The Flaw in Moldbug’s proposed dictatorship.

Obviously democracy is not working, is failing catastrophically.  The productive are outvoted by the gimmedats, in large part non asian minorities and white sluts. Moldbug’s solution is simple:  Dictatorship, evolving into Monarchy.  The dictator, he hopes and expects, will fire all government employees, except for military, police, and some tax collectors.  What use are all the rest of them to a strong dictator?

A good government is a stationary bandit, since a stationary bandit has an incentive to shear the sheep, rather than flay them.  A bad government is a mobile bandit, and the government service in democracies increasingly approximate mobile bandits.  Each bureaucrat seeks to increase his power and wealth, even if the total burden is well above the Laffer limit.

The trouble is that a dictator is not necessarily a stationary bandit:  A secure dictator, for example a martial and charismatic monarch of a long established dynasty, is a stationary bandit.   Unfortunately, not only are long established dynasties in short supply, but when you have one, the legitimate heir to the throne is seldom martial and charismatic.

Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, is martial and charismatic, but numbers one and two in line could not get laid if they turned up at a brothel with garbage truck full of money.  The reason the British throne is powerless is in substantial part because of a long succession of monarchs incapable of exercising power.  Rather than a struggle between King and parliament, it was more the bureaucracy picking up the dangling reins, which is the same problem as afflicts American democracy.

Consider North Korea.  It is too soon to tell how bad the new regime will be, but under the old regime:

  • the people were starving
  • The technological level of military exports was OK, but the technological level of other exports was falling from third world to hunter gatherer.
  • Mines were increasingly operated with neolithic technology.

And the new regime looks like it is on the same path.

To which Moldbug replied that the North Korean dictator was insecure. Of course he was insecure – he tried the Chinese style system, economic liberty without political liberty, and it immediately threatened to blow him away. He feared he would be unable to control the forces unleashed. He was weak!   He feared that if he allowed capitalists, one of the capitalists would be a George Washington, and another a Sam Adams.

The problem is that most dictators are weak!

If you are a nerd, you are apt to think that dictatorship is easy.  Anyone disobeys the dictator, the dictator says

shoot that man!

And is obeyed.

But that is not really how an army works.  An army, like most human institutions, is a thin crust of order floating on a wave tossed sea of chaotic anarchy, the main difference being that the crust in thinner and more brittle than in most institutions, and the anarchy more violent than in most institutions.

A soldier is primarily loyal to the other people in his group, and to his immediate superior officer, and to his commanding officer.  If Four Star General Allmighty tells a common grunt:

“Jump!”

The common grunt, not accustomed to being spoken to by generals, will look at his sergeant, and wait for his sergeant to say “jump!”.  The sergeant will look at his immediate commanding officer.

And if instead the sergeant says:

“Grab that general and toss him in the brig!”

The grunt will, without hesitation or a second thought, grab that general and toss him in the brig.

So why is it that sergeants seldom toss generals in the brig?

Mostly because sergeants have trouble organizing pay and logistics. So what tends to happen in military dictatorships is that power winds up in the hands of the lowest ranking officers that have the connections and skills to organize pay and logistics: colonels.

The lower the rank of the dictator or junta, the worse a military dictatorship performs. If you have a junta of colonels the colonels in the junta cannot discipline the other colonels, and all the colonels steal anything not nailed down, and if it is nailed down, they pry it up. They become mobile bandits.  And if the dictator is a sergeant, it performs even worse because you have even more mobile bandits with even fewer organizational skills.

Conversely, the higher the rank of the dictator, the better military dictatorship performs, the more military dictatorship is a stationary bandit, a monarch of royal blood being in effect the highest possible rank.

Pinochet’s dictatorship worked very well, but military men are never altogether comfortable except they have someone above them.  Used to be that military dictators would find a King.  Unfortunately we have a King shortage, so now they hold an election.

The Pinochet dictatorship considerably diminished left wing domination of the public service, but he was too wishy washy to do a thorough job.  Official history is that Pinochet made a coup against Allende because Allende crushed democracy and destroyed the economy, but in fact Pinochet was in favor of the coup before he was against it, and against the coup before he was in favor of it.

What happened was that parliament, horrified by the ever faster movement left and the associated economic collapse and violence, called upon the army to remove Allende.  Allende then appointed Pinochet, as a military leader unlikely to remove Allende, appointed Pinochet as a leftist.

Pinochet was himself a progressive.  He was appointed by Salvador Allende who hoped to rule through the army when it became apparent Allende could no longer rule through free elections, nor by the power of the mob.

Six hours before the coup, the rebel officers informed Pinochet that the coup was rolling.  They gave Pinochet a piece of paper to sign ordering the army to support the coup, and told him that if he failed to sign it, this would “undermine the unity and discipline of the armed forces”, which sounds to me to mean “sign or die”.  Pinochet signed, then took off.  Neither side could find him or contact him.  They found him after the coup playing with his grandchildren and hauled him off to the bloodstained and still smoking presidential palace.

Chances are that if the balloon goes up around 2026 or so, the top officer in the Pentagon will be a male to female mestizo transexual claiming to be a lesbian, born male in Mexico.

Western armies are getting visibly weaker as they are politicized.  Consider the entirely hopeless performance of the British army, navy, and police force. Thus seems to me that the way out, after the collapse, is anarcho capitalism, neo feudalism, or anarcho piratism.  (Anarcho piratism being more or less anarcho capitalism that works out in practice the way that people that fear anarchy imagine it might, and neo feudalism being anarcho capitalism that works out in practice the way that people who fear capitalism imagine that it might)

The weakness of western military forces, and the very impressive performance of private security in dealing with Somali pirates and Occupy Wall Street, makes such an outcome more likely, even though we are more accustomed to republican regimes ending in military dictatorship than general political collapse.  On past performance strong dictatorship, Moldbug’s bet, is the way to bet, but if the dictator of North Korea feared the capability of capitalism to produce George Washington and Sam Adams, perhaps he had reason to fear.  Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance.

Moldbug’s solution needs a king, even though he calls his hypothetical ruler a CEO, and a monarchy is founded by a general who is bold, martial, and charismatic.  Does a military containing ever more officers and ever fewer grunts tolerate such people any more?  And if it did contain such a man, would he have any sons?

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20 Responses to “The Flaw in Moldbug’s proposed dictatorship.”

  1. spandrell says:

    So what’s going to happen with drone/robot armies?

    • B says:

      nothing very interesting. Until you get to AI/nanotech drones, massive persistent surveillance and attack will always be vulnerable to effective, low-tech hacks. Especially when done by an infrastructure that’s gone metastatic and incapable of a cohesive purpose other than growth.

  2. RS says:

    I’ve mentioned before that kings may often take (psychologically) gracile wives (the correlation to somatotype seems fairly imperfect). They should not marry for love, this is a disaster, they must have aggro, charismo, impetuous, sensation-seeking wives. Of course somatotype matters too. We don’t want a skinny heir no matter how perfect his mentality.

    Whoever they want to lay on the side is a trivial matter, they’re kings. Monogamy’s great, and setting a good example for the society at large in this regard would be great, but it’s just not as important as well-bred royal lines. I really /prefer/ aggro babes but I’m not sure how popular this is.

    Spandrell wrote in the spring about absolutisms engaging in patronage. Mencius suggested his sovcorp would tax at the laffer max. I think your analysis is right on ; a more kingly ruler doesn’t even need to tax at the laffer max. As Devin has pointed out in response to your interest in the laffmax, what govs /really/ do or should do is maximize their long-term purchasing power. Well there’s loong and then there’s loooooong ; the kinglier, more stationary-bandit-like man will do this with a relatively longer time horizon. Also, state production can serve the king’s power (through patronage) without being useless. The more kingly man will still be — relatively — getting actual shit done when he harvests loyalty by handing out jobs.

  3. red says:

    I’d frankly rather adopt the Swiss model than the Moldbug model. But you need to rid yourself of the underclass and upper class parasites to make that workable. To get there you need kings and lords to clean up the genetic pool.

  4. Columnist says:

    Polygamy, theocracy. Not necessarily Islamic.

  5. Gian says:

    “A good government is a stationary bandit”

    This is simply absurd. A bandit is an outlaw. The Govt, however, is the Principal Agent of the state of laws.

    “A soldier is primarily loyal to the other people in his group”

    Do you think an American soldier is not really loyal to America?

    • Monicle says:

      “This is simply absurd. A bandit is an outlaw. The Govt, however, is the Principal Agent of the state of laws.”

      Go read some Hoppe please.

    • jim says:

      The Govt, however, is the Principal Agent of the state of laws.

      Any place where you have to rely on police to keep order is a mighty dangerous place.

      The primary function of government is to place some people above the law, to get away with actions that would be treated as criminal were they done by ordinary people. The primary problem of constructing a good government is to limit the amount of destruction.

      Do you think an American soldier is not really loyal to America?

      He is a lot more loyal to the other people in his group, and to his immediate superior officers.

      • Gian says:

        “Any place where you have to rely on police to keep order is a mighty dangerous place”
        True and more so if you have to rely upon yourself to secure your person or property.

        A perfect state of laws has no need for force since force is antithetical to argument. In a state of laws, we argue as to our liberty and property. In the state of nature, we depend upon force to do so.

        “the primary function of government is to place some people above the law”
        If it were so, then what indeed is ‘Law’?
        Isn’t the government defined by the laws? If all it had to do was to privilage some people, it could just make a law to do so, and then it won’t be breaking the law, would it be?

        Though a minor point, I find it very strange the insistence that the soldier is more loyal to his comrades than anybody else–would you say the same thing about Nazi soldiers or Soviet solider too? or only about American soldiers?

        • jim says:

          Isn’t the government defined by the laws? If all it had to do was to privilage some people, it could just make a law to do so, and then it won’t be breaking the law, would it be?

          Law is, more or less, what you can get away with and cannot get away with. If X is illegal, people are apt to do violence against those that do X. If Y is legal, doing violence against someone because he does Y will get you into trouble.

          Shoplifting is not illegal because governments say so. It is illegal because Walmart security will grab you in the parking lot.

          But governments can do X and get away with it, whereas a private citizen cannot do X, and governments can use violence against people for doing Y, when a private citizen could not use violence under those circumstances. A government bureaucrat is, in practice, someone who can demand free stuff from a shop, and frequently does so. Police did not start confiscating marijuana because it was made illegal. It was made illegal because police kept stealing it.

          • Gian says:

            “Law is, more or less, what you can get away with and cannot get away with.”

            This is pretty nihilist and leaves you with nothing to complain of.
            Since the concept ‘justice’ is a mirage and it is everyone for himself and the weak go to the wall and that is all and reality, then there is no point arguing that something is wrong or that person or that govt is doing wrong.

          • jim says:
            “Law is, more or less, what you can get away with and cannot get away with.”

            This is pretty nihilist and leaves you with nothing to complain of.

            If you were arguing that law is whatever God wills, or that law is what use of force is just, or that law is long established custom, you could call me a nihilist. Since you are arguing that law is whatever the state says it is, you, not I, are the nihilist.

            That one of the staatenvolk can get away with stuff a mere citizen cannot get away with, is lawlessness. Thus, the state is the major source of lawlessness and criminal conduct.

        • jim says:

          I find it very strange the insistence that the soldier is more loyal to his comrades than anybody else–would you say the same thing about Nazi soldiers or Soviet solider too? or only about American soldiers?

          True of any good army, as for example the Nazi army.

          That is the nature of armies, a storm tossed ocean of chaotic anarchy covered by a thin crust of order. If you try to fix it, as with the Arab armies and the current British army, you get an army that cannot and will not fight.

  6. RS says:

    > Police did not start confiscating marijuana because it was made illegal. It was made illegal because police kept stealing it.

    If that’s true, why doesn’t it apply to everything, since the police could as well steal anything else. Did they steal grass in particular because it was very widely stigmatized and they tended to view it as barely-legitimate property?

    • jim says:

      Marijuana has good price to weight ratio, and was mostly in the possession of low status people.

      Low status people find it difficult to own stuff with high price to weight ratio. They get shaken down by police and officials a lot. Thus, for example, many blacks use laundry liquid in place of cash to perform large transactions with other blacks, since if carrying a lot of cash, police are likely to confiscate it, on the grounds that the black man cannot prove it was not drug money. Police are less likely to confiscate a shopping cart full of bottles of laundry liquid.

  7. RS says:

    Vladimir, Spandrell, and asdf were very interesting here on the whole issue of rents.

    https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/stupid-cognitive-elite/

    Spandrell suggests USSR fell chiefly due to excessive patronage/ rent-seeking. Presumably the phenomenon was better-controlled at some point, but then, on his model, got worse.

    Spandrell on the left singularity as driven by rent-seeking:
    https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/sola-fide-2-the-enforcers/

  8. James James says:

    Unlike a sovcorp, a Monarch simply doesn’t need to tax at anywhere near the long-run Laffer maximum. What would he do with the money? It’s simply not possible to consume more than a few billion dollars worth of stuff/year.

    Due to Ricardo’s law of rents, any rents not collected by the monarch will still be collected, by landowners. This is fine: the monarch must depend on and be supported by a coalition of the landowners.

    Whereas a sovcorp has many shareholders, who can consume as much as the monarch *each*.

  9. instanceofclass says:

    oh my god this is so funny. let’s have two levels of command just for the hell of it.

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