Sources have revealed messages between unrepentant commienazi Mencius Moldbug (who will be denoted with “MM”) and an unidentified subversive pinko (denoted by “SP”). Now their devious plotting against America, democracy, mom and apple pie can be revealed to the world so we may act against it (also, Mencius gave the O.K to do so). I’m warning you folks, the following will be ugly: Usenet-style quote markers, an utter disregard for appearance on a web browser and a combined length of more-than-I-want-on-the-frontpage. For that reason I have put it below the fold. Don’t bother to click it unless you’ve become accustomed to poring over comments sections where Mencius ropes misguided and disaffected youth to his nefarious cause.


SP initiates:

Since we’ve discussed the end of the Soviet Union and the Carnation Revolution, I thought you might find this interesting. mtraven approves of the author as a sort of anti-you or genuine libertarian.

MM responds:

I wish I’d known of Henley’s blog before I used “Unqualified.”

It’s amazing how people are willing to use real places, like Portugal and Angola, without knowing anything about them, just as clubs to beat their enemies over the head with. Henley clearly knows no more about Portugal or Angola than a dog knows about tennis.

And the post he links to is much, much worse. I really despair when I look at Bush-hatred. To portray Bush as some kind of international cowboy Hitler, your detachment from reality and your attachment to the New York Times has to be so complete that I can’t even begin to imagine. To, say, FDR – a man who was once sent a Japanese thighbone carved into a letter opener, and who replied thanking the sender and asking for more such gifts – the idea of extending civilian trials to enemies fighting out of uniform would have appeared almost hallucinatory in its weirdness. There’s no better argument for isolationism than the fact that even the most intelligent Americans, when they think about foreign policy, embrace conspiracy theories that make Julius Streicher look sane.

SP:

Henley’s exactly the sort I’d like to see commenting over at UR. He’s already a libertarian with a very suspicious attitude toward Leviathan/Minotaur/Polygon but he’s got a dramatically different perspective. I don’t want to call him a liberaltarian, since Brink Lindsey is more along the lines of establishment liberalism / neo-conservativism. Perhaps “progressive libertarian” would be a good term. (Speaking of political categorization, what do you think of this taxonomy? I come out as a subjectivist procedural-liberal individualist Hayekian Burkean federalist Egoist, hostile to both managerialism and democracy and led away from cosmopolitanism (though I would have no problem identifying as a “rootless cosmopolitan”) and toward nationalism by my egoist take on ethics)

I don’t think he comes close to calling Bush Hitler. He says outright that the America of now is much better than the Portugal of the 70s, not only internally but also internationally. I don’t know if he has a better opinion of FDR than you either. A quick googling of the site shows him coming to W’s defense on that comparison!

MM:

(Minotaur? Has someone been reading Jouvenel? I suppose I don’t have the only copy…)

Well, sort of. The problem is that Henley seems to conceive the center of gravity of the State as the old military-corporate-colonial-nationalist complex, the way a good Times reader should. Whereas in fact its power has been declining for 100 years, and real power is in the hands of the journalism-education-diplomatic-transnationalist complex – the Polygon. He thinks he’s charging the matador whereas in fact he’s charging the cape. This is exactly as Jouvenel describes: the Minotaur redirects opposition toward its own opponents. Thus Henley, like all progressives, winds up serving rather than resisting the State.

It is very, very difficult for an intelligent and educated person to come to the conclusion that Bush, Fox News and the Pentagon are the Rebellion, and MIT, the Times and the State Department are the Empire. Of course it is very easy for an unintelligent and uneducated person, which is why so many of them support the Rebellion. Which is perhaps why it keeps on failing. D’oh!

I don’t think there is anything even close to an accurate perspective of the last two hundred years that you can pull off the shelf and read. And this goes especially for the last fifty. Democracy, in which opinion is power, is simply inconsistent with the development of any kind of sensible and distanced historical consensus, whether among popular or intellectual circles. If you start with a Chomskian view and then realize that, compared to the evil corporations, the democratic state and its intellectual organs have at least as much motive and propensity, and far, far more opportunity, to “manufacture consent” – and have had same since Chomsky’s great-great-grandfather was a rabbi in Pinsk – you realize how terrifying the situation is. And no, Fox News is not a remedy.

In fact Angola and Mocambique were a hell of a lot more pleasant places before the Carnation Revolution than after, and the same arguably could be said for Portugal – Salazar is one of my favorite 20th-century leaders. The whole event is inseparable from the second wave of leftist gangsterism that swept over the world after Watergate. The Portuguese were lucky that they had another revolution and got the Communists out relatively quickly.

As for Bush-Hitler, I was referring not to Henley but to Chris Floyd, whom he linked to. The level of hyperbole is truly mindboggling. Actually, what it reminds me of most is the Northern invective about the “Slave Power” before the Civil War. Unionists were genuinely convinced that there was a Southern plot to seize the Federal government and impose slavery on the entire country. If you read, for example, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, they are full of these crazy conspiracy theories. There was a certain amount of very fast footwork required to go from this to invading and subjugating the South. Not, of course, that there wasn’t a certain level of craziness down there as well, but since the South was (a) weaker, and (b) dependent on a social system that was very hard to justify in Christian terms, their capacity for reality distortion was in many ways more limited.

The problem with the taxonomy is that it kind of assumes you believe in democracy, which I don’t, and it assumes a lot of social-justice concepts. One of the most effective forms of disinformation is to conceal simple facts behind artificially complex conundrums. My philosophy of good government is that it’s consistent law which is consistently enforced and does not impose unnecessary scarcities, and mapping this into nine dimensions is a little Buckaroo Banzai for my taste.

SP with a huge ugly one:

> (Minotaur? Has someone been reading Jouvenel? I
> suppose I don’t have the only copy…)
I’m only about halfway through though.

> Well, sort of. The problem is that Henley seems to
> conceive the center of gravity of the State as the
> old military-corporate-colonial-nationalist complex,
> the way a good Times reader should. Whereas in fact
> its power has been declining for 100 years, and real
> power is in the hands of the
> journalism-education-diplomatic-transnationalist
> complex – the Polygon. He thinks he’s charging the
> matador whereas in fact he’s charging the cape.
> This is exactly as Jouvenel describes: the Minotaur
> redirects opposition toward its own opponents. Thus
> Henley, like all progressives, winds up serving
> rather than resisting the State.
Uh, in case you haven’t noticed the Times’ candidate isn’t in charge and we are waging an idiotic war in the Middle East. As soon as Bush is out you would be fully justified in calling him out for ignoring the other side, but at this time the direction of his invective is accurate. Is Bush somehow immune from criticism because the Left is bad? It seems obvious to me that when he screws up (and I hope you agree he has) he should be called out for it.

> It is very, very difficult for an intelligent and
> educated person to come to the conclusion that Bush,
> Fox News and the Pentagon are the Rebellion, and
> MIT, the Times and the State Department are the
> Empire.
Do you even believe that? To me they’re both the Empire.

> Of course it is very easy for an
> unintelligent and uneducated person, which is why so
> many of them support the Rebellion.
There is no rebellion.

> Which is
> perhaps why it keeps on failing. D’oh!
It succeeds but you mistake its goals. Power seems kind of cool once it’s yours. That’s why the dictatorship of the proletariat didn’t dissolve after private property was eliminated.

> I don’t think there is anything even close to an
> accurate perspective of the last two hundred years
> that you can pull off the shelf and read.
You seem to recommend a lot of books that purport to do basically that. Maybe you should detail the flaws in them.

> And this
> goes especially for the last fifty. Democracy, in
> which opinion is power, is simply inconsistent with
> the development of any kind of sensible and
> distanced historical consensus, whether among
> popular or intellectual circles. If you start with
> a Chomskian view and then realize that, compared to
> the evil corporations, the democratic state and its
> intellectual organs have at least as much motive and
> propensity, and far, far more opportunity, to
> “manufacture consent” – and have had same since
> Chomsky’s great-great-grandfather was a rabbi in
> Pinsk – you realize how terrifying the situation
> is. And no, Fox News is not a remedy.
I don’t think people are that malleable. There would be some hope if they were!

> In fact Angola and Mocambique were a hell of a lot
> more pleasant places before the Carnation Revolution
> than after, and the same arguably could be said for
> Portugal – Salazar is one of my favorite
> 20th-century leaders. The whole event is
> inseparable from the second wave of leftist
> gangsterism that swept over the world after
> Watergate. The Portuguese were lucky that they had
> another revolution and got the Communists out
> relatively quickly.
I agree that Angola’s civil war was especially screwed up (and I suspect Henley and others would blame that on Portugal), but I would like to know in what way Portugal got worse. Maybe you should e-mail Henley on Portugal.

> As for Bush-Hitler, I was referring not to Henley
> but to Chris Floyd, whom he linked to. The level of
> hyperbole is truly mindboggling.
Yeah, I stopped reading his Lew Rockwell stuff pretty quickly. Even if everything he said is true, he doesn’t seem to make any sort of pretense and fairminded journalistic objectivity, just full bore ethical pornography.

> Actually, what it
> reminds me of most is the Northern invective about
> the “Slave Power” before the Civil War. Unionists
> were genuinely convinced that there was a Southern
> plot to seize the Federal government and impose
> slavery on the entire country.
Well, they did cause the Mexican-American War and were supposedly going to try to invade Cuba. Good thing that never happened! But seriously, since they lost it’s hard to know what they would have done. I think much of Latin America for a time was something like a counter-factual of how things would be if people like the Cavaliers had a firm grip on power.

> If you read, for
> example, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, they are full
> of these crazy conspiracy theories. There was a
> certain amount of very fast footwork required to go
> from this to invading and subjugating the South.
It was the age of nationalism and consolidation, those kind of wars could start at the drop of a hat. I think Garibaldi even volunteered to help the Union.

> Not, of course, that there wasn’t a certain level of
> craziness down there as well, but since the South
> was (a) weaker, and (b) dependent on a social system
> that was very hard to justify in Christian terms,
> their capacity for reality distortion was in many
> ways more limited.
I agree it was weaker, but it put up a hell of a good fight. I disagree on the Christian/justification aspect. Religions aren’t sets of axioms, they are vague and fuzzy things that can be used to justify just about anything convenient. The south basically held the same variety of Christianity and political philosophy as the north (the Anglo kind), but Christianity and slavery coincided for way too long for me to consider them to be incompatible.

> The problem with the taxonomy is that it kind of
> assumes you believe in democracy, which I don’t, and
> it assumes a lot of social-justice concepts. One of
> the most effective forms of disinformation is to
> conceal simple facts behind artificially complex
> conundrums. My philosophy of good government is
> that it’s consistent law which is consistently
> enforced and does not impose unnecessary scarcities,
> and mapping this into nine dimensions is a little
> Buckaroo Banzai for my taste.
I don’t think it assumes you believe in democracy. That’s why there’s a managerialism option. I think the problem is, as others point out, that he turns the alternatives he disagrees with into basically strawmen.

I’m going to use the term “ethical pornography” everywhere now.

MM with several smaller ones in a row:

Uh, in case you haven’t noticed the Times’ candidate isn’t in charge and we are waging an idiotic war in the Middle East. As soon as Bush is out you would be fully justified in calling him out for ignoring the other side, but at this time the direction of his invective is accurate. Is Bush somehow immune from criticism because the Left is bad? It seems obvious to me that when he screws up (and I hope you agree he has) he should be called out for it.

Oh, the whole thing is a tremendous clusterfuck, there’s no doubt of it.

My problem with the left, and with most libertarians, on Bush, is that they’re constantly invoking malice to explain what can be explained much better by incompetence.

Moreover, there’s a strong piss-on-my-boots-and-tell-me-it’s-raining quality to their criticisms. In terms of sheer physical firepower, the US military could turn Iraq into Dubai north, invade Iran and restore the Pahlavis, etc, etc, without any problem at all. Heck, just Blackwater by itself could probably accomplish the former.

But it would have to operate under the same rules of engagement as its opponents. Who, in case you haven’t noticed, have no rules of engagement at all. Read these two pieces:

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081384
http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/04/edward-luttwaks-counterinsurge-1/

(Kilcullen was until recently an advisor to Petraeus. But my money is on Luttwak.)

What the neoconservatives, none of whose policies would have stood out at all in the Kennedy Administration, didn’t realize, is that if you set out to take Vienna, you have to take Vienna. And if you set out to reverse decolonialization, you have to reverse decolonialization. Imperialism failed because its domestic opponents changed the rules that it could fight its foreign enemies under, until it could no longer function. Until that pattern is reversed, the task is impossible. And invading Iraq is not an effective way to reverse it.

Like Vietnam and to some extent Korea, Iraq is an American civil war by proxy. The neocons should have realized was that they couldn’t win that game. The last time it was won was in the Philippines, and that was a long, long time ago.

> It is very, very difficult for an intelligent and
> educated person to come to the conclusion that Bush,
> Fox News and the Pentagon are the Rebellion, and
> MIT, the Times and the State Department are the
> Empire.
Do you even believe that? To me they’re both the Empire.

My basis for this analogy is simply that (a) they are at war with each other, and (b) the latter are by far the most powerful force.

I agree that the victory of the former, supposing it could somehow happen, would not fix anything. However, if you want to attack this binary star, attacking the red dwarf rather than the blue giant is not the way to proceed.

One way to think about it is this: whose side would an intelligent and amoral actor bet on? Everyone in the world with any sense who wants to get ahead is a leftist. Why else is Tom Hayden a respected elder statesman? Who is his right-wing equivalent?

(snip – more to follow)

> I don’t think there is anything even close to an
> accurate perspective of the last two hundred years
> that you can pull off the shelf and read.
You seem to recommend a lot of books that purport to do basically that. Maybe you should detail the flaws in them.

No, you’re right. I tend to pull out the parts I agree with. I try not to follow any gurus.

Jouvenel, for example, has no good solutions. He kind of spins out into Catholic personalism, as does Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Burnham got a little too obsessed with the Cold War, and his managerial stuff is way overrated. John T. Flynn wound up writing for the John Birch Society. Etc, etc, etc.

> And this
> goes especially for the last fifty. Democracy, in
> which opinion is power, is simply inconsistent with
> the development of any kind of sensible and
> distanced historical consensus, whether among
> popular or intellectual circles. If you start with
> a Chomskian view and then realize that, compared to
> the evil corporations, the democratic state and its
> intellectual organs have at least as much motive and
> propensity, and far, far more opportunity, to
> “manufacture consent” – and have had same since
> Chomsky’s great-great-grandfather was a rabbi in
> Pinsk – you realize how terrifying the situation
> is. And no, Fox News is not a remedy.
I don’t think people are that malleable. There would be some hope if they were!

Oh, they are. Read some good Soviet memoirs, such as Cathy Young’s. Reason is a rare and fleeting thing. Most people in most times believe in the status quo – and the status quo tends to vary quite a bit.

I agree that Angola’s civil war was especially screwed up (and I suspect Henley and others would blame that on Portugal), but I would like to know in what way Portugal got worse. Maybe you should e-mail Henley on Portugal.

That’s sort of like blaming the fire on the firefighters.

Portugal? Oh, Portugal is fine. It has politics, but not too bad. The EU helps. What was really lucky is that the initial actors in the Carnation Revolution, who were Communists, were themselves overthrown in ’75. This is all on the Wikipedia page.

> As for Bush-Hitler, I was referring not to Henley
> but to Chris Floyd, whom he linked to. The level of
> hyperbole is truly mindboggling.
Yeah, I stopped reading his Lew Rockwell stuff pretty quickly. Even if everything he said is true, he doesn’t seem to make any sort of pretense and fairminded journalistic objectivity, just full bore ethical pornography.

I like the phrase “ethical pornography.” That’s it in a nutshell.

> Actually, what it
> reminds me of most is the Northern invective about
> the “Slave Power” before the Civil War. Unionists
> were genuinely convinced that there was a Southern
> plot to seize the Federal government and impose
> slavery on the entire country.
Well, they did cause the Mexican-American War and were supposedly going to try to invade Cuba. Good thing that never happened! But seriously, since they lost it’s hard to know what they would have done.

Read: Albert Beveridge’s Lincoln biography, Edgar Lee Masters’ Lincoln the Man, John S. Wise’s End of an Era, and (for a modern take) Schivelbusch’s Culture of Defeat. Also anything by John Burgess. Really the best writing on the conflict is from the first half of the 20th century, though Eugene Genovese’s history of slavery is excellent.

The Southerners were on crack – that much is clear. If they had kept a clear head there would be a CSA to this day. The whole continent was awash with democratic insanity. Perhaps the best way to see the Civil War is as a conflict between the Northern and Southern newspapers, both of which indulged quite prominently in “ethical pornography.”

I think much of Latin America for a time was something like a counter-factual of how things would be if people like the Cavaliers had a firm grip on power.

Very different culture, though. There really is no counterfactual.

> If you read, for
> example, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, they are full
> of these crazy conspiracy theories. There was a
> certain amount of very fast footwork required to go
> from this to invading and subjugating the South.
It was the age of nationalism and consolidation, those kind of wars could start at the drop of a hat. I think Garibaldi even volunteered to help the Union.

Yeah. Again, there is simply no way to construct a rational narrative of these events which considers their participants as sane by modern standards.

> Not, of course, that there wasn’t a certain level of
> craziness down there as well, but since the South
> was (a) weaker, and (b) dependent on a social system
> that was very hard to justify in Christian terms,
> their capacity for reality distortion was in many
> ways more limited.
I agree it was weaker, but it put up a hell of a good fight. I disagree on the Christian/justification aspect. Religions aren’t sets of axioms, they are vague and fuzzy things that can be used to justify just about anything convenient. The south basically held the same variety of Christianity and political philosophy as the north (the Anglo kind), but Christianity and slavery coincided for way too long for me to consider them to be incompatible.

The perception of slavery in the South changed after 1830 or so. Before then it was generally seen as a necessary evil. A new generation of thinkers started inventing rather elaborate Christian justifications (slavery is in the Bible), slavery-as-socialism, etc, etc. But this was an invention and a bit of a stretch. I agree that almost anything can be defined as “Christian,” I refer specifically to the beliefs of the time. See for example the North-South splits in various denominations.

> The problem with the taxonomy is that it kind of
> assumes you believe in democracy, which I don’t, and
> it assumes a lot of social-justice concepts. One of
> the most effective forms of disinformation is to
> conceal simple facts behind artificially complex
> conundrums. My philosophy of good government is
> that it’s consistent law which is consistently
> enforced and does not impose unnecessary scarcities,
> and mapping this into nine dimensions is a little
> Buckaroo Banzai for my taste.
I don’t think it assumes you believe in democracy. That’s why there’s a managerialism option. I think the problem is, as others point out, that he turns the alternatives he disagrees with into basically strawmen.

Yeah, that’s perhaps a better way to put it. For example, his “managerialism” option doesn’t distinguish between politicians and civil servants, which is a little odd. Politicians implies democracy by definition and civil servants leaves it unstated. So…

SP responds in kind:

> My problem with the left, and with most
> libertarians, on Bush, is that they’re constantly
> invoking malice to explain what can be explained
> much better by incompetence.
I have been proclaiming that for years and I’m glad you share my sentiments. I think Adam Smith wrote something about that years ago.

> Moreover, there’s a strong
> piss-on-my-boots-and-tell-me-it’s-raining quality to
> their criticisms. In terms of sheer physical
> firepower, the US military could turn Iraq into
> Dubai north, invade Iran and restore the Pahlavis,
> etc, etc, without any problem at all. Heck, just
> Blackwater by itself could probably accomplish the
> former.
I think you might overestimate how successful the incompetent but ruthless can be. See Russia in Afghanistan, China in Vietnam. I don’t think even Red Government would want to go along with your plan either. They’ll fight AGAINST TERROR and FOR FREEDOM, not for competent administration and the rule of law. I don’t know why I should care about how well the Middle East is managed either since I don’t live there, I’d like to forget it exists.

> But it would have to operate under the same rules of
> engagement as its opponents. Who, in case you
> haven’t noticed, have no rules of engagement at
> all. Read these two pieces:
I think Israel has rules of engagement but still manages to behave much more sensibly than us.

> http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/04/edward-luttwaks-counterinsurge-1/
>
I read the Luttwak article a while back, but the response was new to me. My money is also on Luttwak. Interestingly, Luttwak has been cited recently in a piece about righties turning left, although I don’t think Luttwak was ever particularly known for right-wing on economics: http://linguafranca.mirror.theinfo.org/print/0101/cover_cons.html

> What the neoconservatives, none of whose policies
> would have stood out at all in the Kennedy
> Administration, didn’t realize, is that if you set
> out to take Vienna, you have to take Vienna.
What does that mean? And why Vienna?

> And if
> you set out to reverse decolonialization, you have
> to reverse decolonialization.
I don’t think they ever saw themselves as reversing decolonization, they were just anti-Soviet.

> Imperialism failed
> because its domestic opponents changed the rules
> that it could fight its foreign enemies under, until
> it could no longer function. Until that pattern is
> reversed, the task is impossible. And invading Iraq
> is not an effective way to reverse it.
Do you actually support the task?

> Like Vietnam and to some extent Korea, Iraq is an
> American civil war by proxy. The neocons should
> have realized was that they couldn’t win that game.
> The last time it was won was in the Philippines, and
> that was a long, long time ago.
Korea? And don’t try to pin the Iraq war on the left, it was a self-inflicted wound on the part of the right with the left dicking around on the sidelines and having no impact, because leftism today is all about self-actualization. I’d be interested in what you have to say about Korea.

> Do you even believe that? To me they’re both the
> Empire.
>
> My basis for this analogy is simply that (a) they
> are at war with each other, and (b) the latter are
> by far the most powerful force.
How do you measure power?

> I agree that the victory of the former, supposing it
> could somehow happen, would not fix anything.
> However, if you want to attack this binary star,
> attacking the red dwarf rather than the blue giant
> is not the way to proceed.
I’m not dumb enough to actually attack either, and they’re both black holes where good sense goes to die.

> One way to think about it is this: whose side would
> an intelligent and amoral actor bet on? Everyone in
> the world with any sense who wants to get ahead is a
> leftist. Why else is Tom Hayden a respected elder
> statesman? Who is his right-wing equivalent?
> (snip – more to follow)
I had never heard of Tom Hayden before I encountered you. I think there are plenty of amoral people on the right, though I would hesitate before calling anyone who wastes their time on politics intelligent.

> That’s sort of like blaming the fire on the
> firefighters.
Perhaps. I would say the decolonial transition went worse for Angola than other places, which me might ascribe to relatively poor behavior on the part of the Portugese regime. Algeria hardly seems better though, and post-America Vietnam looks pretty damn good in comparison. What do you think of American responsibility for sectarian strife in Iraq or Israel’s invasion of Lebanon for civil war there?

> Portugal? Oh, Portugal is fine. It has politics,
> but not too bad. The EU helps. What was really
> lucky is that the initial actors in the Carnation
> Revolution, who were Communists, were themselves
> overthrown in ’75. This is all on the Wikipedia
> page.
Was there a time when it was really screwed up? Otherwise I think it odd to say it was worse off after than before.

> I like the phrase “ethical pornography.” That’s it
> in a nutshell.
I was thinking a while of what term to coin for it, and I’m still not sure how close that is to optimal, but I’m glad you like it.

> Read: Albert Beveridge’s Lincoln biography, Edgar
> Lee Masters’ Lincoln the Man, John S. Wise’s End of
> an Era, and (for a modern take) Schivelbusch’s
> Culture of Defeat. Also anything by John Burgess.
> Really the best writing on the conflict is from the
> first half of the 20th century, though Eugene
> Genovese’s history of slavery is excellent.
I want to know about the ambitions of Slave Power and you offer me Lincoln biographies?

> The Southerners were on crack – that much is clear.
> If they had kept a clear head there would be a CSA
> to this day.
Do you mean by not attacking Fort Sumter and avoiding a war in the first place, or ending the conflict by making peace somehow?

> The whole continent was awash with
> democratic insanity. Perhaps the best way to see
> the Civil War is as a conflict between the Northern
> and Southern newspapers, both of which indulged
> quite prominently in “ethical pornography.”
That’s quite funny and has more than a grain of truth to it. Newspapers seriously mattered back then and presses were liable to be smashed when a faction got upset enough.

> The perception of slavery in the South changed after
> 1830 or so. Before then it was generally seen as a
> necessary evil. A new generation of thinkers
> started inventing rather elaborate Christian
> justifications (slavery is in the Bible),
> slavery-as-socialism, etc, etc. But this was an
> invention and a bit of a stretch. I agree that
> almost anything can be defined as “Christian,” I
> refer specifically to the beliefs of the time. See
> for example the North-South splits in various
> denominations.
What do you think would have happened if there had not been a Civil War? If you anticipate and huge change, by about what date?

> Yeah, that’s perhaps a better way to put it. For
> example, his “managerialism” option doesn’t
> distinguish between politicians and civil servants,
> which is a little odd. Politicians implies
> democracy by definition and civil servants leaves it
> unstated. So…
Most people don’t distinguish as much between politicians and civil service, but I think a lot more should.

MM:

I think you might overestimate how successful the incompetent but ruthless can be. See Russia in Afghanistan, China in Vietnam. I don’t think even Red Government would want to go along with your plan either. They’ll fight AGAINST TERROR and FOR FREEDOM, not for competent administration and the rule of law. I don’t know why I should care about how well the Middle East is managed either since I don’t live there, I’d like to forget it exists.

Incompetence is unsuccessful by definition. For examples of effective, ruthless counterinsurgency: anything the British did before 1960. Kenya is a good example. Or the US in the Philippines.

The US military is tremendously competent at the tactical level. The incompetence is all strategic.

I’d like to forget it exists as well. But once you forget it exists, you are in a position to rediscover it. That’s where recolonialism starts. Grant Blackwater the exclusive right to conquer and rule Iraq. Or start with Equatorial Guinea, a la Simon Mann. Note that this is not “foreign policy” – it simply prevents conflicts between competing private military forces. Just because country X is being run by Americans doesn’t mean the Federal Government has to have anything at all to do with it.

> But it would have to operate under the same rules of
> engagement as its opponents. Who, in case you
> haven’t noticed, have no rules of engagement at
> all. Read these two pieces:
I think Israel has rules of engagement but still manages to behave much more sensibly than us.

Not in its last war. Even the Israelis are getting soft – as, compared to their enemies, they always have been. Google “havlagah.”

> What the neoconservatives, none of whose policies
> would have stood out at all in the Kennedy
> Administration, didn’t realize, is that if you set
> out to take Vienna, you have to take Vienna.
What does that mean? And why Vienna?

The quote is from Napoleon. He meant: if you’re going to do something, actually do it. Ie, if your goal is to clean up the postcolonialist liberation mafia mess, clean it up.

> And if
> you set out to reverse decolonialization, you have
> to reverse decolonialization.
I don’t think they ever saw themselves as reversing decolonization, they were just anti-Soviet.

Oh, no. They had no idea what they were doing. But the invasion of Iraq happened because the sound underlying idea, the half-truth, was that the West has the military power to restore civilization in places where it has lately succumbed to barbarism. The limes can be expanded. Unfortunately, the West has the military power, but not the political power.

> Imperialism failed
> because its domestic opponents changed the rules
> that it could fight its foreign enemies under, until
> it could no longer function. Until that pattern is
> reversed, the task is impossible. And invading Iraq
> is not an effective way to reverse it.
Do you actually support the task?

Certainly. I agree with Gibbon: there’s no reason why European civilization should not spread over the whole planet, and barbarism be entirely extinguished. Look at Dubai and Singapore. Law enforcement works anywhere on the planet – even Africa. Look at Rhodesia. What doesn’t work anywhere is democracy, but democracy is a corruption of the Western system, not its pinnacle.

> Like Vietnam and to some extent Korea, Iraq is an
> American civil war by proxy. The neocons should
> have realized was that they couldn’t win that game.
> The last time it was won was in the Philippines, and
> that was a long, long time ago.
Korea?

Yeah, Korea. Because Korea was the first time the US military started to confuse limited objectives with limited means. Which happens to be when it found itself fighting the Maoists, who had been the State Department’s darlings just a few years earlier. When MacArthur was refused permission to bomb the Yalu bridges or Chinese troop concentrations in Manchuria – let alone Beijing – the bizarre pattern of asymmetric warfare was born.

And don’t try to pin the Iraq war on the left, it was a self-inflicted wound on the part of the right with the left dicking around on the sidelines and having no impact, because leftism today is all about self-actualization.

Oh, the left has plenty of impact. They set the rules of the game. If the rules make it too easy for the right to win, they will be changed. If the US military had occupied Iraq under JCS 1067 or the Lieber Code, it would be well on its way to becoming Dubai north.

The prime directive of the left is: no Grenadas, no Panamas, no Desert Storms. In other words, allow no military victories to the enemy, because military victories lead to political prestige. Taking it back all the way, the British Empire was a huge source of political prestige to the Victorian right – Imperialism proper was really an attempt to square the circle, attracting popular support to an aristocratic regime under universal suffrage (Disraeli’s “Tory Democracy”).

The left doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the “human rights” of Iraqis, Vietnamese, or anyone. They think they do, but they don’t. They only notice human rights when human rights are being violated by their enemies.

> Do you even believe that? To me they’re both the
> Empire.
>
> My basis for this analogy is simply that (a) they
> are at war with each other, and (b) the latter are
> by far the most powerful force.
How do you measure power?

By who wins. All the figures of the left in the domestic Vietnam conflict, for example, wound up permanently lionized. All the figures of the right wound up discredited and forgotten.

> I agree that the victory of the former, supposing it
> could somehow happen, would not fix anything.
> However, if you want to attack this binary star,
> attacking the red dwarf rather than the blue giant
> is not the way to proceed.
I’m not dumb enough to actually attack either, and they’re both black holes where good sense goes to die.

Well, attack in the military sense, of course not. But the war against the Minotaur is a war of ideas. The question is: what ideas are actually dangerous to the Minotaur?

Two classes of ideas that are not dangerous: ideas that attack the red dwarf, and ideas that support the red dwarf in its permanent losing struggle with the blue giant. It’s a pure distraction in any sense of the word.

I had never heard of Tom Hayden before I encountered you.

Boy, time does fly. Not that I remember the ’60s – I was born in ’73. But…

I think there are plenty of amoral people on the right, though I would hesitate before calling anyone who wastes their time on politics intelligent.

Politics yes, power no. Leftist politics are a tremendous social lubricant for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. Rightist politics are a social irritant. Thus the power dynamic.

SP:

> Incompetence is unsuccessful by definition.
Competence doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t have it. Who do we have today that the Russians and Chinese didn’t back then?

> For
> examples of effective, ruthless counterinsurgency:
> anything the British did before 1960. Kenya is a
> good example. Or the US in the Philippines.
Another time, another place, another people. The British had honed their skills after centuries suppressing the Irish and Scottish (aside from other parts of the world before Kenya), the US had fought the civil war and occupied the south, which put up a serious resistance in the form of the Ku Klux Klan. We don’t have that talent.

> The US military is tremendously competent at the
> tactical level. The incompetence is all strategic.
> I’d like to forget it exists as well. But once you
> forget it exists, you are in a position to
> rediscover it. That’s where recolonialism starts.
You make it sound so simple.

> Grant Blackwater the exclusive right to conquer and
> rule Iraq.
Do they even want Iraq?

> Or start with Equatorial Guinea, a la
> Simon Mann. Note that this is not “foreign policy”
> – it simply prevents conflicts between competing
> private military forces. Just because country X is
> being run by Americans doesn’t mean the Federal
> Government has to have anything at all to do with
> it.
I hope not!

> Not in its last war. Even the Israelis are getting
> soft – as, compared to their enemies, they always
> have been. Google “havlagah.”
The Haganah was succesful. Speaking of that stuff, though, I loved this and I think you will too. Can you point me to a good critique of Israel’s recent fight with Hezbollah from something like your perspective?

> Ie, if your
> goal is to clean up the postcolonialist liberation
> mafia mess, clean it up.
I don’t think that’s anyone’s goal but your own. And maybe the Coming Anarchy guys.

> Certainly. I agree with Gibbon: there’s no reason
> why European civilization should not spread over the
> whole planet, and barbarism be entirely
> extinguished.
I’ve got a reason: fuck’em that’s why.

> Look at Dubai and Singapore. Law
> enforcement works anywhere on the planet – even
> Africa. Look at Rhodesia. What doesn’t work
> anywhere is democracy, but democracy is a corruption
> of the Western system, not its pinnacle.
Those happened because of Lee and Sheik Mo, not westerners. Our time in the sun is over and we’re “knee-deep in the dwarves”.

> Yeah, Korea. Because Korea was the first time the
> US military started to confuse limited objectives
> with limited means. Which happens to be when it
> found itself fighting the Maoists, who had been the
> State Department’s darlings just a few years
> earlier. When MacArthur was refused permission to
> bomb the Yalu bridges or Chinese troop
> concentrations in Manchuria – let alone Beijing –
> the bizarre pattern of asymmetric warfare was born.
So Truman started the war to embarass MacArthur?

> Oh, the left has plenty of impact. They set the
> rules of the game. If the rules make it too easy
> for the right to win, they will be changed. If the
> US military had occupied Iraq under JCS 1067 or the
> Lieber Code, it would be well on its way to becoming
> Dubai north.
Bush doesn’t seem to think he’s that constrained by the rules. Check out “The Terror Presidency” by one of his lawyers. They wouldn’t even go to a friendly Congress to ask for power because they thought that would acknowledge that they needed to ask at all! He hasn’t ordered massacres because we aren’t there to massacre, which is why we shouldn’t be there at all.

> The prime directive of the left is: no Grenadas, no
> Panamas, no Desert Storms.
I could do without those as well. Fuck Grenada, Panama and Kuwait. Heck, put Noriega back in charge and keep the drugs flowing!

> In other words, allow no
> military victories to the enemy, because military
> victories lead to political prestige.
That conflicts with the stature Republicans gained on national security after Vietnam, which you claim was a successful proxy war on the part of the left.

> Taking it
> back all the way, the British Empire was a huge
> source of political prestige to the Victorian right
> – Imperialism proper was really an attempt to square
> the circle, attracting popular support to an
> aristocratic regime under universal suffrage
> (Disraeli’s “Tory Democracy”).
Don’t we consider Disraeli a traitor for selling out the right in the long term for short term gains with regard to suffrage and whatnot? I don’t want a populist right, I want the last populist to be strangled with the guts of the last managerialist.

> The left doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the “human
> rights” of Iraqis, Vietnamese, or anyone. They
> think they do, but they don’t. They only notice
> human rights when human rights are being violated by
> their enemies.
I don’t care about their “human rights” either, which is why I want us to get the hell out! I’ve got a friend serving in the army there, and he sure as hell never gave a damn about Iraq and its people and didn’t see any point in our invasion.

> By who wins. All the figures of the left in the
> domestic Vietnam conflict, for example, wound up
> permanently lionized. All the figures of the right
> wound up discredited and forgotten.
Like I said, Republicans became trusted on national security after Vietnam. The vector doesn’t point your way.

> Well, attack in the military sense, of course not.
> But the war against the Minotaur is a war of ideas.
> The question is: what ideas are actually dangerous
> to the Minotaur?
None. None whatsoever. That’s what I got from Jouvenel, and it made sense to me.

> Two classes of ideas that are not dangerous: ideas
> that attack the red dwarf, and ideas that support
> the red dwarf in its permanent losing struggle with
> the blue giant. It’s a pure distraction in any
> sense of the word.
I can easily imagine a hypothetical lefty saying vice versa. You’re both suckers.

> Boy, time does fly. Not that I remember the ’60s –
> I was born in ’73. But…
But what, who cares about Hayden?

> Politics yes, power no. Leftist politics are a
> tremendous social lubricant for all kinds of people
> in all kinds of situations. Rightist politics are a
> social irritant. Thus the power dynamic.
Are you going to define power again as popularity among fringe lefties? Are there any righties who are NOT intelligent and/or amoral who have “power”?

MM:

> Incompetence is unsuccessful by definition.
Competence doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t have it. Who do we have today that the Russians and Chinese didn’t back then?

Spend a little time on today’s military blogs and then ask yourself that question again.

We don’t have that talent.

It’s not a matter of talent. It’s a matter of policy.

Also see “Battle for the Casbah” by the French general Paul Dessaresses. Counterinsurgency as he explains it is not complex.

> Grant Blackwater the exclusive right to conquer and
> rule Iraq.
Do they even want Iraq?

Sure! It’s full of oil. It was pretty profitable for Saddam, wasn’t it?

> Not in its last war. Even the Israelis are getting
> soft – as, compared to their enemies, they always
> have been. Google “havlagah.”
The Haganah was succesful. Speaking of that stuff, though, I loved this and I think you will too. Can you point me to a good critique of Israel’s recent fight with Hezbollah from something like your perspective?

The Haganah was successful because it was joined by the Irgun and the Stern gang, who were considerably more effective, and whose raison d’etre was that they didn’t believe in that warmed-over Protestant love stuff. See under: Jabotinsky. Unfortunately, the flame of Revisionism seems to have been extinguished in Israel today. If things go on as they are I give the place another thirty years, no more.

Michael Totten’s blog from the period has a good summary, I think.

> Certainly. I agree with Gibbon: there’s no reason
> why European civilization should not spread over the
> whole planet, and barbarism be entirely
> extinguished.
I’ve got a reason: fuck’em that’s why.

Barbarism is dangerous and ugly. It may not be as hard to contain as people think. But it certainly ain’t trivial.

Besides, the land is worth money. As for the people, see my upcoming “humane alternatives to genocide” post.

> Look at Dubai and Singapore. Law
> enforcement works anywhere on the planet – even
> Africa. Look at Rhodesia. What doesn’t work
> anywhere is democracy, but democracy is a corruption
> of the Western system, not its pinnacle.
Those happened because of Lee and Sheik Mo, not westerners. Our time in the sun is over and we’re “knee-deep in the dwarves”.

Again, the problem is the political structures, not the people. Not that lustrating all present government employees, except maybe the military, isn’t a bad idea. But imagine – for example – if Steve Jobs had the position.

> Yeah, Korea. Because Korea was the first time the
> US military started to confuse limited objectives
> with limited means. Which happens to be when it
> found itself fighting the Maoists, who had been the
> State Department’s darlings just a few years
> earlier. When MacArthur was refused permission to
> bomb the Yalu bridges or Chinese troop
> concentrations in Manchuria – let alone Beijing –
> the bizarre pattern of asymmetric warfare was born.
So Truman started the war to embarass MacArthur?

No, the Soviets and NKs started the war. I’m referring to the Chinese phase. State was terrified that the Pentagon would actually recapture China, which they had so carefully managed to “lose” just a few years earlier.

> Oh, the left has plenty of impact. They set the
> rules of the game. If the rules make it too easy
> for the right to win, they will be changed. If the
> US military had occupied Iraq under JCS 1067 or the
> Lieber Code, it would be well on its way to becoming
> Dubai north.
Bush doesn”t seem to think he’s that constrained by the rules. Check out “The Terror Presidency” by one of his lawyers.

All is relative. Read JCS 1067, the Lieber Code, or Vattel. Vattel – the traditional authority on international law through most of the 19th century – writes:

“And the necessity of a special order to act is so thoroughly established, that, even after the declaration of war between two nations, if the peasants of themselves commit any hostilities, the enemy shows them no mercy, but hangs them up he would so many robbers or banditti.”

The bar has been moving continuously downward ever since then. Why should you be surprised that Bush struggles against it? If he didn’t, the US military would be a $500 billion version of Dutchbat. (Google it.)

That conflicts with the stature Republicans gained on national security after Vietnam, which you claim was a successful proxy war on the part of the left.

Yeah – after the reaction in 1980. You’re skipping about six years there.

Heck, put Noriega back in charge and keep the drugs flowing!

Now you’re fuckin’ talking!

> Taking it
> back all the way, the British Empire was a huge
> source of political prestige to the Victorian right
> – Imperialism proper was really an attempt to square
> the circle, attracting popular support to an
> aristocratic regime under universal suffrage
> (Disraeli’s “Tory Democracy”).
Don’t we consider Disraeli a traitor for selling out the right in the long term for short term gains with regard to suffrage and whatnot? I don’t want a populist right, I want the last populist to be strangled with the guts of the last managerialist.

We do. I’m just saying what happened. I’m not endorsing it.

> Well, attack in the military sense, of course not.
> But the war against the Minotaur is a war of ideas.
> The question is: what ideas are actually dangerous
> to the Minotaur?
None. None whatsoever. That’s what I got from Jouvenel, and it made sense to me.

Jouvenel certainly didn’t see any. But that just means he didn’t see any.

Google “Lytton Strachey” and follow his playbook. The hippies are fucking stale, man, they’re old, they’re dead. Just like the Edwardians were.

You know what the most dangerous institutions in the world are, from the Polygon’s perspective? VICE magazine and the eXile. Because they’re proving it can be hip to piss on the Minotaur. They’re politically incorrect without being conservative. It can be done.

> Two classes of ideas that are not dangerous: ideas
> that attack the red dwarf, and ideas that support
> the red dwarf in its permanent losing struggle with
> the blue giant. It’s a pure distraction in any
> sense of the word.
I can easily imagine a hypothetical lefty saying vice versa. You’re both suckers.

Au contraire. I’m right and he’s wrong. Details matter.

> Boy, time does fly. Not that I remember the ’60s –
> I was born in ’73. But…
But what, who cares about Hayden?

Hayden is one of the most important figures of the last half-century. He is up there with Dr. King. He was the leader of the SDS, whose graduates are all over the Polygon.

A good book is Richard Ellis’s “Dark Side of the Left,” which traces progressive craziness from John Brown to the SDSers. This is especially valuable because Ellis himself is a progressive – you can hand this book to a lefty and they can read it. A similar volume, though more academic, and focusing on the early Progressive period, is Arthur Lipow’s “Authoritarian Socialism in America.” Lipow is a protege of Michael Harrington.

> Politics yes, power no. Leftist politics are a
> tremendous social lubricant for all kinds of people
> in all kinds of situations. Rightist politics are a
> social irritant. Thus the power dynamic.
Are you going to define power again as popularity among fringe lefties? Are there any righties who are NOT intelligent and/or amoral who have “power”?

The question is: among what social or professional circles is it more fashionable to be a conservative than a progressive?

The answer is: the energy industry, the agricultural industry, the military, the salvationist religious community, and pretty much nowhere else.

Note that none of these except the last are involved in the transmission and amplification of ideas. Note that, if the Minotaur were playing fantasy football against himself, he’d trade all the TV strip-mall megachurches in North America, Fox News, Pajamas Media, the right-wing blogosphere and the whole entire think-tank network, for a single Ivy League college – even a safety school like Penn. And if you could offer him the Columbia School of Journalism, I’ll bet he’d throw in the Navy, the Air Force, and ExxonMobil.

That is all.

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