Mencius Moldbug Has Hijacked My Brain

Monday, February 25th, 2008

He doesn’t go by Morpheus, but by Mencius, and I first discovered his writing over at 2Blowhards. I was trying to discern whether he was a genius or a lunatic, but his manifesto was long, and I filed it away as something to read more seriously later. That was almost a year ago. For the past week or so I’ve been reading the entirety of his Unqualified Reservations blog. I invite you to do the same.

Perhaps the best way to ease yourself into his unusual worldview is to consider the ten red pills he offers:

  1. Peace, prosperity, and freedom
    • Democracy is responsible for the present state of peace, prosperity, and freedom in the US, Europe and Japan.
    • The rule of law is responsible for the present state of peace, prosperity and freedom in the US, Europe and Japan.
  2. Democracy, freedom, and law
    • Democracy is inseparable from freedom and law.
    • At best, democracy is sand in the gears of freedom and law. At worst it excludes them entirely, as in Iraq.
  3. Fascism and communism
    • The disasters of fascism and communism demonstrate the importance of representative democracy.
    • Fascism and communism are best understood as forms of democracy. The difference between single-party and multiparty democracy is like the difference between a malignant tumor and a benign one.
  4. The nature of the state
    • The state is established by citizens to serve their needs. Its actions are generally righteous.
    • The state is just another giant corporation. Its actions generally advance its own interests. Sometimes these interests coincide with ours, sometimes they don’t.
  5. The power structure of the West
    • Power in the West is held by the people, who have to guard it closely against corrupt politicians and corporations.
    • Power in the West is held by the civil service, that is, the permanent employees of the state. In any struggle between the civil service and politicians or corporations, the civil service wins.
  6. The extent of the state
    • The state consists of elected officials and their appointees.
    • The state consists of all those whose interests are aligned with the state. This includes NGOs, universities, and the press, all of whose employees are effectively civil servants, and side with the civil service in almost all conflicts.
  7. The danger of right-wing politics
    • Right-wing politicians, and the ignorant masses who support them, are a danger to democracy. They must be stopped.
    • Right-wing politicians are a classic democratic phenomenon. Domestically, they have little power and are mostly harmless. Their international adventures are destructive, but they are inescapable consequences of democracy itself.
  8. Democracy and nonpartisan government
    • True democracy is not merely the rule of politicians. For a democracy to succeed, a nonpartisan decisionmaking process is essential. Civil servants, especially judges, must be isolated from politics, or they will become corrupt.
    • Democracy is politics. Any other definition is Orwellian. The absence of politics is the absence of democracy, and apolitical civil-service government is indeed better than democracy. But this is a low standard to surpass.
  9. The history of Western government
    • The present system of Western government is the result of adapting 19th-century classical liberalism to the complex modern world.
    • Western governments today are clones of the quasi-democratic FDR regime, whose best modern comparisons are leaders like Mubarak, Putin or Suharto. Its origin was the Progressive movement, which broke classical liberalism, then complained that it didn’t work.
  10. The future of Western government
    • The Western world is moving toward a globalized, transnational free market in which politics is increasingly irrelevant, and technocratic experts and NGOs play larger roles in fighting corruption, protecting the environment, and delivering essential public services.
    • Civil-service government works well at first, but it degrades. Its limit as time approaches infinity is sclerotic Brezhnevism. Its justification for ruling is inseparable from democracy, which is mystical nonsense and is rapidly disappearing. It cannot survive without a captive media and educational system, which the Internet will route around. Also, its financial system is a mess and could collapse at any minute. The whole thing will be lucky if it lasts another ten years.

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