An essay on the failure of democracy and new hope for community.
Finding Joshua builds upon Unqualified Reservations (UR) by Curtis Yarvin and Dark Enlightenment (DE) by Nick Land. Both documents can only be described as an all out assault on democracy. Many of the ideas in this essay come directly from UR and DE. When I am unsure concerning a source, I put the material in quotes with no further attribution. You can assume those ideas came from UR or DE.
Joshua 1:1-2 The Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them.”
In this biblical story, God had appointed Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and into the promised land. Due to personal failures, Moses had not been allowed to fulfill God’s original vision. After Moses died, God hands the mantle of leadership to Joshua and commands him to complete the work Moses began.
The story provides a useful allegory because like Moses, democracy has failed. In order to enter the promised land, a different leader was required. Similarly, in order to build a world worth having, an alternative to democracy will be needed. We are looking for our governance “Joshua,” but before we get to him, let’s look at what happened to democracy.
When people desire to live in community, the need for governance is a fact. Effective community necessitates a decision making structure to enable collective action on shared interests including law, justice, infrastructure and defense. Creating a governance power monopoly, however, gives birth to a dangerous monster. Preventing the sovereign structure from devouring society becomes a primary concern. To date, no governance systems have successfully caged or controlled the sovereign power beast.
Reactionaries such as Yarvin and Land propose a hard political reset to replace western democracy. They argue that a new decision structure is required to produce stable, responsible and effective governance. I agree concerning their assessment but differ with C. Yarvin on the proposed solution.
The Cathedral – A Corrupt Ministry of Truth
Unqualified Reservations identifies the university system and corporate media pair as “The Cathedral.” Professors’ at elite universities act as the brain of the U.S. Government (USG), providing the intellectual foundation for policy.
Within The American university system, there are no schools of thought questioning the establishment system. “There are no factions of significantly different thought and almost perfect synchronization.” For instance, essentially all university economists support the idea that inflation and money printing are the only possible course of action. The true essence of The Cathedral is state sponsored mind control for academics and the public.
The origin of academic coordination stems from the funding source. In modern academia, the policy goals and political interests of the funders drive most aspiring academics. In other words, “nearly every scientist can be working together to promote a falsehood because they all get their money from the same place.” There is nothing decentralized about “science.” Both science and the media follow the funding. The sad result of so much coordination in academia has been the creation of numerous areas of fraudulent scholarship and the near destruction of modern science. Increasingly, The Cathedrals experts operate as a sort of money hungry bishop class leading the world into an increasingly unhinged orthodoxy.
The corruption of The Cathedral manifests as a collapse of the institutions people use to navigate the information landscape. When the institutions of science and media are molested, you live in a totalitarian information system. Information operates upstream of democracy, so distortions to the information universe makes democracy a pretense.
Six Criticisms of Democracy
“Democracy equals systemic degenerative bad government.”
Many approaches to managing a sovereign decision making structure have been tried (tribalism, monarchy, fascism, socialism, republic etc.). Examples of systems that have produced stable and effective decision making structures are rare.
Unqualified Reservations assesses the current American situation as follows. “A century and a half of democracy has wreaked unbelievable devastation onto a place and people once considered to be by far the most promising on Earth. The USG has turned America into a shattered wreck. As evidence, consider the industrially gutted midwest, ruined finances along with dirty, dangerous and unlivable cities where millions of feral savages run wild.”
A harsh but accurate assessment. Still, to a person indoctrinated in the glories of democracy for their entire life, the above statement feels like a punch in the face. If you never encountered this line of thinking before, reading UR and DE might be too hot a pill to swallow. There is nothing “gentle” about “A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations.” The short list of democratic criticisms below may be a more fitting starting point for exploring democratic delusions.
Democracy Does Not Distribute Power
Democracy purports to be a system to divide authority among citizens. It claims to dole out microscopic portions of power to all of its’ subjects. In fact, power is simply transferred to those who form, instruct and organize large bodies of voters. “Wire Pullers” commonly include organizations such as political parties, unions, industry organizations, media, education and academia. In a system like this, wire pullers hold the power. Modern republics unbundled the centralized power of monarchs, and then re-bundled power into the hands of organizations that direct large voting blocks.
Empowering voters to shape and guide national systems acts as the key selling point for democratic systems. If in reality these systems fail to deliver effective control of government to citizens, are they not a complete failure at their principal goal? Do you believe that voters are powerful or in charge? If not, call the system what it is but don’t call it democracy.
The Cathedral’s Bishops’
In reality, democracy turned the government over to an unaccountable group of bishops’ (The Cathedral’s expert professors’ and scientists’). For instance, foreign policy gets outsourced to the Council on Foreign Relations. Similar bodies of experts largely dictate energy, health, economic and monetary policy. “In what way is this an improvement over monarchy or autocracy?” (UR)
To be perfectly clear, special interest groups hire The Cathedrals’ experts to write the policies that advance their interests. Covid provided a perfect example where an interest group, big pharma, used money to dictate the “science”, mandate their product, censor any criticism and made billions doing it. Similar examples are easy to find.
The decision structure outlined in the constitution, doesn’t match the process just described. Actual power structures operate unmapped and in the shadows. In a democracy, most governance occurs outside of the designed governance structure. Yarvin proposes to correct this by explicitly mapping all power relationships. Pulling them out of the shadows would allow power to be held accountable.
The Minimum Principle
Most people strive to balance two simple imperatives: 1) minimize effort 2) maximize gain. The average person intuitively understands that their path to even modestly above average economic results are extremely limited. As a result, most people seek to use their vote to live at the expense of others.
Democracy provides a path to the radical expansion of positive rights and bailouts of all kinds. For the reason described above, handout programs are popular with the public as well as business interests. These programs are expensive and once established, nearly impossible to reform. The one way nature of these incentive structures creates a self-reinforcing doom loop consuming the cultural balance sheet.
By incentivizing chronic government activism on behalf of the average voter, numerous programs have been created with pathological consequences. “Long ago these malignant programs replaced the problems they targeted as the source of social pain.” (N Land DE)
“The general will of the people and businesses is to legislatively abolish reality” (ie. abolish student debt). (N Land DE) Therefore, no system purporting to allow the average voter the option to enhance their effort/gain relationship at the expense of society can be considered even remotely stable. “Democracy is essentially tragic because it provides the populace with a weapon to destroy itself, one that is always eagerly seized and used.” (Nick Land DE)
The above argument does not imply that there should be less care and concern for the bottom 2/3rds of society. Rather, the minimum principal suggests that the average person has little interest in and nothing to add to discussions concerning governance design or policy. Almost everyone would be a lot better off with a stable, responsible and effective governance decision structure. Equally valuing all people’s votes epitomizes unstable and ineffective governance.
Extremes in Time Preferences
Building a civilization represents a massive and far sighted project. Members of a developing society work collectively to build social and economic capital. Builders look towards the horizon of possibility and beyond in an effort to leave more for the future than they found during their own time. Accomplishing that goal means putting more into the social and economic “capital bank” than gets taken out.
Democracy on the other hand, shifts political time preferences to the point of “creating a convulsive feeding frenzy that consumes progress.” Where a king literally owns the majority of a nations capital and has some incentive to protect and improve it, democratic politicians do not own the nations capital stock but do own the temporary use of the governance structure while in office. This lack of skin in the game from a long-term perspective introduces perverse political incentives. Politicians are incentivized to plunder the economic capital under their control while in office. “Anything not plundered might fall into the hands of their political enemies at the next election. Therefore, anything not plundered is potentially wasted.”
To believe in the veracity of modern elections requires a special kind of faith. If after considering the multiple layers of opportunity for election tampering below, you remain convinced that elections are fair and honest, you may be a true zealot in the democratic faith.
Running for office is purposefully expensive. Even very wealthy candidates would have great difficulty financing a campaign for state or national office. Of course this means that all candidates must obtain support in the form of campaign contributions from corporate and establishment donors. Radicals and independent thinkers need not apply.
In the event an “off-message” early candidate manages to secure funding to begin campaigning, the establishment media will commence with the personal attacks and generally biased treatment. Add electronic voting machines and mail-in ballots for another layer of potential skulduggery. On top of that, consider the impact of out and out vote buying by politicians to secure their position. Politicians regularly use their control over public funds to impact the outcome of elections (subsidizing gasoline, student loans, tax cuts etc.).
Outside of the U.S. (and increasingly inside of it) NGO’s and intelligence operations heavily influence elections via color revolutions, regime change operations and outright assassination of non-compliant leaders. When less drastic measures for controlling a political system are sought, an IMF loan may be enough to squash any budding grassroots movement. With twenty percent off the top to the president, the establishment can be next to certain that future events will go their way.
If you remain unconvinced by the seven layers of opportunity to impact the outcome of elections please consider one more idea. At the end of the day, he who counts decides. Each time a US election has come down to closely looking at how votes get counted, it ends up being a disaster for the notion that elections do anything other than provide great theatre and make media corporations a ton of money. For those of voting age during the 2000 U.S. election, do you remember the fury around “hanging chads?” Any legitimate process for incorporating the input of citizens into the political process would have none of the above obvious corruption.
Note – Elections are not discussed in UR or DE
Democracy is not supposed to benefit people
Democracy gets pitched as a program to help, empower and free people. It’s none of those things and closer to the opposite. Democracy persists because it provides the most effective means known for centralizing as much wealth and power as possible. The Cold War demonstrates this point perfectly. There was a competition between two systems, one in which political elites owned everything (U.S.S.R.) and one in which political elites owned only the government and important institutions (U.S.). The U.S. system won because it turns out that having the government own less results in more resources being sent to the core. Democracy kind of works like a reverse centrifuge.
Note – This section is not discussed in UR or DE
If any of the above arguments pierced a portion of the propaganda hardened armor surrounding the idea of democracy in your head, perhaps you are open to considering future scenarios on the substantially less rosy side. Here is one possible scenario for the America of the not to distant future.
Emerging American Anarchy
At one point in “Unqualified Reservations,” Yarvin tells the following story. “The upas-tree, as is well known, kills all animals which approach it. What’s less well-known is that it kills all the trees around it, as well. (It needs a clear space in which to hunt.) This un-neighborly result is the effect of a toxin which the upas-tree’s roots secrete. But the upas-tree itself is not immune to its own toxin. It is just more resistant than its neighbors. When they are dead, it itself is merely dying. But it must succumb all the same. For it was not evolution, but grim destiny, that designed the upas-tree. In case it’s not obvious, in the reactionary version of the 20th century, the upas-tree is America and its toxin is democracy. Thus we see the same result: American democracy is the last philosophy standing. Not because it is sweet, but just because it is more lethal to its neighbors than itself.”
Democracy equals expansion of the state, and uncontrolled state expansion is inherently unstable. “Every threshold of socio-political progress has racheted western civilization towards comprehensive ruin.” (N Land DE) Stated plainly, democracy is a “degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.” (N Land DE) A reversal of the devolutionary trend “lies beyond the bounds of democratic possibility. Since winning elections is overwhelmingly a matter of vote buying, and society’s informational organs (education and media) are no more resistant to bribery than the electorate, a thrifty politician is simply an incompetent politician, and the democratic variant of Darwinism quickly eliminates such misfits from the gene pool.” (Nick Land DE) Said otherwise, no course corrections are in the offing.
The implications of all this are that anarchy is now rapidly sweeping across western nations. While all of this should be quite obvious to the mildly observant citizen, many people remain ensnared in The Cathedral’s propaganda web due to short-term money printing bliss. When the money printing stops, and it will, the anarchy will be laid bare for all to see.
Land sums up the situation succinctly when he says “Democracy isn’t doomed, it is doom. Fleeing democracy approaches the ultimate imperative.” (N Land, DE)
Towards the end of Unqualified Reservations Yarvin highlights a plan to replace USG with a new USG (NUSG). The first step in the plan describes a replacement of The Cathedral with what he calls “The Antiversity” which acts as the brain for NUSG.
“The Antiversity is an independent producer of veracity—a truth service. It rests automatic confidence in no other institution. Its goal is to uncover any truth available to it: both matters of fact and perspective. It needs to always be right and can never be wrong. Where multiple coherent perspectives of an issue exist, the Antiversity must provide all—each composed with the highest quality available.” (C. Yarvin UR)
The existence of an uncorrupted institution of truth must be a prerequisite for any measurable improvement to governance. Absent a firmer grasp on truth, people will act in a bewildered fashion, unsure of where they have been or are going.
Covid provided a perfect example of propaganda driven hysteria and group think. In the months prior to Covid, institutions got together to practice and train on exactly what to do and say in a future Covid pandemic. They gamed out ways to ramp up fear and take control of the narrative. When respected scientists disagreed, they were roundly criticized and harassed. Eventually, almost everything the media and experts said about Covid turned out to be wrong, People who provided accurate information were branded as dangerous purveyors of misinformation and censored.
Perhaps the central element in the degeneration of western nations has been the corruption of The Cathedral. That academia and the media can be described as having an orthodoxy pinpoints their failure. The Cathedral must be replaced before human progress can resume.
“At best, when democracy works, it appears to be a way to tether yourself to a community that can’t agree on anything.” Dan Becker
Citizens of western democracies grow up in a propagandistic system designed to indoctrinate them concerning the supposed virtues of democracy. In America, children learn civics in school, recite pledges, stand for the national anthem and gaze at 4th of July fireworks. These activities, and many others, wrap the idea of democracy in a candy coating making it purposely hard to evaluate unemotionally.
Even if democracy worked perfectly as advertised, the idea that a series of popularity contests determines the decision makers must be a non-starter. On its’ face this is a terrible idea. However, democracy does not work as advertised and “does not provide a stable, responsible or effective decision structure.” All of the fog created by democratic sermonizing about freeing people appears only to serve as cover for the ongoing robbery of the western world.
Democratic systems suffer from a complexity problem. No systems engineer would ever conceive of such a fragmented decision making process. Systems that work in the world are simple. If you want to pursue any kind of project like building a building, would you choose to do it in an organization that selected the executive team via a popularity contest and spread them across a bizarre organization chart?
When systems become complex, we must ask why? Who benefits? We enquire because complexity breeds corruption. These systems are purposely complex because operating in that way provides a perfectly opaque path to laundering trillions out of the hands of producers and into the hands of political parasites. The benefits to the political class are clear, more power and money. Democracy might be analogized to the bank robbers van. The van doesn’t commit the crime but it delivers the robbers and facilitates escape.
From the perspective of the citizenry, what is the payoff for ingesting the poison of elections and politics into the social discussion? The apparent result is hate, division and fractured communities. The role of politics as a topic for social debate appears similar to the function of gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Contestants enter the ring in pitched battle for the entertainment and distraction of the crowd. However, in spite of the very real costs to the gladiators, these battles have no impact on the relevant world. Important discussions like war, economics and monetary policy are largely outside of politics and firmly controlled by The Cathedral.
Objectively, democratic systems do not deliver on even their core promises. If they fail to manifest their central promises, are these systems not fatally flawed? these systems are complex, opaque and chuck full of perverse short term incentives. “They have never worked, are not working now, and will never work in the future.” Realizing that they don’t work liberates society builders to explore new paths.
Democracy represents a significantly statist approach to managing society. What I mean by statist is the almost implicit assumption that if anything is to be done, it must and can only be done by the government (save the poor, health insurance etc.). Perhaps this ill-fated assumption will prove to be one of the most cataclysmic assumptions of the 20th century.
Joshua and the Promised Land
In the future, governance will be separated from its role as the central shaper and manager of society. The future demands more fluid and organic institutions. Technology now provides the opportunity to build new institutions ready for the digital age. These tightly organized, highly structured, open, and auditable organizations will be voluntarily chosen by people. Traditionally, institutions have been formed and legitimized from the top-down. Digital institutions empower people to form their own organizations for collective action from the bottom-up as replacements to existing institutions. The implications of a switch from top-down institution creation to bottom-up institution creation are significant.
Digital institutions allow people to custom build their own governance stack. We have the opportunity to create a world in which people in community agree on values and goals. These communities will allow for easy exit in the event the organization doesn’t work or becomes corrupt. In a world of digital institutions, people regain substantial control of their lives without the toxin of democratic politics.
While Yarvin proposes to replace USG with NUSG, The Network State movement proposes the exit of existing institutions as a more realistic option. While physically exiting their country might not be an option for many citizens, there are important ways in which they can exit existing institutions and ideologies. Citizens can defect in a financial, moral, work, values and attention sense. People will utilize digital age institutions (network unions – note 1) to facilitate their exit. Essentially, people will unbundle themselves from communities that no longer work for them and re-bundle themselves into thriving new communities that reflect their values.
What citizens of new digital age governance providers are likely to gain includes 1) harmonious communities 2) choice of community values and 3) stable, responsible and effective governance. Once the illusion of political control and participation gets discarded, the conflict that has poisoned and destroyed community will melt like butter on a hot pan. I can’t wait for the healing and helping to begin.
Digital Institution Examples – Network Unions
FDA Free Zone for sustainable farming.
FDA Free Zone for innovative health research and treatment.
Sugar or Seed Oil Free Zone.
Plastic Free Zone – No plastic bags, toys, clothes or anything plastic.
The Antiversity – An independent truth and science producer.
Worker Advancement Guild – A guild to advance the careers of high talent workers trapped in low quality environments (low quality passport, limited training, opportunities, unsafe etc.). The guild assists these workers in relocating to higher quality work/life environments.
The digital aspect of the communities comes from their reliance on cloud and blockchain governance processes that reduce cost, enhance trade, link communities, provide audit trails and display the community dashboard (population, economic data).
Idea 1 – Embracing the idea of democracy is equivalent to enthusiastically embedding yourself into an unselected crowd of middling skill and knowledge. Not exactly a recipe for success. Even if democracy worked as advertised it would suck! Sadly, it doesn’t work and the results are worse than sucking.
Idea 2 – One of the reasons people in democracies feel so frustrated is that they can’t have what they want until their political enemies are defeated. This democratic reality breeds endless conflict. If there is one thing people need, it is the ability to unbundle themselves from broken communities and institutions that increasingly resemble anchors.
Many people feel trapped in their country of citizenship. I left the U.S. for good in mid 2021. However, physically unbundling or leaving your country is difficult, stressful, expensive and beyond what most people want to do. Digital institutions enable people to step out of existing institutions and into parallel digital ones without physically leaving their country. Bitcoin provides a great example of a digital institution that helps people exit the traditional financial system and enter a parallel system. So while people may not be able to physically unbundle right now, they can move out in a financial, work, moral and attention sense. Over the next five to fifteen years, digital institutions will be recognized as network states and provide opportunities for people to re-bundle themselves into working communities in the physical world.
Idea 3 – Traditionally, institutions within a country are legitimized from the top down. Establishment systems act as a monopoly of institution creation. For instance, you may select bank A or bank B because they are both blessed by the system but you may not use a bank outside of the system. Digital institutions offer a refreshing possibility because they enable grass roots creation of institutions legitimized by customers and explicitly reject establishment approvals. This reversal acts as a pivotal change because in top down systems, the only individual decisions allowed are ones that support establishment interests. In a system of bottom up institution creation, people have power because they can select establishment institutions or parallel digital ones outside of the approved system (ex. Bitcoin).
Democratic systems claim to empower people by allowing them to vote. It turns out that for a number of reasons discussed earlier, voting doesn’t translate into effective participation and therefore isn’t really worth much. Voting looks a lot more like a booby prize upon closer examination. However, enabling people to form their own institutions and to select the communities they want to participate in offers citizens of digital communities meaningful impact and control.
Idea 4 – The trustworthiness of institutions that people use to help themselves navigate the world have collapsed. Much of the information absorbed from the institutions of education, academia, media, government and corporations are profitable lies. People become actively worse off when they absorb establishment narratives.
Other Relevant Ideas
Democracy implies that all values are subject to review via the vote. Therefore, democracy is adversarial to the idea that some values (i.e. freedom of speech) transcend being voted on.
People are used to thinking about government as a monopoly, but governance doesn’t have to be a monopoly. Governance providers can overlap in physical space just like they do online. The significance of this is as follows. In the current world, you and all of your neighbors live under exactly the same governance structure. In a world of digital institutions, this won’t necessarily be true.
Democracy might be a way of reducing a complex series of social/political questions down to one simple binary question. Do you want liar A or liar B? That such a system might be considered meaningful participation seems laughable.