Au Revoir, Michael Porkwit

From: Steven Brenner, High School Music Director
To: Michael Porkwit, 11th grade
CC: Principal Dudley, Vice Principal Kurtz
Re: Recent events

That’s it, Michael. I just got out of a meeting about you with the Principal and Vice-Principal, and the decision has been made to expel you. Your parents will be notified today.

No, it is not funny to tell the boys in Special Ed that they can copy any object they want by masturbating their “reproductive fluid” into the school’s 3D printer. That is the most vulgar thing I’ve ever heard of from a student. Also, that is an expensive piece of equipment, and if it’s ruined, YOU are going to have to pay for a new one or for the cost of repairs. I wanted you to be forced to clean the mess you caused out of the machine, but since you’re expelled, I guess that’s not going to happen.

This puts the capstone on a spate of recent incidents that faculty have been trying to ignore up to now. It’s December and we’ve got end-of-semester meetings and whatnot. I wonder if you know this, and cynically time these little episodes of yours accordingly.

Anyway a list, and I’m not even sure this is comprehensive:

Regarding your innovative lyrics in chorus: Traditionally, it is Rudolph’s nose that glows in the dark, not any other body part.

Speaking of which, it was charming, when your Phys Ed teacher held class outside, to build some snow people for the amusement of the elementary school children across the street. That said, snowmen traditionally are not endowed with reproductive organs, let alone ones that are so prominent. Mrs. Gardner, the third grade recess monitor, snapped a photo of the snowman and sent it to me, and even from across the street his rather outsized endowment is quite visible. It would be visible from space, Mr. Porkwit.

An option that was on the table regarding you was a suspension, instead of expulsion, until you showed up for a disciplinary meeting with the Vice Principal and called his secretary “sugar-tits.” That’s what kicked you over the edge, in case you were wondering.

Treat this as an occasion to do some reflecting on your behavior. You’re irrepressible in your own weird little way, but you cannot get by on insouciance very long in the adult world. I chatted with the Guidance Counselor and he mentioned that for some reason the Jordan Machine Shop is willing to hire you on; I don’t know how you lucked into that job offer. At least it will keep you occupied, if you can manage not to get yourself fired, although the idea of you around industrial machinery is going to give me night sweats. Whatever. Maybe you’ll learn from all this and get your act together, and maybe you won’t. In either case you’re not my problem any more, thank goodness. Au revoir, Michael.

Mr. Brenner

Neurotoxin and the Christmas Miracle

One December day Neurotoxin was skating at a rink. He chanced to skate over a section of the ice that had been sectioned off by the Orange Cones of Do Not Trespass.

Lo, a Rink Employee appeared and made it known to Neurotoxin that the Ice Planes of Do Not Trespass were forbidden, for they were dangerously rent by gaps and bumps and other hazards.

“What about skating between that last cone and the wall?” Neurotoxin asked. “That’s cool, right?”

“Nay,” the Rink Employee replied, “for it is our intention that people just avoid that whole area entirely.” And the Rink Employee withdrew.

And Neurotoxin began to cry.

Grievous and copious were his tears, for he had been rebuked by Rink Staff.

And lo, as he cried, his tears fell upon the damaged ice and began to resurface it.

And the other skaters gathered around, gazing in wonderment, for they had never beheld such an occurence. And then a bold one placed a foot upon the resurfaced ice and did skate upon it a little. And then did other skaters begin to emulate the bold one’s example. Tentatively they skated at first, but then with more confidence, and they exclaimed in wonderment, “This is like unto a resurfacing done by the best Zamboni that ever was!”

It was a Christmas miracle.

And God looked upon it, and saw that it was ace.

And then Scrooge appeared and gave everyone cigars and a turkey.

And then Tiny Tim, or maybe Long Dong Silver, I forget which, said “God bless us, every one.”

Also, there was a kitten there.

And a puppy.

Merry Christmas!

Moldbug Again

The Humbug from The Phantom Tollbooth. Included in this post for no particular reason.

I might as well appoint myself the official Moldbug contrarian. I think you people (NRxers) are all on drugs to find this guy so interesting/important and it’s driving me dotty.

Can you name one proposition asserted by Moldbug that has all three of the following features?

1) True
2) Important
3) Original

On that last one, originality: I can’t bash anyone for belaboring the obvious, since my blog’s current tagline is basically “Belaboring the obvious.” But I can blame y’all for treating obviousities as if they’re mystic eldritch insights of supernatural wisdom.

Like, Democracy doesn’t work in practice the way it works in theory. NO SHIT! Everyone already knows this! GAAAAAAH!

Don’t piss on my foot and tell me it’s raining, and when someone says “Two plus two is four” don’t tell me this is some superadvanced Jedi shit straight from the mind of Yoda.

Jesus, people. All the man does is (a) say things that are nonsense, and (b) say things that are obviously true, but in 1,000 words where 10 words would do, and with reference to ancient Zoroastrian history where a reference to familiar 20th century history would do.

Moldbug is worthless. Yeah, fight me.

Striped Lizards, Rock-Paper-Scissors, and Political Dynamics

Preface: We are going through so much history per year now that my political beliefs have become quite fluid. My beliefs about politics may have changed as much in the last five years as they did in all my adult life before that. Which is to say: Please don’t think of my political posts, especially my recent ones, as intended pronouncements ex cathedra about eternal truth. Lately I think of them as more like progress reports on a research agenda. I drop them into a mailbox occasionally, addressed to “Anyone who might be interested.”

We’re getting more historical time per unit of calendar time lately. This is not always fun, but it’s certainly intellectually stimulating.


In Game Theory Evolving, Herbert Gintis discusses the lizard species Uta Stansburiana, the males of which fall into three types. The proportions of the types in the population cycle over time, because the mating competition game they play is essentially rock-paper-scissors. That is, type A beats type B and type B beats type C, but type C beats type A. For this reason the proportions of the different types of males are in constant flux; they never settle down to equilibrium.

If you look at the Infogalactic page or the Wikipedia page (the latter is more comprehensive) you will see that in this case the reality matches the theory: Empirically, the male lizard population indeed cycles between the various types as predicted by the game theory.

“Finally!” I can hear you cry. “I’ve been wondering for years when you were going to get around to lizard population dynamics!” Actually my point is not about lizard population dynamics. My main point is:

Political systems could be like this, with (for example) democracy necessarily turning into dictatorship eventually, dictatorship eventually softening into a benign monarchy-cum-aristocracy, and benign monarchy-cum-aristocracy eventually turning into democracy. Or something like that. Not necessarily that specific pattern, but the basic point that the dynamics could be cyclical. There’s no guarantee of convergence to a steady state.

Actually my current thinking is that there are only two main systems viable since 1776. One is democracy, but that can’t last because power-mad psychopaths can manipulate it through electoral fraud, etc. Thus democracy tends to disintegrate into dictatorship.

But dictatorship, in the modern world, also can’t last due to the narrative power of democracy. I suspect this means that some sort of democratic faction will eventually gain control, whether through a palace coup, a long march through the institutions, or whatever.

In short: Democracy is vulnerable to a Machiavellian attack by megalomaniac sociopaths. Dictatorship is vulnerable to a philosophical attack based on the idea that government should have the consent of the governed.

I agree with this, by the way, for all kinds of reasons. If, like me, you think that democracy is desirable but inherently unstable, then we may be in the position of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation: We can’t stop the descent into totalitarianism but maybe we can do things to shorten its lifespan and hasten the revival of democracy.


Oh, that reminds me:

Memo to future pro-democracy revolutionaries:

(1) If you’re not going to establish the death penalty for electoral fraud, don’t bother having your democratic revolution. I mean this. If you are not willing to make fraud a capital crime then stay home, put your feet up, and have a beer. It’s safer for you and will have the same basic result in terms of establishing a persistent democracy.

(2) There must be no significant political power that is unelected. There must be no significant political power that has life-time tenure. One of the things that destroyed democracy in the United States of America was judges who were appointed by politicians and who had lifetime tenure. Such judges brazenly, overtly ignored the law. In various ways, this by itself may have been sufficient to terminate American democracy.

We have learned these lessons at devastating cost. Please, learn from our mistakes.

No System of Government is Stable

In a recent post I wrote, paraphrasing,

I don’t agree with the view of NRx that monarchy is better than democracy. But it looks like we don’t have a choice. Apparently history says that in the long run our only choices are one kind of monarchy or another kind of monarchy.

This may be true, but I’ve realized there’s a catch: Every government needs a state religion— an official ideology that asserts the government’s legitimacy— and ever since 1776, the only workable state religion is democracy.

(This is true at least in the western world, and increasingly outside it.)

But history— not to mention recent electoral developments, ahem— teaches us that democracy is inherently unstable; it can’t last.

How to reconcile these two truths?

Well, why would you think they require reconciliation? Democracy is inherently unstable. And ever since 1776, all non-democratic forms of government are also inherently unstable.

All is flux.

I don’t like it either. Something in the human soul wants stability. Well, we’re just going to have to suck it up.

We’re going to have to adopt the mindset of the Moties in The Mote in God’s Eye. That’s a classic science fiction novel in which, due to the biological nature of the alien Moties, their civilizations necessarily end in Malthusian collapse at somewhat predictable intervals. The Motie species is immensely older than the human race, but has never expanded beyond their home star system, largely for this reason, while the much younger human race has. The Moties’ long-range planning assumes future collapse. At one point a Motie nonchalantly says to a human something like, “Our plan is to, when the next collapse comes, do X, Y, and Z.” “You’re using it!” the horrified human exclaims. “You’re actually assuming the collapse and basing your planning on it!” And the Motie responds with “Well, yeah, of course.”

We’re going to have to proceed like this. We are just going to have to accept that human political reality is going to be a roller coaster, if not forever, then at least far beyond the planning horizon of anyone now alive. There is no Fukuyaman “End of History.”


“Okay, sure,” you say, “but what are governments, who want to persist, going to do?”

Pretty obviously, human political reality is heading toward non-democratic dictatorship with the official state religion of democracy. That particular tension will continue to be resolved, in the short run, by liberal applications of electoral fraud. But that resolution will be a blink of an eye on a historical timescale. In the long run systems that flagrantly violate their own explicit standards of legitimacy can’t last.

Which brings me back around to the point that no political system can be stable ever again. Even dictatorship and monarchy, which managed to be quite stable as systems, historically, were not dynastically stable. The history of monarchy involves a fuck-ton of succession wars, assassination, revolts of the aristocracy against the monarch, etc. Typically this resulted in one dynastic family being overthrown and replaced with another dynastic family. So the system of monarchy lasted for thousands of years, but that doesn’t imply “continuity of government” or whatever you want to call it.

To think that it does is to confuse the levels. We’ve had stability of the laws of physics for 13.6 billion years, but that didn’t stop Russia’s communists from overthrowing the czars.

In the modern world, many flagrantly undemocratic regimes have persisted for a while, e.g. the 75-year run of the USSR, but that was a femtosecond in human history. And such regimes had to give lip service to democracy to last even that long. There is something strange about this: Even when literally every person knew that the regime was not democratic, the regime still had to give lip service to democracy. Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

(Random aside to Moldbug fanbois: I can also quote this saying in French: L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu. This proves that I’m sophisticated and therefore everything I say is true.)

So we are simply going to have to operate within that environment, that no government is stable. Leftists are going to get the “permanent revolution” that some of them said they wanted. It’s not going to be what they thought. (They didn’t really want it; they just wanted revolution to put them into power and a cessation of revolutions once they were in power. Well, too bad, kids.)

A state religion that doesn’t have democracy is not possible from now on, any more than it’s possible to have a state religion founded on the notion that lightning is caused by Thor being angry. The world has moved on. Pandora’s box was opened. The call has escaped from the trumpet; you are not going to put it back in.

It does not even matter whether anyone thinks this is good or bad. It is like having an opinion about whether the laws of physics are good or bad.

And do remember that our ideas have tremendous rhetorical power too. That’s the entire reason that even after half a century of domination of the media and education by the left, and massive electoral fraud, they still couldn’t prevent Trump from being elected in 2016! That’s proof of an immensely powerful set of ideas.

Buckle up!