How totalitarian is the West currently? How much arbitrary power do police have? The Party in Orwell’s 1984 had hard power – the power to arrest citizens and torture them. The Cathedral mentioned by Spandrell has soft power – it can corrupt the culture and the narrative and the mass-media paradigms.
Uncola at TBP posted a notable big-picture rant about increasing Orwellianism in Western societies.
The notable points were:
1. Continuous war
2. Widespread surveillance
3. Propaganda-style fake news
4. Acceptance of Politically Correct Orthodoxies via Newspeak
5. Dumbing Down and Doublethink
7. Two Minutes of Hate against Political Scapegoats and Strawmen
8. Harassment and Arrest of Dissidents
9. #MeToo Sexual Purges
10.Historical Revisionism (The “memory hole” in 1984 was a chute connected to an incinerator…)
Note that some of Uncola’s points refer strictly to hard power, such as #1, Continuous War. However, others refer to soft power, such as #5, Dumbing Down and Doublethink. It may be instructive to compare and contrast Uncola’s views with Spandrell’s views, blogged at Bloody Shovel.
Socialism works not only because it promises higher status to a lot of people. Socialism is catnip because it promises status to people who, deep down, know they shouldn’t have it. There is such a thing as natural law, the natural state of any normally functioning human society. Basic biology tells us people are different. Some are more intelligent, more attractive, more crafty and popular. Everybody knows, deep in their lizard brains, how human mating works: women are attracted to the top dogs. Being generous, all human societies default to a Pareto distribution where 20% of people are high-status, and everyone else just has to put up with their inferiority for life. That’s just how it works.
Socialism though promised to change that, and Marx showed they had a good plan. Lenin then put that plan to work in practice. What did Lenin do? Exterminate the natural aristocracy of Russia, and build a ruling class with a bunch of low-status people. Workers, peasants, Jews, Latvians, Ukrainians. Lenin went out of his way to recruit everyone who had a grudge against Imperial Russian society. And it worked, brilliantly. The Bolsheviks, a small party with little popular support, won the civil war, and became the awesome Soviet Union. The early Soviet Union promoted minorities, women, sexual deviants, atheists, cultists and every kind of weirdo. Everybody but intelligent, conservative Russians of good families. The same happened in China, where e.g. the 5 provinces which formed the southern Mongolian steppe were joined up into “Inner Mongolia autonomous region”, what Sailer calls “consolidate and surrender”.
In Communist countries pedigree was very important. You couldn’t get far in the party if you had any little kulak, noble or landowner ancestry. Only peasants and workers were trusted. Why? Because only peasants and workers could be trusted to be loyal. Rich people, or people with the inborn traits which lead to being rich, will always have status in any natural society. They will always do alright. That’s why they can’t be trusted; the stakes are never high for them. If anything they’d rather have more freedom to realize their talents. People of peasant stock though, they came from the dregs of society. They know very well that all they have was given to them by the party. And so they will be loyal to the death, because they know it, if the Communist regime falls, their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well. And the same goes for everyone else, especially those ethnic minorities.
Ethnics were tricky though, because they always had a gambit which could increase their status even further: independence. Which is why both Russia and China soon after consolidating the regime started to crack down on ethnics. Stalin famously purged Jews from the Politburo, used WW2 to restore most of the Tsar’s territory, and run such a Russia-centered state that to this day people in Kyrgyzstan speak Russian. The same in China, a little known fact of the Cultural Revolution was the huge, bloody purge in Mongolia and the destruction of many temples in Tibet. After that was done with, the Communist party became this strong, stable and smooth machine. The Soviet economy of course worked like shit, and that eventually resulted in the collapse of the system. But as China has shown, central planning is orthogonal to Leninist politics. China, of course, had to know. It had been running a centralized bureaucracy for thousands of years. Leninism was just completing the system.
So again, the genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose. It worked so well it was the marvel of the intellectual classes of the whole world for a hundred years.
Meanwhile, what was the West doing? The West, that diehard enemy of worldwide Communism, led by the United States. What has been the American response to Leninism? Look around you. Read Vox. Put on TV. Ok, that’s enough. Who is high status in the West today? Women. Homosexuals. Transexuals. Muslims. Blacks. There’s even movements propping up disabled and fat people. What Progressivism is running is hyper Leninism. Biological Leninism.
When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. “Never forget class-struggle”, Mao liked to say. “Never forget you used to be a serf and you’re not one now thanks to me”, he meant.
The point again is, that you can’t run a tight, cohesive ruling class with white men. They don’t need to be loyal. They’ll do ok anyway. A much easier way to run an obedient, loyal party is to recruit everyone else. Women. Blacks. Gays. Muslims. Transexuals. Pedophiles. Those people may be very high performers individually, but in a natural society ruled by its core of high performers, i.e. a white patriarchy, they wouldn’t have very high status. So if you promise them high status for being loyal to you; you bet they’re gonna join your team. They have much to gain, little to lose. The Coalition of the Fringes, Sailer calls it. It’s worse than that really. It’s the coalition of everyone who would lose status the better society were run. It’s the coalition of the bad. Literal Kakistocracy.
There’s a reason why there’s so many evil fat women in government. Where else would they be if government didn’t want them? They have nothing going on for them, except their membership in the Democratic party machine. The party gives them all they have, the same way the Communist party had given everything to that average peasant kid who became a middling bureaucrat in Moscow.
Any system ruled by political parties will always move to the left. Their business model is based on getting low status people to work for them. Obviously they must give them something in exchange. And they must motivate voters to vote for them. Their promise is simple: You, low status people, help us out, vote for us, obey our commands, and we will give you high status. Don’t vote for us, disobey us, let the right win, and you will remain low status.
Once the left wins, which it always does, because they are better organized, better able to form majorities in comparison to rich pricks who have no good reason to coordinate. High status people have been in the losing side in politics for 300 years. So what? They’re still rich. Life is good. Yeah taxes are higher. And women are incomparably more annoying. But they put out better now, so there’s that. Anyway, who cares. The Son also Rises.
The left always wins. But once they win they become higher status. Come on, they got power. They try, very hard, to convince everyone that they’re not really in power. No, the forces of reaction are lurking everywhere! We must keep on the struggle! 80% of the Left’s energy is in producing propaganda about how the Right really runs everything. When the Left had 90% tax rates, they still talked as if they were in Charles Dickens world. After 60 years of feminism, affirmative action, and Jews in all resorts of power the Left of 2017 is obsessed with “systemic racism”, “toxic masculinity” and “anti-semitism”. Right.
Economic firms are built around the pursuit of profit, and they grew through the joint-stock corporation. Political parties are built around the recruitment of low-status, or compromised (i.e. potentially low-status) people, and the promise of delivering high-status to followers and voters after power is grabbed.
We all know how efficient and sophisticated profit-pursuing mechanisms have evolved. Liberal politics were also this primordial soup where power-grabbing mechanisms were to evolve. And it didn’t take too long for a strong, stable and hugely contagious mechanism to evolve. Socialism. It was always around, but Marx published the Communist Manifesto in 1848, just the year that the liberal revolutions were killing off all the monarchies across Europe.
Socialism refined liberal politics, the same way that double-entry bookkeeping refined business accounting. The base of electoral politics was to promise high status to low status people. …
And the resentful will win, because upward mobility is a very strong motivator. Hope really does trump fear. People with a shot at gaining status are always going to outcompete people who are just trying to keep what they have. They are plenty of pathways, but the writing is in the wall. In a “free society”, the politics will always move to the left. Always.
Of course the degree to which they move to the left depends on the degree of freedom on the political process. The first part to move left is the legislature, which is the part which is most open. Again as I was saying there are other parts to a power structure. The bureaucrats, the lawyers. The press, which provides conversation topics to all of them. The education system, which raises them and their children. It’s fairly obvious that if any political agent is to take absolute power, he has to grab not only the parliament; he has to grab all these too. And those are trickier than just MPs. Again we saw the process by which politicians move to the left: a political party needs loyal people who follow orders; the lowest status people are more likely to be loyal, given their lack of options. But bureaucrats or judges are harder to control. For one they tend to be smarter. They have to be smarter, they need to do an actual job. States tend to try to hire smart people to work as bureaucrats or judges. China hired them (China had governors double as judges, didn’t and doesn’t believe in separating the executive from the judiciary). through a famously hard exam system. In most places bureaucrats are still hired through exams. Let alone judges and lawyers. They have to pass the bar.
So how do you control these people? You can’t do it overtly, like you do with politicians. You can’t organize them through a formal political party. That’s against the rules. This is a very important point. How do you make sure the unelected parts of the power structure are in harmony with the elected parts? Here’s where the Leftist Power Machine divided into two paths. I call it the branching of leftism between Formal Leninism and Distributed Leninism, which then for historical reasons became classical Leninism and Biological Leninism. Historically this maps very well into what Moldbug called the Anglo-Soviet split.
Leftism in Russia had been advancing, slowly but steadily, for a very long time. Russia was formally an absolutist autocracy ruled by the Tsar. But during the 19th century the country opened up quite a bit, and as capitalism advanced, leftism grew in the same proportion among the people who weren’t doing so well under capitalism. The Dostoyesvki types. Of which Russia had no lack of. I’d say Russia had a disproportionate amount of leftists because instead of capitalism growing organically as in say, the Netherlands, it came out of the blue into a very traditional and pious society. So of course all those people who had been conditioned over centuries to be loyal subjects and good Christians weren’t enjoying all that freedom to build factories and make money. And so they hated the whole thing. Russia produced lots of leftists of the craziest sort before it even had electoral politics.
So then comes Lenin and stages a coup and actually grabs power as a formal communist. And what did Lenin do? He wanted absolute power. Like everyone else, but he actually had the guts and the will to pull it off. Lenin’s way of achieving power was to do what I just said you couldn’t do. Integrate all the ruling class into his political party. The judges, the bureaucrats, the teachers, the press. Everything into the party. The Communist Party. Political parties, remember, appeared as a way of ensuring discipline and organization in electoral politics. Lenin just extended the idea to every single organ of power in Russia. And it worked. It worked like a charm. It wasn’t easy, by no means. It took a long and bloody war. Then long and bloody purges. Then some more. Then the complete terrorizing of society. Then some more purges. But after 20 years or so Stalin had it more or less set up. He had achieved absolute power. He controlled the party. And the party controlled everything.
That’s Classical Leninism. There’s plenty of literature about it, if you want to know more. And there’s China right now, where the same principle still applies. Moreso these days after Xi Jinping tightened screws back on some areas of power which the Chinese Communist Party had let loose some decades ago. The point about Leninism is that after absolute power is achieved, the leftist ratchet stops. The country stops moving left. No new ideas. No new catering to low-status people and using them to topple the government. No, none of that. The ever advancing leftist movement was just a means to an end. The end was power. Once power is achieved, leftism dissolves. It doesn’t disappear; it leaves some residue, in that states always try to have ideological consistency with what they said during their founding. Chinese dynasties framed that as filial piety of emperors following the ideas of grandpa the founder; but it’s mostly just inertia.
This is not how things turned out in Western Europe and North America. No leftist party as such ever achieved absolute power in the West. It just didn’t happen. And not for lack of trying. But it didn’t pan out. As for why, well there’s my theory back then. Countries which developed capitalism slowly tended to produce less resentful losers than agrarian empires who were thrown suddenly into modernity. That’s not quite my original theory, I’ve read it somewhere else, maybe someone can remind me who first said it. At any rate the success of Leninism in Russia and China has plenty of chance in it. Lenin could very easily not have taken power, he could have lost the civil war, he could have not had that precious Wall Street Jewish money to keep him afloat. No Soviet Russia, no Communist China either. But anyway, it did happen, and socialism was very strong in those places with or without actual takeover.
So what happened in the West, anyway? There’s one guy who thought about it very deeply. For a long, long time. Mostly because he was in jail so he had plenty of time to study the problem. I’m talking about Antonio Gramsci. He was a communist agitator in Italy who got caught by Mussolini, and was sentenced to rot in prison. During that time he thought a very reasonable problem. Why am I here? Why did I lose? Fucking Lenin did a coup d’etat and he won, now he has power. Now look at me, rotting in prison. What went wrong?
His idea, which was hugely influential, and for good reason, was that the power structure wanted to keep being the power structure and you couldn’t just throw it away and replace it with your boys. You can try your chance in electoral politics, but there’s only so many resentful fucks who are willing to vote for the abolition of the very foundation of social life (property), at least in moderately prosperous Western countries. In these kind of places, if you want to take absolute power, you have to colonize the power structure very slowly. You have to influence their minds. You have to change the culture. This sounds very esoteric and spiritual but it’s not. Basically Gramsci argues that you gotta grab the press and the education system, and slowly but steadily do in every institution with some power what you do in a political party. Political parties work by hiring loyal people by preying on their low-status. Well, find a way into HR of every school, every newspaper, every government department, every judicial board. And to the very same thing. Run a distributed covert Leninist party. Until you run everything.
Sounds easy, huh? No, it sounds complicated like hell. And it was. But not so much; after all there’s fairly obvious economies of scale to influence peddling. A guy knows a guy who knows a guy. The great discovery of the 20th century wasn’t atomic power. It was the power of cliques. A few people in positions of power sticking with each other is the most powerful force in the universe. They can make lies become truth. They can make toilets be sold as art, they can make women be combat soldiers. They can do anything. It was quite easy for socialists to get their hand in the media; after all journalists are all natural socialists. Smart-ish guys good at writing with no talent for making money. And the same goes for teachers. Teaching doesn’t pay very well. And it’s exhausting. Why would anyone want to be a teacher? Well, for the greater glory of socialism, that is.
So once socialists colonized the education system, the Gramscian distributed Leninist party got most of the job done. After all the schools are exactly where all the different power centers intersect. Montesquieu must have thought himself very smart saying that Legislators, Bureaucrats and Judges should be independent and in constant conflict. Well yeah, but where do they send their kids to school? To the very same places. And pray tell, cher Marquis, how do you plan on having those judges and bureaucrats and legislators and teachers and journalists and bankers and industrialists, who have all grown up together, shared a secluded life as a unified ruling class; how the hell are you gonna make them check and balance each other? That can’t work. And it isn’t working. They marry each other and send their kids to the same schools. Yeah, they’ll do some show and play politics theater, or Kabuki as the American like to say for some reason (as if only Kabuki was fake and other theaters were real), but in the end they are an endogamic ruling class and they know it.
Gramsci’s program was also called the Long March into the Institutions. A slow but steady Cultural Revolution. It was complete in most Western countries by the 1960s. And then we know what happened. I guess Gramsci’s original plan was to then grab power in a classical Leninist way, a dictatorship of the proletariat of a sort. But that ship had sailed in Western Europe. The workers were rich. They could afford cars and houses and vacations to Florida or Spain. You couldn’t motivate them with calls for hanging the capitalists and redistributing their property among the masses.
So the party was up and running. By the 1960s socialists cliques, more or less loosely associated with formal socialist parties, were running most schools and most newspapers and most government agencies and most courthouses and most parliaments. But you had to keep them together, keep them loyal and obedient. The early, the classical way was to get the losers of capitalism, i.e. workers and bureaucrat-inclined people, and promise them high status come the revolution. That had worked pretty well from 1848 to 1948. Hell they conquered half the world and were really close to capturing power in much of the West too. But by 1960 in the West they needed a new ideology to get people motivated and loyal.
So again, what they did was stick to the structure: promise high status to low status people. But change the content, adapt to the times. Western 1960 society was very much not 1860 society. It was much richer, much more equal, and much more pleasant. People worked 8 hours a day, they had cars and TVs, girls put out pretty easily and there was always a party to go. Absolutely no point in running a communist revolution. Well there was the 1968 “revolution”, with the anti-Vietnam stuff and all that. But that was just a big ass outdoor party, not a real revolution. It just sounded cool to call it that. The teens from 1968 are now all in positions of power and they haven’t abolished private property.
But again, the leftist ratchet isn’t a particular set of people. It’s a memeplex with a life of its own. A virus evolved to concentrate power, adopting ideas that help in the project, and discarding those that not. Economic socialism, organizing the poor wasn’t working out in the West anymore. But the principle is sound; they just needed to find whoever was low status then. And there is always someone, status is zero sum. There’s always someone on top, someone on the bottom. Even in egalitarian societies. Socialism had really pressured Western society into becoming a quite egalitarian and pleasant society by 1960. But even in the best of worlds, there’s always low status people. Even if you re-engineer society so that there’s complete equality of opportunity, even if you run a revolution and you dissolve every existing hierarchy and start anew. There will always be low status people.
Because there’s always biology. Some people are tall, some people are short. Some look good, some are pretty ugly. Some are thin and some are fat. Some are pleasant some are annoying. Some are cool and some are awkward. Some are smart and some are dumb. Some make good choices some make bad choices. Some are law-abiding and some are criminally inclined. The latter of each pair is going to be low status anywhere on earth. Even in Soviet Communism under commander Trotsky. Some people just suck. That’s the way genes work.
And so thankfully for Leftism, even after achieving affluence, even after the working class disappeared as a thing, there was still plenty of material to work with to advance the cause of complete control. And so Leftist groups started agitating status for people of African descent. For Jews. For single women. For drug junkies. For sluts. For fat people. For homos. For lesbians. For aggressive Muslims. For the disabled. For the retarded. For the mentally insane. For the trannies. All people who are were low status in Western society. And who would be low status in any society. Because they suck. They just aren’t very productive. For no fault of their own. Some people are born tall, some short. Some smart, some dumb. Some empathic, some psychopathic. Some content with their lot, some greedy with powerlust. That’s how it is.
And so the Long March through the Institutions that Gramsci first envisioned as a way of having the Italian Communist Party do what Lenin had done, ended up producing a different kind of Leninist system, one distributed and informal, instead of Lenin’s unified and formal, and one which morphed into promotion of the dregs of society qua dregs of society, instead of promotion of Marx’s idea of the wrongly oppressed proletariat. Marx was not a good man, but at least he tried to dress his ideas in a way that made sense. Das Kapital took some real work to write. But that was just some contingent accident of his time. Leftism doesn’t need to make sense. It just needs to get the job done.
Or at least marginally. Because the very fact that we have Biological Leninism as the organizing principle of all centers of power in the West, and that it keeps getting worse all the time, is because it’s not quite getting the job done. The job is concentration of power. It’s achieving absolute control. What Lenin did. What once Lenin did that, or more precisely Stalin did that, the ideological content of the Left stabilized. Cthulhu stopped swimming left. But here in the Atlantic Cthulhu has been swimming for centuries, getting crazier every day. Because there’s no one to stop him. We have a Cathedral, yes, an informal distributed Leninist party, ensuring very efficiently that only their people get in positions of power and influence. But there is no Stalin. No Xi Jinping. Not even a lousy Putin even.
As for why, is a good question. The unwritten constitution of English politics is just very robust. English liberty. Only Oliver Cromwell ever tamed that beast, and not for very long, and that was quite a while ago. The West is the US vassal empire, and the US just doesn’t do absolutism very well.