Power-Siezing Ideas vs. Governing Ideas

A recent exchange at Jim’s blog:

Stanon says:

“The most powerful ideas in history have gotten their power not from asking men to bow but to stand up. Not from subverting their natural power drive but by dovetailing with it.”

The Cominator says:

“Yes and no. Men want to have purpose and use masculine energy for that purpose, but men also want to be a part and submit to something greater than themselves.”

We need to distinguish between revolutionary ideologies and governing ideologies. Or if you like, ideologies that are useful for seizing power and ideologies that are useful for keeping power (what evil people care about) or for maintaining a well-ordered, successful nation (which is what decent people care about, but note this requires keeping power).

Marxism is the canonical example of a revolutionary/power-seizing ideology. It said, as I think revolutionary/power-seizing ideologies always do,

“Some bastards are attacking you; fight back against them!”

In Marxism the details were

“The capitalists are sucking your blood; fight back against them!”

But it could be anything. In the western world right now it’s

“White people are murdering you; fight back against them!”

Marxism is utterly brilliant as a power-seizing ideology. At communism’s height, it ruled over a third of the human race.

Of course, what works for seizing power is not necessarily what works for keeping power or creating a successful nation. Thus communism, while certainly the most successful power-seizing ideology in human history on the time scale of 75 years, didn’t get beyond 75 years. And once it started to collapse its collapse was breathtakingly fast. Boiled down to its essence, without the self-flattering bullshit, the official economic part of communist ideology (as opposed to the power-seizing part) was “We’ll grab all the capitalists’ stuff!” Obviously that’s not a recipe for long-term success.

Those of us trying to oppose the current leftist/SJW holiness spiral and replace it with something tolerable must keep the crucial distinction between revolutionary ideologies and governing ideologies in mind.

Our best revolutionary ideology is simple enough, since all we have to do is tell the truth: There is a large number of people who hate traditional western populations and are planning to get rid of us by various means.

A governing ideology must satisfy a lot of desiderata, obviously. But it cannot have “Some bastards are attacking you; fight back against them!” as a major component.* This is because it must provide a large stake in social stability to a majority of people. Fomenting civil war obviously won’t work.

* A governing ideology must explicitly warn against parasites, the power-mad, and holiness spirals. It must also explicitly warn against the “high-and-low against the middle” revolutionary strategy. But saying “Be watchful for these dangers” is not the same as saying, “We’re being attacked; start spraying bullets in the streets right now!!!”

2 thoughts on “Power-Siezing Ideas vs. Governing Ideas”

  1. Really enjoyed this.
    Just yesterday I was rereading that classic conversation between Moldbug, Jim, and Scott Aaronson, and recall Moldbug saying that competent government is an engineering problem, but an easy one. How Victorian England had 1/50 the violent crime rate without CCTV, DNA tests, or any other modern technology. If the revolutionary power we currently have sucking up ever more power was stopped and something sane installed we could have that too.


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