As I remarked in a previous essay: the introduction of steam engines – quite literally generators of Power – shifted the ruling caste’s allegiance from Manpower to Firepower. This laid the foundation for the Merchant’s overthrow of the Monarch; for the Monarch ruled people, but the Merchant owned the machines.
When the machines began to help you think (in the ‘80s) and not just calculate, it was the Information Merchant’s turn to overthrow all his hand-rubbing rivals. The Spy – aided by his computers – has learned how to work men like puppets. This includes the men that demanded and paid for his familiars* to begin with.
The Spy now rules the roost. With enough computation he can turn every rival into a tool. His life is threatened not by financiers or military juntas but by competing alphabet agencies and their respective fiefdoms. In this respect Moldbug’s view is incomplete: The University may declare the secular truth of the day and the Media may promulgate it – but it’s the Intelligence Agents that bend funding towards them and dictate what ‘truths’ they are to find.
Unfortunately for us simple folk, spycraft is a different skillset than statecraft; divining the hearts of men is not the same as knowing how to fulfill those hearts. Thus the people who specialize in the former necessarily lack in the latter – and yet find themselves de facto in charge of everyone because of the overwhelming power contemporary machinery has granted them.
Intelligence Agencies are not the body’s brains but rather its senses. Their name comes from ‘rendering information intelligible;’ as in, into a form some intellect can make use of. But without that intellect present, we are left with a body being run by its sensual organs. That is why the enthronement of these Agencies has coincided with an explosion in all things sensual – flashy movies, rhythmic music, ethnic foods etc. while dumbing down the world in all matters academic. (Notice how everyone struggles to build nuclear reactors now? Asimov may have been a propagandist but I tip my hat to The Foundation series.)
Thus we find ourselves in a kind of Unholy Roman Empire, where the borders are delineated by who controls which flows of sensory information and who can gather more data and process it faster – since this ultimately determines who is outmaneuvered. It is a meta-land of princes and principalities.
You’ve heard of emperor’s without clothes? Well, this is a pile of clothes with no emperor.
The freshest example of this extant power structure at work (as of this writing) is the Afghanistan withdrawal. Occupying Afghanistan was about drug production, the sale of which funded the intelligence agencies off the books. After the Taliban were suppressed in the early 2000s, poppy production (and thus opium supply) expanded twenty times over.** But now synthetically created Fentanyl has replaced Heroin as the opiate of choice – so there is no longer any profit to staying in Afghanistan. For the spies this is is a simple, smart, budgetary decision: we can’t hold the heroin supply anymore – so let the Taliban prevent anyone else from holding it either (‘whoops we left behind a bunch of armaments! Sure hope they don’t cement territorial control with it!’)
For the Empire it’s a political embarrassment, but there is no emperor to care. So, the spies went ahead with the withdrawal in the most shamelessly expedient way possible. Don’t give me any ‘…but Biden blah blah blah…’ Why are you talking about Biden as if he is some kind of living, thinking entity? Come on now, don’t waste precious time with such worthless thoughts.
The question for us plebs is: how do we survive these squabbling Princes? How do we navigate this torrent river? Dare we hope to construct some kind of haven? A nascent State of our own? What seeds do we plant? In what season?
Fortunately there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon is terribly despondent when he utters those words, but for us lost shepherds it is a great solace and comfort – because it means history is full of information of how we should carry on now.
Our current situation is often described as ‘Feudal Technocracy’, but that is – tellingly – a little too technical of a description. It obscures historic precedent. The vista opens wider if you just call it Petty Tyranny. We are in a world run by petty tyrants. Petulant Princes. They are conniving and not to be underestimated, given how much time they spend in the shark tank; but they are not particularly intelligent because their goals are not derived from anything of real worth.
While intelligent people may work for them for hefty sums, their loyalty is fickle because it is based on the heft of those sums; their heart isn’t really into it and they don’t put their best foot forward. Meanwhile, intelligent people of principle have abandoned the enemy. The loss of our opponents best staff is self-evident. Look at the quality of the propaganda. Look at the shambles of their deceit. Anyone worth a damn has jumped ship and is waiting to be picked up by our life rafts.
It’s for that reason that – every day the dissident wakes up – he should feel less remorse and more resolve. I promise you, there is an almost psychic awareness among men of principle that, despite having never met each other, we are already working together. That is how a real culture works. When men discover higher principles worth working towards, they are in collusion even without organization.
Where do we look in history for how to deal with petty tyrants? There is a cornucopia of examples for men of every stripe to peruse. For men of little means: how did rice farmers protect their crops from ronin? They planted hidden fields. Kept caches of food and told no one – so no one could be tortured into revealing their locations. How did the medieval peasant ensure his Lord never had much to tax? He bought things that couldn’t be carted away, or owned tools that were useless in anyone elses’ hands. He made himself powerful in defence of his family, but a dry well to both his ruler and his ruler’s rivals – such that his subjugation or subterfuge meant little profit to men-at-arms.
All this paramount hatred of everything patriarchal, white, and Christian… so why are the Amish preserved? They have no vices. Threaten no one. Are a crucial asset to none and at their most useful to the Princes when taxed marginally and left alone. I am not saying meekness is the only way, or that you should strive to disenfranchise yourself, but some go that route and clearly don’t end in Waco.
How did the tradesmen Guilds conduct themselves to preserve their ways and obtain privileges for their Free Towns? How did the lower castes of India reserve their own special rites and assert themselves against encroachment?
You can scarcely kick over a stone without finding history’s suggestions to you for your protection and prosperity. For these are petty tyrants. They are in power because they have the biggest stick – but all they know is that they like having power and shaking their stick is how they keep it.
For all that power, it is not deployed for any great purpose, and so the wielder is not in any way great either. ‘Elite’ is not a title you grant yourself – it is a fact bestowed by reality. Today’s ‘elite’ are like chess-players who think jailing Bobby Fischer makes them Grandmasters.
In terms of English folklore, perhaps the best narrative you should reacquaint yourself with are the stories of Robinhood: the Yeoman at odds with the Sheriff of Nottingham and with Prince John, who is usurping a kingdom absent its King. These stories are not apocryphal inventions, there is hardcopy you can read sourced from the Late Middle Ages – and if ‘feudal technocracy’ is our current bind – you’d be hard pressed to think of a better era for inspiration than that.
*a ‘familiar’ in the folkloric sense. Navi, Cortana, Alexa; alive and well, as you can see.
**if you have ever used opiates, you know they simulate the feeling of being loved. Opium is the only desirable thing in Afghanistan; so when an empire occupies that territory, it’s a tacit admission that any feelings of Love for the empire are vanishing – and that a counterfeit love is desperately needed to shore things up. This is what truly makes Afghanistan the Graveyard of Empires.