Paleo just wrote:
. . . I’m left wondering how much the arrival of so many engineer-scientist types on the public-discussion scene has driven the growth of the Dark Enlightenment / HBD / Game / Reactionary part of the online world.
I was in the midst of drafting a long comment to this post, complete with links and a video, when I got booted off by Word Press and I lost all the text. Word Press is remorseless about such goofs as I understand it. So rather than try again and get booted off again, I am taking the liberty of drafting a new post.
Here’s what I remember writing.
I expect you are correct, Paleo, in looking for a link between the voices of scientists/engineers and the growth of a certain kind of right-leaning thinking such as DE, neoreaction and maybe even Game (but see below regarding the latter).
Certainly Moldbug is a techie. But what to make of that?
You’ve got the blog Outside In arguing as follows:
Increasingly, there are only two basic human types populating this planet. There are autistic nerds, who alone are capable of participating effectively in the advanced technological processes that characterize the emerging economy, and there is everybody else. For everybody else, this situation is uncomfortable. The nerds are steadily finding ways to do all the things ordinary and sub-ordinary people do, more efficiently and economically, by programming machines. Only the nerds have any understanding of how this works, and — until generalized machine intelligences arrive to keep them company — only they will.
Well, that’s political philosophy, of a sort. But it is also maybe revealing in other ways.
The right-leaning blog The Watchword is Excelsior notes that quote and makes the link between neocameralism and autism, linking in turn to yet another right-leaning blog making the argument more explicit. A lot of good points about the inherent friction between an engineering view of life and a political one, no matter how you define the latter.
Now, autism and political philosophy . . . that is a kind of ad hominem argument that I object to on its face for the sake of propriety, but nonetheless find compelling/persuasive.
I mean, Moldbug himself plays the part pretty well, at least of the nerd, if not of the autistic individual who is damn sure that all that peskiness has been consigned to the proper box.
And that’s just his odd affect. Then there’s the problem of content.
This is just the last few minutes of a longer presentation, one which is worth seeing in its entirety. I have struggled like many others with Moldbug’s prose and figured hey let’s see how he does just putting his philosophy into plain English, as he attempts to do here.
He starts by staking out pragamatic terrain–what is to be done? He acknowledges it is complicated but says he likes to “simplify” things (!), and he tries, ever so fitfully, to proceed “simply”.
Honestly, though, when he is asked to just get up and say what he means, he is a lot more Chauncey Gardiner than Vladimir Lenin or Isaiah Berlin.
Over at your post, you and Will S. got into a fun back-and-forth about surgeons and novelists. Is it easier for a surgeon to go on to be a novelist than the other way round? Perhaps, though novel-writing and many other non-scientific pursuits have their own need for discipline.
In this context, I would agree that it is possible for a software engineer to develop a coherent political philosophy, and I look forward to that prospect some day. Maybe it’s even been done already. . . but I don’t think MM is the one to have done it.
Maybe all he’s saying is that we need to be more like Singapore. But that’s not all that controversial–big sections of the Cathedral are already in favor.
Meanwhile, Paelo, doesn’t Moldbug’s affect make you wonder about how closely DE and Game are to be linked? Are DE types typically Alpha? Just asking.
How well would Mencius do in a bar room?
Or Nick Land.
My conclusion: not very well.
In sum, I see the connect between science/engineering and DE/neoreaction, but I don’t take the “movement” (?!) seriously.
I don’t see the connection to Game.
HBD is another matter entirely.