Arnold Kling  

P. J. O'Rourke has Competition

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It comes from 'Mencius Moldbug,' who says


the US is just a corporation. It is not a mystic trust consigned to us by the generations. It is not the repository of our hopes and fears, the voice of conscience and the avenging sword of justice. It is just an big old company that holds a huge pile of assets, has no clear idea of what it's trying to do with them, and is thrashing around like a ten-gallon shark in a five-gallon bucket, red ink spouting from each of its bazillion gills.

...Surely, if anything ungood remains in the world, it can be vanquished by a gigantic, heavily armed mega-charity, with H-bombs, a flag, and 250 million serfs. In fact, it's actually rather astounding that, considering the prodigious endowments of this great philanthropic institution, it seems to do so little good.

...democracy is - as most writers before the 19th century agreed - an ineffective and destructive system of government. The concept of democracy without politics makes no sense at all, and as we've seen, politics and war are a continuum. Democratic politics is best understood as a sort of symbolic violence, like deciding who wins the battle by how many troops they brought.


He has his own blog.

From a recent entry,


I hope you can agree that the Harvard faculty in 2007 by and large believes in human equality, social justice, world peace and community leadership, that the faculty of the same institution held much the same beliefs in 1957, 1907, 1857 and 1807, and that in any of these years they would have described these views as the absolute cynosure of Christianity. Perhaps I am just naturally suspicious, but it strains my credulity slightly to believe that sometime in 1969, the very same beliefs were rederived from pure reason and universal ethics, whose concurrence with the New Testament is remarkable to say the least.

From another post:

For example, if ultracalvinists are Christians, "political correctness" is religious orthodoxy. Hm, where have we seen this before? Perhaps in Massachusetts? I mean, is it any surprise that Ivy League schools are acting, in effect, as ultracalvinist seminaries? Isn't that exactly what they were founded as?

This idea of political ideology as religion resonates with me. At the conference on environmental stewardship for religious leaders, I tried to treat environmentalism in religious terms and religion in ecological terms. Think of Global Warmingism (GW) as competing in the same ecological niche as religion. GW has some powerful advantages, particularly in becoming a national religion. Traditional religions have natural predators, such as the ACLU. They are constrained by the common understanding of the First Amendment. GW does not have an effective opposition or any institutional constraints. Opponents of a traditional religion may speak freely without encountering disapproval. Opponents of GW are denounced. Traditional religions are held in contempt by science. GW bears a scientific imprimatur. Traditional religions must contend with a widespread suspicion of religion. GW has to overcome less inherent resistance.

One can argue that GW does have predators. The Evil Corporations are portrayed as battling GW. But Evil Corporations are readily bought off--all it takes is some pollution permits and ethanol subsidies to get them to shut up. GW has the potential to spread without inhibition, until it completely takes over the religious niche in the ecosytem.

From this post:


I think the US is best interpreted as one country with two governments. We can call these the "red government" and the "blue government." Basically, as a very rough approximation, the red government is the military and the blue government is everything else.

From this post:

By my count, Anglophone North America ex Canada is on its fifth legal regime. The First Republic was the Congressional regime, which illegally abolished the British colonial governments. The Second Republic was the Constitutional regime, which illegally abolished the Articles of Confederation. The Third Republic was the Unionist regime, which illegally abolished the principle of federalism. The Fourth Republic is the New Deal regime, which illegally abolished the principle of limited government.

...the US government is the 800-pound gorilla. It sits wherever it wants. But "it" is not one entity. It is, again, a network of competing power centers.


This is an important point. The U.S. government is not a single, authoritarian entity. It is a set of rules and organizations.

From this post:


One of my main concerns is that I think the principal check that keeps the US from degenerating into actual violence is the 75-year-old informational dominance of "responsible" broadcast and newspaper journalism. This system is dying. It is being replaced by people like Amanda Marcotte and Michelle Malkin. And their followers, if not them personally, seem to have enough pure, 24-karat hate stored up for ten or fifteen really juicy civil wars.

This latter post has much more that I could have excerpted.

There is an old joke about a Rabbi who is asked to referee an argument. He listens to one side and says, "You're right." He listens to the other side and says, "You're right." A spectator says, "They cannot both be right. You are being completely illogical."

"You're right, too!" says the Rabbi.

I feel that way about the Democrats and the Republicans. When a Democrat tells me all of the horrible things that Republicans want to do, so that I cannot vote for them, I say "You're right." When a Republican tells me all the horrible things the Democrats want to do, so that I cannot vote for them, I say "You're right."

When someone says that one of the two parties is going to win, so I have to vote for one of them, I say, "You're right, too."


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



TRACKBACKS (2 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/727
The author at tdaxp in a related article titled What was the university like before the 1960s? writes:
    The recent post at Unqualified Reservations, "The ultracalvinist hypothesis: In perspective" has been a spash at Econolog, gnxp, and here. The "ultravalcinist hypothesis" holds that contemporary American atheism is actually a variant of Mainline Prote... [Tracked on June 30, 2007 1:26 AM]
The author at tdaxp in a related article titled Blog Update Links writes:
    No central thread to today's links, other than that they touch on topics previously discussed. Hamas stages a false-flag operation against Mickey Mouse on children's television (hat-tip to Drudge Report). Still, Islam is the answer. The Metropolis... [Tracked on July 1, 2007 3:51 PM]
COMMENTS (11 to date)
TGGP writes:

You don't have to vote. Voting is irrational and if anything, probably just encourages them. Haven't you been paying attention to your co-blogger?

I hope more people start visiting Mencius' blog. I feel a bit overwhelmed talking with him in the comments section and would like to see some more dialogue to help flesh out the ideas.

Brad Hutchings writes:

Bryan Caplan's secret blog! Brilliant.

Paul Zrimsek writes:

He has his own blog.

Thanks for the warning.

Dan in Europeland writes:

Arnold,
To further your GW as religion analogy, remember GWists believe in Original Sin. Everything was perfect until man ate the apple of knowledge and began polluting the environment (literally & figuratively.)

Scary stuff. GWists are willing to crucify the rest of us to try an obtain their salvation.

TGGP writes:

In some of my first comments I mentioned Caplan. Mencius says one of his plans for the blog is to give Caplan a thorough reaming, and if you read the comments sections he gives a rather low opinion of Caplan there.

PurpleSlog writes:

That blog http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/ has some real interesting ideas. I have been having alot of fun reading through his archives since I came across it a few days ago.

William Newman writes:

So it's the secret blog of Caplan's evil twin, then?

Tom Crispin writes:

It's time to re-read Phillip Bobbitt's "Shield of Achilles". In addition to delivering the best synopsis and analysis of Western History since 1500, he essentially predicts the emergence of ideas such as Mencius' formalism.

Ajay writes:

I thought this was a great and particularly relevant quote from one of his recent comments:

It's not that reason works because reason is scientific. It's that science works because science is reasonable. Forget this and you are already deep in the weeds of scientism. - link

CC writes:

also in GWism: if we don't repent soon and live a more ascetic existence, our circumstances will become hot and hellish.

but, what is the 'jesus fish' equivalent for GWist cars? perhaps a prius logo?

and is there a 'darwin fish' i can put on my car to register dissent with their orthodoxy?

Randy writes:

Thanks for the pointer. Some truly original thinking there. That's also the reason I visit here, by the way.

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