Readers in the online Sidestream may be aware of the recent defenestration of software developer and principal of Urbit, Curtis Yarvin, who was ‘disinvited’ from the StrangeLoop Conference scheduled to be held in St Louis, Missouri in late September this year. According to organiser Alex Miller, “immediate and vigorous feedback” from a “significantly large number of attendees” inclined him to rescind the invitation, ostensibly because of the software developer’s pseudonymous and ‘offensive’ work in political theory.1 This is the latest in a string of instances in recent years where views incompatible with the liberal progressive worldview have been found to be damaging to individuals’ career and business prospects.
Over the last several days, Brett Stevens has been covering this affair at his blog Amerika. Stevens has claimed that the anonymity of the complainants and the time in which the disinvitation took place suggest that any outrage at Yarvin’s initial inclusion in the Conference has been largely overstated, and that it therefore appears Alex Miller’s actions were merely “a good enough excuse to shut Yarvin down, as a means of punishing him for having unorthodox views and with the intent of stunting the growth of his new firm.”2 Indeed, According to a report on Breitbart, those who have criticised the decision to defenestrate Yarvin now outnumber those applauding Miller’s actions.3 Be that as it may, it is disturbing to note some of the justifications for the exclusion, and the possible future of not only political discourse in the public square, but the inability to quarantine private political opinions from non-political public life or business interests.
Consider as an example the statement of David R. MacIver, also a software developer and alumnus of Pembroke College, Cambridge University, who has acknowledged that there are two sides to this affair, but who nevertheless strongly sympathises with Miller’s actions. He writes at his website that:
“The problem is that if you have known racists or other bigots speaking, people from marginalized groups will make the entirely reasonable threat assessment that it’s probably not going to be a great environment for them and steer clear. This is bad because excluding marginalized people from all your industry’s conferences is bad, but it’s also bad even if you only care about the ideas. There are also a lot of people from marginalized groups who have great ideas and you’re going to be missing out on those in the ‘the ideas are what are important’ conferences.”4
It can be taken for granted that liberal progressives do not, as a matter of course, grant any legitimacy to opposing political views. The growth of militant political correctness over the last couple of decades, as well as the continued advance of what has been broadly referred to as the hegemony of cultural Marxism, have provided the momentum behind an incremental erosion of expressive freedoms throughout the Western world. The disenfranchised are always those on the political right or cultural traditionalists. We have witnessed calls for the tolerance of radical ideas turn into demands for their enforcement and de facto mandatory celebration. Now we are witnessing the persecution of individuals who have merely held views incongruous with leftist radicalism, or who may have expressed illiberal ideas in unrelated or private fora.
David MacIver’s statement above illustrates the mentally crippling effect of this trend. There does not appear to be any evidence that he is aware of the irony of championing the interests of undefined “marginalized groups” while supporting the blacklisting and exclusion of an individual who is certainly one of the most respected spokesmen for what is undoubtedly a marginalized group itself (assuming that anti-statist American Monarchists are not a ‘privileged’ lobby in the eyes of the liberal commentariat!). Of course, no evidence is provided to support the accusations of ‘racism’ or ‘bigotry’, but that is hardly surprising. MacIver, whose professional background and interest in “ideas” might lead one to believe has a modicum of intelligence and is at least reasonably tolerant of political dissent, instead has “a strong personal preference”5 for the following position:
“‘No part time assholes’. We don’t care if he [i.e. Yarvin] would obey the code of conduct [of the planned Conference], we still don’t want him. We are building a community here and we do not want known racists to be a part of that even if they agree to play nice because it will bias strongly in favour of people who can tolerate racists and against people who will never be comfortable in their presence even if they are playing nice. […] you need a lot more communities which exclude part time assholes.”6
Brett Stevens correctly points out that soi disant Social Justice Warriors “keep inventing these weird categories like ‘hate’ and ‘assholes’ to describe speech they cannot tolerate but know they should if they hold true to their ideals.”7 In other words, the description of unpopular ideas as ‘hateful’ signifies that the discussants have entered the world of emotion, subjectivity and political will-to-power; once an opposing idea is painted as evil, it is delegitimised and subject to justified suppression. Stevens argues that this atmosphere “inherently provokes [a call for the] removal of rights”8 and “since their plans are pure ideology, or what should be and not what is, their ideas constantly fail in application and they look for scapegoats.”9 Indeed, the actions of Alex Miller and his supporters illustrate a frenzied moral panic on part of progressives whose hegemony is under threat from views that question their underlying assumptions.
Liberal talk of diversity, egalitarianism, respect for opposing views, all these are a cosmetic veneer for what is in fact a homogeneous and intolerant intellectual environment where dissent is prosecuted by theocratic totalitarian means. We say theocratic because although the apologists for Yarvin’s blacklisting may claim to appeal to reason for their morally absolutist position, their language indicates that the motivation is more accurately described as prejudiced sentiment fuelled by contradictory ideological dogma. It is a faith, everything outside its doctrines and precepts must therefore be unworthy of respect, and as a result, modern political correctness becomes an unforgiving, intolerant political cult.
The treatment of dissenters is the treatment one would expect to be visited upon a heretic. And from the perspective of the mob, Yarvin is certainly a heretic of the modern era. Consider the following excerpt from his A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations, written under pseudonym:
“Hitler and Stalin are abortions of the democratic era – cases of what Jacob Talmon called totalitarian democracy. This is easily seen in their unprecedented efforts to control public opinion, through both propaganda and violence. [Queen] Elizabeth’s legitimacy was a function of her identity – it could be removed only by killing her. Her regime was certainly not the stablest government in history, and nor was it entirely free from propaganda, but she had no need to terrorize her subjects into supporting her. Not so the dictators of the democratic era, each of whom could have been removed by a combination of their subordinates, and depended absolutely on personal mass popularity to avert this fate. And killing or incarcerating opponents is a pretty obvious way to maintain one’s popularity.”10
Obviously, the author of A Gentle Introduction is no friend of mass liberal democracy. Likewise, the preceding paragraphs do not paint the picture of one who has much affection for the egalitarian dogma. However, far from advocating so-called ‘bigoted’ political ideas, he is denouncing twentieth century totalitarianism as the product of “demented minds” which are themselves the function of the nature of mob rule. In sharp contrast, the contemporary historical narrative places egalitarian mass liberal democracy as the polar opposite of tyranny; any association of the two is simply anathema to the Social Justice Warriors who see Yarvin’s analysis as beyond the pale. And it is apparently the author’s technique when discussing significant historical events which causes the most committed defenders of the dominant narrative to cringe with horror.
For example, Yarvin approaches the causes of the United States Civil War in terms that specifically eschew contemporary moralist interpretations of past history. In other words, he tries to analyse history in terms that seek an objective appraisal of key events and the leading characters involved by removing the perceived moral value of historical movements, because those moral values tend to be interpolated into the narrative by later historians with political agendas to push. The purpose of this technique is to avoid emotional interpretations, so that the reader can achieve a dispassionate, impersonal and therefore more rational and accurate understanding of the past. Thus Yarvin writes that:
“Almost all Lincoln biographies are completely worthless. They explain Lincoln as a saint, rather than the extraordinarily talented politician he was. Their method is as follows: tell us what Lincoln said, assume that he was saying what he was thinking, then praise this noble thought. When Lincoln emits ‘darky’ jokes or other crass noises, this can be put down to necessary political opportunism, in which he had to engage if he was to fulfill his Father’s mission. (Note that the same method, with the same results, can be used for Barack Obama.)”11
The author of A Gentle Introduction is obviously no supporter of modern political idolatry. If that weren’t enough to boil the blood of the self-appointed defenders of enlightened attitudes and the reputations of contemporary liberal demagogues, Yarvin also demonstrates a genuine open mindedness and intellectual curiosity rarely if ever encountered in the halls of academia: “why not read some Confederates?” he asks, rhetorically.12 Only a disingenuous critic of this approach would suggest that, by inference, this is somehow a coded defence of what contemporary bones-homes of the West’s secular theology would today consider to be evil. Let Yarvin speak for himself: the proposition that “the [civil] war made a better life for the children, grandchildren, etc, of the slaves it freed” is one that “on a historical level I can buy it.”13
The allegations and claims made about the target of this online campaign against putative ‘hate’ are based on disinformation, falsehood and simple ignorance. But the final irony is that the hive of Social Justice Warriors who swarmed to attack this critic of the modern democratic ideology – its conceits, assumptions and historical narratives – have unintentionally promoted his political views to a multitude of tech experts who would have otherwise been oblivious to the world of neoreaction. Either way, the greatest losers in this fiasco are the attendees of the StrangeLoop Conference who will not have the benefit of hearing about Urbit and the work of its founder.
But if the first decade of the twenty-first century has taught us anything it is this: to the mind of the cultural Marxist, everything is secondary to modern political sensibilities.
And that is the greatest fascism of all.
– SydneyTrads Editors
- Email from Alex Miller to Curtis Yarvin, Wednesday 3 June 2015 @ 5:45pm cited at Brett Stevens, “Strangeloop conference censoring Curtis Yarvin for Moldbuggian opinions” Amerika (blog) (undated) <www.amerika.org> (accessed 8 June 2015).
- Brett Stevens, “Strangeloop conference censoring Curtis Yarvin for Moldbuggian opinions” op. cit.
- Alum Brockhari, “Strange Loop, an annual tech and innovation conference in St. Louis, Missouri, is facing allegations of political intolerance after disinviting a software engineer and influential political theorist from its 2015 lineup” Breitbart.com (5 June 2015) <www.breitbart.com> (accessed 8 June 2015).
- David MacIver, “Thoughts on Strangeloop and Moldbug” David R. MacIver (blog) (June 201) <www.drmaciver.com> (accessed 8 June 2015) para 9.
- Ibid. para 7.
- Ibid. para 5.
- Brett Stevens, “The narrowing of the discourse” Amerika (blog) (undated) <www.amerika.org> (accessed 8 June 2015).
- Brett Stevens, “StrangeLoop defenders resurrect Soviet notion that ideas are illness” Amerika (blog) (undated) <www.amerika.org> (accessed 8 June 2015).
- Brett Stevens, “StrangeLoop conference deletes Curtis Yarvin, refuses to admit it” Amerika (blog) (undated) <www.amerika.org> (accessed 8 June 2015).
- Mencius Moldbug, A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations (unpublished MS, circa 2007) p 91.
- Ibid. p 156.