[personal profile] nemorathwald
I wish I were exaggerating when I say the objective of the Neoreactionary movement is the reversal of democracy and human rights, and an intention to install a monarch CEO over America. Alas, that is how they describe their stance in their own words.

Recently, the most famous Neoreactionary thought-leader (one of the founders of the movement) was scheduled to speak about technology at a major software conference. When his detractors pointed out the content of his online writings to the conference organizers, the conference decided to un-invite him.

A flood of complaints emerged about persecution of the right wing by the left. Can Neoreactionaries really be called "right wing"? And if you're right wing, do you really want that connection? This is one of a series of distinctions which the complaints repeatedly conflate (including "They are no longer inviting him to speak" conflated with "They banned him").

Do you see the gulf between "right of center" and "James Bond villain"? At least "right" and "left" are dimensions on a political continuum-- the same perhaps cannot be said of overt advocacy for world domination. So if you ask "Is it wrong to un-invite a speaker from a convention for political views", that is the wrong question for this situation. Is establishing a dictator really politics? Extolling the Middle Ages is so far outside the Overton Window that it is not politics.

Scott Alexander wrote "The Anti-NeoReactionary FAQ". While describing this scenario on his blog, even he expressed concerns over removing speakers who are "insufficiently leftist".

The uninvited Neoreactionary speaker once blogged as follows:
As the King begins the transition from democracy, however, he sees at once that many Californians – certainly millions – are financial liabilities. These are unproductive citizens. Their place on the balance sheet is on the right. To put it crudely, a ten-cent bullet in the nape of each neck would send California’s market capitalization soaring – often by a cool million per neck.
That's only "insufficiently leftist" if the Pope is "insufficiently Satanist". No, scratch that. It's not even the opposite of leftist.

Consider another case; this case is of another software developer who invented an innovative new file system. He would be giving talks on it right now, were he not in prison for the murder of his wife. Would you look forward to sitting in an audience, listening to him on a stage with a microphone? If you weigh his dead wife and her family on one hand, and your enjoyment of file systems on the other, and if you have a sense of proportion, your answer is "no".

Your lack of desire to hear him talk will not bring his wife back, so what's really behind it? To give a stage and a microphone to a person is to communicate that you honor a person. That person must, at the very least, be bare-minimum honorable in public life. Are you "politicizing" the conference in this case? No.

If that's not politics, why is the original case of the Neoreactionary one of politicization of the software conference? When a Neoreactionary says he wants feudalism, this is not like when some leftists call America "feudal" and its citizens "serfs". In light of conditions in North Korea, we recognize that is hyperbolic rhetoric. Well, the Neoreactionary openly wants a return to non-rhetorical feudalism, in which you would be a non-rhetorical serf. When publicly pondering whether millions of Californians should be shot in the back of the head, he finds this concept troubling, but does not reject it out of hand. I am not blowing his views out of proportion for hyperbolic effect. You have a first-amendment right of freedom of association, which includes not associating with this person. His freedom of speech doesn't include the right to a megaphone.

Only with a complete lack of perspective is it possible to characterize the conference's decision as having anything to do with politics. If you would like to wring your hands over your uncertainty over where the line is drawn, this incident is not your test case. This software conference is so far from the slippery slope, they can't see it with a telescope.

Date: 2015-06-13 11:37 am (UTC)
ext_58972: Mad! (Default)
From: [identity profile] autopope.livejournal.com
Disclaimer: I know the person behind Mencius Moldbug. I have known him via the internet for most of three decades. He's a smart cookie. Also somewhat trollish in his younger days. And quite Californian. A comp sci geek, needless to say, which is probably why his view of the humanities is somewhat ... skewed.

He has some interesting ideas, if you don't take them too literally. One point he makes is that we are all living in the fallout from the French Revolution and its invention of left/right politics as we know it: like fish, we tend to be blind to the water we swim in, so a lot of what we take for granted is actually quite revolutionary compared to the equillibrium state throughout most of human history prior to the 1770s. Actually, a chunk of this goes back further (to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the 1640s, or maybe the 30 Years War at roughly the same time -- which in turn were fallout from the Reformation). But not that much further in its modern form.

Where things go off the rails is, I think, that we're looking at the non-Extropian silicon valley response to (a) unquestioning absorption of the message of capitalism as the only way to live, combined with (b) the problem that we seem to be heading into an era of increasing automation, with jobs (as source of life validation, if not revenue) only available for an elite. Moreover there's the other question of what's going to happen if The Great Acceleration (in technology and the sciences) that kicked off circa 1700 is finally slowing to a halt with no Singularity in sight, or even possible: if we're coming through to the other side of a rupture, a punctuation mark in the equilibrium of human history. How do you build a human civilization for the future if we've burned all the oil and there are no magic wands? And if by "the future" we're taking the longevity of Dynastic Egypt (circa 3-4000 years) as a lower bound?

I personally think the whole feudal thing the neoreactionaries are on is stupid. The feudal era only lasted about 400 years (1066 through 1485, classically, in England) and was unstable -- as a result of dynastic marriages it tended to concentrate power in a few royal-connected noble families until the whole system went Game of Thrones in a big way. Moldbug would do better to focus on Ancient Egypt and look for stability measured in kiloyears, and contemplate ways to support that without requiring genetic engineering of a long-lived over-caste. (Hint: forcibly suppressing the legacy of revelatory/apocalyptic middle eastern Dead God cults worldwide might be a necessary precondition for this.)

But anyway. It's the conference's call as to whether they want to invite a controversial speaker. My point is that he's controversial for the wrong reasons.
Edited Date: 2015-06-13 11:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-13 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] selki.livejournal.com
If people are so upset over this person being disinvited as a speaker, they can put on their own conference. No right to someone else's megaphone, hear, hear! Free speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

Date: 2015-06-15 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pstscrpt.livejournal.com
What could free speech possibly mean other than freedom from consequences?

Date: 2015-06-15 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matt-arnold.livejournal.com
The answer to your question is "Freedom from legal consequences via the government".

For example. Suppose I insult my friend Alfred. A consequence might be that our relationship is permanently strained, at best; and at worst, that he refuses to associate with me. Some speech is inconsequential, but most has consequences.

Inevitably, the only way to make "freedom of speech" into an absolute with no consequences would be to erase other freedoms, such as my freedom of association. Or my freedom of thought to dislike someone else for what they said. A consequence can be as simple as me disagreeing with Alfred and saying so, causing Alfred to wring his hands because he considers this an insult to his vaunted intelligence. The only way to prevent that consequence is to take away my freedom of speech.

This illustrates how the word "freedom" always has a huge number of meanings, because it almost always involves multiple simultaneous competing "freedoms" (plural) of every size, and every level of importance.

Date: 2015-06-15 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pstscrpt.livejournal.com
Freedom from legal consequences is what the first amendment is about (well, part of it), but the first amendment isn't the be-all and end-all of free speech, because it's not just government that can punish you for speech.

I don't think freedom of speech should be an absolute (outside of government), but I think it's the right thing to do to at least try to respect it as a major consideration. It would be one thing if this guy was going to be talking about neo-reactionism, but he wasn't; people just noticed a way they could punish him.

I don't think you're talking about different meanings of freedom, just the fact that there are sometimes tradeoffs between the freedom of different people.

Date: 2015-06-13 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-leewit.livejournal.com
Yeah, Neo-reactionaries are pretty much a recipient of an "I Don't Care If You're Joking, Get the Fuck Off My Planet" award.

Date: 2015-06-15 10:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pstscrpt.livejournal.com
If it wasn't too far away and security wouldn't be too intrusive, yes, I'd probably visit a prison to listen to Hans Reiser give a talk about file systems. It's honoring that he has interesting things to say in that area, but it's not saying that he's a good person.

Date: 2015-06-17 10:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-dark-snack.livejournal.com
Happy Birthday!

Date: 2015-06-18 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dionysus1999.livejournal.com
I suspect if we were all telepaths there would be a great deal of shock as others realize people have lots of terrible ideas that MOST of us know better than to air in public.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean we get to say whatever stupid crap that pops into our heads, yelling "fire" in a movie theater is a prime example. It seems quaint for someone to articulate an idea that many of us choose to keep to ourselves; if WE were in charge the world would be a better place. Most of us also recognize that really isn't true.

And he certainly has little respect for human life. With these kind of articulated views, he poisons his own well.

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