dark mutualism, part 1

neomutualists reach out for their weapons

mutualism stared and mostly remained an open concern about progress: serialized changes with a certain dominant teleology. it investigated such series initially in the economic realms of property, labour and production. in his later life, Proudhon veered into sociological analyses of the church and war. whatever else could be said of mutualism, its notion of progress drives in a lane little related to the mainstream meaning the term acquired in political currency. the trends tracked by Proudhon and its meagre followers, both in America and Europe, talked about mechanization, labour organization, decentralization and, even at its most social, still focused on the miracle of modernity. progress was the progress of intelligence towards its ever-greater expansion, the mastering of technique. what took over the term in the latter half of the 19th century was anything but.

two facts, then, need immediate recognition. first, mutualism lost progress, even as it remained its most fundamental concern. more generally, mutualism has been forsaken to the fringe of the fringes of political radicalism. its leading names after Proudhon are known to a few thousand people worldwide, at most. its theory is not entirely clear even to adherents, and its significant works have most remained untranslated. wherever social progress has taken, it has left mutualism behind.

secondly, progressivism – as it’s currently understood – mostly definitely won over the world. the current crop, directly descending from 19th-century social reformers, holds offices everywhere in the most powerful high places of the world. even its supposedly most ardent opponents are still committed to one or another of its doctrines. there’s nowhere in the world where being anti-progress would pay high dividends socially, and nowhere an anti-progressive could be safe for sure (maybe in Russia, but who knows). doesn’t all this undeniable success mean they grasped progress way more firmly than any mutualist ever could?

the triumphant stance of Proudhon, therefore, needs revisiting and serious revision: progress isn’t what it used to be. a recuperation is pressing if mutualism is to remain at all relevant. our enemies have taken power, and they barely even know they are our enemies. acquiring some fangs would constitute a reaction from the left, and as such, it invites paradoxical commitments. the most pressing question, now, is what the hell went wrong?

how was progress lost for mutualism? naïvité. like classical mechanics (and possibly classical liberalism), Proudhon’s rationalism expected time to be linear, a simple progression from A to B. what the social turmoils since his age spelt, on the other hand, were waves, and maybe even whirlpools. up to the point where regressive progress could not only make sense but be entirely necessary to keep with the trend.

mutualism’s own "ultraviolet catastrophe" was the practical demonstration, beginning in the 1920s, that fascist-style command-economies could not only work but effectively mobilize multitudes. federated unions had no chance of autonomy if they were effectively integrated into a framework of state-managed negotiations. mutual contractual obligations could not withstand extensive state regulation. absent unbounded competition, prices could never be reduced to costs. but, perhaps most consequentially, localized organization was rendered impossible in the hysteria of neo-tribal identities. the black-body of all-for-the-state absorbed all possible light.

even Proudhon already demonstrated some scepticism concerning mass politics.

"If monarchy is the hammer which crushes the People, democracy is the axe which divides it: the one and the other equally conclude in the death of liberty…"

so, in the wake of the 1848 revolution, his support for popular movements was hesitant. his proposals revolved around "economic" rather than "political" democracy, and the succession of events in the middle decades of 19th-century France led him ever deeper into a purely economic understanding of freedom – voluntary contracts and nothing else. still, even at his most economistic, Proudhon didn’t feel that popular movements could degenerate into state maximalism. and in the 19th century, there was possibly still reason for that.

Proudhon’s American heirs, the individualist anarchists of Boston, started from that economic view and – in what could be seen as a deviation from Stirner-style European individualism – imagined the economy unleashed from state grips as positively social. Their prolific and vibrant movement lasted a few decades, but just like proudhonism in Europe, was devoured by the rise of communistic strains of anarchism. at the dawn of the 20th century, Benjamin Tucker was hopeless and gloomy about the future of liberty.

the earlier half of the 20th saw the decimation of even the communistic side of anarchism, and the absorption of whatever remained into the capitalist/socialist duopoly. The revival of American individualists in the late 60s by Rothbard was made without any reference whatsoever to their mutualist side. it took the 21st century – and especially the Internet – for mutualism to reemerge.

the works of Shawn Wilbur and Kevin Carson finally thawed the ice that entrapped mutualism and drove into new directions: decentralized industrialism was once again out of the box, and maybe more than ever. Carson’s analysis of early 20th-century progressivism and the New Class it brought to power also provided a much-needed explanation for over 100 years of cryogenic suspended animation.

"Twentieth-century politics was dominated by the ideology of the professional and managerial classes that ran the new large organizations. "Progressivism," especially—the direct ancestor of the mid-20th century model of liberalism that was ascendant from the New Deal to the Great Society—was the ideology of the New Middle Class. As Christopher Lasch put it, it was the ideology of the "intellectual caste," in a future which "belonged to the manager, the technician, the bureaucrat, the expert."

Carson’s analysis – inevitably limited (where did this centralist bug come from?) – dovetails nicely with those of a writer that claims no mutualist ancestry whatsoever, and that immediately justifies the "dark" appendage in the title here. Moldbug’s analysis of the Cathedral is eerily similar to Carson’s about the New Class – with one crucial difference: the Cathedral is not only a dominant class with a peculiar taste for technocratic dominion, but rather an expanded opinion-control networked system, amounting to a secular church based on the creed of egalitarian humanism:

I am not a theist, so I don’t care much for theology. Paranormal beliefs are not beliefs about the real world, and cannot directly motivate real-world action. As a result, they are usually of no adaptive significance, tend to mutate frequently, and are a dangerous basis for classification.

And when we look at the real-world beliefs of ultracalvinists, we see that ultracalvinism is anything but content-free. By my count, the ultracalvinist creed has four main points:

First, ultracalvinists believe in the universal brotherhood of man. As an Ideal (an undefined universal) this might be called Equality. ("All men and women are born equal.") If we wanted to attach an "ism" to this, we could call it fraternalism.

Second, ultracalvinists believe in the futility of violence. The corresponding ideal is of course Peace. ("Violence only causes more violence.") This is well-known as pacifism.

Third, ultracalvinists believe in the fair distribution of goods. The ideal is Social Justice, which is a fine name as long as we remember that it has nothing to do with justice in the dictionary sense of the word, that is, the accurate application of the law. ("From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.") To avoid hot-button words, we will ride on a name and call this belief Rawlsianism.

Fourth, ultracalvinists believe in the managed society. The ideal is Community, and a community by definition is led by benevolent experts, or public servants. ("Public servants should be professional and socially responsible.") After their counterparts east of the Himalaya, we can call this belief mandarism.

…and that is where mutualism’s ultimate Achille’s heel is located: mutualism has been so far a very egalitarian humanist endeavour, much to its own demise.

egalitarian humanism ultimately begets demotism – if all humans are holy ("ends in themselves") and fundamentally, originally equal, then it follows that only unbounded franchise is justified. if the government is made by public opinion, the wheels of power have to revolve around managed minds. the rule in the name of the People is ultimately a cryptocalvinist global theocracy.

some may object: if egalitarian humanism kills mutualism, and mutualism is from the beginning complicit with it, so much worse for mutualism, right? up till now, i cannot but give a resounding yes. But things may have begun to change.

what this series will try to show – by following the main themes of mutualism – is how this profoundly pious sect of Protestantism that dominates the world is yet another misguided idealism; how it is slowly being unravelled by the forces that mutualism began (but never quite concluded) examining; and how mutualism can only secure itself by aligning with those forces – which will inevitably imply a dark turn away from humanity and substantial equality, and towards a "crowned anarchy" of synthetic beings.

to the left #2

to the left #2

another roundup of (neo)reactionry usefulness to the Left.

two themes appeared rather consistently: the antinomy, usually in the form of (imo correct) left/right divides; and passivism (rs), which is now offered as the main strategy for reactionaries. I’ll deal with those first, then proceed to some criticism of other assorted topics. finally, i’ll shed the gems that the Right offered for our learning. persevere, there’s a great surprise at the end. indeed.

* * * * *

Antinomy

Adam Wallace:

The upright is traditionally seen as represented by the vertical “I” — the erect totem of force; that which moves, as opposed to the waters which flow, which are moved, represented by the horizontal “–“: there is a dichotomy here, as with all things. The masculine mover, the feminine moved, as per Hermetic and perennial teaching; all reality is marked by twos, by opposites, by yin and yang, up and down, and so on and so forth.

which is indeed a very able description of it. and goes on to point the interdependence of the two modern positive feedback loops, capital and the Left:

What really strikes me — and what I think I originally understood at an intuitive level — is the sheer horizontality of the modern world. The facet which seeks to bring all existence down to the lowest level; to destroy the notion of greatness, the notion of beauty, the notion of — at its core — what distinguishes hierarchy between one thing and another and the ontological level. There is a levelling, mechanised process which marks modernity.

“Mechanised” is an interesting word because it implies several things. It implies a robust and continual — thoughtless — process, something which occurs despite anything external. It implies a standardisation, a creation of the one-size-fits-all genre. It is the Leviathan; the monolithic superstructure which destroys all in its wake and path simply because it can — in fact it could do nothing else. It implies a mindlessness, a zombie-like quality of thoughtless, repeated action just for its own sake. Not the creation of anything, only the changing of something external upon which is then inflicted sheer and pure mathematics. A sort of unnatural asymmetry which churns-out the same thing again and again and again. This perfectly describes our inverted, horizontal age.

in fact, there is certainly creation (in the form of production, instead of reproduction) going on in our “inverted, horizontal age”, but it certainly ain’t monkey business. i would also substitute Cthulhu for Leviathan, as the monster “which destroys all in its wake and path simply because it can”. Leviathan was simply a controller, not a bloody murderer. we’re on the same page about the rest.

Giovanni Donnato:

Throughout history, groups have settled on something that works for the time period and then try to perpetuate it ad nauseum across milennia. Talmudic Judaism was a brilliant way to coordinate a particular Semite tribe over 2000 years ago. Islam turned out to be the right solution for quarreling Arab city states about 1300 years ago. But one of the things we immediately notice is that all these systems buy a professional suite of anti-virus software to prevent change to that successful formula, even if it’s a thousand years later.
Sadly, social technologies tend to stagnate because they only ascend to apotheosis in the first place because they have serious protection against change.
The challenge before us then is how to design a society to be both resilient and highly adaptable to new stressors, so that when the next big asteroid hits, we aren’t among the dinosaurs.

how, you ask? well, it’s understandable why a neoreactionary would be reluctant to see it, but societies also have, built in themselves, a self-improvement software. which is a little chaotic, of course. it’s called “Revolution” and implemented by the outcasts of such societies (criminals, traitors, madmen). the Left, in Western modernity, was meant to be such a thing (but shit happened). things adapt through rupture (mutation) and rearrangement (selection), Left and Right.

Nick B. Steves:

Telling everyone to “Just Go Rogue” may make for some great storytelling (or TV ads), but it is a recipe… well… for many of the disorders that are growing in Western societies, not least social isolation, hedonism, and despair. It is a recipe, potentially, for civilizational disaster. Most rogues are bad people. Most people are not equipped, materially or psychologically, to go it alone. Most people benefit from going along to get along. Because we’re humans. Human culture, with its constitutive enforced norms, is an adaptation that should not be lightly messed with.

rogues vs. cohesionists is a proxy as good as any to Left vs Right. and indeed, society cannot function without both. “civilizational disaster” was and is needed to yield yet another (better adapted) civilization. no West without the Fall of Rome, etc.

* * * * *

Passivism

On the whole Passivism thing, it seems pretty clear the reactionaries are awakening the Right to the most expedient way they can produce what they want (civilization, order, and all those manly things). It’s good and I hope this can make the Left a little more aware that running governments are not quite the best way of fighting these guys when they get their shit together. Mark Yuray spits it out:

Are Ivy League millennials really the worthiest rulers? Not by some theoretical historical standard, but if nobody has replaced them yet, then yes, they are. That is not an indictment of passivism or Moldbug’s theories. It is an indictment of our civilization. You must become worthier than our current rulers. That does not just mean personally being healthier and more virtuous than they, it means, as a group, being more capable of good government – more capable of providing order, justice, law, virtue, truth, and glory. (…) If you can provide more order, justice, law, virtue, truth, and glory than the competition, you will eventually win.

as he also states, Activism is the thing of the Left. but Google defined Acitivism (“the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change“) is way too watered down, for obvious, governmental purposes. the old Left thing could be better stated as “the action of using violent subversion to bring about social rupture“. but we’ve been to busy ruling the world to actually back up subversion consistently. subversion is not healthy for people in government. Yuray even hints at it:

What happens to a rightist [when he attempts activism]? They get beaten, arrested, jailed, imprisoned, exiled, killed—and then? They are memory-wiped from everything but horror stories. This is not even an anomalous system, this is the very nature and purpose of the state. It’s just too bad that leftists got hold of it. (my emphasis)

Towards the end of the essay, Yuray tells the Right where to look for cohesion and action: cabals. the Left has to look to the exact opposite: radical feminist organization, ELZN and narcotraffic (to the extent that this last one hasn’t become itself a cabal). criminals, traitors and madmen: if the Left ain’t those, it ain’t nothing.

A little more upset, Reactionary Future gives us also some good hints (in the middle of an otherwise rage-filled jumbled rant):

The debate on Passivism is largely pointless because next to no-one has grasped the underlying premises that inform the concept. The central point is that the left is mere anarchy; indiscriminate anarchy which has no central brain. (my emphasis)

which makes the anarchist and libertarian left the only consistent leftists. or something.

* * * * *

Critiques

Jim’s solutions to housing, health and education look pretty shitty, here are better ones:

housing , health, and education. in short, self-management and localism.

of course, it all can be criticized on the basis of “this is no feasible”, but then again, Jim’s solutions aren’t either.

* * * * *

Kristor (and supposedly Moldbug, though i’m not the one saying it) says:

Market perfection requires internalization of all externalities

yep, that’s also the whole Carsonian thing, but

and enclosure of all commons (these are two different ways of saying the same thing)

wrong.

people with property can join it in a commons, and thence internalize costs as an organization. either that or “market perfection” is the abolition of join-stock firms. which is of course absurd.

The last commons to be enclosed is the state. It must be owned, or all its operations will tend to social vitiation.

where in hell did he get the idea that the state is a commons? the operators bear no part in the investment. the modern state in special – and states as such in general – are merely machines to externalize the costs of an organization through coercion. wanna build an army and hunt your enemies down? levy taxes. world domination? taxes. so on and so forth.

the state doesn’t need owning. owning would simply obliterate its existence.

* * * * *

the Christian refusal of animality in this piece is probably the best picture lately of what the Left is meant to oppose:

Isn’t it just part of a liberal democracy to tolerate difference and to make allowances for some, even if you find them obnoxious? “Well, a society that tolerates everything is rather bad. Shouting, screaming, and intimidation? We are prepared to tolerate public vomiting, but if you use the term ‘actress’, you are a sexist. A very well-educated lady told me public vomiting is all right: ‘They can clear it up.’ This is how the elite now thinks. They are so anxious not to seem narrow-minded or bigoted, or of being ‘judgmental’. How did that word become a term of abuse?”

when we found out civilization takes too much prohibition to work, and got pissed at it. we’re mammals, for fuck’s sake.

* * * * *

Dave Hoffman compares the Left to a dying star:

I believe what we’re seeing now with the left is analogous to a dying star. More groups enter the left, it gains further power, until the day when it finally becomes unstable and collapses in on itself, though not through gravity, but from infighting.

surely, but it takes a hell of a time for a star in the main sequence to proceed to a red giant, and then some more gargantuan time for it to explode into a white dwarf burning slowly. if they ever do: critical mass having been achieved in massive big stars, they collapse into black holes. and gnon knows how big and everlasting are black holes.

so, get your analogies right. if it’s true, as Hoffman says, that “[t]he primary result would be open conflict within the left, and because the left thrives on conflict, it will be like an ouroboros feasting upon itself“, what happens is not that the house falls, but either that it grows indefinitely until it explodes into millions of other bodies (not a bad outcome in this blog’s opinion), or it reaches critical mass, so that no ideology that comes close enough will ever be able to *get out* of the Left (a little worse outcome).

in any case, the current state of the Left is to be seen as prosperous conflict-breeding after too long a time of ideological consistency.

* * * * *

Learning from the Right

Charles Tallis, at American Renaissance, presents some ironies of universalism:

Ironically, universalism is far from universal. Only whites believe in it. Every other racial group considers itself unique and puts its own interests first. A Han Chinese who proclaimed the unity of all mankind would be thought insane by other Chinese.

Another irony of universalism is that the whites who believe it most passionately are, subconsciously, thoroughgoing “racists.” They insist that all non-whites are inherently like them and need only a little assistance in order to take part in the highest expression of universalism, which is the Western Civilization of whites. The idea that everyone is the same means that anyone can become like us. Universalism does not mean whites becoming Saudi Arabian or Cambodian or Haitian. It means Muslims or Buddhists or voodoo priests becoming Americans or Frenchmen.

from this point of view, universalism has to be abandoned by the left (the post-structuralists have done some pretty good job at this), at least partially and in some contexts (such as strengthening other societies over Western civilization). but here’s why it has its uses for the objectives of the Left:

Of course, this transformation does not come easily, so universalists must lower white or Western standards in order to accommodate other groups. The entire society degenerates as academic and employment criteria are relaxed to accommodate “underrepresented” groups. (…) The dangers of universalism are sharpened by mobility and by numbers. (…) Non-whites are pouring into once-white countries. The former colonizers have convinced themselves that non-whites are the same as whites, have the same universalist perspective, and will treat whites with universalist benevolence.

* * * * *

esoterictrad bring us a neat exemple of the madness of the left that governs and are in high stands in life:

Tech workers are workers, no matter how much money they make. The investors are what’s wrong in this city,” said 24-year-old Tom Sliwowski, one of the Bay Area Movement For Bernie organizers and a PhD student at Berkeley. “Tech workers are the face of gentrification, but they’re not the cause.

No of course they can’t be the cause, you see this person wishes to align with the rest of the social justice movement. They aren’t the problem, no matter the blacks and Hispanics they displace despise them. They must be on the right side because those dreams haven’t come true.

1) Deleuze was damn right about capitalism and schizophrenia
2) “White people are odd

* * * * *

Free Northerner points to how activism just went down the hole with “raising awareness” tatics:

The first, is that hollow signalling has combined with activism to become something called “raising awareness“. Raising awareness took hold a while back, but it was usually in support of something: a benefits concert, a charity run, a food drive, etc. The activism used to always be in addition to or in support of some form of honest signalling that at least tried to actually accomplish something, but somewhere along the line, when combined with social media, raising awareness became its own independent form of activism. Now raising awareness has infected everywhere and is often used instead of doing anything.

not only this, but the Left has been tamed to the point of using signalling as weapons (instead of using weapons proper as signalling):

Finally, and relatedly, hollow signalling is being weaponized. Rather than being a social lubricant for your social circles, it is becoming politicized. There have always been holiness spirals, but those spirals usually required some action or effort and happened over periods constrained by time and distance. Now spirals are immediate and require no effort. Activists are using this to weaponize signalling, forcing people signal properly, often through the threat of job loss..

“you’ll lose your job if you’re not a leftist” would make about as much sense to the likes of Proudhon as “you’ll be arrested for defending the King”.

* * * * *

nydwracu charges:

Progressives today believe in all sorts of prejudice: overt classism, unconscious bias, hatred of the Other, and so on. But, as that NYT comment shows, they don’t think any of that applies to them.

At least not when it comes to the people they truly hate.

and he’s right.

* * * * *

Tim Worstall has some interesting revelation that sort of bears out the (crazy) proudhonian solution (multiply possessors until equality), as well as provides some interesting mechanics for the whole thing.

Our own longer term view has been that inheritance tax hasn’t worked. The truly rich don’t pay it, using trusts and lifetime gifts and so on. It’s the less than plutocratic but still successful that do pay it. We’ve noted that old folk wisdom, clogs to clogs in three generations, and think that it has good predictive power. Even the inheritance of the grandest fortune cannot survive an inheritor truly determined to waste it and eventually, given the way genetics seems to work, one does always turn up to do such.

This might not draw nods of approval from those who would plan society but we’ve at least an urge to let people inherit as they may and leave the occasional existence of spendthrifts to deal with wealth concentration.

It has even a Tuckerite spin to it.

* * * * *

Porter tells us:

Most people harbor long-cherished delusions about exactly what elements grant territorial possession. These include silly sentiments such as…

– A piece of paper
– Lines on a map
– Values
– A flag
– Wind and soil
– Celestial beings

But I’m here to tell ya, there’s something else. What makes a place individually or collectively yours is having the capacity to defend it from encroachment.

meaning he just went full mutualist and accepted occupancy and use as the true warranty of property. welcome to anarchism!

* * * * *

Frank Hilliard presents (possibly unwittingly) a good summary of what left-wing racial politics should look like:

In this semantic and social fight, which side are you on? Are you with those who want to atomize society, remove inheritance, make babies in factories to specifications approved by a ruling elite? That’s what anti-racists are calling for, working for, demanding for us all. Consider what their ultimate goal is: a world of individuals stripped of any biological relationship, the race-mixing of all Western cultures, and thus the decimation of Europeans as a distinctive race. This is the truly horrifying end game of anti-racism.

maybe best summarized as “relentless outbreeding till equality”. that’s how Western Europeans got their liberalism the first time, that’s how the world would get it as well.

Briggs grudgingly points at another possible path:

“A team led by Yong Fan at Guangzhou Medical University in China used the gene-editing technology CRISPR–Cas9 to try to introduce a mutation that makes humans resistant to HIV infection.” Suppose this technique is perfected and HIV (in its current form) can no longer be caught. Result? Huge increase in sodomy, almost surely, along with the cultural degradation which accompanies it. (…) Even this will be seen as cruel, because abstinence “denies” desires, and why shouldn’t machines have what they desire?

precisely.

* * * * *

I’ll close with this quote, because it’s so perfect:

It’s clear that leftists like this kid want Trump to be president. They’re not really trying to prevent him from being president – they’re protesting and opposing him as if he were already president. Even when leftism is dominant, like it is now, it’s not comfortable with actually being in charge. It’s only really comfortable in opposing oppressive authority figures and being in a permanent revolutionary mode. Trump is sort of a pop culture caricature of such an oppressive authority figure, and he’s even sort of indulging them and playing the part in a campy way, which excites these people even more. They want Trump, they need Trump as president since it confirms their worldview and gives meaning to their lives as revolutionaries fighting unjust, oppressive authorities. It’s just not the same with Obama or leftists in charge, which ultimately only leads to cognitive dissonance and disillusionment.

Let here be stated the very beginning of “Leftists for Trump” banner.

Accelerationism, Left and Right

After my giant NRx piece at The Awl, I’d been planning on leaving the topic alone. Recently, however, I’ve had a few interactions – a conversation with another grad student who’s into Left Accelera…

Source: Accelerationism, Left and Right

Park makes a good summary of Land’s Right-Accelerationist poltics. I will eventually come to make some notes on Land’s theory, as expressed here, but there are some interesting points to be made right now, regarding a Mutualist reading of the whole accel-conundrum:

  1. Carson’s view of market catallactics (echoing Tucker, and to a certain extent Proudhon) affirms it as a equalizing and left-wing force per se. Indeed, the whole Austrian Economics’ view of the market is about viewing the market economy as space for individuality to manifest, for autonomy to organize itself. It’s an open question to view to which extent the process of capital autonomization described by Land is not itself a force of human autonomization (not in the least as humans fuse with capital, either literally or through individualization of capital ownership).
  2. Left-Accelerationism mostly ignores left-wing anarchist tendencies which focus on individual autonomy and the forces of bottom-up global organization *through* capitalist technologies (bitcoin, ethereum and the Internet itself being the foremost examples). It’s my contention here that any “left” that does not interest itself with decentralized, disruptive processes, and focus rather on keeping and maintaining centralized power, is not “left-wing” at all.
  3. Carson has made a very decent attempt at synthesizing Austrian/marginalist economics and LTV, in such a subjetivist way as to possibly present some problems for Landian remarks. Its main contentions – that a market cannot calculate prices properly if not through an application of labor-value, and that the removal of such element in the calculation is only possible through extra-market coercive mean – need to be dealt with, at least for dismissal.
  4. Long’s ideas for non-territorial security agencies are probably a better fit for a global market. Neocameralism seems all very good, but if sovereignty moves spatially, it’s better.