Tag Archives: Conquest’s Second Law

The nation as a whole has moved slightly to the left

[T]he nation as a whole has moved slightly to the left over the past 20 years, mostly because of a broad societal shift toward acceptance of homosexuality and more positive views of immigrants. Twenty years ago, these two issues created significant cleavages within the Democratic Party, as many otherwise liberal Democrats expressed more conservative values in these realms. But today, as divisions over these issues have diminished on the left, they have emerged on the right, with a subset of otherwise conservative Republicans expressing more liberal values on these social issues.

(source)

Relevant.

Moldbug’s causal account of Conquest’s Second Law

People love power, and any movement with the power to destroy anything, or even just “change” it, has just that: power.

Antinomianism allows young aristocrats to engage in the activity that has been the favorite sport of young aristocrats since Alcibiades was a little boy: scheming for power. According to this article, for example, there are “over 7500 nonprofits” in the Bay Area, “3800 of which deal with sustainability issues.” These appear to employ approximately half of our fair city’s jeunesse doree, occupying the best years of their lives and paying them squat. Meanwhile, container ships full of empty boxes thunder out the Golden Gate, along with approximately two trillion dollars a year of little green pieces of paper. However, if you’re 23 and all you care about is getting laid, interning at a nonprofit is definitely the way to go. …

Pronom[ian]ism is the essential principle of the political right wing.

(source)

For Moldbug, anything that fractures and distributes power is leftist, and anything that centralizes power is rightist. This seems counterintuitive, but really it’s just post-libertarian: to libertarians, anything that expands government power is leftist, and anything that contracts government power is rightist. How did he get from there to here? Back to OLXI:

The simplicity and flexibility of the nomos creates, or should create, an endless stream of “diversity” in the best sense of the word. It’s almost impossible to imagine the variety of schools, for example, that would spring up if all parents could educate their children as they saw fit. Structures of voluntary agreement tend to rely heavily on mere personal decision, and the products and services they create tend to embody personal style. For example, one of the many reasons that Belle Epoque buildings tend to be so much more attractive than postwar buildings is, I think, that signoff on the design was much more likely to be in the hands of an individual than a committee.

Antinomianism, with its love for reaching into these structures of private agreement and breaking them to serve some nominally noble purpose, has the general effect of replacing individual decisions with committee decisions, personal responsibility with process, and personal taste with official aesthetics. The final stage is the worst form of bureaucracy – litigation, an invisible tyrant whose arms wrap tighter and tighter around us every year. This is sclerosis, scar tissue, Dilbert, Brezhnev, boredom and incompetence for everyone everywhere.

Most observers interpret bureaucratic sclerosis as a sign of a government which is too powerful. In fact it is a sign of a government which is too weak. If seventeen officials need to provide signoff for you to repaint the fence in your front yard, this is not because George W. Bush, El Maximo Jefe, was so concerned about the toxicity of red paint that he wants to make seventeen-times-sure that no wandering fruit flies are spattered with the nefarious chemical. It is because a lot of people have succeeded in making work for themselves, and that work has been spread wide and well. They are thriving off tiny pinhole leaks through which power leaks out of the State. A strong unauthority would plug the leaks, and retire the officials.

Conquest’s Second Law, for Moldbug, could apply to Naziward and Communistward drift as well as progward drift: for Moldbug, the three are all antinomian. Under this reading, what the Second Law means is that power will always be distributed further; power is always distributed further because people want power and can get it; and people can get it because…

A political party is a political party. It is a large group of people allied for the purpose of seizing and wielding power. If it does not choose to arm its followers, this is only because it finds unarmed followers more useful than armed ones. If it chooses less effective strategies out of moral compunction, it will be outcompeted by some less-principled party.

When one party gains full control over the state, it gains a massive revenue stream that it can divert entirely to its supporters. The result is a classic informal management structure, whose workings should be clear to anyone who watched a few episodes of “The Sopranos.” Without a formal ownership structure, in which the entire profit of the whole enterprise is collected and distributed centrally, money and other goodies leak from every pore.

Totalitarian states are gangster states, in other words, and they tend to corruption and mismanagement. The personality cult of dictatorship is quite misleading – a totalitarian dictator has little in common with a neocameralist CEO, or even a cameralist monarch.

The difference is the management structure. The CEO and the monarch owe their positions to a law which all can obey, and those who choose to obey the law are naturally a winning coalition against those who choose to break it. The dictator’s position is the result of his primacy in a pyramid of criminals. This structure is naturally unstable. There is always some other gangster who wants your job. Dictators, like Mafia chiefs, are not good at dying in bed.