The only possible victory would be local but total

Saturday, April 16th, 2022

Discussing Elon Musk potentially buying Twitter, Curtis Yarvin (Mencius Moldbug) says, “I rarely think anything is meaningful. But I think this is.”

Action in a conflict is strategically positive if it makes further action easier. For example, in a shooting war, a battle is won if the result of the battle is to make the next battle easier. The same is true of a political confrontation.

The occupation of Ottawa was a defeat, not a victory (which should be easier to see now that it is not the Current Conservative Thing), because it left the powers that be stronger, and the powers that would be weaker. The regime fortified itself against any future clever democratic uses of eighteen-wheelers, and field-tested new tools of financial suppression. The participants and organizers were left with legal problems.


Almost every conservative action is a defeat by this standard, which is why only losers are conservatives. For instance, traveling in Austin, I noticed that the streets had been largely cleared of homeless encampments (which have been pushed into the nearby forests). Most people take this as a conservative victory. It is actually a defeat.

It is a victory in the ordinary sense of the term — an action which gets what the actors want. It is a tactical victory — but a strategic defeat. At a party the other day, I spoke to one of the people who orchestrated this “victory,” and explained why I saw it this way.

In general, victory on an issue-based political rebellion is a strategic defeat, because it reduces the energy of support. Aristocratic support is crucial for any serious rebellion. Severe disorder in aristocratic cities produces rebellious thoughts among aristocrats, who start to question truths they had previously held sacred.

The first stage of these rebellious thoughts is the “unprincipled exception.” In the 1980s, it violated the principles of many aristocratic New Yorkers to vote for “tough on crime” Republicans. Seeing the results of their own principles in their own lives, they did not react by becoming Republicans — they reacted by voting for a Republican. They did not change their principles — they created an exception to those principles.

There are three fates for such an exception. It can stay what it is; it can go away; or it can expand to become a genuine change in principle. Because electing a Republican mayor created a tactical victory that gave the voters what they wanted, the exception went away — its troubling cognitive dissonance was no longer needed. Had the issue persisted, the exception would have stayed as it was or expanded.

Instead, thirty years, the progressive citizens of a mostly-safe, mostly-orderly New York looked at themselves and asked why they tolerated such unprincipled policing. Finding no answer, they rolled it back. Inertia no longer protected the consequences of the exception — and the conservative boomers in Queens and Staten Island who had allied with the exception were moving out and dying off. And the new consciousness was specifically programmed against “broken windows” and “stop-and-frisk.” In the end, the tactical victory was lost and became near-impossible to repeat. Finem respice.

The general lesson we learn from this is that, for a rebel, all true victories are total. He who makes half a revolution digs his own grave.

The only possible victory would be local but total:

These are the only kinds of incremental wins that rebels should shoot for — “niche coups” which completely and irreversibly capture a part of the whole.

Victory is only achieved if Musk completes his whole plan — buying Twitter and taking it private. This is because, as Musk fully recognizes, compliance with power is economically optimal. It is easy for power to control a public company — since a public company must be managed to maximize profit and serve the shareholders, just set up incentives which ensure that compliance is profitable. If there is only one shareholder and he has ulterior motives beyond profit, this control mechanism ceases to work. In any other situation, the management has a fiduciary responsibility to comply.

Would it be a strategic victory? Again, a strategic victory is a victory that makes other victories possible. It goes without saying that a monopoly social-media platform not beholden to the prestige media and its single synoptic perspective would be a source of enormous power that could create all kinds of tactical and strategic victories.


  1. Waq says:

    To capture an institution you need to purge your enemies instead of promoting them. The right rarely does this. That nerdy girl that will eagerly do the jobs no one wants will climb the hierarchy until she has the power to bring in all her Marxist friends and marginalize or purge all those on the right. Purge or be purged, compromise only if it helps your long term goals, be ruthless, you are in a culture war, start acting like it.

  2. VXXC says:

    You realize Yarvin has long said he’s terrified of violence?

    This has colored his thinking and advice all the 15 years I’ve read him.

    If there isn’t a bloodless and magical solution there’s no solution.

  3. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Molbug implies, though does not quite outright say, passivism; ‘dont bother fighting goyim’.

    But of course, the real problem was that when subversives and or their useful idiots would grant concessions to more Right folk, that the later would not take the inches they are given and run the for as many miles as they can get, just as the former does to the later forthwith.

    You make the extra ordinaries of yesterday, the new normal today, and the waystations of tomorrow.

  4. Altitude Zero says:

    Moldbug is also terrified of Covid. His inordinate fears really do color his thinking on many subjects.

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