About that one tweet

I tweeted this the other day while somewhat drunk and in the midst of a (thankfully mild) psychotic episode:


In this tweet, what I mean by pro-life is not simply pro-birth, but rather an all-encompassing politics that also embraces free access to (and the de-demonisation of) contraception, supporting child-bearing parents (whatever their gender) medically and psychologically, and total overhaul and reform of the adoption and child-care systems toward being more humane and oriented against abuse; as well, it means a consistent life ethic: not only pro-life in terms of abortion, but also against the death penalty, against war, against killer cops, against allowing people to die from insufficient medical care, against allowing people to die from malnutrition or starvation, against allowing people to die from psychiatric causes, against the glorification of violence and abuse in culture, against the devaluing of human beings based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender, etc..
What I mean by the necessity of religion is precisely the necessity of ordering life toward a transcendent principle, whether one calls that principle God, Allah, Adi-Buddha, the Dao, Brahman, etc..
What I mean by the importance of having a place in society or devoting oneself to one's superiors is that even in an egalitarian society, there will still be people who take charge and lead the way and people who will follow along and help them; I don't believe in a Nietzschean 'overman' thesis nor any conception that some people are 'better' than others (both of these ideas disgust me), just that people have different personalities and some will be priests and some will be laypeople (both literally and metaphorically).
The way I phrased it was provocative, and given my mental state at the time, intentionally so. I apologise for the provocation. But I have outlined my beliefs in regards to what I said then here, and I stand by those beliefs. Thank you.

Why is neoreaction so appealing (to me), anyway?

They've built a strong, interesting political philosophy entirely through blogging. That's the short answer.
Here's the long answer:
There are many strains of neoreaction, each with its own points of interest. I'll start with the techno-commercialists/futurists.
The techno-commercialists are intriguing first on an aesthetic level: their aesthetics are cyberpunk, and they dream of a cyberpunk future. But rather than view this hypothetical cyberpunk future as a nightmarish dystopia, they see it as an ideal society. They offer an alternative vision of liberalism, one without the trappings of democracy and human rights. Moldbug's neocameralism, when you get down to it, is essentially a reductio ad absurdum of liberalism: if you define liberalism in a Lockean manner, viz. that every person has the natural rights to life, liberty, and property, then it becomes clear that the 'property' part is in conflict with the 'life' and 'liberty' parts. The non-aggression principle, or NAP, makes this much clearer: liberty is equated with property, and the right to life is merely the right to own oneself—I am my own property. As such, the most extreme extension of this is the concept of 'exit rights': when each land-owner becomes the liege of vis property (or, in Moldbug's vision, when each piece of land is owned by a joint-stock company, whose shareholders have absolute power over the land they own), the only right afforded to the tenant/subject is the right to say 'no' and move to a different piece of land.
Nick Land's writings and lectures, both before and after he converted to NRx, are spectacular in my opinion. I occasionally browse the Ccru archives just to see the far-out philosophy he and the rest of the collective produced, and I have a PDF of Fanged Noumena.
Plus, they tend to make good art and software. I'm looking forward to installing Urbit when I get my new computer, and akira's Gematriculator is indispensable as far as techno-esotericism goes. And have you heard any of vis new album?
The traditionalists have a different kind of appeal: they often border on being palaeoreactionaries who reject liberalism as a whole as illegitimate. I share a number of positions with them: anti-liberalism, pro-life, pro-religion, social cohesion, etc., but I also believe strongly in LGBTQ+ rights and socialism. Honestly, one of the most appealing things to me about communism is that true meritocracy can emerge—a natural 'aristocracy' of the most skilled, accomplished, and virtuous.
I have little use for the 'human biodiversity' crowd, as at best, they're working from an unintentional misreading of the data on IQ and other traits and drawing the wrong conclusions, and at worst, they're eugenicists deliberately misrepresenting psychological data for racist, sexist, and classist ends. The tiny bit of 'HBD' that's worthwhile, such as correlations between personality traits and political leanings, is very interesting to me and probably highly important for understanding how to make politics work.
All in all, most of them are pretty cool (or at least interesting) people and I enjoy reading their theory as a challenge to my own biases.

Depression Quest and Gone Home are still games

There's been a lot of criticism—a decent amount of it politically motivated—of Depression Quest and Gone Home. I'll stay away from the political part of it here, but I'd like to note my own opinions on the two games first.
I've played Depression Quest, and I didn't see it as particularly good. It's okay; it captures what having depression is like to an extent and the visual and sound design were pretty cool, as was the feature of crossing out certain options depending on the player character's emotional state in order to drive home how depression can cripple its sufferers to the point that they're virtually incapable of certain normal things. But it's rather generic and, speaking as a depressive myself, it isn't realistic enough on its topic and doesn't really go deep enough into its exploration of depression.
I haven't played Gone Home, but I've seen playthroughs of it and it doesn't seem particularly bad. The story is not particularly great: it's essentially a generic coming-of-age story that's been repeated dozens of times in young adult literature. But the framing of a graphic adventure game is certainly interesting, and the way the gameplay functions primarily as a means of exposition is certainly a good idea.
However, they've come under attack for various reasons. But the reason that bothers me the most is that they're 'not games'.
And why does that bother me? Because these allegations are patently false, and their intent is primarily to denigrate them without addressing them on their own merits.
So why, exactly, are they games? What is it that makes them games, as opposed to simply pieces of interactive software?
To start with, Depression Quest, when it comes down to it, is a text adventure. The choices you make while playing it affect certain variables and lead to multiple endings. Although you're limited to a certain amount of choices, this is not unique among text adventures. Prompt-based text adventures, which require the player to type in commands, still have this type of constraint, although instead of simply presenting a list of options, an unrecognised command prompts a response along the lines of 'I didn't understand your command'. To say that Depression Quest is not a game is to dismiss Zork, Curses, and even Steins;Gate, a visual novel which similarly only has text-based choices as its gameplay, as non-games.
As for Gone Home, it is a graphic adventure game. Although it contains no puzzles, its primary focus is on uncovering the story. This makes it what is known as an exploration game, in which exploration and atmosphere are integral parts of the gameplay. Yet this is at the root of what makes people accuse it of 'not being a game'. Kentucky Route Zero, a game which similarly has no puzzles or challenges, had its first two episodes released the same year as Gone Home was, yet I haven't heard any complaints that it's 'not a game'. (This is why I suspect political motivation in these accusations: an exploration-based game without puzzles or challenges but isn't an 'SJW game' (whatever that means) receives few to no accusations that it's 'not a game', but an exploration-based game without puzzles or challenges yet has LGBTQ+ themes receives a lot of accusations of that sort.)
Roger Ebert defined what, to him, distinguishes video games from art in one of many highly controversial essays:
One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a[n] immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.

By this definition, Depression Quest would be a game, but Gone Home would not. Yet I would dispute a certain part of his definition: namely, that there must be points and objectives.
Telltale's episodic game The Walking Dead, based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore and inspired by the success of its television adaptation, received universal acclaim from critics and players alike. It received over 80 Game of the Year awards among many more awards. Metacritic, which aggregates game reviews, gave the Xbox 360 version a rating of 92/100, the PlayStation 3 version 94/100, the PC version 89/100, and the PlayStation Vita version 82/100, adding up to a total average of 89.25/100. Steam users, a good enough representative sample of gamers, rated the game 'Overwhelmingly Positive' based on an aggregate of 26,274 user reviews, only 4% of which were negative. I've played it twice and loved it each time.
And yet there are arguably no points or objectives in the game. There are occasional puzzles which have to be solved in order to progress in the game, but they're heavily de-emphasised. Each episode has five moments in which the player must make a crucial decision between two options—when you think about it, a very similar game mechanic to Depression Quest—which dramatically alters the course of the game. There are also conversations in which the player is given a limited amount of time to choose which response to say, which can have a major impact on how the other characters feel about the player character, Lee. There are quick-time events in which the player must keep Lee or other characters alive; sometimes, these quick-time events require the player to choose which of two major characters to keep alive. But unlike in other games, in which the choices made result in rewards or punishments for the player, there is nothing of that sort in The Walking Dead. The results of each choice are ambiguous: there are no 'win' or 'loss' conditions. The only purpose of the player's decisions is for the player to see how the story unfolds. There are rules by which one must play and there are outcomes of the player's decisions, but there are no points (unless by 'point', one means 'purpose') or objectives.
And no one that I know of has claimed that The Walking Dead isn't a game.
Gone Home has rules and an outcome, although it has no points or objectives. Depression Quest has rules, points, multiple outcomes, and even, arguably, objectives—that is, to reduce the player character's level of depression, to get them into therapy, and to get them on medication.
So both Depression Quest and Gone Home are games. Feel free to dislike them—I don't see them as particularly great—or even hate them. Call them 'SJW games' or dismiss them entirely. But don't say they aren't games unless you're willing to present your case as to why.

The soft bigotry of low expectations (and the term's misuse)

There's an argument that's omnipresent in any debate over minority interests in America and other Western countries. That argument takes the form of pointing out, correctly or incorrectly, the 'soft bigotry of low expectations'.
This phrase was coined by Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush who also coined the term 'axis of evil'. As it was coined by a Republican speechwriter as political rhetoric, there's an element of partisanship in its normal use. Yet I find that it describes a real thing found on the left: there are plenty of self-designated 'allies' who believe that it's their job to speak for marginalised people. There is a highly patronising element to this: such an 'ally' is assuming, likely unconsciously, that marginalised people cannot speak for themselves effectively. I'm sure everyone on the left has heard stories of self-proclaimed male feminists who are oblivious to what women actually want and speak over women or of self-proclaimed allies of people of colour who speak over people of colour without even understanding what issues have been raised. These are all real, and they can all be safely categorised as soft bigotry of low expectations.
But the phrase and the idea behind it, almost certainly owing a lot to its partisan origins, are routinely abused in debates between leftists or liberals and conservatives, especially those debates which take place in comments sections and forums. Virtually any debate about, say, systemic barriers to class mobility for black people in America will go like this: 'Well, racial bias in job selection, discrimination in housing, underfunded schools for black communities, and the school-to-prison pipeline are all major factors that contribute to poverty in the black community.' 'So you're saying that black people are too lazy to get jobs and housing?'
Or how about immigration? 'There are many obstacles for potential immigrants to legally the United States, such as skill, education,, marital status, wait time, and others, which is why many opt to cross the border illegally and hope for the best.' 'Oh, so now they're too incompetent to jump through all the hoops? That's the soft bigotry of low expectations, you know.'
Such examples are disingenuous: they deliberately conflate underestimation of a marginalised group with recognition of the disadvantages imposed on that marginalised group. Black Americans are incarcerated for drug use almost six times as much as white Americans, but this isn't because black Americans use illegal drugs six times as much as whites, as white and black Americans use drugs at roughly similar rates. This means that there is a definite element of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
The misuse of this term ties directly into two fundamental modern American conservative themes: first of all, that it's the liberals and the leftists who are the real racists/sexists/etc. (I won't deny that liberals have contributed to systemic racism—c.f. the crime bill signed into law by Bill Clinton—or that there's still bigotry in liberal and leftist discourse), and second, that if you 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' (which, ironically, originally meant 'to accomplish a ridiculously far-fetched task', from a Baron von Münchhausen story in which he pulls himself out of a swamp by his pigtail, which later became his bootstraps), you can make it big—the playing field is already level and we already have equality of opportunity.
Accusations of the soft bigotry of low expectations, whether explicit or implicit, can be valid or invalid. Such an accusation is valid when someone is claiming that members of marginalised groups are incapable of certain things, including speaking up for themselves. Accusations are invalid when someone is pointing out systemic or structural injustices against marginalised people.
It's always important to know how to make good arguments effectively.

Trump, liberalism, and the emotional plague

I must say that political subjects are troubling me yet again.
Now, 'this is not normal' has become a liberal mantra. Every week, I am subjected to a tirade (usually in the first paragraph of a column or thinkpiece) about the alleged abnormality of the Trump presidency. I'm inclined to agree in some respects—the revolving-door Cabinet is certainly an aberration in American political history—but it still bothers me on multiple levels.
We've heard echoes of Trump throughout our political history; Pat Buchanan's 1992 campaign, with his culture-war rhetoric, is a relatively recent example. Indeed, Buchanan endorsed Trump last year, seeing in him a kindred spirit, even despite Trump leaving his 2000 Reform Party candidacy due to the presence in the party of, among other people, Pat Buchanan.
I can't claim to understand, to be frank, why Trump is viewed as an ideological aberration. The ideological state apparatuses have been there all along, subtly programming our prevailing ideology into a largely invisibly but highly grotesque quasi-ethnic nationalism; every time an elementary school student stands, puts their hand on their heart, and recites the Pledge of Allegiance, they are interpellated as a subject of the American Empire.
Thus, it should seem no surprise that this chauvinistic, racialised, über-macho ideology coalesced into the form of Trump. Yet, to liberals, it's an immense surprise. They were sure that when they held their hands to their hearts for the daily ritual of vexillolatry, they weren't celebrating the Indigenous genocide, the horrors of slavery, the endless war, the role of America in the rise of fascism in the early twentieth century, the unspeakably evil bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—no, they were pledging their allegiance to an America in which racism is on the fringes, the biggest issue for women today is 'manspreading', and no matter the sins America carries from her past, it'll all work out in the end.
(Speaking of liberal feminism, I saw a middle-class woman on Twitter a few days ago asserting that socialism is sexist because it'll remove the glass ceilings that petit-bourgeois women are 'destined' to shatter.)
And thus, the birth of 'this is not normal' and the increasingly insane Russia-centric conspiracy theories promulgated by hacks like Eric Garland and Louise Mensch. (Just look at the hashtag #PutinBot—it's abundantly clear that most of the people using it don't know what a bot is, and in some exceptionally bizarre cases, they've replied with the hashtag to standard-fare Weird Twitter jokes.)
The surface narrative must be maintained that, in the words of Hillary Clinton, 'America is already great, because America is good', lest the dark underbelly of America's racism, sexism, classism, and xenophobia be exposed. The issue, of course, is that this selfsame dark underbelly has emerged in the form of Donald Trump, Breitbart, and the white nationalist alt-right. Even after Charlottesville, liberals began circulating alleged proof of Richard Spencer's ties to the Kremlin, because…he has talked with Aleksandr Dugin and his wife is Russian and has translated some of Dugin's essays. That's it. Never mind that, despite media sensationalism over Dugin being 'Putin's Rasputin', he's actually quite a fringe figure in Russian political circles.
To borrow some terminology from Prester Jane's 'narrativist framework', the inner narrative must be guarded by all means possible. From what I've seen, the inner narrative is rather similar to Fukuyama's thesis in The End of History and the Last Man: liberal democratic capitalism is the final and best form of government in humanity's evolution and it is inherently stable. Trump's victory caused a great deal of narrative dissonance (PJ's term is 'narrative dysphoria' in analogy to gender dysphoria). As such, rather than rethinking the 'inherent' stability and superiority of liberal democratic capitalism, they have created a grand narrative starting from the two basic points that Russian actors allegedly hacked the DNC emails and that Trump and/or his family have attempted some shady dealings with Russian actors and working it into a conspiracy theory so immense as to be impenetrable, linking in everyone and everything from Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden to allegations that pro-Russian and pro-Trump Twitter bots must have been bought and paid for by the Kremlin (even though setting up a bot is incredibly easy and also free).
And this is what has been troubling me.
Back in June, after Trump insulted MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski on Twitter, Stephen Colbert said this:
Let's stop pretending that Trump is a symptom of something. He is the disease.
And this encapsulates everything wrong with liberalism. It's an extreme irony that Colbert, who played a character embodying the very worst traits of American politics—i.e., the disease—for nine years, four nights a week, could say that a president who embodies the very worst traits of American politics is not the symptom.
The disease has been running through American politics since the beginning, starting with the subjugation and genocide of Indigenous Americans and continuing through slavery, the Trail of Tears, the endless imperial wars, Jim Crow and segregation, the Know-Nothings, the KKK, the American corporate support for Nazi Germany and role in the Holocaust (Brown Brothers Harriman spawned the Bush family and IBM cooperated with the Nazi government in the use of their machines to carry out the extermination of the Jews), the Nazi ratlines and Allen Dulles' collaboration, the effective genocide of 3.8 million Vietnamese people in the Vietnam War, the Bangladesh genocide in 1971, the US-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor, the US backing of the Khmer Rouge, the 1,455,590 Iraqis killed in the invasion, the continuing destruction of Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen…need I say more?
Wilhelm Reich would diagnose this as an exceptional case of what he called the emotional plague. It's been there for a long time. It's just that now, it's taken off its mask.
And denying that Trump is just its symptom will only make it worse.

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