Draft Reply on Antiversity

I’m posting in bullet form before my thoughts are presentable to stimulate further discussion with Vincent and other interested parties.  This may be irrelevant to the point of indecipherability to many readers, caveat lector.  (I already spent rather more than “lunch” typing this – didn’t realize how many points would end up in the outline – and I doubt I will finish expanding these points or even start working on this draft for several months, but I hope it is somewhat intelligible.)

A. Preliminaries –

A1. Final point of “Part 3” is 1st in many ways: what resources of $ and manpower do we think an Antiversity would have to work with? Correct solution to any problem totally dependent on what resources you plan to invest in the solution.

A2. My basic instinct is, copy the Left!  Long march through institutions. So we need to evaluate any specific plan for Antiversity against the “option value” of pursuing a tried (but possibly multi-decade) strategy

A3. Regardless, Long March/Antiversity are clearly natural complements. (Even if you think recruiting an army and laying siege is easier than persuading a city to join you, if you could persuade just one sentry that surrender is a good idea and get him to let down the drawbridge, suddenly the siege becomes a lot easier.)

A4. More broadly: how much should we copy leftist tactics/strategies, or avoid? Beyond copying and domesticating tactics, what about harnessing the same trends (i.e. trends that invariably lead to disorder; finding a microbe to infect the infectious microbe)

A5. Even more broadly: is the plan to build up an arsenal of informal power to resist Cathedral and then “hand it over” after formalization? Or do we need to be leery of acquiring informal power and make the Antiversity self-formalizing?

B. Signal-jamming –

B1. Big picture: we don’t want to whine about the fact that we’re considered kooks and worse.  It’s not a question of moral dessert or victimology.  We want to win, and we think we can win because we’re right (and will get righter and righter because we don’t engage in amyl-nitrate-fueled epistemological barebacking).

B2. Vincent’s précis: challenge is to fight system of signals which recognizes Cathedral as authoritative and stigmatizes any opposition as kooky/eccentric

B3. First step is Batesian mimicry.

3a. We need to find the authority-signals that are most weakly associated with ex cathedra knowledge-generation capacities and start mimicking them ruthlessly. Don’t mock the fact that academia is a cargo cult, put up a plywood radar tower to convince the choirboys you’re the priest. (Result: choirboys stop trusting lower ranks of Cathedral. Cathedral needs to retrench to its most expensive signals.)

3b. Go full “Nasreddin Hoca”(sp?); start circulating dissident research/articles formatted as though it came from sanctified sources.  N.b., information and analysis in such articles must be immaculate, only the publication (and maybe even the author!) are changed. Counterfeiting of frippery of prestige on massive scale. — This can even extend to hosting them where academic papers would typically be shared, e.g. personal university webpages and so on.

B4. University degrees, affiliations, chairs etc. confer prestige due to selectivity. Okay (we say), this is mostly a filter for neurocognitive traits; I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours? Antiversity cadres should have recent, rigorously administered Wechslers, Ravens, maybe others; maybe other validated instruments like HEXACO; also useful to have them take GRE, maybe LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, or other tests which we know Cathedral priors and deacons must have taken (and so could conceivably publicize); in other words, use same quantitative filter for credential-granting, but just use the filter as the credential and challenge the Cathedralkin to publish theirs.

B5.  All this has the effect of weeding out weaker Cathedralkin from stronger.  Now, stop treating any arguments as about conclusions, treat them as arguments about dueling claims to authority.  That means we are the wolves and they are the deer.  Don’t go after the bounding stag, always attack the herd by culling its cripples and misfits.  Antiversitarians will have to train to switch to attacking an opponent’s brand as soon as he authority-signals: find the weakest departments in his field, the weakest PhD’s awarded at his alma mater, the weakest research by his colleagues, and mock them and force him to disavow them before anyone can return to first-order debates.  (Disruption tactics!)

B7.  This forces Cathedral to fall back on its real resources (expensive signals) and its real strengths (accurate signals).  What are the most valuable parts of the R1-university package? (And likewise for the lower rungs of the Cathedral: most valuable parts of better magazines, etc.) Can we rip them off wholesale? (What are the best ideas for reforming the Cathedral that are impractical due to institutional inertia? Can we rip those off?)

B8.  Regulatory arbitrage.  Those resources and strengths come with strings attached; what are they?  For example, the Antiversity will not get any R1 grants, so it will not have to submit research ideas to Institutional Review Boards.  What would researchers die to be able to do, that IRBs forbid? Antiversity does that.  (Can we set up cells in foreign countries to circumvent national research restrictions?)

C. /ourguys/

C1. As the standards of the Cathedral’s authority-signaling system start to come down, the Antiversity needs to create its own.

C2.  Thales.  The best signal of intellectual superiority is to constantly make lots of predictions that others think are crazy but then come true…. over and over and over again.

2a.  The “Less Wrong” thing of calibrating your predictions over a huge range of (mostly irrelevant) beliefs is better than nothing, but still pretty pozzy: ideal is to speak softly until you’re ready to shout out a “wacky” prophecy that you are confident about, and then goad as many opponents as possible into ridiculing you for it.

2b. If you are very confident about a large number of minor predictions or think you have very good calibration of all your predictions, the correct way to demonstrate that is by using the knowledge to solve problems that flummox everyone else, or through entrepreneurialism/investments/bets.

2c.  Yes, if the Antiversity is that great, some of its cells should be self-funding.  Sort of like Bell Labs. Possibly this principle should be extended to non-predictive research as well: e.g., volume of book sales is a gauge of relevance and insight.

2d. (Minor point: also important to work on making more conditional predictions if you would plan to defend your prediction if it fails, post hoc.)

C3.  “Trap principle” (More later)

C4.  Vincent’s précis made it sound like the Antiversity would be Leninist (organized by democratic centralism), which I think is very smart.

C5.  The Cathedral is authoritative and prestigious largely not due to its prestigious branches, but due to its mediocre ones.  Positional signaling systems only work well when the system labels it’s inferior-quality products as INFERIOR QUALITY in big flashing letters, which is what creates faith that the BEST QUALITY-label really marks out something great.  So to supplant the Cathedral, the Antiversity needs to offer its own mediocrities and, generally, signal not only quality but hierarchy.

5a.  This is a change from how the Orthosphere functions now.  To some extent it’s a hugbox, right? We have a lot of camaraderie and mutual sympathy and are always encouraging one another as much as we can.  This is integral to competitions where good teamwork is mainly a function of unity, loyalty, and energy.  The Antiversity would need to neg its mediocrities harder than the Cathedral would.

5b. (To some extent right-wingers experience with this on /pol/ etc., which is one of the great benefits of our anonymous, decentralized organization.  People who participate in A+D discussions get used to severe criticism and adapt accordingly, but A+D can’t create status hierarchies.)

5c. Ideally we just want to create a lot of hierarchy, by fiat, even if it initially seems gratuitous and silly.  Whether it is researchers/cells/factions/students/papers/fields/whatever, the Antiversity can create useful hierarchical signals just by ranking the units and continually revising the rankings based on some kind of objective criterion (which could simply be the Condorcet rankings of an agreed-upon board).

5d. This can then be exploited in various ways.  Whatever the hierarchy-signals are — say they are Gold, Silver, Bronze: Gold can signal e.g. that they cannot be bothered with responding to frivolous questions/challenges from irrelevant questioners, please go ask Bronze; Bronze, meanwhile, has the job of showing outsiders that he mastered his field, so that they know Gold really means something.

5e. (However, it would be nice to enact this without attracting the type of people who desire high positions within the Cathedral to begin with, i.e. seekers after prestige/status.  The simplest way to do this would be to go full-reactionary and return to the medieval practice of identifying Antiversitykin by sigils.  Your sigil isn’t associated with your personal status in real life because no one knows it’s you; and anyway, it’s hard to identify with a letter or symbol.  Just one possible solution.  — Using letters, kanji, or some geometric mix of shapes+colors+pattern would probably be the easiest way to generate sigils, but for full intersectional epistemo-fascism the Antiversity could acquire an Urbit-star to identify each of its researchers.)

C6.  Here I’m still thinking mostly in terms of the internal organization of the Antiversity, but we need to think about the structure of the communication system for the Antiversity as well (its interface with normal people, when it isn’t challenging the Cathedral directly).  That could mean everything from cloning arxiv, ssrn, plos; to co-opting existing boards and media to function as the Antiversity’s equivalent to the bottom rung of the Cathedral; to wholly new technological solutions (take inspiration from weev’s samiz.dat project).

D. Diagramming

This is sort of a tangent, but I’d like to flesh out a more versatile way of diagramming what we mean by “The Cathedral” at some point, ideally one that rests on different types of relationships in networks where individuals are the nodes that can then be used to aggregate/analyze the net-relationship of different clusters in the network (i.e., networks where groups/institutions are treated as nodes).

Ongoing Notes on the Phylogeny of the English Church

What: No thesis yet, just some (very) light research into the religious tendencies of our forebears since Queen Elizabeth.

Why: (a) The “Progressivism is Crypto-Calvinism” hypothesis, of course. Empirically I think the evidence is quite bad, but conceptually there is something intriguing there and, as a WASP, it is my solemn duty to be more self-critical than anyone else could be. (b) Multiple theories of social decline which name slightly different culprits (“the Cathedral”, “cultural Marxism”, etc.) accept the basic idea that educational and cultural functions have been dispersed and then usurped by the left.  These functions were previously unified in the Church and understanding the decline of Christianity in the West is a necessary complement to any account of the rise of poz.  (c) We on the right are sometimes divided by our shared zeal for Christ, and an ever-better understanding of the public functions of the Church in a Christian commonwealth will bring us ever-closer to consensus, political if not theological.

Before the 1610s

(a) Per Apostolicae Curae and the twentieth-century research into the Marian Church it spurred, the papal legate was relatively happy with ecclesiastical institutions Mary inherited from Edward.  While the papists certainly burnt their share of martyrs, the legate kept nearly all the English priests in their parishes.  Some were re-anointed, with their earlier ordinations treated as valid; a smaller number were re-ordained.  (I did not note what happened to the bishops; return to sources.) Given that the differences with Rome were at this point mild enough that most Anglican priests were retained, it stands to reason there was not yet a great deal of internal variation.

(b) At the end of the Elizabethan period the term Puritan was coming into use; originally the connotation was simply intense religious faith.  All Englishmen were Protestants and Puritans were just particularly pious and sincere, perhaps with an attachment to preaching and a stronger allegiance to Calvin and Zwingli’s theological proposals as opposed to Melanchthon’s.

(c) In 1610 Ames publishes his three solae (first such formulation?)

(d) Completion of the KJV and the special status it acquired in nearly every branch of the English Church is a good metric of how hard the translators worked; this was a high point of Anglican unity.

1620s

(a) In the latter part of the reign of James I/VI, MA de Dominis reported back to Rome that the Anglican Church was at root as catholic as the Roman, but noted many bishops were strong Calvinists.

(b) Around this point people began to care about what the term “Puritan” actually meant.  Ulster asked James I to clarify the term (pursuant to royal instructions about Puritanism?); Mede defined three types of Puritanism concerned with three different levels of the Church in 1623; it is clear that at this point the Church of England was starting to polarize along the question of commitment to Calvinism. (Speculation: this is the period when the students of the ministers who had gone into exile, and many of whose friends had been martyred under Mary, inherited the Anglican Church.)  However, at this point Puritanism had nothing to do with Arminianism.

(c) In 1624 Laud began to push Arminianism.

(d) This was the approximate period when the Anglican Church began to develop its triangular internal structure: some of the Puritans were Separatists who did not wish to operate their congregations within the episcopal hierarchy (the bulk of Separatists eventually becoming Presbyterians) while others were Dissenters who had more serious concerns with Anglican theology and liturgy and in particular believed in the importance of personal conversion.  Within the formal orthodoxy of the Anglican Church, Latitudinarian ministers (later, “broad church”) wanted the Anglican Church to reach some sort of agreement with the Separatists and bring them back into the fold by meeting their objections, while “low church” ministers wanted to reach some sort of agreement with the Dissenters.  The Anglicans who were simply orthodox and did not wish to accommodate either the Separatists or the Dissenters were high church, a term that began to take on different meanings in different periods.

(e) N.b., British Puritans began to leave Britain for other parts of the Protestant world and, eventually, for America from the 1620s on.  Because the emigration started even before Puritanism became aligned with opposition to Laud’s Arminianism, many of the later developments in English Calvinism had no real effect on New England Calvinists.

(f) Charles I faced a complicated multi-level geopolitical balancing act.  First, he was the Defender of the Faith of three Churches (of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland) but the religious policy most acceptable to the hierarchy and laity of any one of the three would be unacceptable to the other two. (Cf. three-body problem.)  Second, British Protestants sympathized with embattled Protestants in both Hapsburg and Bourbon dominions; they wished to aid them, and also saw Charles’ willingness to aid them as an indicator of his faith; but they tended to be equally unsympathetic to the practical difficulties of these campaigns and to the simple reality that Charles could only oppose one of the two Catholic monarchs by allying with the other.

Restoration and Aftermath

(a) The Restoration seemed to mark a permanent high-church victory over the discredited low/broad church, but after a short period of rebuilding the high-church faction was shattered by the Glorious Revolution; seven (Anglican?) bishops and hundreds of clergy refused to renounce their oaths of allegiance to James II after the Glorious revolution in 1688 and went into schism (until 1732).  In 1690 William and Mary formally deposed the non-juring bishops and turned the entire Church of Scotland over to the Presbyterians.  (What remained of the Church of Scotland remained loyal to the Stuart pretenders until 1788 when, faced with the inconvenience that the pretender was a Roman cardinal, they found reasons to reconcile with their fellow Protestants.)  The remainder of the high church which swore fealty to William and Mary (and then to Anne, and then to Hanover) was caught flat-footed by a need to distance themselves from the non-jurors, and by an emboldened low church.

(b) In this period the high church was known for being “high and dry”, i.e. rejecting the emotional appeal and rhetorical style of the preachers of low-church and Dissenter tendencies.

(c) But n.b.: over in New England, where the clerical establishment was already “Dissenter”, the same pattern emerged.  Lay preachers and unofficial revivals adopted an increasingly emotional, even hysterical tone, and the (Calvinist) establishment made sure to chart out a distinct, non-emotional approach to the sermons delivered from the pulpit.

(d) As a matter of nationalist/populist fervor, the defense of England against Jacobite insurrection and invasion by France or Spain continued to take a firmly Protestant tone over the course of the eighteenth century.  Popery was unpatriotic.  However, even while the Anglican Church was being tugged in the “low” direction by these forces, the bourgeois elite sought an elite-level rapprochement with the Catholic (and Jewish) elite.  (I need to take another look at the history of this.  I can’t figure out when Whigs were able to shift their party-line on this, and whether it is tied to their ideological center of gravity moving from low-church Anglicans to non-conconformists.)

(e) As attacks on the institution of the Church of England began to rise, high-church Tories/traditionalists began to mount a more robust defense of distinctively Anglican liturgical and theological positions.  This high-church faction was later labeled “Anglo-Catholic” and indeed some of them went on to become Roman Catholic, notably Newman; others became socialists and Laborites.  (I’m not entirely clear on what the affinity is; two anti-bourgeois movements? two contemporary Oxbridge fashions? ideological re-balancing?)

Other

I’m still not very sharp on various post-Restoration low-chuch sects (Friends, Methodists, etc. – cf. James); who if anyone was setting Anglican policy under the Hanoverians; role of non-conforming churches in British intellectual life post-Enlightenment.  How different was the course of development in the Americas, how much cross-fertilization was there?  Was Scottish Pietism the major British export to Continental Protestants? Was Hanoverian England actually more devout than ancien régime France, or was this simply a story that suited the needs of both kingdoms after 1815?

Preliminary Conclusions

Most striking to me so far: the extent to which (a) the value of maintaining extra-scriptural liturgical traditions was called into question by the possibility that these symbols might be signs of loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and (b) parallel developments in the religious establishments of England and New England were driven by non-establishment religious enthusiasm, despite the ostensibly opposed theological positions of the two camps.

Minor Note on Unions

I want to take a pragmatic stance on unions.  I don’t think the Right needs to be against them; or for them.  Unions have pros and cons. The word “union” refers to a cluster of organizational functions which combine differently in different organizations, so in fact different unions have different pros and cons.

a. Market power.  Fundamentally unions are similar to minimum wage laws, except they work by monopoly power rather than price controls. Pricing low-income workers out of the labor market is bad.

b. Political power.  Public sector unions create a despotic closed power loop in the same way, e.g., state religions or military dictatorships do: the administrative machinery tasked with carrying out the decisions of the political process become a powerful player in the political process. So public sector unions are bad. (The power that all unions have just because they coordinate the clout of workers efficiently is a second-order concern.)

c. Source of labor’s negotiating position. Unions which extract rents by occupying damaging veto points (as opposed to increasing the bargaining power of workers who are, at the margin, easy to replace) deliver economically irrational rents, and threaten huge social losses if a strike actually develops; therefore, they are bad. For example, there is no reason why milk-delivery drivers should be paid that much more than potato-delivery drivers; but because milk spoils faster than potatoes, a milk-delivery union would have a much more powerful strike-threat. Likewise, the power of cleaning staff at hotels as opposed to office buildings has less to do with the actual difficulty of the job than the skittishness of vacationers who are more likely to switch hotels simply to avoid unpleasantness.

d. Organization of vocational trainingOn the other hand, to the extent that unions represent a vehicle for intergenerational skill-transmission and on-the-job training, unions are good. Union brothers are willing to put in the effort to train new members (i.e., to create new competitors) both to repay their debt to older members, and to gain favor from the union in the future, and because the union’s collective-bargaining position prevents the employer from replacing the trainer with his trainee.

e. Guild system. When unions function as a guild system, allowing long-term reciprocity between families in the community, they are also good.  The basic idea is that a man will typically be working for twenty years or longer before his own son needs a job; in the interim there will be many open positions he cannot give to his son.  By creating a shortage of valuable positions and giving people inside the union authority over distribution, value is ensured. (Do I need to make the implications explicit? Consider what happens when someone forces a guild system to include hostile strangers from outside the community to which existing union brothers belong.)

f. Incentive compatibility. Informal systems of discrimination/self-policing are good. Workers don’t want to be punished/fired/fined for incompetence because giving employers the right to do so destroyed labor’s bargaining power. But workers do want to be able to capture some of the gains that come from an efficient labor force. By creating an incentive structure whereby current workers are guaranteed to benefit in the long-term if they identify incompetence and vote it off the island, efficiency can be increased without creating dangerous incentive problems on either end.

GuildsCrests