Marooned in the Deepest Darkness of the Ultimate Nightmare Abyss with Zero HP Lovecraft
Who We Are and How We Fight; America is a Communist Country
Hello my friends
This is episode 2, on who we are and how we fight, Capitalism, Communism, and Managerialism
A nation is a detour of nature to arrive at five or six great men- yes, and then to get around them.
I think of this often, whenever I sit down to write, who am I writing for and what is the goal?
It can be useful to imagine that we are educating the normie
This may be a false conceit — anyone who is listening to me here has long since departed the Overton window
But we spend most of our mental lives in well-worn channels and we begin to feel that “everyone knows” the things we know, even though the overwhelming majority does not
The perspectives we trade with each other, my friends, are what we call “high context” — they assume a high level of already-shared understanding
And often that understanding has become so implicit that we end up neglecting to share it, we’re only interested in the edges of what we’ve already established
But something I’ve always known, and something that becomes more and more apparent as my audience grows —
Is just how little of that shared understanding most people have — look, the average person who comes to us, to the frog right, to us reactionaries — for the time being we should avoid becoming too attached to labels, because we exist in many ways as a shadow, a negation —
The average person who comes to us doesn’t know the classics, and if they come to us it’s because they have a problem, they’re looking for something and they can sense we are operating from a different set of axioms
A big part of the reason I’ve found my audience is that I like to share those axioms, as much as I enjoy the frontiers of our thoughtform, it’s also critical to cultivate the interior
But we exist in many ways as a negation.
Some people don’t like to hear this. They want to talk about a “positive vision” — you have no right to complain if you can’t offer me a comprehensive plan for the total restructuring of society — this is really what people think.
“Oh yeah, if liberalism is so bad, what do you want to replace it with?”
And we have answers, but only partial answers, of course. Because the world is vast and complex, more complex than anyone even begin to understand or fit in their mind, and things are always changing
But people don’t want — no, scratch that — we were talking last time about how most people are not even capable of thought — people cannot think about, they cannot begin to approach the world as it is, they can’t even perceive it
So it feels reasonable to make this demand
But it’s very hard to define health, and it ought to be easy to recognize sickness. And we recognize many sicknesses;
And the average person who comes to us may recognize one or two, often just one, which varies from person to person
Some people will have found themselves on the business end of what is called “antiracism”, or others will have seen how adhering to feminist doctrines causes disaster in their romantic life. There are many ways to notice these problems
But most people in the west are in the position of having a gangrenous necrotic limb that is rotting off in front of their eyes and believing this is a positive development
They believe that because of propaganda, but they also believe it because of social consensus
You know the old parable of the emperor’s new clothes. Everyone thinks in that story they’d be the child, the innocent one who doesn’t know how to say shibboleth who unwittingly snaps the whole crowd out of it
But let me tell you how a psychologically realistic version of that story goes:
Everyone all agrees that the emperor, who is naked, is the pinnacle of sartorial excellence, because there has been a deluge of netflix shows in which people who think the emperor is naked are depicted as stupid and racist.
The new york times publishes breathless and anxious op-eds about how the nazis couldn’t see the emperor’s clothes and while we need to be tolerant and open-minded and etc. we must also understand that if don’t stand up and speak out against anti-transnudism now we’re at serious risk of a second holocaust
And then one fine day the naked emperor is walking through the town square and a little child who doesn’t understand the propaganda cries out “Mommy, Why is that man naked?”
and the parents are hideously embarrassed and everyone grimaces and looks the other way and the parents leave the public square and take their child home and explain that some men are really clothed even when they’re naked and we all have to go along with it because a man named Thomas Carlyle decided to make bespoke suits for six million tailors
So there is one sense in which all we are doing is trying to point out to people that their arm is rotting off, that the bacterial diversity they are currently fostering on their gangrenous limb is not their strength,
and the most common response to this is “whoa buddy ok I hear you kind of about the limb but can you give me a pill to make me immortal and eternally young?”
And I don’t know how to do that and no one on earth does and if they tell you they do then you know they are a snake
But I and we have noticed that civilization has a deadly infection, and we would like to prescribe some antibiotics
The first step is admitting you’re sick
And but here is where it gets really perverse— basically everyone will tell you this, maybe not quite as well
But the common story, the one we usually hear, makes it out that the cure is the sickness, and the sickness the cure
Now this is very abstract—on purpose—because when someone comes to us, my friends, if they are drawn to OUR diagnosis, to our prescriptions, then they are starting, not at the beginning, but in media res— in the middle of things
They probably haven’t read Spengler or Evola or whoever you think is the dispenser of the red pills. Maybe they know of Nietzsche a bit, but their knowledge is second hand, distorted
And the most powerful ideas, the ones that really pull at your heart, once they’re firmly ensconced in your worldview, you take them for granted when you should be explaining them
You should be explaining them like you would unto a child, not out of a sense of superiority, but because that is the only way to teach people who lack your shared context
Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven
There are some classics — we could even call them slogans — maybe they are shibboleths, and maybe you have heard them a million times — or maybe you have never heard them at all
For example we talk about radicalization — we are interested in grand, some would say grandiose, world historical ideas
So some people call us radicals, some of our friends may even think of themselves as radicals
But I don’t think we are radical. I think my ideas are incredibly sensible and it is THE WORLD that has grown radical.
“My principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.”
This is a quote from Julius Evola, the attribution is not important, only the idea is important — An infatuation with citation is the hobgoblin of a small mind
If you like my words, steal them! I am honored if you do that. Ultimately all ideas belong to either God or the Devil, no one else
I even knew a completely blue pilled redditor type who told me that Good Times Create Weak Men, Weak Men Create Hard times, etc.
That’s not exactly one of ours, not exactly. It came from a sci fi novel. But it pisses off the right people. It articulates a cyclical view of history, which is antagonistic to a progressive one.
Most people are ruled by slogans, by short proverbs or sayings. Little formulations tell us how to our their lives, and in the past these might have been bible verses, or old parables which have stood the test of time
No matter who is in charge, no matter who orchestrates the flows of wealth or martial power, the actual, day-to-day, face-to-face encounter with authority that most of us have is the through the other people immediately around us; our friends, our families, our coworkers
It is cultural norms that rule us, more than people — people only act as enforcers to norms. The left, even the idiots of the left, still tacitly understand this
They understand this because they have slogans that teach them this. They understand that norms can be changed when they say “normalize this” “normalize that” —
this is leftist thinking, they understand that social mechanics have a degree of plasticity — but they don’t understand that those mechanics must exist in harmony with biology
In fact they deny that biology even exists, or that it places constraints on anyone
People who have bad ideas, bad slogans, in their heads, end up making bad choices in their lives
Those bad choices immiserate them, and this causes them to rationalize and justify their misery, and spread it to others
If you spend time with miserable people, it places a cost on you as well
When people make bad choices, it affects everyone in their lives, it brings everyone down. Bad choices and misery are contagious
I think you have known for a long time already that the liberal idea, the American idea, that you are not effected by the actions of your neighbors, is naive and untenable
As long as we are stuck in a society together, my choices effect you, and your choices effect me
And if you are acting like a gay piece of shit, that stops me from living my BEST LIFE
Actions follow ideas. Ideas are manifested in slogans. Calling a deer a horse won’t make it so, but the proliferation of the words contaminates our mental space
It changes the actions of everyone around us. It makes it so more people make more bad choices, and it makes it impossible to condemn those choices
So we become oppressed, in a sense, I hate to use this word, because it makes it sound like we are trying to beg daddy the government for special favors to even out the scales in the world which is weighted against us
No, when I say that slogans oppress us, I mean that the force of ideas presses in around us, and acts on us through our peers, and motivates their bad choices, and we end up paying a cost
And the right answer to this is not to go for the gold in the victimhood olympics, it’s to CLEANSE THE WORLD IN FIRE
But the problem is, because it’s an idea, an idea that attacks us, and idea which is only acting THROUGH our neighbors, it does no good to cleanse the neighbor, though in extreme cases it may be necessary
It is the idea that oppresses, so if you could rid yourself of any one person who carries it, it’s like cutting off the head of a hydra (or an egirl!) —immediately three more spring up to take its place
As appealing as it would be to cleanse the world in fire, most of us, myself included, are weak and decadent moderns who specialize in something other than survivalism or warfare.
So to all the feds who are listening out there — we love our glowies don’t we folks, we have all the best glowies — who do we love more, our egirls, or our feds — I’m thinkin it might be the feds. I am only speaking of METAPHORICAL cleansing and METAPHORICAL fire
DO NOT BREAK THE LAW.
NEVER COMMIT POLITICAL VIOLENCE.
UNTIL I AM OUT OF BULLETS OR BLOOD I WILL FIGHT FOR GAY RIGHTS IN UKRAINE.
A BLACK WOMAN INVENTED THE TELESCOPE.
Slogans, you see. These are slogans.
The other alternative is to chase out the bad slogans with good ones. This is a very important realization, because when we conceive of radical actions to improve the world, the illegal or dangerous things we imagine are METHODS, not ends
And we must have an end in mind, or the method will come to naught.
But see most people, even very smart people, they see a problem. And they think can solve the problem by getting revenge. And you know it would feel very good to get revenge. But it doesn’t solve the problem.
But it’s much much easier to imagine that we can solve our problems with a single, spasmodic paroxysm of action. A great and radical intervention and then the problem goes away.
But you can ask anyone who has successfully lost weight or gotten stronger if that was how they did it. You don’t change a body by exercising once, by eating a healthy meal once. We have to change our HABITS
And the habits I want to change are the mental habits, the ideas that slowly smother us—I want to remove them from the minds of my fellows
And the only way to do that is to replace them with better ideas
I don’t “just want to be left alone”. I don’t want to “live and let live” — because if I agree to do that I still have to pay for my neighbor’s terrible choices. Not as much as he has to pay, but still.
Tragedy of the memetic commons. The people who rule us, the people on the left, they know there’s a memetic commons. They control it. And if we tell them they’re poisoning us, they say “how does it effect you?” We’ve all heard them say it.
And what’s more, they believe they have THE RIGHT to control the memetic commons. Not as an inalienable human right or some idiotic conceit like that, but in the only way it’s possible to have true conviction
They believe they have the right because they think their ideas, their way of living is superior. They don’t think we can coexist or go our own way for a second.
So if we’re going to fix these problems, we have to believe in our right to rule. We have to believe in our DUTY to rule. Because being in charge is not a privilege, it’s a curse. It’s a shit sandwich sandwiched between two pieces of shit.
You don’t wield power because you feel entitled to it, or because it comes with golden treasures and lobster risotto. Anyone who does that becomes a tool of someone who has a REAL will to power
People who rule effectively do so because they feel the need in their soul to shape the world according to their vision of the good. Such a person might be mistaken, or have a bad vision. But he still must have it.
We don’t want tolerance.
We don’t want exit.
We don’t want voice.
What we demand is VIRTUE.
It’s not enough to be virtuous yourself.
Until you feel the urgency — the IMMANENCE — of this demand, you can only be a slave.
It’s not enough for us to rule ourselves. I believe — and I need you to believe — that we have the right, we have the OBLIGATION to rule the libs as well. It’s for their own good.
They are children who spend most of their time contemplating which chinese-manufactured vibrating piece of silicone they would most like to insert into their anus.
That’s the level our enemies are on. If we can’t do better than that, we are not gonna make it.
We have to be convicted that our virtues are the best virtues.
You can’t sit around diddling yourself over whether the unexamined life is worth living.
There’s nothing more solipsistic or narcissistic than a man who sits around all day examining his life. Truth isn’t valuable for its own sake. Truth is valuable because having it makes us better at WAR.
I always get these stupid navel gazers sniffing around asking me if my stances are reasonable. Aren’t you worried about alienating reasonable, measured, intellectual people?
The answer is no. Because when my values are ascendent, those same masturbators will say the same words to whatever dissidents exist in OUR shadow.
We’re not building a political party. This isn’t a movement, although you and I might (I hope) share many values and ideals.
We share an ideological space. In the past it would have been very hard to do that without also sharing a physical space. But we are living in the digital, electric, telephonic age
— and without physical space, there is no movement
So what are we then? Not a party, not a movement, not an “identity” — what then?
The answer is that we are men with a habit, or a series of habits.
When they are shared, shared habits can become traditions. Where do you think traditions come from? They don’t spring fully formed from the lion’s head.
Tradition is an emergent and iterative process where behaviors that lead to success are propagated. Ideas acting through people.
A habit is a proto-tradition, that’s all.
And we are a collection of people who wish to foster GOOD HABITS. And some of those habits are also composed of things which we do not do.
We are not in the habit of succumbing to vices
We are not in the habit of neglecting or abusing our bodies with bad food or slothfulness
We teach most of all the habit of CULTIVATING PHYSICAL STRENGTH.
We teach the habit of reading old and difficult books
We have the habit of judging a woman’s character by her sexual history
We have the habit of acknowledging the biological reality of race
And we have many other habits besides.
And it’s important for us to state these things, explicitly, again and again and again
Because although these teachings sound basic — Lift weights. Don’t eat soy nuggets fried in machine lubricants. Stand naked in the light of the sun. — that’s another way of saying they’re essential
you can find many examples on the internet of people who have accepted the doctrines of sterility, drug use, sexual egalitarianism — the perspective that all sexual choices are equally good and moral
the world now teaches you to destroy your virility, to embrace spiritual and even physical castration, and it calls this liberation — get a vasectomy, eat a vegan diet, believe women — and if you do all those things you will quickly find yourself in hell
There is no middle ground in this. Either you embody those ideals which are life affirming, or you’re a zombie, a dead man walking
We believe in certain habits. We believe these habits can save you. Save you from drowning — we believe in the noble pain whereby a MALE becomes a MAN
And we have great disrespect for people who lack these habits, who try to hide their deficiencies by pretending to be “intellectual”
If someone tells you “We are an intellectual movement” — he does not share our habits
Nothing will make you dumber than pretensions toward intellectualism — to want to be “taken seriously” as an intellectual — those people betray themselves because they show that what they really want is to be some kind of talking head, interviewed by the new york times, a guest spot on some pundit show —
What these people really want is to be esteemed in the public square for being smart. They don’t even want to be smart, they just want to be known for being smart. Big difference.
real intelligence isn’t signified by fancy words but by effective actions
We have no interest in the acknowledgement of the decrepit “intellectual” institutions of the current year. They are propaganda mills and gay bathhouses, nothing more.
You can gather knowledge and you should but you can’t develop your intellect. Cultivate virtue and power, and power is a type of virtue, no matter what anyone says, and intellect will follow.
“Intellectuals” are cowards who can’t wait to prostrate themselves before power. Every single one of them.
You must be very suspicious of anyone who says “this is an intellectual movement” — such a person is trying to pin you down so they can neutralize you.
We have to stay formless, that’s one of our sources of strength. It’s very easy to destroy a movement. It’s almost impossible to destroy a habit.
If you want to draw from our power, take our words, take our ideas, we will give you our energy. Our condition is that you adhere to our habits.
There can be no synthesis of our ideas, our aesthetics, or our habits with liberal, emancipationist beliefs. “Oh they have good points but if only they weren’t so sexist.”
“They have a lot of good things to say but they need to cool it with the racism.”
If you think that you aren’t one of us, never will be, never can be.
if you define yourself as a member of a class, then you will instinctively draw yourself to the center of that class.
If you think of yourself as an american, then you will behave as you think americans behave. Even more so if you see yourself as a “young american”, a “mid-western young american”, a “college-educated midwest american” and so on.
All of these reference classes carry a degree of normativity.
People want to create a reference class for themselves, they want to belong to reference classes because that tells them how to think
they WANT to be automatons,
they WANT to live in a thoughtless rhythm,
they WANT to be NPCs who have no more burden of thought and self-determination than supporting the current thing
This kind of reference class is not necessarily a bad thing. This is one way of coordinating a people to take an effective collective action. But the time is not right yet.
And the thing I am teaching you here is not this. It is not automation of the self, but the opposite.
We train these habits because they ennoble us, and because we want to create the fertile ground for a new and glorious American man to arise, a man of exceptional strength, who could actually deliver on the promise of making America great again
So here’s another slogan: America is a communist country.
You may have heard this one before. It’s a counter-intuitive claim. And I think most will dismiss it out of hand, because most people believe America is a capitalist country.
But this belief creates a lot of cognitive dissonance, it confuses us — we can see if we look at what passes for the mainstream right in america, they talk and act like America is a capitalist country. They believe this.
And when you talk to the average person, especially someone who is a “normie” or a centrist, but who votes democrat — majority but not a supermajority — they are very likely use capitalism as a scapegoat — to blame their personal problems, or the problems they hear about on the news, on Capitalism.
And this is not just a normie phenomenon of course. But I think when people invoke capitalism as the source of various evils, they often fail to realize they are invoking marxist theory, admittedly a degraded version of it, but it’s marxist theory nonetheless
Marx predicted that communism was a stage of society that would naturally follow industrial capitalism, because it produces “contradictions” which become untenable and lead to communist revolution
This has never happened in any country in the world. Many communist revolutions have occurred, but every single one has been in a pre-industrial country before production could go vertical. This alone should be enough to discredit Marx
And it’s a bit of a paradox, that it appears from the outside that international communism has collapsed completely: its states have gone down, it’s military structures have gone down, it’s chinese version has transformed into a market-driven economy
But at the same time — and this would have been unthinkable to anyone either the left or the right as recently as perhaps the 1950s — we find ourselves in a what appears to be a left-wing capitalist economy
When we look at our media — television, both conventional and streaming, podcasts, youtubers, social media — what we find are inevitably left wing values, I mean far left values, communist values.
And no one — not the far left, not the soft left, which to say the normie center, not the soft right republican types, and not even the far right really — has quite figured out how to process this.
Marxist theory can’t do it, because it so contradicts the tenets of the theory that the only move these people can think of is to pretend that it isn’t real leftism — it can’t be, because if it were, then we’d be living in the worker’s utopia now.
But communism has never produced anything resembling a utopia, never has, never will. So of course nothing is ever real communism to these people.
“These companies don’t really believe in our moral values,” they say, “Goldman-Sachs is pushing the gay agenda cynically to try to gain moral credibility.”
We might argue that this is a distinction without a difference, but even if it were true, then the world would look very different to the way it does today.
Because if it were just about moral credibility, then there would also be companies, in every industry, in every sector, which didn’t signal those values, because to half the country, to seventy five million americans at least, the values that are espoused by corporate america are not signals of virtue at all, but rather the opposite
But the left center normie can’t even conceive of this possibility, because they can’t really grasp many of us see things such as gay rights as a failure of moral credibility
And more importantly, there’s no one capitalizing on this fact. We can name perhaps one or two companies that do.
But even if we look at something like Fox news, this bogeyman of the left, they support all the same things as their more liberal counterparts, working to advance feminist and anti-white racialist agendas, mass immigration, they even love the gays. They want to defend gay rights from the Islamofascist menace!
So the left can’t make sense of it. They see the reification of their own values amongst the people their theory tells them to hate, amongst the scions of capitalism.
The theory that corporations are cynically woke behind a secret profit motive cannot account for the fact that wokeism is tremendously unpopular, that half the people in America, most of them middle class, with good incomes, would love to support anti-woke businesses.
But those businesses just don’t exist. There’s no unwoke google. There’s no unwoke telecoms. There’s no unwoke banks or grocery stores or anything else. If you wanted to only patronize unwoke businesses you’d be living in a house full of mypillows eating nothing but in’n’out burger.
But this underserved market, the market for products and services which unashamedly stand against toxic emancipation, the fact that this market is not just underserved but colossally underserved, this also poses a problem for the right
Because right and left alike believe we are living in a capitalist society, a society that’s ruled by markets. But if markets were allowed to operate freely, the world would look very different, as I’ve just explained. There are free hundred dollar bills lying on the ground. Why does no one pick them up?
In a truly capitalist society this would be unthinkable.
But wait, wait, wait, I say this to you and yet I have declined, thus far, to provide a definition of capitalism. The way I’m using the term here, it appears to mean a state of affairs in which nothing — or nearly nothing — inhibits the voluntary actions of market players. That is, they are free to bind themselves with contracts and so on, but there is no outside interference.
Using this definition, which is admittedly simple — some would say naive — I think we can agree that America is not a capitalist country.
I like to keep my definitions simple, because when our concepts become complicated, we end up apologizing or pleading for them, expanding them to cover whatever new information we encounter without changing the label. And I believe in keeping concepts small in order to minimize my own confusion.
If we make a survey of various economic theorists, we will of course find we see as many definitions of capitalism as we see people. When we look at marxist scholars, they all like to talk about the supposed “contradictions” inherent in the capitalist model, but they themselves are all laboring under a much larger and more glaring contradiction, namely, that their communist revolution has never happened in any capitalist country.
So they invent a million new names and theories, they will say that capitalism has morphed or transformed itself because to them capitalism is the devil, it is the essence of evil, and as long we aren’t living in the glorious worker’s utopia, capitalism will always lurk around every corner, causing people to fail to be good communists to each other.
Castoriadis for example was a big proponent of the idea that the soviet union, of all places, was not a communist country, but rather that it was a “state capitalist” country, because obviously if it had actually been communist it would have turned out quite different.
Maybe you know the term “late capitalism” and it makes you think of the present day. But this term has been in use for a hundred years. Theodor Adorno favored it. Late capitalism doesn’t mean digital finance and iphone globalism, it means they think the eschaton is immanent.
Mao Zedong wrote that capital grew up everywhere like mushrooms, so the communist party had to constantly be watchful, to cut it down. Because no matter what you do, no matter where you look, people are going to trade with each other, and they are going to settle on a fungible unit of account.
And as a quick aside, it’s worth it to notice that the idea of credit probably existed before currency. In ancient human history, an emergent group strategy for smoothing out uneven results in hunting and gathering is to share food with other people in your tribe. That way, if my hunt goes poorly, I know I can get food from you, and if your hunt goes poorly, you know you can get it from me.
This creates an informal system of debts, and it takes a lot of brain power to remember who you shared food with, and how much, and how long ago, and so on. We can recognize this type of memory based system of favors is the earliest form of credit.
If there are no material records of these events, then it’s very easy to cheat, also. The best solution to this problem was the introduction of physical currency, in the form of shells or beads, which allowed ancient, primitive man to outsource these cognitive debts into physical artifacts. So the creation of currency simplifies the ultra-primitive credit system and makes it trivial to settle disputes. You don’t need memory when you have beads.
These types of hand-to-hand, eye-to-eye markets might even predate humanity, and they certainly aren’t limited to humanity. Various experiments have been done crows, with monkeys, and with dolphins in which they can all be taught to use currency to barter for food or even, in the case of chimpanzees, the males will give food to female monkeys for sex.
Capitalism isn’t some alien ideology vampirizing us from the outside, it’s a law of nature that emerges anywhere agents have uneven distribution of resources. I’ve said before that humans make markets the way honeybees make hives or beavers make dams. It’s part of us and it can never be excised.
Fernand Braudel noted that this type of “hand to hand” market is unchanged throughout history. It is the most equitable, it seldom uses credit, and it’s the abstract ideal around which classical economics have been formulated.
But this type of market, which arises organically and organizes itself from the bottom up, is not sufficient to cover what most people mean by capitalism.
I think if you asked the average person who blames the state of the world on capitalism, they wouldn’t be able to give you a very good answer.
Unless they’re some kind of Marxoid theorist, and even then probably, there’s a pretty good chance that what they would define is corporatocracy, rule by corporations.
They probably wouldn’t phrase it like this. Normies will almost never give you a dispositive statement unless you bully it out of them. They might say something about markets and free trade and so on, but if you pressed them they would say that corporate success allows them to exert control over the state in pursuit of profit.
This belief is naive, but it is a forgivable mistake, and we can dismantle it with a single example.
When Russia invaded the Ukraine, many US corporations stopped providing services or goods to Russia.
Credit card companies stopped processing their payments.
Fast food companies stopped selling them food.
Social media companies denied Russians access to their networks.
The state did not command them to do this; they did it “voluntarily” out of a moral concern against the actions of Russia. And all of these companies will have sacrificed tremendous amounts of revenue to do so. Russia is the 11th largest economy in the world, according to the world bank.
And if corporations were truly amoral profit maximizers, they would never have done this. The USA itself chose to freeze over 600 billion US dollars worth of Russian reserves. All of this may strengthen the USA’s position militarily or diplomatically, but it does not provide a material benefit to any of our multinational corporations.
If the USA were a corporatocracy, which I think a majority of people implicitly understand to be capitalism’s mature form, then none of this would happen, none of this would be possible. The idea that some vague imperialistic urge on the part of mcdonald’s executives would cause them to abandon their actual principal objective — selling more hamburgers — is risible and absurd
It is impossible to defend the idea that the invisible hand of the market would guide them to this course of action. I’ve been inside a large company when it was adjacent to this kind of voluntary action — where corporations all act in lock step — you’ll just have to trust me here — and I’ve seen the way it’s coordinated.
What will happen is a prominent journalist or several will reach out to the company’s leadership team and ask them for a comment on the current thing. Especially they do this if that company has any history of dealings with the object of the cancellation or the scandal.
The influence of these kinds of journalists, from publications such as the New York Times or the Atlantic, is such that even their most innocuous question is a threat; no threat is ever stated, but all parties involved understand the discussion. Once a few highly visible players perform the designated action, all the smaller players get in line.
They have the nerve to call this a preference cascade, when in reality it’s an obedience cascade.
Anyway, there are two distinct and important points here:
The first point is that to most people, they equate capitalism with corporatocracy:
They think capitalism dictates that corporations are amoral profit maximizers, and they think corporations are in charge because capitalism empowers them to use their profits to dictate terms to the state.
When people go hungry — a thing that literally never happens in modern america — or when they don’t have a place to live, that is capitalism’s fault, because it places profit — which in this formulation is an identical word to “greed” — over the wellbeing of the least fortunate.
I will refer to this model, for the rest of the talk, as the normie model of capitalism
The second point is that this model of the world is substantively wrong.
Modern corporations are not amoral profit maximizers
Corporations do not dictate the actions of the state
It is basically impossible to starve to death in america
And finally, this is because
The wellbeing of the least fortunate —using a narrow, leftist definition of wellbeing — is absolutely prioritized over profit, and to testify to this, consider that San Francisco and Seattle have both made it legal to steal from retailers
This set of beliefs oppresses me more than any capitalist ever could! I want everyone to stop believing this idiotic thing.
But you might say, “why do you care what idiots believe?”
The answer is I care what everyone believes as long as I’m trapped in a society with them. I care particularly what people of average and slightly above average intelligence believe, because no matter what your IQ is, you’re only as smart as your dumbest idea
Good, normal, decent people believe this idiocy, and this causes them to engage in idiotic behaviors, and we all pay the price, even if we don’t believe the idiocy.
So I would like to correct every false proposition in the normie model, but what I really want to focus on today
—which is something that almost everyone on the far right understands already, but which normal, mainstream conservatives don’t —
Is to correct the idea that we are operating under a free market, or that the market has any power to sort this problem out, or even that some idyllic free market could possibly be restored, at which point the world would return to sanity
Many people “on our side” like to point at James Burnham as a possible corrective to this worldview.
For Burnham, capitalism describes an arrangement where some small group of people own all of the factories and farms and firms— the means of production — and this ownership gives them direct control of their operations, as well as most of the profit.
In this reckoning, capitalism isn’t just about markets as such, it’s about who has the authority to administer labor.
Burnham points out that nominal ownership, the possession of stocks, had significantly diverged from actual administrative authority as early as the 1930s, and in fact even earlier, but that was when people began to notice
So Burnham’s thesis is about the separation of OWNERSHIP from CONTROL. This is the essence of managerialism. A professional class which does not, nominally, own the companies it is running, but which nevertheless controls them.
You probably notice, right away, that this creates a principal-agent problem, where an agent that is empowered to act on behalf of a principal now experiences some incentives which are antagonistic to that principal. The only capitalists of the older type who still exist are the rare startup founder who is independently funded, or who at least retains majority control of his company.
And even then we expect the founder to more or less abide by standard managerial practices.
A venture capitalist is NOT a capitalist of the old kind, precisely because he cedes control, by design, to a founder or founders who manage what his company on his behalf.
Burnham thought that communist russia, nazi germany, and the USA, though they were all nominally different, had all converged on this kind of managerial arrangement, and the reason for this was the specialization of labor.
Uneducated laborers are fungible and have no negotiating leverage against their bosses, but the more labor becomes specialized and requires special education, the harder it becomes to boss workers around.
You can bully menial workers with relative impunity but mental workers produce their best work when they feel valued and respected
As owners began to delegate responsibility to professional managers, they ultimately ended up conceding most of their power as well.
I don’t think these ideas are novel anymore, and you will hear people mention the PMC from time to time, the Professional Managerial Class, but no one knows what to do with this realization.
the naive leftist thinks that corporate greed is corrupting the pure, benevolent state. They even have a term for this entanglement: they refer to it when they speak of the military industrial complex
The naive right-wingers don’t even have a word for it. They think big government meddling is corrupting the pure Darwinian market. They complain about regulation or communism, endlessly chasing the cape, totally blind to the matador
So what happens is the left calls for expansion of state powers, and the right calls for expansions to corporate powers, and both of these things empower the ruling elite, because as a class they constitute both.
There is of course some factionalism among these people. They are not a single, monolithic group. But “corporate power” and “state power” are two sides of the same coin, they are not antipodal forces that keep each other in check
managerial power culminates in a state of affairs where the economy is driven by cartels of large corporations operating under state regulation and coordination.
Now, does the above serve to correct the normiecon errors with regard to the free market, and the sorts of legislation or policy that conservatives should pursue? It gets us out of one trap, but it sort of throws us into another.
Because Burnham also used his understanding of the managerial state to make the case that consumerism is better blamed on managerialism than capitalism.
He says that managerialism is structurally inclined to produce mass consumerism, that most of the consumerist critiques of capitalism are better attributed to the managerial system, which treats things like supply and demand as objectives and key results to be managed in order to perpetuate and expand the managerialist order.
So if conservatives follow Burnham too closely, they will, ironically, end up in a quasi Marxist place, where they feel a moral imperative to dismantle existing power structures, in almost the exact same way that a communist would.
But whereas the left-winger wants to dismantle power to make way for the workers’ utopia, it’s not clear what the right winger things will go there. Some kind of feudalism maybe, he coughs and awkwardly looks to the side.
At its core, Burnham’s critique is ultimately an anti-consumerist critique. So while it may provide rhetorical value in convincing conservatives to stop cucking for a free market that no longer exists, if it ever did, the arrangement of concepts it presents in does not suggest a course of action beyond some kind of anarcho-primitivism
Anyway I think there’s another reason Burnham has recently been popular in our circles; I personally find his thesis very compelling as a way to “own the libs” or more specifically the communists, because their entire worldview is predicated on antagonism towards capitalism, so if we can credibly claim that capitalism no longer exists, then this is yet another delightful way that they are wrong.
If we are honest, there is something quite pedantic in Burnham; he defines capitalism in this very narrow way, which allows him to produce his provocative thesis that capitalism has ended and yielded to managerialism. Does it own the libs? Sure, but not half as well as a teenager in Wisconsin with an AR-15.
These types of reframings of familiar concepts spread very easily, because they exploit a certain sense of satisfaction that we get when we feel as if we know something. But that feeling can often be deceptive, and it can lull us into passivity or at least waste a lot of our mental life
It can be perfectly reasonable to use an analysis such as Burnhams to win some ideological skirmish, but we have to examine the telos of an idea when we are building a worldview, and try to predict where it will lead us
We don’t have a lot of space in our heads, and we need to invest in undervalued ideas with high returns if we are going to beat the ideological market.
So we were looking at one particular slogan of the neoreactionary right; America is a Communist Country.
And to interrogate this claim, we started by asking, is America a capitalist country? But immediately we get bogged down in the problem of trying to define capitalism. And what we quickly see is that there can be no single definition. There is no one true thing behind a word which is used so broadly by so many people to satisfy so many agendas.
Because words don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in relation to us, and the ways we use them are framed by specific goals that we possess.
For Schumpeter, capitalism is a process of creative destruction in which entrepreneurs drive cycles of disruption and consolidation.
For Burnham it’s when the nominal owners of capital are coincident with the directors of its operations.
For Max Weber it’s a kind of reification of protestant values into the ordering of society, the rationalization and secularization of a fundamentally religious impulse
For Werner Sombart it began with double-entry accounting, and it’s at once a technique, a form of organization, and a mental attitude, which orbit around acquisition, competition, and rationality.
In fact Sombart is responsible for the popularity of the word capitalism; Marx wrote about capital, but never used the word capitalISM.
For Marx and all his intellectual progeny, it means exploitation of the labor force by the owners of things like factories and farms.
Notice in particular the normative and moralistic claims that are contained in the Marxist definition. The emotional calculus of this is run backwards, especially by men with frail shoulders and whiny voices: If I’m personally unhappy, then I am exploited. If I am exploited, then it’s capitalism.
But it’s not really fair or correct to reduce any of these thinkers to these one line caricatures. If you actually sit down and read the books of any of these men, including Marx, they contain whole worlds and they are much more nuanced than the cartoon versions of them that most people know, if they know them at all.
And what most theorists of capitalism have in common is that they can’t help themselves but predict the end of it. Theorists tend to believe that capitalism terminates in some form of communism.
Schumpeter thought that instinctively, there is something inherent in our psychology which cannot tolerate the unevenness, and the volatility of capitalism’s cycles of creative destruction.
So he says that the prosperity of capitalism leads to the emergence of a large intellectual class, and that the intellectual class will denigrate and destroy capitalism, even as it is, ironically, it is the only reason they exist in the first place.
And we can maybe find shades of this hypothesis in Moldbug, who describes the hegemony of Harvard and the New York Times as America’s spiritual center.
This is maybe another reason we should try to avoid intellectualism as a normative stance.
In theological, eschatological terms, Schumpeter was a premillennialist, and Burnham was a postmillennialist. That is, Schumpeter thought the end of capitalism had yet to come, and Burnham thought it had already passed us by.
And they’re both correct, because although the words are the same, the functional contents of their analyses are completely different.
One is talking about the process of wealth creation and accumulation. The other is talking about ownership and control of those things.
Rudolf Hilferding, the marxist minister of finance in the Weimar republic wrote that the self-bootstrapping capitalist structure would ultimately be the instrument that brought about communism. He didn’t believe in the violent communist revolution. He believed in the overtaking of capitalism through a gradual bureaucratic process. Now, does he agree with Burnham or with Schumpeter?
In fact he seems to agree with both, even as they disagree with each other. For Hilferding, the bureaucratization of society is an essential fact of capitalism. And I think, with all the above caveats about language and the treachery of words aside, he is correct.
We need to correct the idea that the right is doing itself any favors when it tries to defend the free market — all it’s doing is playing the bad cop in the good cop, bad cop routine of state power expansion — and to do that we also have to dispossess ourselves of the idea that the relatively unregulated free market is some kind of final form of capitalism.
The antidote to all of this in my opinion is in Fernand Braudel, who takes a rigorously historical approach towards trade and commerce in Europe. He is very careful to speak about the specific products and trade routes and laws — he tends to refrain from carelessly delivering a theory.
And what Braudel finds is that if we ignore the words, there are records of institutions that behave very much like labor markets all the way back to even the eleventh century, and there are historical records of purchases and trades as early as the thirteenth century which resemble some of our quite complex financial instruments that exist today.
Braudel shows that wherever the hand-to-hand, eye-to-eye market arises, which is everywhere, regulation and monopoly are never far behind. Wealth naturally ends up distributed according to a power law, where the wealthiest player in the market is an order of magnitude in most cases richer than the second wealthiest player, and so on down the line.
These top-tier players always work together, with each other and with the state, to control the terms of the market for everyone else. They use regulation as one of their main tools to do this. I think most people realize by now that regulation, as much as its sold to us as a way to protect the consumer, it also has the function of creating barriers to competition for smaller market players.
Large firms can comply with the regulation that they themselves help to author, not because they are controlling the state but because the border between them and the state is completely porous, and this allows them to place a tax on their competitors. I’m not even trying to argue against regulation here, I’m not making a moral argument, I’m only pointing out that firms have selfish reasons for desiring regulation in addition to altruistic ones.
Most things are like this. We are most likely to take actions that advance our own agendas even when they contain mutually uplifting intentions. That’s good. Selfish motives don’t contaminate or ruin altruistic ones, quite the opposite. Altruistic motives that contain no personal benefit are the most suspect of all, the most likely to be destructive or pathological.
So for Braudel, capitalism is this whole gradient from hand-to-hand markets all the way up to the dizzying heights of financialization and regulation. That’s the lifecycle of a market. He calls the financialized, regulated superstructure the antimarket, because it behaves in a way that does not accord with classical economics.
And he says that any market of sufficient size gives birth to an antimarket, and he shows how it happens again and again through Europe, in Venice, in Genoa, in Amsterdam, in London.
In Braudel’s reckoning, Burnham’s managerialism is reduced to a particular instance of a general rule and a predictable historical cycle. For Braudel, the key difference between our current iteration of the antimarket and the iteration in thirteenth century Venice is our level of technological development. But the same principles obtain in both cases, the same general behavior and pattern.
If you try to look up Managerialism, over and over you will see this statement: managerialism is an ideology. It is not. Nor is capitalism. We could spend as long trying to dissect the word ideology as we have on capitalism, and much longer on both of them besides.
But without getting hung up on minutiae, an ideology is a belief system, it’s a framework of ideas that are held together by faith in theories. An ideology springs forth from an ideologue, it’s a deliberate construction by priestly individuals.
The opposite of an ideology is a tradition. Traditions arise organically, by a process quite like evolution. Tradition is constituted by behavior. Behaviors that are are repeatable and useful tend to spread. Behaviors that are hard to imitate or that are deleterious to the person doing them tend not to.
This isn’t always the case of course, sometimes very harmful behaviors can spread, even quite rapidly. But if they’re harmful enough, they tend to snuff themselves out. And what endures becomes tradition.
So when we look at capitalism and managerialism, were they invented by ideologues? Or were they gradual accumulations of useful behaviors? The answer is obviously the latter, which is partly why they are hard to define, whereas communism is very easy to define.
Capitalism is in fact a living tradition. You probably know that line from Evola about how people who are engaging in a living tradition don’t recognize it as such. They just think it’s the way things are done. By the time you start calling it tradition, the tradition is dead, or at least frozen. Maybe by saying this I am killing it.
Managerialism by extension is also a tradition. Many people have written about or tried to find greater clarity or formalism around managerialism. But the difference is that the writing and the formalism comes after the practices arise. Ideology is the opposite.
Now, what can we make of all this?
If we look at the world through the lens of Burnham and Braudel, then we realize that antimarkets are an inevitable byproduct of so-called free markets. Managerialism isn’t the degradation of capitalism, it’s the culmination.
Schumpeterian disruptions still do occur under the antimarket. They occur when technology creates a new frontier that can exist outside of existing regulation. This is what we saw with the early internet, this is what we see with cryptocurrency now.
Every bazaar, to use the Eric S. Raymond term, turns itself into a cathedral once it crosses a certain threshold. Hand-to-Hand markets can still exist under the auspices of a cathedral, just as liquid water exists side-by-side with water vapor as water begins to boil. The cathedral doesn’t replace the bazaar, it lives along side it like a phase change.
The romantic tendency within right wing thinking is to idolize the economics of the recent past. The libertarian tendency is to imagine that we can freeze the process of capital development at the bazaar stage, before the cathedral arises. But we can’t.
For this reason, I am and I will always advocate that the right should not run from the managerialization of markets, we should aim to control it and inject it with right wing norms and values.
Whatever is going on in America economically, it’s not capitalism according to the popular definition, or the libertarian definition, or even the classical Marxist definition. We can stretch the word to any dimensions we want, and we can make the square peg fit in the round hole by means of Braudel’s lexico-historical dremel.
But in the end, when we look all of these different theorists, what we should notice first of all is that they aren’t empirical — they aren’t measuring things, they aren’t doing experiments, they are only sorting out a relation of their own perceptions with regard to the human heart. In short, they are doing theology.
So finally we are in a position to see that the slogan “America is a communist country” is not reducible to mere economics. It has to be a question of values.
And the values that are sovereign now — they are not our values, my friends.