical or contradictory into your ideology, you can use it to rationalize any action or outcome you want. Isn't that great for the group in power?

Comment author: V_V 08 September 2014 02:06:17PM *  2 points [-]

"The Cathedral", according to Moldbug, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press (i.e. not the National Enquirer), Hollywood, the Ivy League, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc. It's not a way of explaining away anything; it's an attribution of blame for how present public opinion has turned out, combined with an assertion that these information organs form a natural group (left).

And "Patriarchy/Rape culture", according to SJWs, is those high-status industries and positions which shape public opinion and public policy - roughly, the respectable press, Hollywood, the Silicon Valley, the video games industry, the Ivy League, and so on.

(Unstated premise creating relevancy: The NYT has higher status than Fox News. General form: Left-wing media outlets have higher status, and closer ties to high-status institutions, than right-wing media outlets.)

Do they?

Anyway, there is no question that conservative (can we say that Fox News is neoreactionary?) and leftist media outlets exist, and at some point some one side may be more popular than the other.
The point is that both SJWs and NRs perceive their "enemy" not limited to some specific people or organizations, but as a diffused cultural element, which is thought to somehow "brainwash" the uninitiated into not seeing the obvious Truth of the One True Ideology.
This is similar to the religious fundamentalists preoccupation with the Devil's influence, or the militant communists preoccupation with bourgeois propaganda. In fact, it could be argued that the defining trait of radical movements is a black-and-white morality that paints themselves as the morally righteous brave knights who fight a world of corruption.

Comment author: nydwracu 08 September 2014 04:54:37PM 4 points [-]

Horseshoe theory can't tell the difference between actual similarities, contingent effects of the existing political spectrum (contrarian personality types, say, or people who see the problems with the existing ideology but don't have answers and end up jumping back and forth between alternatives), and absence of traits unique to the ideology of the observer.

It's also a useful propaganda tool:

...the postwar American development of a conceptual vocabulary - “totalitarianism”, “authoritarianism”, “statism”, “central planning”, horseshoe theory, “human rights” - by which communism and fascism were positioned as varieties of a broader unitary category and America assured itself that it had always been at war with Eurasia.

If the public/private divide as thought by classical liberalism is unique to classical liberalism, of course things will look like a horseshoe: as you go further from classical liberalism, you see that the importance of/adherence to the classical liberal public/private divide falls away -- which must mean everything that isn't classical liberalism is the same, right? No.

I'm not sure where you're getting the stuff about NRs favoring government regulation in private contracts and hiring practices. Or the "accused of"/"are, more or less overtly..." distinction: many SJWs show overt hatred (resentment weakly disguised as contempt, as resentment usually is), and if anything, resentment-based hatreds ought to be treated as more worrisome than contempt-based hatreds, since most genocides are committed out of resentment, and most of the exceptions (like those of the British Empire*) are motivated by a drive for lebensraum, which doesn't really apply here.

  • Obligatory footnote to avoid connotationally reinforcing a common misconception: the vast majority of the killing in the Americas was done by Old World diseases and was inevitable given contact before the development of modern epidemic control, and the smallpox blankets are generally considered to be a myth. I'm not sure what the statistics look like for Australia.
Comment author: Nornagest 08 September 2014 05:23:42PM *  4 points [-]

the smallpox blankets are generally considered to be a myth

I'm aware of one case (the siege of Fort Pitt, during Pontiac's Rebellion) that seems to be reasonably well documented. There doesn't seem to be consensus that it was effective, though, and smallpox existed among the Lenape before the incident.

Comment author: ErikM 08 September 2014 09:30:29AM 2 points [-]

Horseshoe theory seems to me like declaring North on a compass rose to be "middle", and saying as you go further "east" or "west" around the compass, the extreme east and extreme west gradually become more similar to each other. This is a mismapping resulting from the confusion of "east" with "counterclockwise starting from north" and west likewise - to restore the analogy to its origin, I think the political axis has here gotten mixed up with some other attribute or set of attributes.

To look at it another way: I could place the horseshoe so it's quasi-centered (middled?) on anything. Suppose I center it on, for example environmentalism, and declare the sides to be ordered by religion. Then I could argue that moderation is most compatible with environmentalism, while going towards the extreme end of the "religious spectrum" leads to the two sides becoming more similar to each other than to environmentalism - but this is really a feature of antitheists and fundamentalists both being non-environmentalists, which all look alike from the environmentalist position!

Comment author: V_V 08 September 2014 01:34:59PM *  1 point [-]

Horseshoe theory seems to me like declaring North on a compass rose to be "middle", and saying as you go further "east" or "west" around the compass, the extreme east and extreme west gradually become more similar to each other.

Which is in fact true. Perhaps a more apt analogy is that, as you go north, east and west become less distinguished, up to the North Pole, where going east and going west reduce to spinning around yourself counterclockwise or clockwise while standing at the same spot.

In this analogy, the North Pole would be ideal totalitarianism, where the government micromanages its subjects' lives in great detail, it is always right and doesn't even have to explain itself since it is its own source of legitimacy, and nobody can question its ways.
Real-life North Korea sits close to the North Pole.

Classical liberalism/"Progressivism" would be perhaps the South Pole or maybe the Equator.

Comment author: V_V 07 September 2014 10:01:53PM *  1 point [-]

I think the most appropriate category is "classical liberalism", which encompasses positions ranging from most forms of social-democracy (roughly corresponding to mainstream US liberals, if I understand US politics correctly) to most forms of neoliberalism (Thatcherism-Reaganism) and libertarianism.
From Wikipedia:
"Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality.[1] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property."

This excludes fascism, theocracy, oligarchy, absolute monarchy, neoreaction (a mixture of the previous items), most forms of communism, and some extreme forms of social justice (the dreaded SJWs).

Comment author: Lumifer 08 September 2014 01:52:57AM 4 points [-]

"classical liberalism", which encompasses positions ranging from most forms of social-democracy (roughly corresponding to mainstream US liberals, if I understand US politics correctly) to most forms of neoliberalism (Thatcherism-Reaganism) and libertarianism.

I think you're treating it much too widely. I don't consider the European social democrats or the US progressives to fall under "classical liberalism".

Comment author: blacktrance 08 September 2014 01:17:41AM *  3 points [-]

Classical liberalism is more pro-market than social democrats or mainstream US progressives are. As I've seen it used, it has three common meanings:

  1. Pre-20th century libertarians and proto-libertarians.

  2. Modern libertarians who aren't minarchists, anarchists, or social conservatives. Sometimes they're called "moderate libertarians", though they aren't necessarily moderate. At other times they're called "pragmatic libertarians", which may be somewhat more accurate.

  3. A general ideology that encompasses classical liberals of the first two definitions as well as minarchists and anarcho-capitalists.

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 September 2014 01:55:03PM -1 points [-]

c.f. the Cathedral, which is an attempt to frame the culture that the rest of us call "Western civilisation as it is now" as a conspiracy, or something enough like a conspiracy to speak of in the terms appropriate to one.

Comment author: Azathoth123 05 September 2014 02:57:53AM 3 points [-]

Well, Jim Donald's definition of leftism roughly boils down to meme's optimized to spread through government power.

Comment author: Nornagest 04 September 2014 11:10:45PM *  5 points [-]

The whole idea that there something called progressivism comes from neoreacons. If you want to locate sources of disagreement you might start with arguing why you find the term "progressivism" a useful notion.

Not sure I agree. Progressivism seems to be used in more or less the same sense that it would be in mainstream (at least US) political discourse, albeit perhaps somewhat broader. "Demotism", however, does seem to be a fabricated category.

I think the idea that dictatorships generally give their citizens the right to exists is without basis. North Koreans don't have a right to exit.

This is true, but you can make an argument against Exit as a strong check on abuse, or as a strong selective force, without invoking anywhere nearly as bad as North Korea. The social forces keeping people in place are very powerful in comparison to political convictions: for example you got a lot of liberal Americans talking about moving to Canada or the like during the Bush era, but not one in a hundred actually did, despite the fact that doing so would have been quite easy as emigration goes.

Comment author: ChristianKl 04 September 2014 11:55:38PM 3 points [-]

Progressivism seems to be used in more or less the same sense that it would be in mainstream (at least US) political discourse, albeit perhaps somewhat broader.

There are plenty of people who call themselves progressive but they usually don't speak of progressivism. Progressivism is a term about a political battle at the beginning of the 20th century. Woodrow Wilson was practicing progressivism. Neoreacon tend to argue as if the positions of the left in the 21th century are the same as those of Wilson.

Investor state dispute settlement is a very new policy tool. The whole idea of corporations as people is very new. We engaged in deregulation. You find few people on the left who see that change as progress that's to be celebrated because history moves forward.

In Germany Agenda 2010 came out of the third way. Cutting pensions isn't what progressivism envisions. It not the kind of history moving forward that's to be celebrated.

While neoliberal think tanks build a worldview that allowed the financial sectors to get deregulated, the left lacks a real counterproposal and a vision at the moment. Quite frequently people on the left want to defend the status quo these days.

Comment author: Nornagest 05 September 2014 12:35:54AM *  3 points [-]

There are plenty of people who call themselves progressive but they usually don't speak of progressivism. Progressivism is a term about a political battle at the beginning of the 20th century. Woodrow Wilson was practicing progressivism. Neoreacon tend to argue as if the positions of the left in the 21th century are the same as those of Wilson.

I know about the Progressive Era. However, the term's stayed alive (or been revived) in the US as a loose synonym for "leftist" or "liberal" (in the American sense), which have pejorative connotations in some quarters over here; consider for example the Congressional Progressive Caucus, founded in 1991 to represent the Democratic Party's leftist wing. Since most prominent neoreactionaries are American, that's probably the sense in which they mean it. It is not a sense unique to neoreaction.

American leftists are aware of the novelty of the policy tools you mentioned, but they're likely to see them as novel means to regressive ends. Since neoreaction essentially assumes the American Left's future-historical schema (as a default, and with different emotional valance), it's likely to agree.

As to neoreaction lumping Woodrow Wilson's policy goals with those of, say, Ralph Nader, that is a potential weakness. It's not one I was trying to explore in the grandparent, though, and I don't think the terminology is very revealing given what I've already discussed.

Comment author: ChristianKl 05 September 2014 01:03:16AM 2 points [-]

Plenty of people call themselves progressive. That doesn't mean that they see themselves as adhering to something called progressivism. Otherwise link to a few American politicians who use the term progressivism to describe their own policies.

Since most prominent neoreactionaries are American, that's probably the sense in which they mean it.

From what I read of neocon thought, I don't think that's the case.

American leftists are aware of the novel policy tools you mentioned, but they're likely to see them as means to regressive ends.

There were no multinational corporations a hundred years ago. You can't regress to a state of multinational corporations as they are in their nature a new phenomenon.

To quote Moldbug Cthulhu always swims left. That was part of the Marxist idea of history. Sooner or later the left wins, because it's the right side and we know it's the right side because sooner or later it wins. We know this because when we look at the past the left always won. Somehow it's not the freedom of the individual worker that rises as time goes on but corporation have became people that also claim their freedom. Those corporations seem even better at claiming freedom than workers.

Neoliberalism also destroys traditional values of nation states but not in the way socialism does. To Molburg it might be both Cthulhu but the difference matters a big deal in the modern political discourse.

Comment author: Nornagest 05 September 2014 01:08:17AM *  5 points [-]

Plenty of people call themselves progressive. That doesn't mean that they see themselves as adhering to something called progressivism. Otherwise link to a few American politicians who use the term progressivism to describe their own policies.

Don't make too much of the "-ism" suffix. Neoreactionaries generally don't believe the overwhelming majority of modern politics to be dictated by members of a capital-P Progressivist sect, vivid cathedral analogy notwithstanding; instead, they see said politics as conforming if unchecked to a vaguely Marxian notion of progress ever leftward (because Cthulhu), which is roughly unitary since the late Enlightenment (also because Cthulhu), and which they sometimes call progressive (because that's the neutral word for a leftward tendency in American politics). "Progressivism" then is merely how you form the word for the corresponding ideology.

But since you asked...

Comment author: ChristianKl 05 September 2014 07:52:26AM 3 points [-]

Lately Cthulhu brought deregulation of the financial sector, corporate personhood, reduced maximum tax rate and Investor State Dispute Settlement.

Of course neoliberalism that produces those policies and with lately drives much of Cthulhu's direction can be thought of as an extension of left liberalism of the 19th century but today's left doesn't like it. Of course the cathedral produces corporate personhood and the cathedral deregulated the financial sector but if that's what you call "progressivism" people that call themselves progressive aren't in favor of that.

they see said politics as conforming if unchecked to a vaguely Marxian notion of progress ever leftward

Today's left doesn't. It doesn't like that corporations gain more and more powerful as things progress. It's afraid of technology. Just look at GMO. Do you see today's left celebrating GMO's as valuable progress that moves society forward, the way the left did celebrate nuclear power in the 1950's and 1960's?

Of course the cathedral produces GMO's but if you label that position that supports GMO's as progressivism than people who self label as progressives don't really hold that position strongly.

Comment author: Lumifer 05 September 2014 01:13:39AM 2 points [-]

There were no multinational corporations a hundred years ago.

Ahem

Comment author: David_Gerard 05 September 2014 01:49:18PM -3 points [-]

Worried about "white extinction"? Stop worrying - more people are signing up to be white than ever before!

Comment author: ErikM 06 September 2014 12:02:52PM 2 points [-]

Why are you equivocating between the biological grouping and the social grouping?

Comment author: David_Gerard 06 September 2014 07:48:59PM *  -2 points [-]

Because the "biological grouping" isn't one. It's been a social grouping all along. You realise that groups have joined and left "white" at different times over the past few centuries, right? The historical definitions of races are amazing stuff. The Wikipedia article is a good start (and I link that in particular because you can be sure it's been closely inspected by all interested sides).

Comment author: CellBioGuy 07 September 2014 07:59:32PM 4 points [-]

A century ago I would not have been 'white' - I'd be hopelessly ethnic.

Half-Italian-half-Polish with a dash of ashkenazi jewish five generations back? Waaaaay down in the caste system of even 1930. Nowadays? Just another white guy.

Comment author: ErikM 08 September 2014 07:04:17AM 5 points [-]

That's like arguing that because the line between "dog" and "wolf" is socially constructed, there's no need to worry if one's chihuahua is replaced by a timber wolf, or saying that because the Greeks thought of water as a basic substance, "hydrogen" is actually a social grouping.

It's true in the trivial sense that every grouping humans refer to is in some sense a social grouping, but that doesn't alter the underlying biology. Think of it as lumpers and splitters in action - disagreements over where to draw the boundary of a group don't change the characteristics of group members.

Comment author: mayonesa 06 September 2014 05:09:30PM 0 points [-]

I seem to recall defending monarchy back in '12:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/2/tell_your_rationalist_origin_story/7e8p?context=3

The point of reaction is thus:

Conservatism and liberalism are each spectrums of political ideas: conservatism is based on correspondence to the logic underlying reality, liberalism is based on projection of the logic of the human mind and its desires.

Thus liberalism clusters all of its ideas around the notion of "equality" where conservatism focuses on consequences; this is why we might draw a line between preference-based utilitarianism and consequence-based reasoning.

If you are anywhere on the leftist spectrum, neoreaction will seem to you like the worst thing ever. To #nrx folk however modern society is the worst thing ever, because in the pursuit of the individual it has replaced real life with technology, government and product-based entertainment. It has rotted out our souls and our decisions are correspondingly bad, but people act in a vast conspiracy to ignore the effects of their actions.

Many people speak of wanting a way out of politics. The only way to do this is to go to philosophy. And then you do not have handy packages in which to wrap up your ideas; how do I vote for "existentialism" (or as said before, where do I vote to end democracy)? But at a philosophical level, we can see how politics does us a disservice. It exists to cripple governments in order to prevent abuses, but in doing so, it prevents societies from taking any forward action especially against the slow creep of consumerism, entertainment culture and other forms of modern blight.

At a philosophical level, once you affirm nationalism (ethnic self-determination) and monarchy (rejection of democracy), you have also rejected equality and thus have rejected the fond human notion that we are all capable of deciding what is best for us and thus that conjecture is equal to results-based analysis.

That is the line in the sand that #nrx has drawn.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 09 September 2014 12:19:11PM 1 point [-]

Conservatism and liberalism are each spectrums of political ideas: conservatism is based on correspondence to the logic underlying reality, liberalism is based on projection of the logic of the human mind and its desires.

That is the falsest of dichotomies,since you need both facts and values to make decisions.