Author: E. Antony Gray

scribbler of reactionary verse

Motte-Buster

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Mottes and Mottes and Mottes

The skillful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skillful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skillful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skillful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always skillful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skillful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.

-Tao teh Ching, 27

In a very interesting and thoroughly harmless essay, Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex introduces what is to us, a very important concept. That is, the Motte-and-Bailey doctrine. Rhetoric has many tactics, some deceptive, some forthright, some effective, and some foolhardy. Properly speaking, Motte-and-Bailey is itself based on a rhetorical technique, like ‘shoot the moon’ (where you ask for something you know you won’t get in order to retreat to a position more favorable than you could ask for outright) or most forms of strategic retreat. Motte-and-Bailey however takes this idea to another level by repeatedly strategically advancing whenever it can.

To imagine this in other terms, imagine the MPAA really did want to be able to charge whenever a song anywhere was played, no matter how long, no matter the medium.

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There is no such thing as capitalism

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Before it is an ideological option, capitalism is a being, with an individual history (and fate). It is not necessary to like it — but it is an it.

Nick Land, Outside In

What is Capitalism? Where do we even begin to define it? When we find Adam Smith describing Capital (as ‘stock’) it already exists. Or does it? Capitalism is believed to be simply the system “in which trade, industry, and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits.” from this we develop a contrary theory ‘socialism‘ – in which they are controlled by public ownership. However, at no point in time does this ideal situation arise; in Smith’s discussion in Wealth of Nations, he documents the effect of tariff changes on wheat prices. That is to say, he documents what is ostensibly a public control on trade. Never do we have a system in which all three of these come completely into the hands of private owners – but who are private owners, anyway? Is a man who serves as an alderman for a time and then goes back to his business a ‘private owner’? Is a King a private owner, or a public owner? Are men like Dick Cheney, who switch between high office politics and high corporate governance private owners? Are they actually public owners?

We can, for some situations, attempt to make a clear delineation. A tariff is a public control over trade, provided it is the government – by which we mean the sovereign and its delegates – that determines the tariff and sees that it is enforced. If the sovereign is a king, we still regard it as a public control in this system; as the king embodies the people or state. But this embodiment, even with democratic sovereigns, is problematic. Granted, in theory it makes sense, but in practice we find regulations pushed by private actors through government to benefit them. Trust busting is notoriously taken on behalf of a monopoly’s potential or real competitors. This is not new – even before there were official incorporated entities like we have, there were private actors using public office and law to benefit themselves. There doesn’t seem to be a non-technical distinction between private and public; or it may be that private and public are not, as we might have assumed, contradictory at all.

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Exit / No Exit

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The wind blew out from Bergen from the dawning to the day,
There was a wreck of trees and fall of towers a score of miles away,
And drifted like a livid leaf I go before its tide,
Spewed out of house and stable, beggared of flag and bride.
The heavens are bowed about my head, shouting like seraph wars,
With rains that might put out the sun and clean the sky of stars,
Rains like the fall of ruined seas from secret worlds above,
The roaring of the rains of God none but the lonely love.
Feast in my hall, O foemen, and eat and drink and drain,
You never loved the sun in heaven as I have loved the rain.

-GK Chesterton, The Last Hero

This is a developing discussion, of which I feel a great need to take part. As a reactionary-without-portfolio I often find myself in between differing extremes in Outer Right opinion. On the one hand, the concept of Exit is sometimes considered to be “post libertarian” ephemera, which is just a byword for “crypto libertarian” or “insufficiently reactionary”. This is a way of saying it is an idea that does not belong to our Thede or Folk or Religion; foreign and verboten. In this case, we have more of “being in the service of the ideas of foreigners.” Given the recent history of information warfare (Alex Jones’ Infowars site specializes in creating poisonous rumors to insinuate their worldview into the common consciousness) it is not an unwise criticism.

On the other hand, we have among actual Libertarians such an extreme position on Exit as to view it a good over all other goods (see Slate Star Codex’s archipelago.) That logic may lead to a perverse place: A world of quasi-sovereigns that cannot prevent people from leaving their own borders, but where no one can exit the greater entity. This issue is typical of monomania – without another balancing principle, trying to maximize the desired thing often results in negating it. Take for instance the current movement for sexual liberation: in order for some to maximize their own sexual liberation they must by definition restrict the liberation of others (in this case, women->men.) It is the strange idea of ‘guaranteeing’ exit that creates the distortion; this is like if Gideons put bibles everywhere thinking they could guarantee each person access to Jesus Christ. Even if this were true, this access might be to their condemnation, not to their salvation. Imagine a man who has just murdered someone going into a hotel and finding the bible, then reading Revelation. Maximizing one good at the expense of others decreases overall goodness.

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The priest in the civil religion

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BartonGreatSealDesignReverse
While some have argued that Christianity is the national faith, and others that church and synagogue celebrate only the generalized religion of “the American Way of Life,” few have realized that there actually exists alongside of and rather clearly differentiated from the churches an elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America. This article argues not only that there is such a thing, but also that this religion-or perhaps better, this religious dimension-has its own seriousness and integrity and requires the same care in understanding that any other religion does.

— Robert Bellah, Civil Religion in America

Without Gods, no oaths may stand,” is the substance one of Aristophenes’ arguments — a false one perhaps — against Socrates, immortalized in his satirical play “The Clouds.” The Masons, though perhaps not believing Aristophenes’ accusation itself did understand his point. The point being, that when men with no interest in helping you agree to help you, if you expect them to keep their promise, there must be something that binds them to it. The Romans and Greeks very explicitly believed in the social technology of religion — even if they held in contempt various aspects of it.

Atheists do spend some time in apology against this point, since it would seem to them perhaps to be a ‘cheap argument’ like Pascal’s Wager is considered to be. The gist is that we religious folks are shoehorning religious superstition in on the technicality that without it, contracts that cannot be backed up with force become impossible. The arguments against this are numerous; personal anecdotes, kinds of agreements between kin, etc. However even Atheists would acknowledge that the principle of outside force — a third party of some sort — is necessary to ensure vows are fulfilled. Arguing one’s own personal nobility or praxis of kingroups is not a solution to the problem of a polyglot nation needing to ensure plundering is not routine.

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The Egregore, an introduction

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egregores1

UF makes the subtle point that one cannot engender a positive egregore, or collective mind parasite. This is related to the principle that the mind parasite is an effect of “congealed” or “coagulated” psychic energy. As a result, it always “enfolds,” whereas the good radiates. The former is an inward, contracting movement, whereas the latter is an expansive, radiant movement.

— Robert Godwin, One Cosmos

In the Hugo award winning comic Digger, there is a god called ‘The Black Mother.’ The Black Mother is not an actual god per se, that is to say, she is not part of that world’s mythos which predates history and whose mysterious ministrations call forth the dedication and belief of pious souls. Rather, she is the imaginary perversion of the mother of a god (who in the story seems to have been a real person) called ‘The Good Man,’ a Christ-figure in that world.

Suffering children who prayed for deliverance and did not receive it created an explanation for this in their devotion and fear of this Black Mother, who through their fear and hatred actually took root somehow in the souls of these children, one of whom is an integral part of the story.

In the world where we are made to operate we desire the good; therefore we try to understand our well-intentioned mistakes in terms of the good, if not because we are afraid of condemnation at least because we have no knowledge of how to seek the good outside of our own feelings. The soul asks per Nietzsche, if what I do is not good, then who is left to correct me? If the world will not correct me, and I am pleased with what I do, and there is no longer a god to correct me, and I no longer feel shame about it, then what I do must be good.

The concept of the ‘radiation’ of the good is essential to understanding what an egregore is and how it could be in any way real at all. (And why this phenomenon is seemingly asymmetrical) There are some among us that believe, as the Gnostics did from time to time, that through thoughts they could change the world directly. A lot of quasi-science is based on these concepts, where it is thought that good thoughts attract the good and evil thoughts, the evil. Extrapolation on this idea comes to concepts such as using breathing techniques to become a god, to use mantras to bring good fortune, and so forth. Underlying it is an assumption about the universe, namely: that it is in reality nothing more than pure thought, and strong thought makes reality, while weak thought is made by reality.

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The gods of America

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Chaser: Shocking video shows how members of the public intervene when they see man attacking his girlfriend… but stand by and LAUGH when the roles are reversed

As an artist, I take it as read that traditional forms of art presuppose reactionary ideas and most easily transmit them. Poetry with traditional structures (rhyme, meter, fixed forms) is included here. It is not impossible for revolutionary forms to be bootstrapped in, but it is always with difficulty and feels forced. Lyricists who move beyond the Ke$ha level of rhythmic innuendo spiced with imperfect rhyme will run into the essential problem that revolutionary ideas sound silly, trite, or ironic if presented in ballad form. A proper tragedy however almost begs for verse, even a highly structured and stylized verse. The amusing part about a musician such as Mozart or Beethoven is that inasmuch as they were trying to push revolutionary ideas, their art form worked against them; despite their feeling for revolutionary ideas (consider The Marriage of Figaro or The Magic Flute) their works have become inextricably conservative, existing in a tension between the reactionary harshness inherent in the formal style and the liberalism of their intellectual ideals.

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