I got really into the Sequences a while back, and while it struck me that the neologisms used in them were alienating me from people who weren't the LW in-group, I shrugged off all allegations that it was a cult. That is, until one particular topic came up and began to seriously shake my confidence that I was developing into a robust, serious critical thinker: Politics.

It starts off with a subtle assertion that thinking too much about politics can make you dumber. Okay. I accepted that within a certain context, such as picking a team color and waving a flag, you can actually truncate your understanding of the topic of politics. However, I observed an often obsequious and occasionally reactionary zeal for this ethic, which inspired some to passively accept what was for me the breaking point: Not the critique of party politics, but a definitive answer, handed down from on high as the 'correct' perspective on politics, so that we wouldn't have to worry our little heads about it any more. It turns out that being an American Libertarian is the answer! Any debate will reveal you to be irrational, and the hisses of stronger, better minds will answer you. After all, it was proven through analogy by saying that Republican is naive, Democrat is developed awareness, and right Libertarian is 'meta'.

As it happens, I am an anarchist who has reasons to reject the concepts of intellectual property (patent law and copyright) and private ownership of the means of production, as well as the existence of money or trade through markets, so it was a bit of a shock to be told I was precisely wrong in every way. I was being told the answer by someone I still consider to be highly intelligent, perhaps I should reevaluate my ethics... And so it tortured me, poring through history and philosophy, worried that I was 'killing my mind' in researching refutations of anarchist communism and libertarian socialism and finding none that satisfied me. If for all my efforts I remained a socialist and still saw the Libertarian Party as ludicrous, Was I too far gone, rendered incapable of objective evaluation?

Or might LessWrong actually be a bit cult-like?

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This is going to go better if you delete that last line.

You don't make friends with accusations. You don't do collaborative truth seeking with adversarial accusations.

The problem is not politics, it's identity politics. I'm not a libertarian, I'm not an anarchist. I'm not a communist, I'm none of those labels because those things are just labels.

A shitty way to describe a more complicated "we want the best for the world but we disagree as to how". You're not right by "being an anarchist". You're asking the wrong questions.

It seems like you missed the point and illustrated it at the same time.

The point is to maintain quality discussion. Discussion of politics is notoriously shitty. Then you came in, had a few political discussions of low quality, and that is why we have the custom.

There is other discussion of the disadvantages of the norm. In particular, I direct you to the conversation surrounding the Lesswrong/Lesswrong 2.0 change.

'... the "reign of Odinn" encompasses a host of ills, including a confused egalitarianism, the dynamism of totalitarian economies, a communism that panders to the masses (the socialist side of National Socialism), and a heroic anticapitalist morality. In contrast, the "reign of Mithothyn" stands for private property, precisely calibrated compensation, graduated distinctions, lineal inheritance, and the rule of law.' -- Lincoln, "Theorizing Myth"

There's no consensus here that American Libertarianism is correct politics.

It's difficult to explore the boundaries and reasons for enforcing a community norm, without running afoul of the enforcement mechanisms themselves. There's a variety of opinions about what it takes to talk about such things, even on a meta level, and mine is that it's often mind-killing and more often public-conversation-killing. Exceptions abound, but this isn't the place to find those exceptions.

Some of this discomfort may include the confusion about whether you are joining a community, or just having discussions on a website. I'm not particularly interested in the group membership signaling or community-feelings that some get, but I don't mind them. I'm here for interesting conversations, and I'm fine that this forum has interesting conversations on a subset of topics that interest me. That's still hugely valuable.

For me, it's a web forum, not a cult. Some topics get you downvoted, and you should pick other topics. That's as far as it needs to go. Yes, this puts me in the decoupling camp for this. In other media/forums/groups, I lean toward contextualizing.