(This post, and the ones to follow, will focus on building challengers and alternatives to the Cathedral – both the press and the university. This week, however, we will review what Moldbug has to say.)
Moldbug on the Antiversity and the Plinth.
To defeat the Modern Structure, create a New Structure which is more worthy to rule. Much more worthy to rule. Once this (perfectly passive) task is complete, the New Structure has only to wait.
Remember the analogy of the eject button. The reason USG is so stable is not that it is (a) is structured militarily to retain power without the broad consent of its subjects. Nor is the regime (b) especially loved by said subjects. Rather, USG is permanent because there (c) exists no credible alternative to its services.
The task is to build that alternative.
Three key steps:
1: The Procedure.
2: The Program and the Plinth.
So the First Step is (a) a fun hobby which enhances, invigorates, relaxes and entertains the soul of man under socialism (*); and (b) an information weapon to be used offensively in the Second Step, and defensively in the Third. It is not a compromise between these two objectives. It is both, at once, completely. But how can anyone succeed in such a daring enterprise?
Step 1: The Procedure.
Firstly, an alternative to the University must be constructed. Moldbug calls this the Antiversity.
Purpose of the Antiversity:
The thesis of the Procedure is that if we can construct a truth service much more powerful than USG’s noble and revered ministry of information, we will be able to use it to safely and effectively defeat USG. Indeed, I can imagine no other way to solve the problem…
The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity – a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and never be wrong. Where multiple coherent perspectives of an issue exist, the Antiversity must provide all – each composed with the highest quality available.
In the First Step, we do not replace all of USG. We just replace its brain – the University. With a new device we call the Antiversity, which is pretty much what it sounds like it is.
Once this device of great veracity, the Antiversity – expressing not only razor-sharp analytical intelligence, not just exhaustive learning, but also great prudence and judgment – is fully armed and operational, it is straightforward to ask it the question: chto dyelat? What is to be done? What is the sequel to the coup d’etat? What is Plan B?
The Antiversity will promptly deliberate, in its accustomed fashion, and churn out a hundred-page report. Probably with a DVD-sized appendix. And this will be Plan B, which describes how the institutions of NUSG are created outside power and installed in it. Plan B, in short, is the constitution of the Second Step.
Simply put, the Antiversity is the root of a belief system which is to USG as Protestantism is to the Catholic Church. Everyone who has even heard of it knows it is possible to stop believing in the University, and this alone is a serious problem. USG is not a military despotism. It is a democratic government. It is and will always be existentially dependent on popular support. Since USG is guided by the University, if you don’t believe in the University, you don’t believe in USG. You think the Pope is just some guy in a funny hat. You’re a problem, buddy.
But the Antiversity is not just limited to just existing. It can attack. It should attack. It will attack. How does it attack? The Antiversity attacks USG by studying it.
USG has never received anything like an independent historical audit, let alone the brutal proctoscopy to which the Antiversity will subject it. USG is, of course, part of history; the Antiversity cannot study history without it. So it will eventually be asking the questions: what the hell happened? And why? How, for instance, did Washington take over the world? And why?
Since it is only the First Step of a complete Procedure, its ultimate goal is presumably some sort of actual action.
Yet, since the ideology of the Procedure is fundamentally and unchangeably passivist, this Step must also be complete in itself. The State is no green apple to yank from the branch. No! It can only melt into the hand, like a ripe peach.
In case anyone, perhaps not having watched enough Kung Fu episodes, remains morally confused about how sincere passivists can assemble a political weapon, passivism turns out to be just one special case of a more general principle: do not act until it is proper to act. Since it is nowhere near proper to act, the difference is irrelevant – now, and for the foreseeable future.
Step 2A: The Program.
Secondly, once the Antiversity is constructed, operational and trustworthy, then, and only then, can the Plinth be built:
To begin the Second Step, the First Step must be complete. When the First Step is complete, the Antiversity exists, and it is not a baby either. It has come together as a genuine institution. It is a substantial institution – perhaps not with as many contributors as Wikipedia has today, but in that ballpark. It is a prestigious institution, widely respected for the excellence of its collective judgment – if not always agreed with. And it has some central decision-making body which can make it act, more or less, as a unit. I would be shocked if any such thing existed before 2019.
In the Second Step, the Antiversity has three action items:
First, the Antiversity must design a Program. The Program says: if we receive formal sovereign authority, this is what we expect to do with it. The Program includes both a decision architecture for the New Structure, and a policy roadmap for the transitional administration.
Second, given this clever design, the Antiversity must actually organize the Party. Without actually prejudging the design, let us call the set of patriotic and responsible citizens who support the Program the Plinth.
Reaction Control does three things. One: it assigns Plinthers to cells. Two: it publishes the Update. Three: it coordinates any distributed actions.
Step 2B: The Plinth.
The Plinth (Party) is an organisation of all men and women who agree that X: The Modern Structure is out of control; Y: The Modern Structure must be replaced; Z: The Modern Structure must be placed into receivership; the receiver then restructures the system and implements the New Structure.
The Purpose and Design:
We can describe this as an existential party; it demands a fundamental and complete change of government. Such a party cannot, of course, be anything but upfront about this goal. It cannot mind being called anti-democratic. It is anti-democratic.
Power is what works; it can be used for good or evil. All significant existential movements, from the Bolsheviks to the Nazis, the Sandinistas to the Legion of the Archangel Michael, share these five design features:
One, the Party is exclusive, rather than inclusive. A democratic party is like a church: anyone can walk in, sit down, and listen to the sermon. An anti-democratic party is like a club: if you want to be a member, you have to apply. Moreover, if you want to stay a member, you have to keep paying your dues. Both metaphorically and financially.
Two, the Party enforces an ideological standard. The Party leadership decides on the Party line. You are, of course, free to have your own opinions. You are just not free to confuse them with the Party’s opinions. As a Party member, you know the Party line and can spout it like a tape recorder. You can also rant on your own account. And you know the difference – that’s all. The Party is most certainly not a soul-enslaving totalitarian cult.
Three, the Party proposes a concrete program. If you vote to transfer power to the Party, you know exactly what you’re voting for. You are not voting for the box labeled “Surprise.” If everyone else puts their votes in that same box, you know exactly what’s going to happen.
Four, the Party eschews and despises partial authority. The question of what a responsible statesman would do with an existing pseudo-executive position under the Modern Structure – mayor, governor, even President – is only theoretically interesting. A responsible statesman would never accept any such position. His work would be sabotaged by those who retain the rest of said authority. Therefore, it would visibly appear to have failed. Moreover, even if it managed to succeed, it might well be reported otherwise. Better to hold back. The Party is organized to transcend democracy, not to repair it.
Fifth, the Party is inherently a shadow government. It is perfectly possible for the Party to build the new government under the laws of the old government. It just can’t be activated (no, not even a little bit!) under the laws of the old government. (It can give demos, however.)
The Plinth, quite simply, is the existential party of responsible thought. It appeals to responsible and intelligent people – parents, homeowners, schoolteachers. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Students at top-level universities. Republicans and Democrats, of course. Ice People, Chinamen, Hindoos; Boers, steers, and queers; mulattos, Hispanics, and Jews. Everyone intelligent, mature and open-minded, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual preference.
The Plinth can recruit new members in only one way: educating them. To join the Plinth, you need to educate yourself at least superficially in the doctrines of the Plinth. These simple instructional materials, prepared of course by the Antiversity, contain a brief general reorientation, and a short overview of actual history, economics, and political science. Basically, you need to read a little book and take a little test. It’s like getting your political driver’s license. Not difficult at all.
The Plinth must (a) obey the principles of existential politics as described above; (b) conduct all operations in a perfectly democratic, transparent and responsible way; and (c) place its absolute confidence in the Antiversity and the Program.
The relationship between the Antiversity and the Plinth:
Third, the Antiversity must continue to exist, so that it can advise the Plinth and its successor, the New Structure. It is intended to be a permanent design – which means it is intended to be a nonsovereign design. This one-time event should be its only brush with power. For the rest of the future, it produces advice. Which the advised are quite free to disregard. This is the honest relationship of a legitimate consultant – not the creepy hypnotic grip of an intellectual Svengali.
If we consider the set of Reaction supporters as a social network, we will see that the core of this social network is the set of extremely intelligent, learned and prudent scholars who have created the Antiversity. Since its strategy for success involves expanding that social network, it must do what all successful social networks do: start with the elites, and work downward.
So, again, the Reaction has two engines: truth and victory. By producing truth and only truth, it attracts those strange geeks who are attracted to pure truth. Because it has a strategy for actual, complete victory, it attracts those normal remoras who are attracted by victory. With the combination, it is built to win – like Kimbo Slice.
In the American context, victory can only be produced by a coalition of civilized unity, ie, a party containing both Vaisyas and dissident Brahmins. Once a sufficient quantity of the latter can be recruited, the former will recognize their natural leaders and fall into line. However, organizing any number of Vaisyas by any method which precludes the recruitment of Brahmins is a waste of time. Even in a democracy, the great contest is for minds, not heads. Once the minds are won, the heads will follow.
Tactically, conservatism concentrates on exactly the wrong side of this problem. It concentrates on recruiting the largest number of Vaisyas, by any means necessary. It goes straight for the democratic bait. The bait is indeed tasty and can generate a very realistic impression of power, but it is a mob rather than an army and cannot organize itself for any real political capture. I would trade the entire red-state population for a quarter of the Burning Man attendees – because, if I had the latter, I could easily get the former back. Again, political actors naturally recognize their natural leaders. Forge the spearhead, and the spear will show up on its own.
If this coalition of the middle and upper classes – the civilized classes – can be formed, victory is certain regardless of the numbers of the underclass. When the civilized classes are united, an underclass population of any size is not a political problem, but a security problem. And not a difficult one in this day and age. If the civilized coalition is outvoted, it can simply bid directly for the loyalty of the security forces, a contest it will always win.
Therefore, the Plinth will not prevail through the mere votes of Plinthers. It needs to recruit an outer core of sympathizers – supporters, but not members. To do so, it must propagate its message outside the actual Plinth. There are several ways to do so.
One is mass public action – demonstrations. These, of course, must be (a) entirely legal; and (b) extremely successful and impressive. Any demonstration of less than 100 people is a failure by definition. Also, all demonstrations must include fiery public speeches, preferably not by Hitler impersonators. Tweed or some other stylish, quasi-formal uniform is highly recommended. Colored shirts are most definitely out. Ties are good – cravats and bowties are better. Red, yellow, gold or orange are always good colors for male neckwear.
Two is Gramscian infiltration. Everything that can be infiltrated should be infiltrated, of course, but reactionaries should focus especially on the least politicized and least official networks in society – the workplace, and the new voluntary institutions. (Including, of course, Facebook.)
Rule #1 is the one we just stated. Reaction is a boolean decision. Either you want to discard our present political system, including democracy, the Constitution, the entire legal code and body of precedent, the UN, etc, etc, or you think it’s safer to muddle along with what we have now. Either is a perfectly legitimate opinion which a perfectly reasonable person may hold.
Rule #2 is that a restoration cannot succeed by either of the following methods: the Democrats defeating the Republicans, or the Republicans defeating the Democrats. More precisely, it cannot involve imposing progressivism on traditionalists/”fundamentalists,” or traditionalism on progressives.
Rule #3: in case this is not a corollary of rule #1, a reset implies a total breach with the Anglo-American political tradition.
Rule #4: the only possible weapon is the truth.
Rule #5: quality is better than quantity. At least when it comes to supporters.
Fail Safe Mechanisms and Overall Design:
Let’s look at the safety interlocks on this baby. First, as we saw earlier, the Antiversity creates Reaction Control, but Reaction Control is not in any way responsible to or governed by the Antiversity. At least formally, this missile is fire-and-forget.
Once Reaction Control is born, the administrative tie is severed; the relationship is advisory alone. Thus, the Antiversity is not intellectually contaminated by the activism and raw power lust of the Plinth. Or at least, it is contaminated temporarily and as little as possible. Moreover, the fact that the Plinth can only win by speaking the truth is a major barrier to any kind of power distortion.
And then, of course, there is another Morgul-condom: once the Plinth wins, it forms the New Structure and ceases to exist. Furthermore, it is a conflict of interest to hold or have held any formal responsibility in of any two of these organizations: Antiversity, Plinth, New Structure. At every step, the people have to change. Otherwise, we could expect contamination. There will surely be some bad eggs anyway, but there’s no reason to invite them.
The Last Word:
Above all, then, the Reaction depends on one question. Will good people undertake it? No – will great people undertake it? If so, it will happen, and I think succeed. The most important thing about this entire project: at every step, in every thing it does, it must attract the best, it must repel, defeat or confine the worst, and it must be entirely and in the deepest sense of the word fun.
History has been a lot worse. It is getting worse; but not, by historical standards, that fast. (Unless you have the misfortune to live in South Africa.) And even if barbarism does steepen its pace, the consolations of Boethius remain available.
Better Boethius than Claudian, I say. Better truth in a cage than lies in purple. Truth will not remain in a cage, nor lies in purple. Not gently does this inversion revert. The force is not ours; the force is Clio’s. Heck – God’s. But
“Nay, by God, Donald, we must help him to mend it!”
San Francisco; November 2009
(Next time in Part F2, we will look at building something that will take on the Cathedral and serve as a bridge to building the antiversity.)
Moldbug on Truth Services: