We don't talk much about politics here because politics is the mind-killer. But even if it weren't the case, we might still want to avoid it as knowledge of day-to-day politics tends to lose its value fast.

On the other hand, I think it's important to have at least some minimalistic knowledge of larger trends. I don't think we should let our aversion to politics put us in a position where we don't know what is going on in the world until it smacks us in the face[1]. You might not care about politics, but politics cares about you. It is useful to know which way the wind is blowing, whether you wish to support or oppose growing trends; or some combination of the two.

The article in Vanity Fair convinced me that the New Right[2] is a phenomenon worth having at least having a cursory knowledge of [3]. While before I had assumed that it was an irrelevant niche on the internet, it now seems to be gaining real-world influence and a certain level of "coolness", so ignoring it seems like a mistake.

(I have tried to avoid stating an opinion due to the general norm of "no politics" on Less Wrong).

  1. ^

    For example, I felt like I was smacked in the face by Trumpism. When he first started trending I had no idea of what was going on or why people were considering voting for him.

  2. ^

    I'm not counting Trumpism as New Right. Considering Trump has already been president, this post would be coming several years too late.

  3. ^

    It may seem as though I'm announcing old news since Yarvin commented on Overcoming Bias before Less Wrong split off. However, a) it was before my time (and before the time of most people here) and b) as far as I can tell New Right thought seems to have made some shifts since then.

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I fully agree with your premise that each of us should have some (or lots of) knowledge of trends and popular beliefs.  I don't think that means we should discuss it on LW.  I very much hope LW isn't your only, or even primary source of knowledge about the world.

It's fine to link to outside pieces where they impact a recommendation you're making or societal model you're exploring.  It's likely even good to propose a model of significant subsets of humanity who don't seem aligned with your values.  However, I don't think I'd declare open season.  Such explorations and writings have a very high risk of being downvoted heavily, or infecting other conversations.  

As a specific example of something that worked OK here (but never really resolved, AFAIK) is the Moral Mazes sequence.  There was plenty of disagreement as to applicability and fidelity of the model, but it was far enough from true hot-buttons that it didn't really go off the rails.  Likewise Zvi's writing about current events - I attribute that success to his skill (and the fact that he's writing for a broader audience than just LW), and I don't think I or most posters could replicate it.

Theres a difference between debating the merits of different political positions and merely announcing an apparent trend. I’m doing the later and I don’t think the risks associated with this are too severe. So it’s not exactly open season.

The decision to call a tiny number of people a new political trend is a political position. It's the kind of discouse that leads even someone like Glenn Greenwald saying recently that NYT tried to dox Scott Alexander because he's a right-wing blogger. 

People like Thiel or Yarvis make great material to write interesting articles about them but their political thought is too complex to be believed by a broader public.

People like Thiel or Yarvis make great material to write interesting articles about them but their political thought is too complex to be believed by a broader public.


I expect what matters is whether they capture the elites. If they do, then the ideas will percolate down in the same way that Judith Butler's ideas have percolated down (what percent of the population would even be able to define performativity?)

The article doesn't show evidence of capturing a single elite chair till now. Judith Butler's ideas were popular with a lot of academic professors and other people who had power because of the institutional authority that they hold.

I think traditional sources of authority are becoming less important. The media is an obvious example - its influence has been diluted by podcasts and Substack. I think this applies to academia as well. For example, I think that Twitter has something of a leveling effect as it is now much easier to get a platform based on saying interesting things, rather than more traditional credentials.

If Elon Musk truly manages to take over Twitter and take it private, that will be a big change in the power relations governing day-to-day elite communication, e.g. among journalists and academics. 

The reason I mention the Twitter takeover in this context: you could say that the essence of Yarvin's strategy to defeat democracy, is to take the public sphere private. Replacing the "rule of law" with the "rule of men", also known as "personal rule". 

It's all very twisted because a common accusation against the western system, is that although it is based on rule-of-law, in fact it has been corrupted, so that there is an elite who are above the law; a form of oligarchy. The neoreactionary answer to this is, is to hope for a "good king", who will restore justice because they are a good person but with absolute power. 

It may seem as though I'm announcing old news since Yarvin wrote here before he was banned. However, a) it was before my time (and before the time of most people here) and b) as far as I can tell New Right thought seems to have made some shifts since when he wrote here.

In the wake of the Vanity Fair article, Yarvin has posted a new introduction to his thought.

Did Yarvin write here? I don't remember that.

Before my time. He was banned years ago.

I've been here for years tho and I don't remember him ever posting, or even commenting.

How do you know he was here or banned?

Querying the search feature for "Mencius", it looks like he commented exactly once in November 2007. (On Overcoming Bias, the account and comment having been ported over in the transition to lesswrong.com.) Best wishes, Less Wrong Reference Desk.

It seems like I might have misremembered the details:
 

He used to be a frequent commenter on Overcoming Bias before Hanson and Yudkowsky split blogs, and he clearly dazzled readers with his refined brand of contrarianism. I wasn't around to watch, but his comments are occasionally seen under 2007-2008 posts, and later on too. His handle there is/was simply Mencius, search for it.

Maybe edit the footnote in the post to clarify that Mencius was discussed on and commented at OB before LW 'split off'?

That matches my (extremely vague) memories much better. I was reading OB back before Yudkowsky created this site. Some of the OB posts and their comments were transferred here, but I didn't remember Mencius/Yarvin commenting, let alone posting, here too.

Within the past few years, the concept of a "culture war" went from that of a passing buzzword to an apt description of what we may already be mired in. Many actions taken by those on the "New Right" or Alt Right or Far Right are designed to hurt those they disagree with rather than provide benefit to their own compatriots. How else can we describe this sort of behavior if not as "war-like"? We may see more indiscriminate killings, but what will stoke the flames will be deliberate and targeted assassinations. On 4chan, I have already seen open discussion revolving around the question of why spree shooters are not targeting figureheads of opposing cultural and political ideologies, so it appears the seeds are already being planted for lone wolf assassinations that would resemble and possibly even derive inspiration from fictional characters like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver - a character that many on that website find commonality with. 

It would be nice if political phenomena and trends could be accurately summarized from the outside, including the mental or emotional reasons for these trends.