Sam Altman is still a not “blithering idiot”, though he is an idiot.
We should all feel a duty to try to understand the roughly half of the country that thinks we are severely misguided.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb thinks Sam, and those like him — the intellectual yet idiot class are, well, idiots:
I don’t understand how 43% of the country supports Trump.
Maybe if he actually tried to understand all these idiots:
But I’d like to find out, because we have to include everyone in our path forward.
That’s the problem right there, people don’t want your future:
If our best ideas are to stop talking to or fire anyone who disagrees with us, we’ll be facing this whole situation again in 2020.
Altman’s tribe is well beyond talking at this point:
Watch this video.
Then this video.
These children of the revolution are the way of the future, and they are not much interested in dialogue.
That kind of diversity is painful and unpopular, but it is critical to health of a democratic and pluralistic society.
Diversity + Proximity = War:
Progress and democracy in the 18th century brought us the French Revolution, the Jacobins, the reign of terror, and the cleansing of Catholics in the Vendée; in the last century, progress and democracy brought the world the Nazis and Hitler; in this century, progress and democracy brought the world ISIS and Bagdadi.
Is there some kind of pattern here? Everywhere that democracy and progress occurs, mass movements, drunk on mass violence, always result.
Oh, by-the-way, I should say, in case you’re wondering, I’m not American and have never been to America – but I understand, it seems, America better than most Americans.
I live in country that is democratic and diverse, however. And things like this happened:
We call it the troubles:
The traumas continue long after the troubles end:
Surely people like Sam Altman, or Jerry Coyne, do not want this to happen to their own country? Because it will be 100x times worse if it does
Altman, at least, appears to want try to understand why people voted for Trump.
He even went on a little trip speaking to a diverse group of 100 people, or something.
I have no idea as to what his intentions were. Did he really want to understand, or was it simply an empty gesture, an act of virtual signalling?
One of the problems, in the West today, is that what people say, and what they really think are moving further and further out of alignment. This is all part of the distinction between form and reality, that Burnham and Moldbug drew attention to. The problem, however, is that if the people with power and influence conflate form with reality, they run the risk of crashing as a consequence — which was the fate of Hillary Clinton. The other problem, meanwhile, is that if you realise that 25% or 40% or 50% or even 75% of people in your society lie, or refuse to reveal what they really think because of the thought police, or because fascist thugs will beat or kill them, then you have a serious problem of social trust and coordination on your hands.
So this stuck out to me when reading about Altman’s little fact finding mission:
Almost everyone I asked was willing to talk to me, but almost none of them wanted me to use their names—even people from very red states were worried about getting “targeted by those people in Silicon Valley if they knew I voted for him”. One person in Silicon Valley even asked me to sign a confidentiality agreement before she would talk to me, as she worried she’d lose her job if people at her company knew she was a strong Trump supporter.
We know, with certainty, that it is not the KKK or the fascist, white something or other that is responsible for this Orwellian situation.
In America of 2017, like in Europe, you can pretty much say and think what you like. If you advocate for ending the human race because of the forests, no one will bat an eye lid. Argue that men and women don’t exist and that boys should be dressed in hot pants in high school, people will yawn.
However, contravene Holy Writ and you’ll be in trouble.
Trust and cooperation in society depends, in part, on knowing how people will behave because you can trust their public statements. You can trust their public statements because there is a history of public statements matching public behaviour. Nevertheless, the West, like modern China, or today’s Saudi Arabia, is shot through with massive, pervasive, public deception. A society with this condition, may be stable, but it is fragile, and subject to shocks and surprises.
One recent example of form not matching reality was expectations around the impossibility of Brexit. However, there are many other examples, as I showed here.
So, assuming that Altman is genuine, sincere and serious, the problem for him goes much deeper than the fact that he — like so many others — have no idea what motivates Trump supporters; the problem, for Altman, is the fact that he has no critical understanding of his own beliefs, and the motivations of other people who he sees as allies.
Sam Harris, a super-smart Brahmin, seems to have this same problem as well. Watch this exchange between a “liberal” and a “communist” whom he initially considered an ally.
That exchange is the same phenomenon that Moldbug pointed out: liberals can be anti-communist on Monday, sceptical on Tuesday — out to lunch on Wednesday —but supportive on Thursday, part communist of Friday, liberal on Saturday, and spiritual on Sunday.
If you are on the left, what exactly is the difference between Socialism, Communism, Liberalism and Progressivism?
The Progressives teemed up with Uncle Joe Stalin to beat the bad Germans. Yet, Uncle Joe killed more people than
Uncle Adolf — and in peacetime too. What would an alternative history, however, be like if they teemed up with Adolf and beat the bad Russians instead?
Would such a thing even be conceivable?
Roosevelt and Churchill could have let Adolf knock out Joe Communist, while they knocked out the Nips. Then, after Adolf and Joe were exhausted, they would either let one side win, or knock em both out with a couple of Fat Boys.
Does it really stretch the imagination considering USG’s strategic partnership with Mao’s China, or today with Saudi Arabia?
Muslims apparently have a saying: me against my brother; me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother and cousin against the stranger. The USG of FDR were, if not brothers, then cousins of the USSR of Stalin (Man of Steel). The Nazis, however, were the strangers.
Parade, riot or bomb under the banner of red flags and golden symbols, prepare for a good time; parade, riot, or bomb with red, white and black flags, meanwhile, then expect the hammer of God.
Isn’t this a fascinating little fact? Set up a Stalin fan club, and people will think you are maybe a little queer, set up an Adolf……
Sam Altman, however, is evidently smart, and obviously rich, so it is the most natural thing in the world to just assume that he, like so many others, are right when it comes to politics, history, and what OUGHT to be done: moving forward together.
Yet, he’s not only an idiot, but a moral imbecile.
Take just one example. I have already covered this argument here with Kristof, but I will restate it.
“But the executive order from yesterday titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” is tantamount to a Muslim ban and requires objection. I am obviously in favor of safety and rules, but broad-strokes actions targeted at a specific religious group is the wrong solution, and a first step toward a further reduction in rights.
In addition, the precedent of invalidating already-issued visas and green cards should be extremely troubling for immigrants of any country or for anyone who thinks their contributions to the US are important. This is not just a Muslim ban. This is a breach of America’s contract with all the immigrants in the nation.”
This is a very bad argument; in fact, it’s not even an argument — just two paragraphs of assertions and non-sequiturs. I’m not going to waste time unpacking this, but I’ll get to the core of the issue: War, Violence, Poverty, Tyranny etc.
Here is my argument.
Assume, further, that these people are not responsible to anyone except themselves.
They are arrogant, dangerous, and deluded, like the Mandarins in ancient China.
However, as Trump’s election showed, the oligarchies’ security design is not perfect. Thus, the state they control can be captured by outside actors like, how ancient China was conquered by the Mongols.
If these outside actors — call em Neo-Mongols — wanted to bring death and destruction to third world countries, or even some first world ones, no-one-is-going-to-stop-them. No one.
Regardless if you view USG as rational or irrational, Neo-Mongol or Neo-Calvin, it is a deadly, destructive machine — should you take it on, like, say, flying planes into its skyscrapers, you will probably be destroyed one way or the other.
Now, with those background assumptions out of the way, here is my first premise.
19 Muslim hijackers, executing the first move in a grand strategy, provoked one war directly, helped cause one war indirectly and probably contributed to a chain or destructive revolutions (the Arab Spring) in the Muslim world.
The inference I draw here is that is that these events have given both sides — USG and Islamists — all the reasons they need to fight a perpetual war against each other forever. Tit-for-tat.
Now for my second premise.
Such a global war, in the final analysis, is one that the Muslim world is likely not to win. For even if, somehow, Islam — broadly defined How Trump Won. Part 1: Patterns, Persuasion and the Path to Presidency. — triumphs over the West, its thirst for conquest, and desire for revenge, will not be sated.
Thus, Israel, Russia, India and China will have to deal with the problem. I assume their methods will not be as soft (relatively speaking) as the West; retaliation, in the final analysis, will likely involve massive, direct, systematic state violence against the entire Muslim polity — if the conflict, or threat, begins to escalate beyond a certain point.
The inference I draw then is that if one were a Muslim, especially a young peaceful Muslim, or even a violent one, it would be wise to end the war with the West, and it certainly would be wise to not-actually-win-it.
Now, for my third premise.
USG’s war with “Islamic radicalism” as a result of 9/11, is responsible for over a million Muslim deaths, many of whom were women and children.
Nevertheless, this war is very far from over; so, we must ask: how many more people, including Muslims, will die? Will two million be dead in 15 years? Will the number be 4 million in thirty? Ten million in fifty? A hundred million by the end of the century? Where will it stop?
What about their rights? How does perpetual war help them?
In case I am not making myself clear here, let me be explicit.
Here is my conclusion.
If America had barred all Muslims from America, or even just all Muslims from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, following Bin Laden’s declaration of war in 1996, then all those Muslims would be alive, and all those westerners as well, because Muhammad Atta would could not have set foot in the country — never-mind fly a plane into the World Trade Centre.
Would such a ban have been morally correct? Would it have been just?
As a consequentialist, I think it probably would be. I believe when historians write the history of this era they will be more sympathetic to my kind of reasoning that either Kristof’s or Altman’s.
If nearly three thousand dead Americans provoked the kind of response it did, imagine what the reaction would be like if thirty-thousand Americans die from a dirty bomb attack — a bomb built and deployed by a Pakistani student of Harvard, perhaps?
What would the response be, especially to the left and their “open-borders”, if a military base is attacked with Sarin gas and thousands of military men and women are slaughtered?
So, my question would be the following: if you want peace, tolerance and liberty, why support or tolerate policies that would, will, and now are, contributing to the rejection of those very values?
Of course, you can argue, like Noam Chomsky, that violence is not the answer, but that won’t get you anywhere. At best, you get what we have now, the world’s biggest, baddest military having to fight with two hands tied behind its back.
And when the soldiers die, or God-ever-forbid-lose, then you can bet your ass you will hear “stabbed-in-the-back” and it will be entirely correct.
However, if men like Altman, or Chomsky, or better yet, if institutions like the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times and Harvard argued, with all their passionate intensity, that permitting Muslim immigration is bad, stupid and harmful you can bet the house that they would win.
But they don’t. So, perhaps the most interesting and important question, historians of this period will want to ask and answer is why this is……
Now, here is my explanation.
The real point, to begin with, is that a rational discussion of the costs and consequences, and the reality of USG’s imperial politics, has not only been not discussed by people like Altman and Kristof or Harris — they appear to not even be aware that such a discussion should or could occur.
(Such discussions, do, however, occur among the elites.)
It’s really very simple folks:
Nothing will contribute more to the mass murder of Muslims, than importing millions of them into the West.
One the one hand, the terror attacks, sexual assaults and the growing cultural anxieties in the West, to say nothing of the rise of “populism”, will further create the conditions, and the impetus for the centralisation of the state: the Minotaur.
On the other hand, it will allow for an endless number of wars across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia — a forever war abroad, and an endless police state at home: the triumph of the Minotaur.
(The prospects of liberal freedom surviving in a time of war, and economic distress, have been covered before by earlier writers who despaired over what they were seeing in America in the 1930’s – and they weren’t talking about “America First.”)
And in the great, once long repressed, anger that will pour forth, Muslims and leftists will find themselves at the mercy of technocratic, scientifically planned, and expertly engineered industrial slaughter.
“We had no choice folks! We-had-no-choice.”
As Mao tells us: ” political power comes from the barrel of the gun.”
And who commands the guns? Who commands the troops? Who commands the gold?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I have met quite a few people with guns, even fired a few myself, but I’m always careful to be polite — wouldn’t want anyone to have grudge right?
That being said, conservatives and other assorted @$$holes are manifestly not marginalized, oppressed or less-privileged individuals or groups. They control the government of the most powerful nation on Earth, have done so for decades if not centuries, and show no sign of retreat (quite the opposite). They have taken over state and local governments across the nation and are eagerly destroying civil liberties, labor unions, the human right to bodily autonomy, the air and the water, the rule of law, living wages, the country’s standing in the world, public education, the insufficient social safety net, crops and coastlines, the wall of separation between church and state, the wall of separation between big business and government, and the lives of millions of innocent people, including children, here and around the globe. (This is not a complete list of grievances.)
So this is why I think Sam Altman is an idiot, though not a “blithering one”.
He is an idiot, like Nicholas Kristof, because he assumes, without reflection, a received set of beliefs about politics that lead to war, poverty and tyranny.
Worse, however, is that Altman’s values and beliefs serve and advance the interests of USG (or the Minotaur’s) imperial policies. They will hate this fact, they will hate it because it is true.
The difference between me and Sam Altman, despite the fact he is American, and I’m not, is that he is super-rich, and I’m not; so, he uses his riches and his technology to promote what can only be described as evil: War, Poverty and Tyranny.
He may hope, then, that Jihadi John types never realise the role that people like him play in the bombing of Muslim countries. How many countries have USG bombed now anyway?
We have Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. And 8 years of it was under Obama.
Altman worries about the constitution. Was Obama’s actions in Libya, Syria or Yemen constitutional?
So what should someone like Sam Altman do?
What should we all do?
I think we should do nothing.
Recognise and accept that we are all slaves, some years a little more freedom, some years a little less – usually less and less.
Once the “noise and confusion” lifts from your head, like the fog of tiredness after dropping moda, you realise that your opinions about what the Minotaur should or should not do, how the Modern Structure should or should not be reformed is entirely meaningless, pointless, and vain.
The best thing men like Altman could do is to convince people to simply give up caring what happens in America, in the world, and in the USG.
The proviso being, however, that all men and women with power and authority: the military, the corporates and the politicos all come together and find a way to actually run the country, not like a country, but like a business — a business with a proper, normal management structure, and a formalised set of laws and rules.
Everyone eats; everyone makes out; everyone get’s a taste; maximise the “cut up, the money, the spread.”
In short, USG needs a Michael Corleone: to move from New York to Nevada; to move from the semi-formalised, cartel like, Mafia resembling, structure and management practices, to crisp, clear, sunny Corporate Governance.
America’s business is business. America is not a charity, a country club, or a fucking TV show, but a business.
So, I was mistaken, or really just joking, when I said that democracy was dead — it was in fact just dormant.
When the “black” beast of democracy awakens, however, it is a terrifying thing, as so many have now discovered. And it is only be getting warmed up.
Nietzsche’s “blonde beast” of…..profit and pleasure……. President Donald Trump!
You see, Donald Trump is Democracy.
Trump exhibits all the virtues, and all the vices, though still rather mild, of Democracy.
Democracy, true Democracy, real, unmanaged Democracy, is a short and fragile, destructive thing.
A real democracy, sooner or later, will terminate itself in either the rule of the one, or of the few.
Donald Trump is therefore America’s last President.
How many more elections can America really go through?
Something has to give.
Let’s try to chart some possibilities for the future.
Trump carries on, he makes some changes, but his reform is “repealed and replaced” either by an “outer party” Republican restoration, or an “inner party” Democrat one. Thus, progress continues, indeed, it accelerates until…….
Trump carries on, however, the Cold War waged against him provokes move and then counter-move, until, at some point, a Rubicon moment occurs (maybe it already has), and a 4th gen civil war (as described in Cracked) occurs where either, after much death and destruction, a right-wing, nationalist, militarist, regime triumphs, or a leftist, authoritarian, militarist regime triumphs.
Trump carries on, and the events described in 2 play out; however, a global, total war breaks out — perhaps because USG is distracted. What happens after that…….
Trump carries on, succeeds in his reforms, wins re-election and reforms even more; thus, Bannon’s goal of “deconstruction of the administrative state” succeeds and the progressive left go down to defeat, as their institutions are systematically dismantled. The result is a regime that probably resembles Erdogan’s Turkey, or Xi’s China.
Whatever happens, the future, as Edward Luttwak mordantly points out, is basically fascist — whether left, right or whatever.
Triumph! — of the Minotaur!
Trump’s triumph was a result of his skills in persuasion; he triumphed as a result of a political class who are politically deluded and badly decayed; he triumphed, ultimately, because the Modern Structure is in a downward death spiral.
As Captain Willard said in Apocalypse Now: “The war was being run by a bunch of four-star clowns who were going to end up giving the whole circus away.”
Proceed to the final part.